“She’s an evil genius,” said Kate Siegel about her mother using text to reach her. The 28 year-old continues, “With a phone call, I can screen. With an email, I can not open it…”
“But with texts, she thinks they’re from a friend, so she looks down and BAM!, gets the message!” mother Kim cuts in.
This dynamic, mom-daughter duo know a thing or two about texting. Their text exchanges were the inspiration for Kate’s New York Times Bestseller, “Mother, Can You NOT!?” The book is based on Kate’s Instagram account, @CrazyJewishMother, which is rapidly approaching 830,000 followers. The account are compiled screenshots of Kim’s ‘colorful’ texts to her adult daughter… about things like her drying up eggs, meeting “Mr. Right,” and the questionable safety of her neighborhood.
Currently on a book tour (stopping in Northern Virginia next Thursday), Kate and Kim sat down to chat with GatherDC about their texts – the good, the bad, and the “still single.”
GatherDC: What sparked the idea for you to originally post your mom’s texts to Instagram?
Kate: My mom has been a lunatic forever. She discovered texting a few years back, and I’ve been screenshotting them ever since. It wasn’t until I received a text from her while at my friend’s bachelorette party... (In the text) she expressed her congratulations for my friend and concern for my eggs…
Kim: …I’m still concerned.
Kate: (Audible eyeroll) I shared the text with the group, and they loved it. This gave me the idea to post it to my personal Instagram account, where it got a lot of likes too. From there I started a designated account for them, @CrazyJewishMom, and when that got popular, published the book. And now, I’m currently working on a television script based on it with CBS/Ryan Seacrest Productions.
GatherDC: Kim, what do you think of this project?
Kim: I’m so proud. She’s a New York Times bestselling author! But…she’s still single. So I have to balance the good with the bad.
GatherDC: Was there ever a feeling of invasion of privacy?
Kate: One of the things I admire about my mother is her fearlessness. We only had one instance where she called me, upset after her friend flagged a text she thought crossed the line. I explained that if this whole thing was making her uncomfortable I would stop immediately. But, I also said that if she liked parts of what I was doing, that I felt it was important to share all of it – the good and the bad. She agreed and it’s never been an issue since.
GatherDC: Kim, do you keep up on the Instagram account?
Kate: I created her an account of her own so she could follow along, but she promptly lost her password so…
GatherDC: Do you have favorite texts?
Kate: Oh, that’s a hard one. I think my favorite is a text she sent telling the story of her recent encounter with a stranger reading my book in public. My mom approached her and, remaining anonymous, asked how she was liking it. The reader said something to the effect of this mother needs therapy, to which my mother proudly took a bow, and walked away. Another favorite…She used to give my number out all the time to eligible bachelors. Now that we’re sort of in the public eye, she can’t really do that anymore. But, I did get a text from her recently that said something to the effect of, I just gave your number to a 27 year-old Yale Law School graduate! I replied telling her she couldn’t do that anymore. She replied with one word… “YALE.”
GatherDC: Why do you think your Instagram account got such a huge following, and not just among Jews?
Kate: One of the most popular types of comments I get is about how my mom could be their “crazy Catholic mom,” or “crazy Mexican mom,” etc. The complex relationship we have with our mothers is universal. It’s a combination of love and throw-her-against the wall hate. It’s complex because for all that drives you crazy about her, you know she has your best interest in mind. Of course, I think my mom is an extreme version, but really the relationship is universal. There is so much love there.
GatherDC: What’s next for you? Any projects in the hopper?
Kate: We have a lot going on the with the brand, building vertically and laterally. There is a lot on the website including our advise column, “Mom & Spawn,” which happened organically, with followers writing me asking what my mom and I would do about a certain situation they found themselves in. It’s a continuation of our dynamic where my mom will say things like, “Key his car!,” but I reign her in.
GatherDC: Thanks so much! Anything you want to add?
Kim: Yes! She’s single!
Kate: Except, I’m not. I’ve been in a committed relationship for three years now.
GatherDC: Kim, why do you say she’s single?
Kim: She’s not married!
Kate: She doesn’t like that he hasn’t proposed yet. She keeps sending me guys’ numbers.
GatherDC: What does your boyfriend think of that, Kate?
Kate: He is a very good sport. After all, he is quite familiar with pushy mothers.
Get more of this hilarious pair just in time for Mother’s Day. Kate and Kim will be in Arlington on May 11th as part of the JCC of Northern Virginia’s j.talks author series. The evening is presented by JCCNV Cultural Arts in partnership with NOVA Tribe and Moishe House Arlington. More here.
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