Growing up, I called my grandmother Grandma.
We were Jewish, but also American. There was never any question but that my grandma would be Grandma. Even if she was born in the Old Country and, like all my friends and all their grandparents, spoke with a Yiddish accent. I used to think, in fact, that in order to be a grandparent you had to have been born in the Old Country and speak with a Yiddish accent.
Rachel Somekh teaches two classic Iraqi appetizers, potato chops and cigars
Is our culture trying to scam us into having kids?
This is an epic question and I only have 850 words, so let me start close to home, with my grandma.
"Listen to me," she said last week over the phone from Reseda. "You have to have kids. You'll never regret it. It's the best thing you'll ever do. Listen to your grandma."
Catch any celebrity parent on a talk show and you're likely to hear the same sentiment about the singularly life-changing effects of parenthood. When Jude Law, Eminem, Denise Richards and Esther Strasser agree on something, you have to give it consideration.
Year after year I would walk up the pathway to Grandma Gussie's apartment, passing her kitchen window on the way to the door. I would hear the clanging of spoons, chopping of potatoes and vegetables or the tea kettle whistling on her tiny stove.
Yes, it's true. I was raised as an Orthodox Jew -- in Bakersfield no less. My parents were very strict about going to temple and observing the holidays and religion. But Dad also used to take me to the local wrestling matches when I was around 10. He got a kick out of watching the wrestlers and their antics, and I did, too.
She has never been the gray-haired bubbe who stays at home and cooks all day. In fact, her hair is red and -- surprise -- she doesn't like to cook.
Roseann Cronrod grew up in the tenements of New York, the child of recent Polish immigrants to the United States. She went on to become a working single mother and an entrepreneur, and, in retirement, has never depended on children or grandchildren to fill her days.