Thursday, March 29, 2012

LadyMama of the Week: Leah Notik (My Mom!) + Recipe

So much of what keeps me going with writing and blogging for LadyMama is the fact that it connects me with so many amazing and interesting real women. To embellish on the notion, I decided to start "LadyMama of the Week," celebrating readers who, just like me, are "trying to stay smart, stylish, spiritual and sane." 

The fact that LadyMama is so much fun is only a wonderful byproduct of my larger goal to infuse honesty and humor in today's Jewish women.  So who better to introduce the first installment than my very own mother—a woman who has inspired within me that very goal! 

Growing up, I always had to question whether my friends came over to see me...or my ever-so-cool mother! My "Ma" always gave the best advice, was completely non-judgmental and never failed to provide some great laughs. The kind of laughs that you might think you couldn't have with your friend's mother when you're seventeen :) My Ma is hip without trying—never letting her candor and ability to relate get in the way of delivering wise insights.  

My mother is my best friend. To be honest, I would not have said that when I was a teenager. But as soon as I got out of that fragile phase, we were able to connect and bond in a unimaginably deep way. Now that I am a mother myself, her wisdom is indespensable. But most rewarding is the way we can sometimes connect as peers, usually talking about the family and how funny/hard/amazing life is. 

Having asked my mother the questions you're about to read, I realized that I should have been interviewing  her all my life! These only scratch the surface, so I can definitely say this will not be the last time. I now have a million more questions for which I'm sure she will provide genuine and meaningful responses. She is full of gems that come from rich experiences and a soulful eye on every situation and person she comes across. 

I encourage LadyMamas everywhere to sit down with their mother (or female guardian/mentor) to ask some real questions. And if you know of another woman who would shine as LadyMama of the Week, please e-mail me at! 

Now, introducing...

Me and my mom (not my sister, I promise) at my nephews bris in in January

  (My mom!)

LM: How does it feel having your youngest child about to graduate college?

It feels great! We are so proud of her. But I have to be honest, I'm already starting to get "empty nest syndrome" just thinking about it. When you embark on motherhood your kids are with you for many years. And you can never imagine it being any other way. In our case our daughter is the youngest of seven. Kids have been in and around home for approximately 32 years! So this will be a huge transition for me and Tatty. But of course, we are looking forward to all the simchas and happiness that will come with her move and new job this summer. But truthfully this will be an adjustment (did I say that already? :)). 

LM: What do you think has changed most about motherhood since you became a mom 30 years ago?

One of the greatest shifts I've seen is a certain surge of mothers being unfulfilled in their role of being "just" a mother and needing more. I feel that our generation was a bit more content just being a mother and housewife. Although I myself did it's happening a lot more out of this intrinsic need, not circumstance. Women today are up against a lot of pressure to work, use their hobbies and accomplish great things aside for mothering. The hard part is making sure your family continues to thrive no matter what. It's deeply important for mothers to feel self-fulfilled, but this must never come at the cost of her family's well being. And that is a challenge that did not exist as much in my generation. 

LM: What advice would you offer today's mothers to help them live happier, richer lives?

I would have to say bar none that women today need to do all they can to be more present. I find that most people and mothers today are not living and enjoying each moment to the fullest. Cell phones, computers and social media have taken over our time, energy and focus.  I'm not dissing these venues but we are not getting enough rest when we have free time and enough focus when our time is needed.  Stay in the moment and enjoy the small tedious things. Nurturing your family with good food...playing with your children...these are the things that matter in the long run and these are the memories that will stay with us.  This does not mean that I'm opposed to working mothers in any way— it's more about appropriate balance and structuring your life so that your family isn't missing out or needing a certain attention from you that you can't give.

Being a mother requires true dedication to your children day and night. So no matter what our greater personal goals and ambitions and hobbies, women today need to try hard to give 

LM: What would you say is one of your biggest accomplishments as a woman/mother?

I definitely think having seven kids in ten years was a great accomplishment! :) More so that I felt that each one was loved and nurtured.  But looking at our family now and seeing how all my kids are these unique individuals who are honest and real and contributing to the greater community at large is the most satisfying accomplishment.  I'd also love to take credit for the fact that my children love one another and want to always spend time with each other to laugh and debate and help each other out. There's nothing more gratifying! 

LM: Do you have any regrets? Things you would have done differently?

Yes I have regrets, just like all parents do.  One of the largest ones would be to have shielded my kids from my own internal processes. I was always a deep person who was ever changing in the way I related to my Judaism and the world. And sometimes my honesty in questioning either our communities or even decisions I myself made wasn't the best thing for my kids. I will say though that even this "regret" turned out okay, because I am actually happy to have taught my kids to be honest seekers in this world. 

If you're a young mother reading this, just know now not to spend too much time regretting things. You will make mistakes but as long as you are committed to the health and happiness of your children -- things should turn out alright ;)

LM: What are some things you think every woman today needs to help her succeed as a woman/wife/homemaker/mother?

