Telling on my mom
Yesterday my brother had his annual huge Harvest party, and Bebe and I made the scene. (Eric was at home with a an ailment that evoked bad jokes about this.) A dozen or so kids milled about my bro's suburban mini-manse, but Bebe mostly kept to herself. She pushed off the advances of her younger cousin Tatum, and couldn't get in a groove with the older (idolized) Erin. She spent quite a bit of time playing with a blinking Little People house, and held her tiny arms out toward the bigger kids as they played tag among the lit pumpkins.
A while into the party (two glasses, maybe) my mom comes up to me. "I'm worried about Rebecca," she says. "She's all alone. I remember when you were little and you were all alone all the time and how unhappy you were."
MOM! I said. You are paying my therapy bill forever!! But the truth is, I was tracking Bebe's little lack-of-progress that evening, anxiety filling my stomach. Suddenly I had one of those moments of realizing the obvious, the undeniable, the deeply irritating. I had spent my childhood not only suffering my own loneliness, but feeling awful guilt at making my mother unhappy....for me. Now here I was, getting unhappy for Bebe, setting her up for the same game. No more than anyone have I escaped the demons of my babyhood.
Damn Philip Larkin. I hope he wasn't completely right.