Comedian Sarah Silverman is kind of our collective beloved Jewish child — we think everything she does is gorgeous, above-average, and maybe should qualify her to be president.
But even if you don’t regard the 48-year-old comic as a kind of high-ponytailed messiah, you have to admit that the Mother’s Day tribute she posted to Instagram on Sunday was soul-stirring, and quietly powerful.
Silverman has spoken extensively about her closeness with her mother Beth Ann, who passed away in 2015. In her memoir and in interviews, Silverman has described her mother’s beauty, her brilliance, her work ethic, her many talents, and, of course, the pain of her loss.
So it was surprising to look at the star’s Instagram on Sunday and see, not a picture of Beth Ann Silverman, but instead a picture of a blonde woman named Janice. Janice is Silverman’s step-mother — she’s been married to Silverman’s father Donald for over 40 years. And she’s also the comedian wrote with piercing emotion, a mother to Silverman, and a friend, and the woman who held her mother’s hand on her death bed.
Those of us who were overly influenced by step-mother dynamics in “The Parent Trap,” take note. Step-parents can be real parents. Non-biological moms are moms. There is room in your life for as many people as you care to let in.
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The woman in this picture is my step mother, Janice. She is my mom and my friend and my and my sisters’ whole hearts. When my mom first got sick, Janice, who is terrified of needles, gave her her blood. When my Mom died decades later, she was holding Janice’s hand. #HappyMothersDay
Family members don’t have to share blood. Though in the case of Silverman’s mother and step-mother, they did. It’s nice to remember, as Mother’s Day passes through with complex feelings for non-biological parents, those dealing with loss, and anyone who has ever mothered or benefitted from one — more than one person can be your “whole heart.”
Happy Mother’s Day, everyone.
Jenny Singer is the deputy life/features editor for the Forward. You can reach her at Singer@forward.com or on Twitter @jeanvaljenny