I don't speak to my mother.
It's been about four years since we last spoke. There are times I feel bad about our estrangement in a philosophical sense, but I wouldn't say I've ever felt bad because of it. My stated purpose (to myself) was to cut the poison out of my life.
I don't speak about this. Not in public. Rarely in private. I've alluded to it to some of my closer friends. My wife and my sister know the real story. Aside from that, it's generally too painful to even delve into. And it's not acceptable in society at large for a son to have issues with his mother.
I don't particularly feel like talking about it now. But I read this sloppy, sophomoric article.
Everyone's entitled to their opinion. A lot of opinions are just shit. And this is a shitty, shitty opinion piece.
If you haven't got the time or inclination to read it, I'll summarize it here:
Baby Boomers are awesome.
Our (as in, my) generation is a cantankerous gang of vainglorious narcissists.
If a child cuts off a parent, it's because the child is wrong, not the parent.
If you think I'm exaggerating...well, then read the fucking article. I'm really not.
I am not trained or even particularly well-read in psychology. Nor am I really qualified to give anyone advice unless their goal is to be a thirty-something civil servant with middling life skills. But I can assure you of this:
If both of your adult children, independently, have cut you off, you are the problem.
I haven't noticed my generation to be particularly narcissistic. If anything, I'd say we're hyper-aware of the power nostalgia holds over us, something I don't think our parents' generation has ever gotten over. (There's a whole boatload of Baby Boomers who seem to get furious at the suggestion that teenagers don't know all about the '60s. But ask them about modern pop culture and they'll say it's all shit.) But this is more just my snark defense than anything else. Painting millions of people with the same brush is a largely masturbatory exercise.
I'd rather just paint Elizabeth Vagnoni, the author of this article, with a brush. I have a whole lot of feelings about her. But I won't. I suspect her pain is genuine. Hell, I suspect her bafflement is genuine. No one likes to look at their own behavior and find fault. No one especially wants to look at eighteen years of childrearing and find fault.
But the fault is hers. If you're reading this, Elizabeth, I'd recommend you conduct what they call a "fearless moral inventory" in AA (which, incidentally, is usually followed by making amends.) And I don't bring up AA to accuse you of alcoholism, but I wouldn't be terribly surprised if that was involved in your troubles somehow.
The greatest hurdle I usually find in addressing this issue is that it is one of the last great taboos. You don't even realize it's a taboo until you find yourself estranged from your mother. But mothers are sacred. Mothers are beloved. Mothers are saints and perfect and gave up everything for you, including their bodies, and you ought to get down on your hands and knees and kiss the ground that they walk on, as far as society is concerned.
And I've known mothers, plenty of mothers, hell, most mothers who deserved all of that treatment and more. I could rattle off a few now, but you don't know any of them. Just think of your own mother. She's probably pretty goddamned great.
Some of us, though, not so much. And society is not very accepting of the idea that a mother can be bad. So unaccepting, in fact, is society of that very concept, that Elizabeth Vagnoni is totally unable to even comprehend that she might have done something wrong. Surely, it was the narcissism of the younger generation which caused two grown adults to sever ties with her, and not anything she may have done.
Nope. Not so. There's such a thing as a bad mother. And I don't just mean a sneering, mustache-twirling villain like Cersei Lannister. They can be just as scary as Cersei Lannister when you're in their absolute power. Most mothers hold that absolute power over their children with aplomb, and dignity, and love, and affection.
But not all.
"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov
Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."
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