Friday, 3 April 2015

The Sanctity of (American) Motherhood

My mother is difficult. We call her the Princess of Passive Aggression.

Siblings and I think she's also a sociopath, but, you know ... whatever.

She's 85 and has all her evil wits about her, but isn't getting enough attention. She's also depressed and bored.

Lately, she's been exhibiting signs of Munchausen syndrome. That would be a charitable explanation.

Sibs and I think she's more likely exhibiting "If I keep fucking up my meds and winding up in the hospital, my horrible children will pay me the attention I am due" syndrome.

In her various hospital visits, they can find nothing wrong with her beyond stuff that any 85-year-old would have: heart and blood pressure issues that would be well controlled if she took her FUCKING MEDS properly.

Her evil scheme has finally worked. All the people around her -- she's in Florida -- have decided that she needs more help. More help than they're willing to continue to provide at least.

It's time for the children to step up, they have decided.

All right. Fine. We knew this was coming.

But here's the thing: Why are people, and USian people in particular, so insane about mothers?

Whenever one of her friends or neighbours calls to inform me of her latest 911 adventure, even the nicest of them are judgemental as hell.

For example, this latest hoohaw is happening just before Easter. One of the helpers couldn't restrain herself from pointing out to me that mother was going to be All Alone on the Holiday.


Like, are we supposed to jump on an airplane to prepare a jolly Easter egg hunt for our aged parent?

I'm not even going to try to characterize the crap they dish out over Christmas and that holiest of holy days -- Thanksgiving.

So I'm used to this, but imagine my astonishment when a couple of months ago I ran into it at the US Consulate.

I was renouncing my US citizenship -- something I should have done decades ago -- and as one might envision there's quite a production over this. I mean, who would renounce citizenship of the Greatest Country on Earth Evah?

Many forms, many questions.

Viz., what remaining ties do you have to US? Moi: Just mother in Florida.

More questions.

What passport do you use to travel to US? (US demands you maintain and use USian passport if you travel there. Simple money grab? Dunno.)

Moi: I haven't been to US since last US passport expired.

Consular official, looking at passport and noting expiry date of nine years ago, says incredulously: "You haven't visited your mother in NINE YEARS?"

Moi: Nope.

Now she's giving me the full-bore "What Manner of Ungrateful Seed of Satan Are You?" look.

I'm withstanding it, wondering if my application is going to be denied because I am an awful, unAmerican daughter.

The look continues. I remain silent. It's getting a tad uncomfortable.

Finally I break the silence: "Do you have another question?"

She shook her head in disgust and the interview proceeded.

Monday, I'm going to Florida. My mother I can handle. It's the judgemental mother-worshipping ass-clowns that I'm going to have trouble with.


deBeauxOs said...

Miss my Dad, think of him every day, of his kindness and unconditional love.

My mother, not so much... except for those times when I encounter folks who rival her, in their self-indulgent narcissism, inability to take responsibility for the harm they do, and bottomless need for attention.

fern hill said...

I *knew* there was a reason we're so good at this co-blogging thingy. :)

Beijing York said...

I was accused of being the worst daughter ever by a family friend and neighbour - at my mother's funeral of all places.

fern hill said...

BY: It's astonishing a) what people will say and b) what people will say at funerals.

deBeauxOs said...

A very wise woman, a physician who lost most of her family to the Shoah, observed that one is required to respect, and not abandon one's parents.

However, there is no obligation to love them.

lagatta à montréal said...

I think that a great many mothers of that generation were like that - mine certainly was. And we just didn't get along. I remember going back to university as an adult and getting an extremely high average, getting an award for it and her saying "you should have done that years ago" (I was organizing unions and working in women's and environmentalist groups). I can't abide nostalgia for the 1950s and early 1960s. I think they had some inkling of the possibility of equality, of another life; perhaps that was why so many treated their daughters (in particular) like that. Though the sons got a dose of guilt as well.

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