Women need tons of support and love form their spouses. When there is Shalom Bayis and true love and respect at home, a woman can shine as a wife, homemaker and mother and always feel special and fulfilled.

On a more materialistic side, definitely a maid to help maintain a clean and orderly home so that one can concentrate on the children's needs. 

LM: How has your background in nursing affected the way you care for your family?  

Well the real question is "How has being a mother affected being a nurse?" :) 

But I guess I would say that it has made me realize that one of my strongest qualities has been compassion and about giving to others at all times. Humans are so fragile and we need to do our utmost to accommodate peoples' needs and deal with others in a way that honors their humanity.

Just like being a nurse, nurturing is a huge quality in motherhood. And the more you nurture, the more it comes back to you.  

LM: Looking back, is seven kids a lot? a little? just right? :)

Recently I visited a friend that at one point had the same amount of kids as I in the same age group and now has 4 more after me.  I was so impressed and, for a minute (yes, just a minute!) I thought how great it would have been if I would still have kids home after our youngest moves out this year.  Kids are a blessing but one really needs to know what their threshold is...and enjoy fully whatever they have been given. It is your life investment!

LM: What's something you always tried to live by that you hope gets passed down to your children?

I hope that, just as I love my siblings and parents and treat each relationship with utmost love, selflessness and  esteem that each of my children will do the same  with their siblings and family and treasure these relationships with each other forever!  I think I have been a living example of what this means.  In order to create your own dynasty of cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents it is important to always be humble and never let small little petty disagreements get in the way of a healthy and loving family dynamic! Always approach matters in true humbleness. 

LM: What's it like to read your own daughters musings on being a mother herself? :)

Absolutely heart warming and amusing! I love how real and unadulterated she is!  She's fearless as to what people think and so frank to address  issues that we are all thinking but yet too afraid to talk about.  I'm always amazed at how her articles can be so deep yet filled with great humor! Making everyone feel truly human, relevant and able to relate is a true talent.  You are a trendy, professional, well expressed LadyMama and your mama is so proud!

[Editors note: Awww, thanks Ma! :)]

LM: Any closing thoughts?

Appreciate simplicity!

Love deeply, enjoy each moment, smile intensely!  

We are blessed with gifts from above for a short while and it is our honor and responsibility to take care of these gifts to the best of our ability.

Treat each choice in life as a rare jewel , examine and re-examine until you make the best choice for your family.

The art of listening is so important.  Looking one another in the eye and truly listen.

Try to love unconditionally and not be swayed by societal demands. We are always put under community norms and to live by them might not be your norm. Do what feels right to you and your family and then you can be real with everyone around you.

Mamasita Buena's Famous Family Favorite:
 "Easy and Amazing" Chocolate Chip Bar Recipe 

This is the only picture I could find of my family's favorite treat. As you 
can see, we all want to get our hands on them. And even chocolate-chip bars 
in this amount were always finished way before Shabbos was over! 


1 1/2 cups oil
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 white sugar

Mix all the above.

4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
4 1/2 cups flour
 2 tsp baking soda  + 1 tsp salt (mixed together)
1 bag of chocolate chips 

Combine all ingredients. Mix. 
Bake at 350ยบ until brown (usually about 45-60 mins)


If you know of a woman who would shine as LadyMama of the Week, please e-mail me with your suggestion at! 

9 LadyMama voices:

Deidra said... [Reply to comment]

Hi! Great post! I want to make the recipe listed at the end but it seems one of the ingredients is missing. 4 1/2 what? Thanks!

Mimi Hecht said... [Reply to comment]

Whoops, I updated it! Thanks Deidra! Do let me know how it comes out :)

Mushky Notik said... [Reply to comment]

Love it! :)

Mushky Notik said... [Reply to comment]

Love it! :)

Batsheva said... [Reply to comment]

What a beautiful interview!
your mother sounds so grounded and awesome.
she seems so proud of you.

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

So so sweet! And what great advice. I love hearing from women who got past the juggling kid part and are reaping what they did sew with their older children. It gives me strength to keep on giving and nurturing. Thanks Mimi and to you as well Mrs. Notik!


Fashion-isha said... [Reply to comment]

I have to run so I couldn't read the whole thing but I just HAD to comment. First of all YES your Mom looks like your sister and she so reminds me of the kind of Mom I am!! And of course she MUST be a fabulous woman because she raised YOU!!
I will be back to read the whole thing and then I may just leave another comment cuz I always have something to say ;)
Lots of love
ps feeling sooo much better BH!

vicki said... [Reply to comment]

Beautiful tribute to your special Mother, Mimi! May you follow in her footsteps! Way to bring home tons of nachas! kol hacavod! Love you!

Chana Schnur said... [Reply to comment]

So true thanks Mim! Yes, we did love hanging out with your mom when we were 17! :-) Such beautiful ideas, and Leah, you have raised a beautiful family! Thanks for sharing this!