My mother wants nothing more than for me to be happy—and it’s ruining my life. She equates my happiness with me marrying a Jewish man who can support me financially. I, of course, know better. I know the only thing that will make me happy is a low dose of Prozac. That said, I’m not a monster. Just as much as my mother wants me to be happy, I want her to be happy. I just wish we could find a compromise that doesn’t involve JDate.
Like every major battle in history, it started with a poorly executed plan, which entailed me moving back in with my parents (rent-free) for the year after I graduated from NYU. That way I could save enough money working at some stupid office job to move back to New York. When I returned home, my mother sat me down. While she and I are close, our conversations are often lighthearted and are usually related to Oprah in one way or another. This conversation was clearly different—she needed to tell me something and it was serious.
I braced myself, expecting some kind of cancer-related news. My mother looked me dead in the eyes, took a deep breath, and solemnly explained, “There’s a whole new crop of twenty-five-year-olds coming in. You need to act fast.” No one was dying; I was just entering my mid-ŧwenties. Phew! What she meant was that my expiration date as desirable marriage material was fast approaching. She then sang me the mantra she somehow works into every conversation: Looks don’t matter. Your sex life doesn’t matter. That all goes away. Marry rich or you’ll never be happy.
With more and more time spent at home, I found that my mother’s mantra was starting to ring true. It was increasingly easy to twist her irrational threats into logic. I thought to myself, If I married rich, I wouldn’t have to ever work a shitty office job again. I could spend my days working on the collection of brilliant short stories that were currently occupying my evenings and weekends. I could write and have a life!
Before I knew it, I was fueled with enough motivation to join JDate. The first guy I met on JDate was a ventriloquist. Unless you’re my therapist (who thinks I’m projecting), it may seem weird that, out of all the eligible lawyers, bankers, and engineers, I was attracted to a subpar comedian. He asked me on a coffee date but took me on a helping-a-ventriloquist-shop-
The second guy I met on JDate—let’s call him David—worked in sales and came from a good (wealthy) family. We didn’t really have a romantic spark, but I also didn’t hate him. Thus, he was the one. I locked him down, deleted my JDate profile, and about three years later, David and I were engaged. I did it, Ma!
But eight months later, our engagement was over. David and I broke it off while at a friend’s wedding. Seeing two people who are actually in love commit to spending the rest of their lives together was enough for us to realize that was not for us. The breakup was totally mutual and easy—at least for us. According to my mother, I’d thrown away my only shot at happiness. How could I be so dumb? If time wasn’t on my side when I was twenty-four going on twenty-five, I had now entered stage 4 single-girl cancer.
In the year following that breakup, my mother suggested I try getting back together with David a lot, roughly 365 times.
She acted like I was a used car with one month left on my warranty. Pretty soon, no one would want me. Whenever I told her it wasn’t going to happen—ŧhat David and I were just friends—she’d beg me to reconsider.
Once in a while, she’d suggest I get back on JDate. She’d plead, “It worked once before. You never know,” as if I was trying and failing to meet potential husbands. To clarify, I wasn’t. I was the happiest I had been since college—before I took her gold-digging advice. I had been dating guys casually since my engagement ended and was very sexually and emotionally fulfilled.
“There’s not one guy you want to settle down with?” my mother would ask, perplexed. I’d tell her I wasn’t even thinking about that. I was just having fun. Then she’d say something like, “Fun doesn’t take care of you when you’re old.” Then I’d change the subject to an item on Oprah’s Favorite Things list, and we’d talk about body butter for another forty five minutes.
You can only ignore a Jewish mother’s advice for so long before she takes measures into her own hands. Eleven days before I turned thirty, I received an email welcoming me to my new JDate account. I assumed it was spam since I hadn’t opened a JDate account in more than five years. Nevertheless, I opened the email and saw a message from my mother. I had never been more disappointed not to receive spam in my life.
I want you in a fabulous, happy relationship in 6 months or less.
I was furious. I should have reported her for identity theft when I had the chance because it only got worse. The biggest problem with having your mother impersonate you online is, well, all of it. For example, the username she selected. While I’m relieved she didn’t incorporate my actual name into the profile, I still feel a tinge of embarrassment about the username she chose. Since some other witty Jewess had already snagged “FunnyGirl,” my username was FunnyGirl followed by seven random numbers. Turns out there are a lot of FunnyGirls on JDate, but there’s only one who would never call herself that in a million years. Also, I’m pretty sure my mother selected the name less as a nod to my career as a comedy writer and more as a tribute to Barbra Streisand—because single, straight guys love Streisand references!
