Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Being Bubbe

Happy New Year everyone!  It is with great pleasure that I kick off 2011 for Gaddy Daddy with a guest post from Max's Aunt Paula, who has been extraordinarily supportive of Max and his daddies ever since he was just a twinkle in our eyes.  We would truly be lost without her, and you'll see why when reading her post.  Thanks for everything Paula!

Here I am typing my first ever blog entry. (Yes, I admit it, I am not even sure what a blog is and luckily, Jacob sends me all his entries via a link in a nice old fashioned e-mail…otherwise I am certain I could never find gaddy daddy, great fan though I am.) So, where was I before my spontaneous luddite confessions burst out? Oh, yes, I am typing my guest blog entry and as I do, I am glancing over at a photo of me holding Max at a recent family Chanukah party at Aunt Sheila’s and I look exactly like – a Bubbe! Max looks a little startled and I look extremely possessive and a bit maniacal in my pride at holding him. I had just wrestled him out of my son Josh’s arms and was feeling total ownership. It is a definite Bubbe look.

Aunt Paula and Max at the Chanukah party

What exactly does a Bubbe “look” like? Let’s try a description that rules out all the things a Bubbe is NOT. So, a bubbe is not the kind of grandmother who zips around to pick you up and take you to the latest sale at Century 21 before her Pilates session. A bubbe is not the kind of grandmother who makes sushi in her kitchen for you because she just took an authentic Japanese cooking class. No, a bubbe is your Jewish grandmother who cares about your grades in math and science, about your neshama (your soul) and about whether you are eating enough protein (read: corned beef, brisket and chicken soup).

Stewart lovingly calls me Max’s spiritual advisor. Jacob calls me Max’s Aunt Paula (I am, afterall, Jacob’s sister-in-law, not his mother). I, however, have come to realize that I am most of all Max’s Bubbe. I am not actually old enough to be Jacob’s mother (though I have been his sister-in-law since he was twelve) and I don’t really focus very much on grades. (And Max has not yet mastered the color yellow, never mind Algebra and Chem.) While I cook brisket and chicken, the only proteins I eat are quinoa and beans. Still, I lay claim to the title: I love being Bubbe.

I care more than anything about Max’s neshama. Before he was even born, I talked with his Abba and his Papa about raising the future baby as a Jew. Stewart started reading and Jacob started planning. As Jacob’s sister and as a rabbi, you can imagine that I was joyful at the prospect of a brit milah (often called bris – ritual circumcision) to bring Max into the covenant as a Jew. Five months later, Jacob and Stewart brought Max to the mikvah (ritual bath) to immerse him with rabbinic supervision and complete the process. Jacob has paid me good money not to embarrass him, so I won’t really mention the fact that when Rabbi Craig Scheff gave him a clear set of directions about how to immerse Max, Jacob was so nervous that he lifted Max and dunked himself! Stewart caught the whole thing on video. I was so weepy and faklempt that I didn’t see it happen at all. Whoops! Did I really just tell all? Jacob, you have final editing rights! It’s your blog!!

Max looking rightfully nervous at his mikvah

The amazing thing about the choices for a bris, a Hebrew name, and a mikvah is that no one was pressuring Max’s fathers. (I had not yet taken on my mantle of Bubbe!) Everyone in the Wallace and Drill families was so delighted to welcome this healthy, beautiful baby into our lives that no one had any other expectations. Jacob and Stewart, however, wanted to anchor Max to a tradition that is almost 6000 years older than he is and to a people who will care about his soul and the mark that he makes in the world. I could not be more proud of this miraculous little family.

Max consults his "spiritual advisor" at his bris

As we enter the new year 2011 (just a few months into the Jewish year 5771) I pray for Jacob and Stewart the blessing that any Bubbe would bless: I pray that they raise Max Wallace Drill (Moshe ben Yakov) to understand the meaning of the covenant into which they entered him. I pray that they always inspire him to seek truth and ways of peace, but to stand up and speak up when necessary. I pray that Max’s heart be open to Torah and that he grow to be a blessing to his fathers, his family, his people and all humanity.

And to that, there is nothing left to say but Amen.


  1. Paula, I love this love this love this! But you're way too glamorous to be a bubbe. (Actually Max himself looks more like a bubbe in that first picture of him with you. His expression is priceless.)
    On the other hand, what do I know about bubbes? I never had one.

  2. Paula,

    Awesomely said. Loved your guest blog.