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Dear Reader: Becoming Bubbie Laynie

Alayne Sulkin

Published on: April 27, 2018

The author's mother and daughter Photo credit: Alayne Sulkin
The author's mother and daughter Photo credit: Alayne Sulkin

My gorgeous mother Shulamit (Z”L)* is on the cover of this month’s issue. Looking at the photo, I’m thrust back in time to 1961 when the camera captured that moment. 

I will always remember my mother’s famous smile. It reflected her passion for life, which I’m told that I inherited. When she smiled, her chocolate brown eyes simultaneously lit up, suggesting that life is grand and that everything is possible. 

I wish we would have seen more of that smile. Despite all her glory, my mother wasn’t a particularly peaceful person (despite her first name’s relation to the Hebrew word shalom, meaning “peace”). But while her existence was far from tranquil, it was magnificently filled up with devotion and commitment to her values and her family.

My mother was the fourth of six children, born of immigrant parents who escaped Poland just before millions of Jews were murdered in death camps. As new Americans, her family suffered extreme hardships including the death of my grandfather. His passing left my grandmother a widow with six kids ages 4 to 14. My grandmother was forced to buy her family’s entire apartment building to avoid being evicted (once again) because of her loud and rambunctious progeny. 

Raised in the shadow of those mandatory strengths required for survival, my mother set extraordinarily high standards for her own children but I wouldn’t trade her vivacious spirit, impeccable integrity and unconditional love for other supposedly perfect parental traits.

Pictured above in matching sweaters knitted by yours truly, you’ll see my mother, who became known as Bubbie Shu. She’s holding her first grandchild, my eldest daughter Arielle. 

Now about to turn 32, Ari recently announced that she and her princely husband, Adam, will be having a child this fall. I am overjoyed to become a Bubbie myself.

My first task as a Bubbie-in-training: Sit by Ari’s side and explore the depths of wisdom in the essays featured in this month’s issue. From flexibility to acceptance, strength to appreciation, these are life-saving tools to which all mothers — indeed, all parents — can relate.

Another lesson I hope to impart to my daughter as she becomes a mother: It takes a village. And I fully intend to be there for her, Adam and my grandchild in the way that grandparents should be: with wide open arms and hearts full of pure and unconditional love.

*Of blessed memory

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