As mothers, we must sometimes rely on using special weapons from our arsenal to motivate our family members to do something. In that arsenal are things like bribery, whining, crying, and silent treatments. I personally have not yet found anything more effective than good old Jewish mother guilt. It is a one-size-fits-all power play that has the unparalleled ability to get things done. The best part is, even if you don't need something done immediately, little jabs of Jewish mothering are stored up in the psyches of your victims so that our voice is what they hear when they are pondering their next move. It is a matchless motivator.
Below are just a few examples woven into one magical family night to use as a springboard. Your own creativity will kick in and you will find yourself weaving your own tapestry of guilt:
- Monday evening, show up unannounced. Bring two different casseroles to make your presence more tolerable. Tell them, "I'm sorry! It's your family night" They look at me like some schlub showing up without an invite. "No, no, I'll go. Keep the casseroles. I'm sorry." Turn to walk away, knowing they will insist you stay.
- They will be forced to choose one of the casseroles for dinner. When you all sit down to eat, sigh very loudly. When they ask, insist that nothing is wrong. Wave your hands dismissively. Then, turn your head to look away, wiping away a fake tear. When they badger you, confess, "I guess you didn't like the other casserole? I shouldn't have bothered. I'm sure your brother and his family would have appreciated it."
- Once dinner is over, get up and begin to clear the table. When they try to stop you and ask you to sit down reply, "No, no, I intruded. I can at least clean up my mess. You go and be with your family. I'm just the mother. After the 32 hours it took to deliver you, nearly dying in the process, a few dishes is nothing. Go, be with your family."
- While doing the dishes, drop a few pots and lids and make lots of noise followed by intense sighs. Come in periodically and look in on them, rubbing your back and hips as if they are giving you tremendous pain. Then wave your hands dismissively again and go make more noise. When they come in and ask you to join them, tell them, "No, no, just listening to the joyful noise is enough. I can die happy tonight knowing your and your family like each other so much. I can only hope they treat you well when you are as old as me! Raise them so that they will pitch in and help you with menial tasks like the dishes when you are in your infirmities!"
- When they drag you from the kitchen and try to get you into the fun they are having, look up toward the heavens and whisper loudly enough for the neighbors to hear, "I thought they'd never ask."
- When the evening's fun and games are over, get ready to leave and as you are walking out the door, scold them thusly, "Maybe next time you could actually invite me over and then I won't have to feel so bad barging in like this to see my grandchildren! I give and give and give and I ask for so little in return! Oy!"
- When they fumble with their excuses, wait for the "Our door is always open to you. You don't need an invitation!" and then reply, "From your mouth to God's ears!"