A letter to my son on our first Mother’s Day

Dear Aldo,

On the occasion of our first mother’s day together – yours on this planet and mine as a mom – I wanted to tell you something that I’ve learned in our few short months together. One day I’ll tell you the full story of how it was that you came into the world in the first place. Our tradition teaches us that three take part in creation – the mother, the father and Hashem. But in your case it was four – your Abba, me, Hashem and Dr. Tanmoy Mukherjee and his colleagues at Mt. Sinai’s Reproductive Medical Associates.

Mostly I want to tell you that it’s really hard to be a woman in today’s world and even harder to be a mother. You’ll learn one day that in many places on the planet, it’s dangerous to be born a baby girl. You’re less likely to survive your infancy, let alone go to school, university, or find a meaningful, self-fulfilling career. Even in our country women of color are more likely to die in childbirth or deliver still born babies. This is flat out unfair.

You and me are pretty lucky, but it wasn’t always so easy. Besides the normal pregnancy aches and pains, there were the operations, the injections, the blood tests and the ultrasounds and the waiting that I had to endure before we could be together.

Now that you’re here, you’re adorable and delightful, but you’re a lot of work! Learning how to breast feed you was the biggest physical challenge I have ever attempted, and I used to run half-marathons in my previous life. Every day is a full body affair – the shoulder aches and the wrist pain and the cracked and bleeding nipples. Yes, I’m sure you’re going to love to hear me tell you about my nipples.

There’s the social isolation and the constant feeling of being dragged back and away from the world. The debates and the contradicting advice and philosophies and then there are all the normal things I get to worry about – like whether you’re eating or sleeping or pooping enough. Those are my privileges and I’ll try to remember that at three in the morning when we are all up for the eighth time, that you, my love, you, little baby, are the baby I prayed for.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because one day you are going to grow up. And I don’t know yet who you will love or who you will be, but I want you to hear one thing from your Abba and me. You will be a feminist. You will love women (even if you love men), you will support women in their efforts to seek top executive appointments and even executive office. You will support women who choose to breastfeed or use formula, women who want to work outside the home and those who work in the home. You will help our medical insurance industry decide if having your own biological children is a right and should be fully covered so that couples who want to start a family don’t have to choose between a child and their life’s savings. You will welcome and value men who want to become women and women who want to become men. You will fight for the rights of all women to be owners of their own bodies, for all people to live a life of safety and freedom, free from the fears that unfortunately still come from being born a girl anywhere in the world. I want you to know that it’s your job to make those things happen. It’s your responsibility too.

I love the earrings and the flowers. But really, this is what I want for mother’s day. And maybe for you to sleep through the night. But let’s start with something that may actually happen.

With all the love that there ever was in the whole wide world,

Your Ema

About the Author
Erin Beser has served in a leadership role in several diverse American Jewish institutions, her favorite posts being the Jewish communities of Bombay, India and Izmir, Turkey through the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. She received a masters in Hebrew Culture from Tel Aviv University, a teaching certificate from the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem and continues her education annually through Bank Street College of Education. She loves lattes, traveling, and playing the ukulele.
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