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“Mom, My Wife is Not as Good as You”

Does Your Spouse/Partner Also
Lack Back Scratching Skills?

My mother has begun a ritual that is simultaneously heartwarming and challenging. She has organized all the papers that she collected over the years.

Recently, she presented me with a scrapbook which included my school report cards, drawings from grade school, a variety of essays, doctor’s growth reports and pictures that thankfully will never make it onto Facebook.

The kids and Michelle thoroughly enjoyed the chance to explore my past. Thankfully my grades were pretty darn good, thus providing enough inspiration (and no embarrassment).

Rediscovering Uncomfortable Memories
Every few months, my mom comes across another couple of gems from my past, which she places in an envelope and mails to us. It caused my wife and I had to face up to a difficult truth: that early in our marriage, I confessed to my mother that my wife Michelle did not measure up to mom’s standards.

Proof came as one of those artifacts, a handwritten card I wrote in September 1989:

Dear Mom, 

This is a short “mother appreciation” card. Michelle and I had our first real fight of our relationship last week. I didn’t understand its true significance until I spoke to [my sister] Lori this morning. It seems we have the same problem with our “significant others.” 

I gotta get one of these

Seems that no one can scratch backs as well as you can. Michelle puts all her fingers tightly together in such a way that so little an area is covered and its done too hard. Both [my sister’s then husband] and Michelle don’t know that when they are told “up”, they only are supposed to go up a little bit. Both of them go up much too much. 

Mom, I was wondering where you learned to scratch backs so well. Perhaps there is a college correspondence course or you could just give her some advice on how to do it right. This fight lasted 30 seconds (with tears). The next one might hit a minute. 

We’ve talked out the scratching problem for now; but you know how these unresolved things keep popping up. 

Thanx Mom. 

Love, Paul

Thankfully, our marriage has endured the disappointment and dissatisfaction of Michelle’s shortcomings in this critical marital skill. We got over the hump when I dicovered that the inner facing corners on doorframes adequately scratch any itch. [By the way, in recent years, Michelle has gotten much, much better at backscratching.]

Preserving Family Memories
But my mom’s scrapbooks and occasional mailing of additional artifacts from my past got me thinking.

Many parents collect pictures, letters, drawing, school papers and more from their kids’ past. Often those historical artifacts are rediscovered in the attic once the parent has passed on.

Perhaps we all might follow my mother’s example. Turn the artifacts into a scrapbook that the grandkids can appreciate while they are still young. Save up a number of additional gems to dole out every few months. The joy and memories are delicious.

And after all, we Jews are the people of yizkor and zicharon (memory). By remembering where we have come from, we have a sense of where we are, and can catch a glimpse of what is ahead in our future.

So as the kids and grandkids get older, consider how you will preserve and then share the memories.

For me, I just want to say, “Thanks Mom!”

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