How Making Matzah Balls Taught Me About Parenting

It almost sounds like the start of a joke: “What do matzah balls and parenting have in common?” In fact, it almost seems silly to equate parenting to "matzah-balling," but read on.

I remember my first attempt at making a matzah ball. My inner monologue went something like: “Are you kidding? No way! This can't be right. That definitely doesn't look right. How did my mother make it look so easy?” I used to think that my mother just knew how to create the perfect matzo ball and transfer it easily from her hand to the boiling pot when I would watch her cook.

A girl eating matzo ball soup

I had some of the same inner conversations with my first child. In those first harried days of parenting, frantic thoughts of: "Why is my baby crying now?” Running through a mental checklist of my baby's wants and needs: Diaper, check…food, check…sick…no… What could it possibly be? How do I do this??? How did my mother manage to do this?! How am I ever going to learn how to do this?!

And then, like making matzah balls, I eased into a rhythm. Sure, my second (or even tenth) attempt at matzah balling wasn't perfect, but I started to figure things out. I knew to get a bowl of water to keep my hands from being sticky, I learned to put the mixture in the freezer for a few minutes to firm it up, and I learned how to roll it properly in the palms of my hands; eventually creating beautiful looking matzah balls just like my mother had when I was little.

And so it goes with parenting; we learn the cries of our children and why they are crying. We even learn that different cries mean different things. We begin to "just know" when our children need food or when they seem ill (because we are their mothers, of course), and we always know when they just need love.

These days, my matzah balls just happen, seeming as effortless as my mothers did. It's instinct by now - adding that extra dusting of matzo meal, the splash of seltzer, just the right amount of dill to the soup. It just clicks.

Finally, after a few decades, our children are grown; they are wonderful, and now have children of their own. There are no handbooks for parenting, just as there are no handbooks for matzah balls - but there are years and years of tradition, instinct, observation, and learning all coming together to create a mix that works. So now, our own children sit and watch in awe as we roll the perfect matzah balls and silently wonder to themselves, “How will I ever learn to make the perfect matzah balls, just like my mother?”

About The Author

Phyllis Lasky is an educator, parent, and proud Bubbe who relocated from the Northeast to Coral Springs 25 years ago. She's raised two incredible children: Alex, her daughter, and Ian, her son. Raising them has given her a wealth of expertise in parenting and she's thrilled to also have one grandson, Eitan, with another on the way soon.

Phyllis has been an Education Director of a Religious School in Coral Springs as well as a private tutor of Bar/Bat Mitzvah students. Phyllis cites two major passions in her life: supporting the next generation of learners and fostering a love of Judaism.