Tuesday, May 12, 2009


While other Jewish mothers may kvetch when their grown children don't keep in touch, or share more of their lives, I peek into my daughters' pursuits whenever I please.

Instead of sitting by the phone or waiting for an email to learn what they’re up to, I employ technology supposedly too tricky for my Social Security set. I joined the online social networking sites Facebook and Twitter and am now able to lurk on the sidelines of my kids’ lives.

There was my daughter, Faith, uploading videos of my granddaughter Betsy playing drums or sashaying with a hoola hoop. I hung around and watched as her Facebook Friends weighed in on the child's talent and adorableness. Then I, too, made an appropriate loving comment. No need for a guilt-edged, "You share these with friends? You couldn’t have shown them to me first?”

My other daughter, Jill, was the one who urged me to join Twitter, "It's fun," she said. "Just give it a try." Now I wonder if my youngest regrets her noodge, for after a day of not seeing any of her Tweets, I posted, "Where's Jill?" Within the hour, she returned with this snarky response, "Worst idea in the world, encouraging your Jewish mother to join Twitter."

Therein lies a bit of danger in my trespassing: Jill and I nearly got into a cyber squabble after I publicly shot back, "This from the child I spent 10 hours of labor with." She became worried. I received a private message, "We're only kidding, right Mom?" I let her stew for a bit and then answered, "Of course, I laughed when I read it." She begged me to repost my reply out of our private dialogue so her Twitter followers would know she and her mom were still buddies.

Admittedly, some of my friends think my computer creeping is well, creepy. "Your daughters should call," one harrumphs, "after all, you're their mother. Why should you have to chase after them?"

Her indignation sent me back to my young adulthood and conversations with my own mother about my lack of timely reporting in. "Oh, so it's you," she would say when I phoned, as if I was a black sheep who had gone missing for a decade and suddenly turned up.

I knew my cue. "Sorry, Mom," I would say, I meant to call, but…"
"No, that's okay," she'd interrupt, "as long as you're alive."

When I had kids of my own, I vowed not to employ guilt. My daughters would willingly keep in touch, I knew, especially after their moving to states on opposite sides of the country. There'd be no need for me to paint a picture of their pathetic mother sitting by the phone. If I wanted to hear their voices, I would make the calls. I wouldn't stare at the silent apparatus willing it to ring.

Naturally, if more days went by -- than a mother who provided her children with perfect childhoods should expect to hear from them -- I'd leave a message something like, "I know you're busy, but when you get time…"

Now, thanks to Facebook and Twitter, I don't have to resort to the phone or my passive-aggressive commentary. All I have to do is sign on to those two sites, hang out a bit and catch up on their whereabouts. So far, it seems to be working. But, I admit to a bit of worry. What if they have found another website, unbeknownst to me, where they reveal their more clandestine thoughts and behaviors. Hah! Give me some time, and this Jewish mother -- clever on the keyboard -- will soon be shadowing.


Anonymous said...

"Your blog is amazing. I could particularly identify with your Byrne post. I love the way you use pictures."


Anonymous said...

hilarious title, Elaine!


Anonymous said...

"daughter reporting in on stalking mother. awesome story. there. i called."


Sandy Price said...

I have a 70ish friend who has very bravely forged into cyberspace. The other day I got a letter from her. She needed her granddaughter's fb postings "translated." Someone had posted onto the wall, "I'm so sorry your mom is creepin' you." And someone else, "I should be counting Lolla but me and math don't get along." I suspected "creepin'" either meant that her mom was getting creepy - acting weird - or was snooping around her social network pages. I thought Lolla must be a woman's name. But I forwarded the email request to my experts - my own two daughters, 23 & 25, and for good measure to the daughters of a friend of mine, 16 & 18, who are more the ages of the granddaughter. Well, fyi, "creepin'" does mean snooping your social network pages without letting you know. But Lolla is short for Lollapolooza, a traveling concert event. Apparently the girl was communicating that the event was coming up, but she wasn't sure when. You know those webpage translators? I'm thinking we need a cross generational translator if we're going to "creep" our kids. And, um, given some of what I've seen on my daughters' pages, some of us may need smelling salts.

Anonymous said...

Hi Elaine,
I enjoyed reading your blog although it made me kinda sad that my mother is not computer savvy. But then again she's boring so it's nice to talk to her on the phone periodically. Hope you're doing well.
Best wishes,

Anonymous said...

Very cute indeed.

The one thing I really like about the way she writes is that she understands the complexities of grammatical constructions and language abstractions - something you don't see everyday in this country.....not in newspapers....not on local and national TV news broadcasts....etc.


Anonymous said...

your Jewish mother electronic surveillance really grabbed me...Also, I like how you explore your past/present through writing


Anonymous said...

My grown daughters have been requesting my presence on Facebook. There are some things a mother just does not want to know! Still in the deciding stage....

muffy bolding said...

miss elaine...you are an absolute SCREAM -- and a treasure! i can't wait to read your book! your blog is marvelous -- keep it comin', toots!


Anonymous said...

I got it and I love both of them and I didn’t see either before. I did see the Carmen McRae one.
I love your writing. And I love quirky you and your fabulous quirky daughters.
\Your quirky friend