I recently attended a reading by an author of a best selling memoir about a mother daughter relationship. I went because I'm interested in writing a memoir. As the author talked about her book, which I had not read, it occurred to me that the author's daughter was standing in as a proxy for the emotions the author didn't allow herself to have about her own mother.

After the reading, I had a quick quiet moment with the author. So I decided to pose the question:

"I hope this isn't too personal, but do you think your daughter has served as a proxy for the emotions you didn't allow yourself to have about your mother?" I said.

She touched my arm. "You haven't read the book, but yes. You're so perceptive," she said.

She was then called away to sign some books.

I didn't get a chance to complete my thought. Which was I hope she takes her daughter off the hook. I hope she gives her daughter permission to have her own relationship with her (the author's) mother. While the process may be painful to the author (she doesn't have a good relationship with her mother), I think the result would be beneficial to everyone - grandmother, mother, daughter, alike.

I understand having a difficult relationship with a family member, but letting a bad relationship affect a third party, is detrimental and in the end, only exacerbates the dysfunction.

Capable or Culpable

What are you capable of? I was talking with a friend about the horrific actions of a harried mother. I'm not a mother, but while my friend protested that she would never do such a thing, I thought, "I could see how that happened."

Is it because I'm a horrible person? No. It's because I know that under stress people are capable of things they never thought possible. And if they're not in touch with their dark sides, those parts of themselves that they'd rather not face, they're capable of acting out of their own worst instincts.

I believe, if you don’t think you’re capable of something terrible – you don’t know yourself well and if you don’t know yourself well, you’re more susceptible to doing the thing you think you’re not capable of doing.

Mother to Son

Well, son, I'll tell you:Life for me ain't been no crystal stair. It's had tacks in it, And splinters, And boards torn up, And places with no carpet on the floor -- Bare. But all the time I'se been a-climbin' on, And reachin' landin's, And turnin' corners, And sometimes goin' in the dark Where there ain't been no light. So boy, don't you turn back. Don't you set down on the steps 'Cause you finds it's kinder hard. Don't you fall now -- For I'se still goin', honey, I'se still climbin', And life for me ain't been no crystal stair.

~ Langston Hughes