Friday, September 7, 2012

The Critical Mom and The Relative Who Won't Take No for An Answer

"Only the worst for you, dear," she might as well say, and she says it with such a smile that you could, if you did not know her, think that she means well.  She knows that she means well.  But she's so excited when something goes wrong.   She's jumping up and down and there are words approximately connected to the scene coming out of her mouth:  "I'll call a taxi!  I'll call a doctor!"  but you know that if you don't want a taxi or you don't want a doctor or you don't want her to call either of them she will pout and sigh and tantrum unless she is smiled at and reassured.  She seems less excited when things go right:  at your wedding she complained to other guests that you were off bouncing around the dance floor with the groom instead of talking to her.   She loves to ask if you need help, and she positively glows while inquiring whether anything is wrong.  "Don' t you need something for the baby?  Anything?  I could go to Duane Reed right now: it's on the corner.  Can't you think of anything you need for the baby?"  But she doesn't really mean the one in your arms.  You really do need talcum powder.  Off to Duane Reed she whirls, all 90 pounds of her, and then you and the baby go home.  An hour and a half go by.  It's getting late.   The baby is in her bed and you're sitting up wondering if you should call the hospitals or the cops.  In she comes with a wild-eyed look.  No talcum powder.
"You know, I didn't really think you needed it.  But if you do, it's in aisle seven!"
You flick on the news.  Christiane Amanpour is talking.  She is saying something about Iraq.  What she says is something you want to hear.   The relative who won't take no for an answer begins to rustle around in her chair.  She takes out a lipstick, drops it on the floor, mutters an annoyed sound, and finds it.  She sits up again and points:
"That's Christiane Amanpour!!"
You know that if you say anything at all, from yes it is to I know that, she will keep talking.  But sometimes she keeps talking anyway.  "She's the anchorwoman!  She's the first woman to . . ."  You try to hear what Amanpour is saying about Iraq, but even when the relative stops talking you can't listen anymore.  The baby wakes up.
"Oh, does she need something?  Is she all right?"  You try to explain that the baby just needs some quiet, so the volume of the relative's voice increases: "Don't you want to check on her?  You're her mother!"  I have been a bad mother is written all over her face.  A mother who does not pay attention to her child, the child who is bouncing up and down in front of Christiane Amanpour, the lady on the TV who is also taking attention away from her.  I turn off the TV.


  1. You can't win, can you? Sounds like quite a high-maintenance relative you got there. Would she be interested in moving to Antarctica? I hear it's the up and coming place...

    I enjoyed reading about your travails.

  2. Hee hee thank you. You've inspired me. I think I might make this a three-part series: next one will be "Dinner for One": the Momcat's fantasy relatives . . .. or something like that.