Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Dead Mother Advantage

Here's an irony. Josie and Toby might miss out on many things that kids growing up with their mothers might have, but there will also be some advantages to having a dead, rather than living mother.

If I'm dead as they grow up, I won't be around to nag them or make them feel bad when they don't meet my expectations. I won't be around to tell them what to do, how to dress, what to eat, whom to date or not date, which friends to choose, or which classes to take at school.

Think of all the ways we mothers try to control our children's lives, the choices we try to preempt, the power, freedom, and responsibility we take away from them. If I'm not around, Josie and Toby can have the happy memories of a mother who loves them no matter what, without judging or controlling them.

They can tailor their image of me to fit the mother they need at any given time - sensitive and caring when they're feeling sad; strong and supportive when they're going through tough times. And all the while, they can feel like I'm with them, loving them without condition. Whereas if I were alive, I'd be tempted to give them unsolicited advice, tell them what to do, even criticize them for their choices in life.

And I get to avoid all the bad parts of being a mother. I won't have to discipline them, say no to them, have difficult conversations with them, punish them when they misbehave, set limits that will make them resent me. I get to be the perfect absent mom. What do you know... there's an upside to everything.


Leighbee said...

Hate to fight back on this one BUT I don't think it works quite like that?!?! You see.....isn't that one one of things we love about our Mothers? The fact they DO guide us, chastise us, make decisions we can't make ourselves etc?
Of course they will always remember you with love and admiration - who wouldn't ;-) BUT I don't see any upside I'm afraid!
Sorry :-(
Love you heaps xxxx

ALI KATI said...

One advantage is they'll have the "Lost Mother Early" card. This card can be applied in multiple, different scenarios.

Eg. Bored of girlfriend/boyfriend/school due to teenage sulleness - play card for sympathy and understanding.

Eg. Application to hoity-toity Ivy League college, bring out card to write essay on courage and loss at early age to gain additional sympathy points.

Eg. Utilize anniversaries and memories to get out of unwanted social obligations due to tragic sadness.

Ok, I'm just being completely tongue-in-cheek here to try and amuse you. No offence intended, and somehow I think you kinda get it. :)

Shin said...

Ali Kati,

I know you're just kidding so I'm not offended. But I DO hope my kids never use the dead mother card as an excuse for anything bad in their lives. In fact, if they ever pull that dead mother thing for sympathy, it would hurt me more than pretty much anything else they could do.

I knew a girl in college who blamed all her troubles - bad grades, boyfriend troubles, job problems, you name it - on the fact that her parents got divorced when she was young. She wallowed in self-pity and demanded sympathy from everyone around her. People got tired of her and lost all sympathy and respect for her.

We all have troubles, some more tragic and traumatizing than others. I just can't sympathize with or respect people who use their tragedies as excuses and refuse to move on. You can't control what's happened in the past, but you can control how you're going to deal with it in the future. And those who choose not to exercise that control have nobody to blame but themselves.

I knew another girl in college who got an extension on her term paper by lying to her professor and saying her mother had died of cancer. What a sick pup.

ALI KATI said...

I can't really comment on those examples you cited. Everyone has their own struggles and times when they're more or less admirable.

I was writing lightly in jest and irony, in the same vein as I read your post, so thanks for getting it.

Underneath it, I think when your kids grow up and read this post, they'd also rather wish you were around, and also want you to want to have those difficult conversations and give punishments and limits too. And of course, that's what you want too. Sometimes, making the best of things sounds flip, but I think they'd get that too.

Shin said...

Ali Kati,

Yes, I suppose a nagging living mom is better than a silent dead mom. Although they might not think so when they're going through puberty and are full of teenage angst!

lisacc said...

I guarantee there will not be one single second as they grow up when they see not-having-you as an advantage.

Shin said...


I think you're right. But maybe Josie and Toby will read this blog post some day and think, "Hmm... If Mom were here, she wouldn't let me date so-and-so. She'd probably say he/she doesn't deserve me. Maybe there's a good reason for that. Maybe so-and-so doesn't deserve me. Maybe I'll dump him/her." Then they can go tell that selfish, arrogant loser boyfriend/girlfriend of theirs that they're dumping him/her because their dead mother wouldn't like him/her! Ha!

Francis Lim said...

Those words that you wrote makes me really want to cry ...Shin !

Francis Lim

Jacqie's said...

At the bottom of your heart...I am sure you would like to be the nagging mother. But I am sure without you around, the children will grow up to be stronger, braver and definitely more independent.

Jun said...

It's me... the one who wished you happy 43rd birthday. I'm sure looking forward to your 43rd one.

I have to comment this posting.

My parents went to Thailand for work some 15 years ago. Suddenly, the three of us had all the freedom in the world with no mummy around to nag at us! We were then 18, 15 and 13 years old. I'll never forget that night when we had a fight (can't remember for what). We ended up hugging each other and crying... crying for mummy to stop us fighting. So it can never be good not to have mummy by your side..