ColumnMay 2018

Mazel and Mishagoss


Okay, I know it’s supposed to be Mother’s Day but I wanted to be clever and the word “Smother” is already taken by the currently popular airing show called The Goldbergs — a half-hour sit-com about a concerned Jewish mother (Based on yours truly. No seriously, I am their real life example!) who lives in the 80’s (have you seen my big hair and the Swatch Watch I wear? I rest my case!) and who is overbearing, controlling, and paranoid about the health and safety of her children. (Fox television execs spent eight weeks following me on numerous pediatrician appointments just to produce their first half hour pilot.)


But back to the title of this article. If I had my druthers….all six of my children would be micro-chipped (like pets) or have Lojack installed (like cars) so I could track their every move, making my occupation much easier. Cellphones are a poor substitute. Listen:


Me: Hello?? Why didn’t you call to let me know you’d arrived at the movie?

Son: Because I’m not there yet and you forbid me to talk while driving.

Me: Yes, it’s dangerous! Disconnect this call immediately. Oy, why did you even answer the phone to begin with? Concentrate!

Son: Because I knew you’d worry if I let it go to voicemail.

Me: Never mind. How could you do this to me? And don’t keep talking to respond to that question. Focus on your driving! Now hang up and call me when you’re there.


I thought all I had to do was raise my little darlings to age eighteen and then I’d promptly retire from this stressful profession with a handsome pension and a 401K. Instead I’m constantly scrutinizing interactive maps of the U.S., where I have color-coded pushpins scattered in every state next to tiny clock icons. Are these memorable places I’ve traveled? A wish-list of exotic sites I dream of visiting in the future? I think not! These are the various locations (that I’ve managed to pry out of them!) of where my six adult kids will be headed in the next week, plus exact times I should expect a S.H.R.E.K. (Stop Hyperventilating! Relax Everything’s Kool!) phone call from them. When you smother, always have a fun acronym.


In fact right now, (according to a red pushpin that’s sticking out of a town known as Pflugerville in Texas) my daughter is tardy with her own SHREK call to me. She was supposedly going to a Grateful Dead revival concert (the musical taste she gets from her father.) in this strange city and now for all I know, she’s lying hurt on the side of the road. There….it’s finally ringing!


Me: (Panicked!) What’s wrong? You were supposed to call me at 9:00 pm!

Daughter: It’s 9:03. Surely you don’t have me lying in the middle of the road in only three minutes?

Me: I’m a very efficient worker. And you were dragged to the side, not left in the middle. I’m just grateful you’re alive after the Grateful Dead.

Daughter: (Sighing) I’m fine, Mom. I’m leaving Pflugerville now.

Me: Thank goodness. The ambulance driver would never know the “P” is silent in that meshuggenah spelling and he wouldn’t be able to Google your address in time to resuscitate you.

Daughter: Well don’t worry. We’re going to eat BBQ ribs in a nice phonetic city called El Paso.

Me: (choking) Ribs! With sharp splintering bones? Hello??


Now let’s see here, which one am I scheduled to hear from next? Ahh yes. According to this map, my second-born should be calling any minute after checking out an ad for cheap furniture in NYC on Craig’s List. Did you hear me?? Craig’s List! Terrifying visions of thugs popping out of secondhand sleeper-sofas are enough to keep me up half the night.


But instead of any wanderlust offspring phoning home, the next call comes from The Goldbergs’ television show director. He informs me their next episode will be pre-empted by a news report. Apparently I can take the night off and quit worrying earlier than usual because they already have enough material from all my daytime shtick. Happy Druther’s Day, Moms! I hope you have your druthers with your own kids, even if I can’t have mine.


Stephanie D. Lewis is a writer for the comedy section in The Huffington Post and pens a humor blog at


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  1. I believe a implanted GPS device is in order. Track by satellite!

  2. So true and yet so funny! As a professional worrier about 2 kids and 4 grandkids, I can totally relate!

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