From Anne of Green Gables (the Kevin Sullivan production of 1985):
Marilla to Matthew, while discussing Anne’s invitation to the Christmas ball: “Remember, in the beginning, I told you not to put your oar in.”
I should have remembered about the oars — and the fact that oars can propel one forward, or backward:
I thought I would have a chat with the Bride-of-the-Century about being kinder to her mother. This is the mother who went into debt to give her daughter the Wedding of the Century and then could not understand why said daughter ignored her on the wedding day. This is also the same mother who routinely got the cold shoulder for inexplicable reasons, along with the “dumb as shit” eye-roll treatment when she and BOC got into (usually pointless) arguments. Anyway, I didn’t get very far. BOC went running to Mom to complain that I was “freaking her out” by wanting to have this talk, and furthermore, this future conversation was ruining her upcoming spring vacation. Mom of Diva told me in no uncertain terms that really, I had no business trying to have a conversation with her daughter, and that she would never do this sort of thing with my daughter without clearing it with me first. BOC is TWENTY-EIGHT years old this year, gainfully employed, a wife, a mother (unfortunately to budding Diva #2, but that’s another post). Who knew I could “freak out” both mother and daughter? I genuinely thought I had been in BOC’s life long enough — watched her grow up and all that — that I could offer some minor words of wisdom. I thought I could help.
I could not, of course.
BOC’s life is one of drama, and where there is none, she manufactures it. We are all expected to be spectators, and I should have known all that based on her wedding production. It did not occur to me that Mom was not only willing, but was in fact an absolutely essential participant. I used to rag on BOC’s Dad for his seeming unwillingness to rein her in; I now realize that it truly was more than his life was worth to even attempt to interfere in the incredibly entwined mother-daughter relationship. It is a dysfunctional relationship, but one that both need in their lives.
I regret all the times I told The College Kid that she had to babysit Diva #2, had to go have dinner, had to participate in some event or other . . . . not because those things were not important, but because I should have let her to manage her own relationships. I hope she would have done all those things anyway because she loves her godmother, but nevertheless I should have trusted her judgment, young as she was.
Now I sit in the back row, or perhaps I am actually up in the gods, but I am at least much more removed than I used to be. The view from here is just fine, and of course too far to toss an oar.