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Family Plea

This coming Sunday marks Mother’s Day. Instead of flowers or treats, a writer offers up some decidedly unconventional prayer.

Shalom Auslander
May 05, 2011
Margarita Korol
Margarita Korol
Margarita Korol
Margarita Korol

For Sons

Hear our voice, Hashem our God, pity and be compassionate to us, and deliver us, Oh Father in Heaven, from our mothers here on Earth. Bring us back to you, Oh Lord, if only to get us the hell away from them, for we are in agony and depressed and neurotic and sexually dysfunctional. We have turned away from You, we have become guilty, we have robbed, we have slandered, but Jesus, let the punishment fit the crime, and no crime could fit the punishment of mothers such as ours, Oh God. Hear our cries, Oh Lord, He who did deliver us with a mighty hand from the from the land of Egypt but clearly saved the 11th plague for us, He who took us from the land of bondage to the land flowing with guilt and shunning, a land of superegos and shame and Hitler and pogroms and arthritis and Alzheimer’s, and for which the only solace is alcohol and violent pornography. For you are our Lord, the All-Knowing, the All-Understanding, but Who, let’s face it, Oh Lord, never had a mother Himself, so doesn’t really know, does He? May He who split the Red Sea and delivered his children from suffering do so once again, speedily in our days, or just let the sea collapse on us and get the damn thing over with.

(For sons, the fast begins at sundown the evening before Mother’s Day, and continues until loss of consciousness results in blessed, merciful death.)

For Daughters

Hashem, Hashem, God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in kindness and truth—what the fuck? If the pain of childbirth is our punishment for Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden, Oh Merciful God, what sin did we commit to receive the punishment of such a mother? Did Eve grab a second apple on the way out? Did she bake an apple fucking pie, Oh Lord? For our misery is great, and apparently that is the only thing about us that is: Our clothing is not great, our hair is not great, neither are the way we raise our children or the men we choose to marry. Oh Lord who gave Abraham unto Sarah, hear the voices of our mothers who would cry out and say: a shepherd? No daughter of mine is marrying a shepherd. Our brothers can do no wrong, Oh Lord, and we can do no right. May I find favor in your eyes as I never shall in hers.

(After the blessing, visit the mother you swore you wouldn’t, try to convince yourself she means well, tell your partner/husband/children to just ignore her, and spend the rest of the day wondering if she’s right and you have gotten fat.)

For Mothers

Blessed art thou, Oh Lord our God, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, I should have such children myself, maybe if I give mine a dime they’ll phone me once a year, the merciful Lord, the One who forgives us for the sins we have committed, and we must have committed some doozies, after all, to deserve children like these: the son with hair like a girl, the daughter who’s out all night—who knows what she’s up to—children who blame us for all their problems and cause us to grow old before our time, children who marry whores and Philistines, who give birth to bastards and finish what Hitler started—you think you’re hurting me by dating a shvartza, you’re not hurting me—forgive us this day, oh Lord our God, for whatever laws we must have broken, they must have been some big ones; we must have must built a Golden Calf, a whole herd of Golden Calves, who knows, it’s always our fault, Oh Lord Our God, for why else would You keep from us those sons who become doctors and those daughters who marry them, like the Goldberg boy, he’s a surgeon now, or that Rubenstein girl, she married a brain surgeon kinehora, why else would You curse us with sons who never call before Shabbos, and daughters who wear jeans with their gotkes hanging out, is this why we paid for yeshiva, Oh Lord? May it be your will, Oh Lord our God, who doesn’t know Himself what it’s like to be a Mother—it must be nice to be a Father—forgive us, Oh Lord, for it’s our fault, of course it is, You go create another world, do whatever you want, don’t think about us; may it be Your will, Oh Lord, to bring us the Messiah and deliver us to Jerusalem speedily in our days, it should kill you to lift Your feet while we vacuum beneath You, Oh Lord, You have it very hard and let us say Amen. Of course we’ll say Amen.

(Take three steps backward, dab tears from eyes with tissue already soaked with sadness, wave dismissively to the right, wave dismissively to the left, wave dismissively to the center, sigh heavily, and walk out, a hand pressed against your aching lower back.)

For Psychiatrists

If He had given us a job that’s primarily sitting

and not given us a never-ending source of income,

it would have been enough.

If He had given us a never-ending source of income

and not permitted us to charge an hour for 45-minutes of work,

it would have been enough.

If He had permitted us to charge an hour for 45-minutes of work

and not permitted us in that hour to earn more than a high-end prostitute,

it would have been enough.

If He had permitted us in that hour to earn more than a high-end prostitute

and not given us the duplex on the Upper East Side,

it would have been enough.

If He had given us the duplex

but not given us the license to prescribe drugs,

it would have been enough.

If He had only given us Mothers

and not Fathers, too,

it would have been enough!

(Immediately following prayers, cancel all appointments and spend the day getting shitfaced.)

Shalom Auslander is the author of Foreskin’s Lament, Hope: A Tragedy, and most recently Mother for Dinner. His new memoir, Fehwill be published this July. He writes The Fetal Position on Substack, so make that seven Nazis.