Just a Yiddeshe Mama-Part I

Saturday, November 15, 2014

When I was 8, I experienced my first 'girl crush' and met my first fashion inspiration.

Mrs. Adler was my 3rd grade teacher at Bais Yaakov of Baltimore, a yiddishe mama* for sure, and also a modest fashionista. Little did I know that 38 years later, while reading Diane Von Furstenburg's memoir, I would realize that in that year of 1976, the fashion icon of the era was DVF, and the item every fashionable woman was wearing, including Mrs. Adler, was the iconic wrap dress. Thinking back I can envision my teacher in that dress, layered over a turtleneck and worn with a pair of fabulous suede square-heeled boots. It was an outfit so quintessentially 70's, yet classic enough that I would wear an identical version today.

When I was 10, I visited a museum in Washington D.C. with my family and only remember one thing about that trip: The chandelier in the entrance. I decided right then and there that I wanted my house to look like that...chandelier and all.
My love for chandeliers began at an early age

When I was 16, I knew I wanted to be a famous fashion designer. 80's female designers Carolyne Roehm and Donna Karan were my inspirations. (I achieved that goal several years ago when I created my line, Purple by Sharon which was sold at several boutiques in Lakewood, Brooklyn and Long Island. I wasn't famous, but I was a designer.)
Carolyne Roehm in the 80's

Donna Karan

When I was 18,  I wanted to live in New York City and go to F.I.T., but ended up going to Israel and pretty much just having a LOT of fun.

When I was 20, I got married and moved to Lakewood. And that's when it happened to me. At 22 I officially became a yiddeshe mama.

And that was that.

Not that that's a bad thing. It was the beginning of my real life. A life richer and more complex than I would ever imagine. This is clear: There is nothing better than being a wife and mom who invests her life into her family. It is the highest, holiest, and most prestigious job in the world. "The hand that rocks the cradle holds the future."


The craving for fashion and glamour have always pulled at me. Before FOMO was invented by our kids I had it. I had it bad. And I still do.

So I created. I painted and designed and decorated. I volunteered, designed, ran events. And then I started Fashion-isha. All while being a yiddeshe mama.

On a recent flight home from Chicago I saw a wonderful movie called Mom's Night Out. At first it looked a little silly, but its message struck a chord. Even though we often feel unsuccessful and unfulfilled, there is no greater dream than being a wife and mommy . We may never feel like we're enough for ourselves, but we are. "The hand that rocks the cradle holds the future."

And I have been able to see that future. I recently helped my daughter move into her new home. I'm watching her build and raise her own family. I've watched my babies grow into adults and leave on their own journeys. It's all so heartbreaking...and heartwarming. I am often alone now, and my freedom to pursue glamour is at my fingertips. But I am still often consumed with family: babysitting, cooking, cleaning (ha!), face-timing, traveling, shopping, consulting. And in those times the glamour slips away and the FOMO comes right back.

And that's when I have to tell myself, "You are a yiddeshe mama. You are not DVF skiing in Geneva, you are not living in a museum, you are not Donna Karan, you are not living in Manhattan. You're a yiddeshe mama and you are blessed beyond your wildest dreams."
DVF in earlier years

And then I'm ok and I can get creative all over again. I can create my own version of glamour.

*Yiddeshe Mama: Yiddish for Jewish Mother. Although an endearing term, it often brings to mind frumpiness. My goal is to change that association. Right here. Right now.

Next up...Part II. The Fashion-isha Five: How to Infuse Glamour into a Yiddeshe Mama's Life. Stay posted!

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  1. Dear Sharon you are an incredible woman in every sense of the word, Wife, Mother, designer, talented and beautiful!

    The Arts by Karena

  2. Great post! I too grew up admiring these same exact fashion designers, plus Coco Chanel, Diana Vreeland, and a woman in my community whose style and beauty my mother and I referred to as "suppressed gorgeous."

    You deserve huge kudos for creating and sustaining the glamour in your life (and most certainly in the lives of others!), without sacrificing your deeply held beliefs and dedication to being a "Yiddeshe Mama."

    Life is complex in so many ways, with a daily grind that hardly feels glamorous, at least for me on most days. But you are so right - life is also rich, and I try to find inspiration (including from your blog) and creative outlets to satisfy both the "deep end" and the so-called "shallow end" of my personality (as Madeleine Wickham artfully put it). We are blessed if we can all find the right balance that suits us, our families, our goals, and of course our realities.

    My husband frequently calls me a "Matzo Mom" which is the highest compliment as far as I'm concerned, because when he says this he means that I'm "formidible" and "fierce"...even if I'm feeling rather frumpy at that given moment!

  3. This is a wonderful story, Sharon! I lover DVF and Donna Karan too. Cannot wait to read the next chapter, my friend. And, btw, your new header is fabulous X10...who did it for you? I need help with tweeking mine a bit. xx's

  4. This was beautiful!! I would have lots of Yiddeshe Mamas!! I love that you put it that way as well and said what it is and the meaning. Beautiful. I hope you have a beautiful week my dear Xxx

  5. Todà! I'm not a yiddeshe mama (I'm just a sefaradi' mama) and read your post bring me a big smile! :D

  6. oops, meant "formidable" - can't type!

  7. Hi Sharon,
    I really enjoyed reading your post. I was 8 years old in 1976 too and I totally relate to your story!
    First, I am a Yiddishe Mame too.
    I was born and raised in Paris (how glamour is that?). I was always fashion-oriented and eventually worked in the fashion industry as a PR and as a fashion associate with the American Vogue office in Paris.
    I worship my DVF wrap dress I bought in the 90's yet I don't wear it any more.
    Looking forward to reading you again!