Let’s Schmooze!
Like Me, Pretty Please!
Subscribe to the Tribe!

Enter your e-mail address to get Mishegas of Motherhood in your Inbox:


Mom’s Bar Mitzvah Speech Stirs Emotions

I’m working on my speech for Jack’s upcoming bar mitzvah, and it’s harder to write than I thought. I mean, how can I adequately put down into words my uttermost feelings of pride and joy for my first born, who has now reached a new status within Judaism. It seems like only yesterday when my son was eating soggy Cheerios with his fingers. Wait a minute…that was yesterday.

Since the best place to start a bar mitzvah speech is at the beginning, I might as well talk about the first time I had laid eyes on Jack. He was an embryo. I vividly recall the dialogue between the nurse and myself during my first ultrasound at the doctor’s office.
Nurse: “There’s you’re peanut!,” exclaimed the woman in the pink lab coat as she smeared petroleum jelly across my belly.
Me: “You mean it’s a boy?,” I shouted out and nearly jumped off the table.
Nurse: “I said ‘peanut,’ not ‘penis.’ Besides, it’s too early to tell if the baby is a boy or girl,” said the overtired technician, shaking her head and rolling her eyes at me like I was another hyper new mom.
Me: “Oh, that’s good, because I wanted the sex of the baby to be a surprise,” I laughed in embarrassment as I grabbed the black and white ultrasound picture and tucked it in my purse.

Even though my memories of being pregnant are special to me, I doubt if Jack will appreciate his own prenatal adventures. Besides, after hearing the ultrasound story he’ll want to crawl under the pulpit and hide.

Another idea for my ceremonial address is to share my first experience of mother-child separation anxiety. It happened about a decade ago, when I dropped off my little redhead wearing denim overalls on his first day of Jewish preschool. Frankly, I was overcome with emotions after I hesitantly left Jack in the classroom with the teacher and a dozen wandering toddlers. In fact, I ran to the bathroom down the hallway so that I could wipe my mascara-stained face with a piece of cheap toilet paper. Then, I found the nearest telephone, which happened to be in the temple copy room, and called my husband at work.
Me: “I can’t believe I abandoned our child with a stranger,” I sobbed to Scott on the phone. “ The next thing I know Jack will be leaving us to go to college.”
Scott: “He’ll be fine. Why don’t you go check on him before you leave the building?”
Me: “Sure, easy for you to say. You’re distracted at the office all day. What am I going to do with myself for the next whole two hours?”
Scott: “I bet you’ll think of something.”

Another option is to perform a demonstration speech. For example, I can bring a worn, brown Rawlings glove that Jack wore when he was younger and ask him to squeeze his left hand into the tight leather mitt. (Think OJ Simpson trial). This visual effect reveals how much he’s grown and proves that he’s really becoming a man. Now, how many moms have done that?

Perhaps my best bet is to say something more serious and traditional, such as a meaningful quote from the Talmud (Brachot 17A) that was written more than 2,000 years ago. The English text is: “May you live to see your world fulfilled; May you be our link to future worlds; and may your hope encompass all the generations to be. May your heart conceive with understanding; may your mouth speak wisdom and your tongue be stirred with sounds of joy. May your gaze be straight and sure, your eyes be lit with Torah’s lamp, your face aglow with heaven’s radiance, your lips expressing words of knowledge, and your inner self alive with righteousness. And may you always rush in eagerness to hear the words of One more ancient than all time.”

Although the words of the sages are enlightening, I might go with something original and less serious, such as:
“Today on your Bar Mitzvah
We are so proud of you.
No one said it’s easy
To learn to be a Jew.”

Then again, if I feel desperate enough, I always can use my credit card and buy my bar mitzvah sentiments over the Internet. That’s right, for the bargain price of $19.97, I can purchase a professionally written, customizable, risk-free, not-to-sappy, easy-to-deliver speech that also includes a toast, candle lighting prayer, assorted poems, and God’s blessing on the Sabbath. Best of all, this readily available congratulatory speech package is 100 percent guaranteed or my money back.

And I thought nothing in life is guaranteed.

“Mishegas of Motherhood” is the creation of Ellie S. Grossman, a St. Louis freelance writer and stay-at-home-mom who never stays home. Currently, she is obsessing over everything for her son’s upcoming bar mitzvah, so please feel free to send any advice to: ellie@mishegasofmotherhood.com or visit her website at www.mishegasofmotherhood.