My Mamma

Oryan Levi
5 min readMay 10, 2020


If you’ve ever been to an IKEA, you know that there is absolutely no cell reception in there. This has been true of every IKEA that I’ve ever been to, and I suspect that its completely intentional. With no distractions from a mobile device, customers are free to wander the showrooms and pick up a Färgrik or two.

The last time I took a trip to IKEA with my mom was back when I first got a cell phone. With my Sony Ericsson Slide in my back pocket I confidently strayed away from her location in bed linens, totally oblivious to the IKEA reception situation. It took all but two minutes for me to lose contact with my chaperone and realize that I was lost in a Swedish labyrinth of functional design. I ran around the store, called out her name, had a little panic cry by the nightstands, and ultimately began considering my future as a resident IKEA child.

I had just picked out the room that I was ready to call my new home — it had one of those loft beds with the desk underneath and that tulle canopy thing over the bed — when I heard a familiar sneeze. Ah, there she is. My mamma has a sneeze like no other. Better than any cell signal, her sneeze makes it easy to pinpoint her location in any IKEA, Whole Foods, or Ross sale rack around the globe.

It’s mother’s day and there are a million things I want to write about. I have 23 years of stories to tell, funny moments, and silly quotes. But all I can think about, is that sneeze, and how it sets my mamma apart from yo mamma. So, I’ve decided to tell you all, my wonderful readers, about the little things that make my lady special.

My mamma is an artist. In every sense of the word. She draws inspiration from everything and creates from anything. More than once she’s made me pull the car over to pick up acorns from the side of the road, or dig through the recycling at PayLess for the perfect shoe boxes. She can see something on Pinterest and immediately make it with her own spin. She can decide to become a bag designer and a week later show up with and entire line of unique purses ready to be photographed. There are seemingly no bounds to her imagination.

My mamma always says the right thing. You know when you see a kid fall and get slightly hurt, and there’s that moment when the kid looks to his parents to see how he should react? If the parents say something like “oh no oh no!” then the kid immediately starts crying, but if they just go “you’re ok, get up”, the kid gets right back on that bike like nothing happened. My mamma will always know which one of those to say. She’ll always tell you what you need to hear, especially when it’s not what you want to hear. She’ll tell me a boyfriend is bad for me, or when an idea just doesn’t make sense. She knows who to trust and how to talk to them. I hate when she’s right, but I trust her gut more than my own.

My mamma makes dreams happen. Cheesy, but seriously. There isn’t something I asked for and didn’t get back at least an attempt. Countless times I would describe to her the exact Purim costume I’d dreamt up, and she’d listen, retreat to her sewing machine and have it hanging on my door by the morning. God only knows how she knew what I meant by “seaweed princess”.

My mamma will give you the world. She’ll bake a challah for everyone in the neighborhood even if she hasn’t talked to them in years. She’ll invite someone to dinner just because they seemed lost in a Whole Foods. She’ll let me borrow her favorite jacket even though I she know’s I’ll get it dirty, just because it makes me happy for a night.

My mamma loves the little things. Every week, my parents go drink coffee in a different pretty spot in nature. They bring a little burner and coffee pot and just sit somewhere nice to drink coffee. I love that she loves this. What a way to spend a Sunday.

My mamma owned chickens. I only recently found out about this. She told me and my sister this story so casually, and it honestly blew my mind. It turns out that she bought some chickens the bus station and raised them in her shower until they got too big and had to be moved to the neighbors backyard. Then, she would still go to this neighbors backyard before and after school to take care of them. One day she came back and they were gone. I’m not sure why, but I just never imagined my mamma as a young girl, and I can’t stop thinking about this story.

Growing up, I used to hate being called “Neta’s daughter”. I just really wanted to be my own person. It took me a really long time to realize that I don’t have to choose between being just like her, or nothing like her at all. And that I don’t need to choose between loving her, and wanting to be different from her. Today, I am so proud to have parts of her reflected in me.

Mamma, you inspire me, you frustrate me, you make me happy, you make me angry. I hate when you’re right, and I’m mad when you’re smarter than I am. I love when you’re proud of me and when we can understand each other with just a look or a few words. I love when I make you laugh so hard that you cry, and I love sitting in lawn chairs drinking coffee with you in the morning.

You taught me to buy used books, to bring baked goods to a business meeting, to always invite people to dinner, to listen to people’s stories and, most importantly to always keep plastic bags in the car because they come in handy for so many situations. My future success is all because of what I learned from you.

Mamma, I love you. Happy Mother’s Day.