Sunday, May 14, 2006

One mother of a cautionary tale

On last Tuesday's the Today Show (which I only watched for a couple minutes while I put on my shoes) there was an author who’d written a book about why mothers are so critical of their daughters, based, as best I could discern, on her relationship with her own mother and with her daughter. The identification mothers have with their daughters is different than with their sons, for obvious reasons; their own insecurities and concerns are reflected back.

The author also offered an example of how when her daughter was 13, with a bit of “baby fat” still on her, and would come home after school and start eating ice cream. She then started eating the ice cream herself, to prevent her daughter from eating it. (Apparently simply not buying the ice cream in the first place was not an option.) She was willing to make the “sacrifice” of putting on five pounds so her daughter wouldn’t. (It’s possible she was kidding when she used that term, but it was not clear.) Some woman who was next to the author on the couch offered the explanation that what the mother perceives as a for the benefit of the daughter, the daughter perceives as being restricted from doing something for no discernibly good reason. The woman mentioned how despite her mother’s poor eyesight, the mother could always spot a pimple from across the room. The person the daughter wishes to she her as most perfect is the one who notices her flaws the most.

I don’t think I’ve ever known a woman who didn’t have issues at one time or another with her mother. Thus, I’m sure the book will do very well. (Hey, I didn’t make the mother-daughter dynamic what it is; I’m just noting how to benefit from it.)

However, I mentioned all that not to spotlight the author or her book but because when I see something like that and think of how cool it must be to have the time to write a book on a personal subject (including spending all that time researching it), I then think of how poorly I tend to deliver my quips and anecdotes in person. Were I ever on the couch with Katie Couric interviewing me, I would almost certainly throw out some story like the ice cream sacrifice one that, out of context, would end up eliciting in the viewing audience the same reaction this author’s story elicited in me: the glib perception that the author is something of an idiot. And that can’t be good for sales.

I am duly aware of my idiotic tendencies; I don’t need them spotlighted on national television. (More than likely, I’d sit there the whole time, mumbling, unable to mask my nerves, and deconstructing the experience out loud. Captivating television, no doubt.)

Happy Mothers Day.

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