Then there was my profile picture. She uploaded the same picture of me three times—because she’s a mom. So, basically, if a guy looked at my profile picture and thought I was cute, he’d click “more pictures” to make sure the first pic wasn’t just a miracle of good lighting. But instead of seeing more pictures of me, he’d just see three identical thumbnails. If I were a guy looking at my profile, I’d think, this girl has only taken one good picture in her life—and here it is three more times. I looked more like FuglyGirl than FunnyGirl.
I sincerely don’t mean to offend any guy who messaged me (or, rather my mom) on JDate, but that profile was crap. It goes without saying that the personal details she filled out were all generally wrong. In the JDate questionnaire, my mother made me seem like I was more religious than I actually am and less picky than I actually am. You know, because she wants me to be happy.
I assume any guy who messaged my account during this time was either sending mass emails without first looking at the profiles or had very low self-esteem. My mother, on the other hand, was more optimistic about these guys. After only one day of pimping me out to local Jewish singles, she sent me the following email:
The guys are going crazy for you. I am eliminating all the Russians, Israelis, out-of-ŧowners, Orthodox, idiots. I told one guy I am your mother, tell me about yourself, and click! It was a booty call. Don’t go out on those! One guy that might call you is French American. Stuck-up but he’s in your business and could help you but be careful if he calls. Not husband material.
The only thing more mind-boggling than my mother giving my phone number to a complete stranger on the Internet is the fact that she knows the term, “booty call.” More importantly, why would I want to date some guy who hung around to talk to a girl’s mother? Like I’d be all, “Glad you and my mom hit it off. Let’s make out!” Ew. No. Ew.
On a daily basis, my mother would forward me profiles of guys she thought I should marry or meet. In each email, she’d include a little personal message about why I should consider the guy. Here are some of the actual messages she sent me:
This is your guy. Please don’t pass him up. I love him!
Yeah, but you also love shopping at Chico’s and going to Zumba. Not convinced. Sorry, Mom.
This guy is looking for a short East Coast brunette with a sarcastic sense of humor. He also doesn’t want children. How can you not meet him just for coffee on Sunday?
In her defense, I fit the bill. I genuinely feel bad I didn’t meet this one. Luckily for him, there are plenty of other sarcastic East Coast brunettes who don’t want children in the sea, specifically the Dead Sea.
Is 50 too old? He is in show business. That is Hollywood for you. He says he wants to live to 120. So that would make him not middle-aged yet!
Fifty is not too old, but wanting to live to 120 is too crazy. Next.
A DOCTOR WHO LOVES DOGS. CALL HIM!!! NOT SURE HE WANTS KIDS!!! CALL HIM!
Truth be told, I also got excited when I read this. I love dogs and I admire doctors. Okay, fine, I love pills—but still! This JDate dude seemed perfect…until I looked at his full profile. In addition to living in the middle of nowhere, USA, he was very overweight. His deal-breaker body had nothing to do with me being superficial; it was just a major red flag. A fat doctor is like a homeless realtor—ŧhe epitome of a bad investment.
After six long months, my JDate membership finally expired. During the entire time the account was active, I didn’t go on one date, something I now regret. My mother put a lot of effort into screening potential sons-in-law and all I did was roll my eyes at her. Fortunately, there’s always a second chance. I have another birthday right around the corner. Maybe this year, she’ll send a video to ABC, explaining why I should be the next Bachelorette. Maybe she’ll surprise me with a mail-order husband. Who knows? The only thing I know for sure is that it will only get worse with age.
This excerpt is from The Jewish Daughter Diaries: True Stories of Being Loved Too Much by Our Moms—a hilarious, and heartfelt essay collection from the most compelling Jewish female voices in comedy, media, and pop culture today. The story above is “JDate My Mom” By Lauren Greenberg, but the anthology includes pieces from The Big Bang Theory and Blossom star Mayim Bialik, Stand‐up comic Iliza Shlesinger, Everything is Going to be Great author Rachel Shukert, and many more smart sassy Jewesses. We read the entire book in 3 hours, that’s how hilarious and fun it is. Order it now, what are you waiting for – Meshiach?
Edited by Rachel Ament, the collection explores the complex, colorful and, at times, claustrophobic relationship between Jewish mothers and daughters. In these 28 searingly funny tales, Jewish Daughter Diaries offers a more multi‐dimensional characterization of Jewish motherhood than the one‐note Jewish moms we see and fear on TV. Whether the essay features an overzealous mom impersonating her daughter on Jdate, a mom who makes half her daughter’s bed while her daughter is still sleeping in the other half, or a mom who takes her camp‐hating daughter on a visit to a “Jewish summer camp consultant,” the book is sure to strike a familiar chord in anyone who has ever been over‐loved, over‐protected, or over‐mothered.