Ask Wendy

Jewish World Review May 21, 2002/ 10 Sivan 5762

Danger and duty; host of issues;
desperately seeking surgery

By Wendy Belzberg | I am a foreign student living in Israel. My mother calls daily begging me to come home. I fully understand her concerns for my safety, but this is where I want to be. I have already compromised my true wishes by giving up my dream to enlist in the Israeli army. At what point is it appropriate for me to remind my mother that my life is my own?

A: Well, there is that little commandment in the top ten that says, "Thou shalt honor thy mother and they father." But then, the tablets came down long before the Bile was replaced on people's nightstands by books on self-actualization, separation and co-dependence.

By staying in Israel you place yourself daily in a life-threatening situation. No mother can be expected to stand quietly by while her child's life is in danger. Particularly not a Jewish mother. By seeing you off in the first place your mother expressed her confidence in your ability to take care of yourself in a foreign country. It is her feelings about the country that have changed, not her confidence in you. If you are determined to stay where you are-and your mother is not the type to get on a plane and drag you home-offer your her frequent assurances that you are staying away from public places and exercising extreme caution. You may also want to switch from phone calls to email: when you can't hear the sound of your mother's trembling voice, you may not be as vulnerable to her pleas.

Q: My husband is the "stay-at-home mom" and I work full time as a corporate executive. I believe it is fair to expect him to prepare and host business dinners in our home. He disagrees, and this has become an explosive issue. It is part of my job to entertain clients and investors and I feel that doing so in our home is more personal. All I'm asking is for him to do his fair share.

A: Marriage is a partnership and partners theoretically complement and support one another. That said, you have already abandoned stereotypical gender roles so why not go all the way? Who is to say that it is incumbent upon any "stay-at-home mom"-male or female-to entertain for their working spouse? That responsibility may have been part of the job description back when women were bound by their apron strings, but those days are gone. And so are those roles-as you yourself have proven.

If your husband is an excellent cook and enjoys entertaining, there is no reason why he should not want to show his support by throwing a dinner party for your clients. Asking him to do so, and expecting him to do so, however, are two very different things. Don't make the same mistakes men did for generations in taking these things for granted. With a little input from you, your husband would probably be very happy to arrange for a lovely catered dinner.

And for the record, your husband is a stay at home dad.

Q: I desperately would like to have expensive cosmetic surgery done, which I cannot afford. A good friend is a doctor and trained to do this procedure. Is it fair to ask him to treat me at a greatly reduced rate?

A: Do you also plan to have your doctor friend ask his nurses and anesthesiologist to waive their payments? If the procedure is typically done in a hospital, would you be willing to go under the knife in his office instead to save costs? Finally, are you prepared to live with what you paid for? If you have answered yes to all of the above then you clearly are desperate. In which case, even though what you are asking is wrong, go ahead and ask. By the way, I hope neither you nor you husband own a dealership or a fine jewelry store-since you probably have a lot of friends who would like new cars or diamond drops.

Ask Wendy a question -- any question --- by clicking here.

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01/24/01: Naughty neighbor, unprofessional colleague is dead, I'm a Jew, now what?
01/15/01: Rabbis who won't; when the rules of the 'game' change; ungracious grannies
01/08/01: My kid hates Hebrew school; Stay single or abandon heritage?
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10/03/00: I'm not Jewish --- not that there's anything wrong with it; mezuza machlokes; when granddad has cancer
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09/11/00: Bris brouhaha breaks my heart, LET ME SLEEP! --- and Why can't I hold a job?
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08/21/00: When one spouse becomes more religious than the other; "But the cleaning lady is part of the family!"; Why He invented 9-month gestation periods
08/21/00: 'Fessing up to granny about abandoning one's people, non-kosher sis-in-law, and 'my niece is marrying a loser'
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08/07/00: Communing with the clouds, betrothal, and banishing bosses
07/28/00: Small-city guys, self-centered siblings
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07/14/00: Divorcing brother-in-law, uncampy kids, and a dot.comer who makes it big time
07/07/00: Hypocrites, reality checks, and the 'real estate challenged'


© 2002, Wendy Belzberg