In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Sept. 29, 2005 / 25 Elul, 5765

Perfect example of an imperfect mother

By Marybeth Hicks

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The email from my girlfriend didn't come with an electronic red flag or even the letters "SOS" in the subject line, but it was filled with urgency nonetheless.

"Give me some words of wisdom, because I actually am overwhelmed to the point of panic about all the excess details school adds to our day," Kathleen wrote. Her older daughter recently started kindergarten, and Kathleen is fast discovering this is nothing like preschool.

I guess she figures I've made it this far — two children in high school, one in middle school and one in third grade, so I'm wise, if not battle-weary.

It turns out my friend's panic isn't really over the new scheduling demands but the emotional demands of keeping up with other moms. "Will we be school pariahs if we don't attend the ice-cream social next week? Will the "perfect" moms know I'm buddying up to them just because I may need their help someday? Will they hold it against me if I do?"

Kathleen is a single adoptive mom of two little girls who takes care of her daughters while also working full time as a news reporter. She manages to hold it all together with Band-Aids, love and a great sense of humor. However, she has discovered what experienced moms like me have known for a long time: There are Perfect Mothers, and if you compare yourself to them, you'll feel inadequate at best. At worst, you'll think you're a failure.

Perfect Mothers are those well-dressed, neatly coifed, perpetually organized women who juggle motherhood, volunteering, socializing, shopping, family commitments and jobs, all of which they handle with military precision and sweet, lipsticked smiles. These women are remarkable, but they make some of us uneasy.

You may not notice them until you're part of a school community. Perfect Mothers are the ones who orchestrate and attend every class party, field trip and committee meeting. Perfect Mothers' names populate the lists of indispensable people who raise money and coordinate teacher gifts and work in the school library several times each week.

Perfect Mothers are cheerful. They are charming. They even are physically fit.

They are perfect.

Obviously, I must not seem like one of these women if Kathleen chose me as her mentor in imperfection — and of course, she's right.

I mull over her observations about Perfect Mothers while I sit at my cluttered desk, surrounded by the piles of paper representing the many layers in the onion that is my life.

One pile deals with my two younger children, another pile is for the older ones. There is a pile of notes about events I still must incorporate into our master schedule; a pile of receipts and bills I'm trying to ignore; a pile of work-related reading; a pile of letters awaiting replies.

I can't really see what's in any of the piles because my reading glasses are buried under one of them. Despite the obvious chaos in front of me crying out for attention, I can't resist dashing off an answer to my friend.

"You're right that kindergarten is different from preschool, especially where the moms are concerned," I write back. "There are a good number of women who take their roles as school volunteers/standard-bearers of perfection very seriously. I spend a lot of time feeling sheepish while repeating my mantra, 'I'm doing the best I can.'"

I give Kathleen permission to skip the ice-cream social. I tell her it's a good idea to cop a healthy attitude about these things early in her daughter's school career. "Only do what makes sense for you and your family," I say, as though I have followed this advice myself.

In reality, I repeatedly overextend myself in a vain effort to keep up with the women whose levels of participation far surpass my capacity for multitasking.

I know why Kathleen is stressed. Comparing ourselves to other women, we can't help but assume they're better at everything — even at mothering their their children. They do everything with such competence — panache, even — not to mention, in shoes that match what they're wearing.

Many mornings I compare myself to Perfect Mothers as I whip through the drive-through drop-off before making a hasty exit from the school grounds. I don't want to be seen because I may or may not have taken a shower (though let me just state for the record I will always have brushed my teeth, just in case I get pulled over by the police). If I haven't showered, I will be sporting "bedhead." If I have, my hair may be wet and profoundly unattractive. Either way, I'm far from perfect.

Kathleen sends another e-mail to update me on her assimilation into the school community.

"It's like attending an uncomfortable cocktail party without the benefit of a cocktail. I decided I would make it my policy to approach the people who looked as uncomfortable as I felt. That worked pretty well, proof yet again that coping is what moms do," she wrote.

Indeed. Coping is what all moms do, and the truth is, nobody's perfect.

Our e-mail exchange reminds me of a plaque I once saw in the kitchen of a wise friend. It says: "Comparison is the killer of contentment." Compared to the Perfect Mothers, moms like Kathleen and me may always come up short, but that's OK. We're doing the best we can.

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JWR contributor Marybeth Hicks, a wife of 18 years and mother of four children, lives in the Midwest. She uses her column to share her perspective on issues and experiences that shape families nationwide. To comment, please click here.


© 2005, Marybeth Hicks