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Embarrassed and Embarrassing Mothers

In a video clip posted on the new website for MAKERS: Women Who Make America, writer Judy Blume remembers embarrassing her mother when she discussed female masturbation on Dr. Ruth’s talk show. “My mother was horrified,” Blume recalls many years later.

Perhaps because I was never a guest on national TV, I had few opportunities to embarrass my mother. In any case, it would have taken quite a lot. Like Judy Blume’s mother, mine was my “greatest fan.” Of course that did not deter her from embarrassing me on a regular basis, especially when I was a teenager.

On the eve of Mother’s Day weekend, a Hallmark bonanza long ago downgraded to a Verizon holiday in our family, I think of all the wisdom my unconventional, often embarrassing mother passed on to me and the other young people related to her by blood or friendship.

When my friends’ adoring, cuddly kids began to roll their eyes at everything their mothers said (fathers usually got a pass; mine certainly did), my wise and wacky mother gave them one piece of sterling advice: “Do not take it personally” and one profound insight: “Your mother is never more embarrassing than when you are 13.”

I count often think how lucky I am that my mother has lived long enough for me to recognize how fortunate I was that she did what she thought was right, even if it embarrassed me.

You can view more of Judy Blume’s reminiscences here. They are part of a collection of video interviews that tell the story of the women's movement through the firsthand accounts of the leaders, opponents, and trailblazers who created a new America in the last half-century. This digital platform is the basis for a comprehensive and  three-hour documentary that aired on PBS in February 2013 and can be streamed in three parts on thMAKERS websiteDVD's can be purchased from for $24.99. 

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1 Comment

For sure, I have embarrassed my mother a couple of times. An occasion that makes her very embarrassed of me is when I am wearing my Ì¢‰âÒpreggyÌ¢‰âÂå looking attire ( which she abhors so much since, as a conservative Catholic, she doesnÌ¢‰â‰ã¢t want to let people think I have had premarital sex).

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How to cite this page

Rothman, Ellen K.. "Embarrassed and Embarrassing Mothers." 11 May 2012. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on January 16, 2018) <>.


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