Supreme Court Nominees Have Mothers, Too
In graduate school, when I interned at a locked psychiatric unit for teenagers, I had a supervisor who used to tell me this: “The mother’s the mother,” she’d say. “You can never change that.” I understood that her words applied whether you were a teenager or not. Whether your mother was alive or dead. Whether your mother adopted you or let you go. The mother was the mother. You could deny the impact she had on you, from near, from far, from the grave for that matter, but it would catch up to you somehow.
I’ll admit it. I am obsessed with mother-child relationships. I write about them, think about them, find them fascinating and never grow tired of hearing stories about them. I’m not talking about shock-value stories, either. I’m talking about stories that reflect the complexity and layer of perhaps the most original relationship* of our life.
I discovered one such story recently, written by journalist Francine Russo (she wrote for Time), author of They’re Your Parents, Too! How Siblings Can Survive Their Parents’ Aging Without Driving Each Other Crazy. She has an interesting piece in The Huffington Post about Supreme Court nominee Elana Kagan’s mother, who was a long-time neighbor of Russo’s. Now forget politics for a minute. The reason this article was so fascinating to me was because it zeroed in on exactly what my clinical supervisor said so long ago—the mother’s the mother. Even when you’re a Supreme Court nominee you’re totally aware of your mother’s expectations for you—and how you did or didn’t meet them. Kagan tells Russo in a brief exchange in which the author says how proud her mother would have been: “…our newest nominee to the Supreme Court of the United States said dryly, ‘My mother only wanted me to get married.’”
Why does it matter to us? Should it? Why do we have to defend ourselves against our parent’s running commentary—even if it’s only in our heads?
*And not to be equal opportunity about this, but the same thing could be said about dads.
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