Mother Daughter Mashup

Mother and daughter respond to life, love, and growth.

Month: July, 2014

The Menorah on Top

by Emilia Diamant

If you had told 15-year-old Emilia that she would be sitting next to her mother in an extremely crowded theater watching a movie about sex, dating, relationships, and ABORTIONS, she would have slapped you right in the face. But 28-year-old Emilia was thrilled that her Mom wanted to go, and despite some moments of generational translation and slight discomfort, it was an overwhelmingly positive experience.

I wasn’t a very nice teenager. I slammed doors, I yelled, I withheld important information, I was unpleasant. So it’s funny to think that now, when I saw the trailer for “Obvious Child”, my first thought was that I wanted to see it with my mother. So we went–to Coolidge Corner, where I saw no less than three people I knew (all from lefty Jewish worlds, naturally)–and saw it together. 

The film first–fantastic. Spoke so truly to me, to my experience as a Jewish 20-something, as a woman, as someone who has been in and out of relationships, as someone who cares about my right to make decisions about my body. Jenny Slate has long been a favorite character actress of mine for a while now (see Parks and Rec or The Kroll Show), and seeing her featured in a film was hugely gratifying.

Beyond rooting for Jenny as a professional, watching her in the film felt like looking in the mirror. She may be shorter, skinnier, and have more of a “Jew-fro” than I, but she is me. She references Birthright (hilariously) and has had lots of awkward moments and has dating disasters. She is flawed, loves her parents and sometimes feels lost. And when she’s feeling vulnerable or sad, she turns to her mother. I suspect that Donna (Slate’s character) slammed doors and yelled at her mom as a kid, too. I could imagine the character and her mother having the same conversations that I’ve had with my mother. Finally, a movie that spoke to me.

Second–seeing it with my mother. This felt like a meaningful step in our process of figuring figure out what it means for me as be an adult to live in the same city. This was a movie about a 20-something woman making big decisions, something that I do daily. Id on’t seek advice or counsel  from my parents  everyday, but I do talk to my mother when I am trying to parse the tough stuff. And it seems that Donna found in her mother what I’ve discovered time and time again with mine— It’s good to have your Mom for a cuddle, a cry, and words of wisdom. It was nice to see our relationship reflected onscreen–they were kinda bitchy to each other for a bit there, but in a pinch mom came through. Which is how many of our mother-daughter relationships are–complicated and dynamic. 

So, 15 year old Emilia would have been mortified. But I was thrilled. As a woman, a Jew, and a daughter.


“These days are ours”

by Anita Diamant

Emilia and I saw Obvious Child together. It’s an independent film by director Gillian Robespierre and stars Jenny Slate as Donna Stern, a stand-up comedian in Brooklyn, as insecure and nervous as Woody Allen, only charming.

Obvious Child has gotten a lot of ink because it’s described as a movie about abortion – Donna’s abortion. It’s been called “brave,” because Donna doesn’t waver in her decision to abort the result of a night of unprotected sex with a guy she just met at a bar. She’s 28, single, a stand-up comedian trying to make it living with a loyal, sane roommate in a tiny apartment, recently fired from her day job in a bookstore, which is going out of business. Also, nobody wakes up in the morning with her eyeliner intact. Might this be the first “fact-based” romantic comedy ever?

That’s right, romantic comedy. Girl meets boy, girl hooks up with boy, boy pursues girl, girl spurns boy until boy proves he’s more of a mensch than just about anyone she’s ever met. And then it looks like girl is going to get boy.

In the middle of all that, Donna has an abortion, an experience common to one in three American women (by the age of 45). Abortion is a widespread fact,a part of our lives. It may be an unwished-for and sad part, but one in three means that whether or not they know it, everyone in the United States has a daughter, sister, mother and/or aunt who have been through it.

When Jenny tells the sorry of her sad, unwished for and normal abortion during her stand-up routine, the camera pans the audience where the faces of young women radiate recognition, compassion and ruefulness.

I didn’t mean for this blog post to be about abortion. I thought was going to write something cute, comparing the experience of seeing Sleepless in Seattle with Emilia eleven years ago (her first grown-up rom-com), and how actress Gabby Hoffman played the best friend in both of them. I was going to write about the generational differences between the two films and the switcheroo feeling that comes with remembering how I used to identify with the romantic lead but now see myself in the supporting role as mother.

But given recent Supreme Court decisions about contraception and abortion, I had to get this off my chest the same way I had to go to the “Supreme Rally” at Boston City Hall. There were the usual too-many speeches, but for me the most memorable was Governor Duval Patrick’s. His message was, “Don’t be discouraged.”

He acknowledged that was asking a lot since so many of us had been at similar rallies forty years ago, fighting a battle we thought was won.

But I did feel encouraged because it was such a young crowd. I saw many more women and men under the age of 40 than past it. Some of the most compelling speakers –who are also leaders and organizers of the rally and organizations working for reproductive choice — were also young and a few of them were brilliant women of color.

I hadn’t been to a political rally in years, but the fact that Emilia wanted to go but wasn’t able to attend is what got me there. As much as I support women’s rights, as much as I am outraged by the Supreme Court decisions about buffer zones and Hobby Lobby, I was there for her.