~Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Meet the Parents

Since Abraham's parents learned that he met both my mother and my father, they planned an impromptu road trip that just happens to go through the city. Coincidentally. And since they just so happen to be in the area, they thought they would stop by, you know, for the weekend. And maybe Abraham could bring me around?


"They must really want to meet me," I responded when Abraham relayed the story to me.

"You think?" he said sarcastically.

I wore my current favorite good-girl outfit: a yellow flowy top that was bestowed upon me from South Carolina Bestie, skinny blue jeans that are cropped just below the knee and black ballet flats. I put diamonds in my ears for good measure.

I alerted Abraham when I arrived at his house. He met me outside.

"You ready?" he asked.

Abraham had it easier than me. When he met my parents, he met them one at a time. Then he only had to smile for two hours and be done with it. This, this was an entire weekend of good behavior.

They greeted me with welcoming hugs. Abraham looks like his father. Anxious smiles all around.

We then headed to a local Mexican restaurant. Abraham quickly ordered a pitcher of margaritas for the table. The good ones. I felt sweet relief at the sight of tequila.

The conversation was very official, very Welcome to the Family. They compared meeting me to meeting their son-in-law. They commented on how nervous he was.

"We've been married for over 40 years," his father began. "And I do know how much easier being the same religion is on the relationship."

I knew my Christian Southern Belle status was an obstacle for these New York Jews. I just didn't think it would come up at the first meeting.

"I just want my son to be happy," interjected his mother.

"You do know that for children to be Jewish, the mother has to be Jewish?" the father continued.

I nodded wide eyed. I knew. It was the first thing anybody has ever told me when I said I was dating a Jew. If I got struck on the head and had amnesia, I'd remember that the mother has to be Jewish.

I'll be honest: I didn't like the pressure I felt. I was grateful that Abraham and I have already had this conversation, and we'd already decided on a solution that works for both of us. I was so glad I already knew the answer to the question that his father was asking. It relieved some of the pressure I felt.

But I never gave him an answer. I haven't even told my parents what we decided to do. I didn't want to tell this man something that I felt was so personal on the first meeting.

Abraham grabbed my hand under the table. I laced my fingers in the comfort of his. In the beginning of the relationship, he'd always whine when I reached for his hand. Now it's second nature to him to reach for mine.

His mom gasped.

"Look!" she said to her husband. She moved the pitcher of margaritas out of the way and pointed to our shoulders. "They're holding hands!" She was positively giddy.

Abraham had told me that he felt pressure to marry a nice, Jewish girl growing up, but this dissipated somewhere around 30. By 35, he was told they just wanted him to be happy.

He was. I am. We are.


Anonymous said...

This is so very nice! I'm glad for you, everybody deserves their own slice of happiness!

Breeza said...

Glad you're happy and have worked out something that works for you!

Dawn said...

I hope that you believe them when they say that they just want him to be happy. It's true. Every Jewish girl (and boy, I assume) is/was told how important it is for them to marry "within the Tribe." I was told this many, many times. Not as pressure; it's just "how it is."

Then the rules relaxed. Why? When parents see their children in relationships -- albeit within the same religion -- and the child is unhappy, they begin to realize that happiness trumps religion. In every religion? I don't know. With every parent and child? I don't know. But when a Jewish parent says it to their child? I know they mean it.

L'chaim! That's a toast that means "To life!" So, here's to your life together, Sarah and Abraham. L'chaim!

heisschic said...

It's clear that they mean well... and they're trying... BUT:

Oh "the mother has to be Jewish" comment pisses me off. Do you know why it's passed along by the mother?! Because in olden days, passing tribes raped Jewish women. What could the Jewish woman's community do?!? Shun the child? No- but they could decree that as long as the mother is Jewish, so is the child. Bah.

Anywho- I'm happy that you're happy and he's happy so they're happy. Always easier when everyone's happy. AND he was comfortable touching you-- was clearly thinking of you two as a joint force--- in front of his vocal parents.

Hopefully the residual stress from this experience has tapered.


cd0103 said...

I am just happy you are in a "team" relationship and so happy! You deserve it.

heisschic said...

*** if my above comment sounds angry or offensive at all, I apologize. That was not my intent at all.***

Red Stethoscope said...


That's a typical religious parent reaction...very similar to my mother asking one of Hindu boyfriends if he was an idol-worshipper the first time she met him. Keep it classy, parents.

Mummy Dearest said...

Mazel Tov!

Heisschic, in all my years as a reformed Jew, and now a practicing Conservative Jew , I've never heard of the reasoning you stated.

From my higher informal education (yes I stll go to Hebrew School at nearly 40) everything I've ever read has the following two reasons:

1. Way back when, there was no official way to track who the father was, no DNA testing. To see the child literally birthed from the mother makes the direct link.

2. Reason number two would talk about the spiritual link between mothers and their children. Chabad (ultra religious Jews) describe it as follows: And so, the direct physical link between mother and child is a reflection of a soul link between them. While the ... If the mother has a Jewish soul, the child does too .

As with everything this is all subject to interpretation.

Whatever Sarah and Abraham decide to do will be Right for them and we all wish them well.

Je m'appelle Danielle said...

I would be pretty nervous about the "Hey how are you, oh you're not jewish" stuff from the father. At least his Mom just wants him to be happy, so that must trickle to the Dad eventually.

"Did you know Elizabeth Taylor converted to Judism for Eddie Fisher?"

just saying...

Anonymous said...

I was in a relationship with a jewish person for four years, so of course, we had talked about what would happen if we had children - they would be given the teachings and the choice throughout the beginning of their life. I stood fast on one thing though; no circumcision. (I know that in the US it's standard for every boy to be circumcised, here it isn't, unless medically necessary. I would not allow a religious surgical procedure to be carried out on my baby, for a religion that I did not believe in. I can't remember how the father-in-law ended up with this information, but his response was that an un-circumcised boy would be no relation of his. Without an ounce of respect for me or my wishes, foot down, done.

Anyway - that sounded quite negative - sorry it wasn't meant to!

I too am glad to see you and Abraham on the same 'team' :)

Anonymous said...

Oh sarah, i feel ya. My jewish bfs parents say they just want him happy and i hope thats true. Ive been more than happy to partake in jewish holidays and that helps but i cant help but feel less than when it comes to judaism and him. Hes been practicing his whole life and i feel as if im derailing him in the event we get married (even if we dont bc hes used to celebrating with people who are jewish and i know very little about judaism, although, im learning). I know it was important to him at one point, too but i think, he too, figured out that all that matters is being happy.

Bathwater said...

The father seemed pretty harsh, glad you two are comfortable with everything...are you looking for a Jewish surrogate mother? j/k

I'm in a snarky mood today.


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