Friday, September 26, 2008

The Next Generation

When the Matron was a Young Miss, she started an emotional pattern than she swam around in for much of her entire life.

It was this: she envied her baby brother. (honey, I don't know if you or yours are reading but she'll tell you more when you aren't working around the clock to save the planet's economic infrastructure)

To the Wee Miss, then the Young Miss and finally, the Matron, this boy-man had it all. He was the apple of his mother's eye whereas Young Miss saw herself residing somewhere around the sole of her mother's shoe. Young Miss's reputation as the brainy chick sank before you could say quicksand next to her brother's scholarship to a fancy boarding school--followed by Harvard, a global existence, high-octane career and a wife with that same skill set (but prettier).

Now, the Matron likes to say that she could both win the Nobel Prize in Peace AND Literature and propel herself to Mars on her own volition tomorrow, and her mother would still go to her grave clutching a photo of the brother and President Clinton playing cards on Air Force One.

The Matron was in this holding pattern for many, many years until she realized -- an embarrassingly short time ago--that she was the ONLY one driving this narrative omnibus. She also realized that part of her emotional holding pattern had been the belief that her brother was a staggeringly superior being, only at her expense.

Ouch!! Those landings back into reality hurt sometimes.

So that whole family mythology was recently shattered, leaving the Matron realizing just how incredibly stupid she has been, sort of having the same ten-year old tantrum for , oh a few decades. And that she's the one behaving badly in the family, not everybody else.

The Matronly pathology even made its way into one of her novels. Consider:

When the call finally came, Grandma said, thank God, thank God; she held her hand over the phone and laughed: "You have a brother!" What happened next became family legend. I threw one of the great temper tantrums in human history: pummeling furniture, screaming and stomping for an hour. Poor Grandma had to toss down that phone to chase me. Legend has it that I wanted a sister so that my status as leader could remain unchanged. But that isn't quite right. Even then, I knew Mama would love him best. Now, I know why he's special: one day he will leave us all and thank his lucky stars for such a clean escape. Sometimes I look at Lovie and hate him for that. But jealousy is a sin, and besides, how can you stay mad at a boy who names his blanket Baby Blue and lays his head across your knees when he wants a cudddle?

How's that Freud? She is your people.

Today a friend and the Matron were bemoaning Stryker's current state, how he's all down on self and Junior High while Scarlett is living in the spotlight.

How Stryker is all: "I'm openly jealous of Scarlett."

"Scarlett gets everything she wants."

"How come Scarlett gets paid for acting when all I want is a job so I can get a laptop?"

"I hate Scarlett."

"Why does she get all the attention."

So the Matron's friend says to her, all casual, as if the Matron is sane and understands her own self: "But it's so great that you know how he feels, Mary. You went through this with your brother. I read the book!"

And the Matron's jaw and heart raced to the floor because she hadn't made the comparison! And she knows how misguided yet somehow form-fitting and permanent these family narratives can be. For everyone.

Poor Stryker! Poor Scarlett!

Poor parent of a twelve-year old Matron. Every family hands down some version of the same old story, buffed up. Well! The Matron is in a huff. She's going to write a new chapter for her children.



Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I'm anxious to hear how you do it.

Mrs. G. said...

I believe this is called a revised edition.

Ree said...

Ms. Matron - Brava.

phd in yogurtry said...

Freud may be scratching his beard in self-satisfied knowledge of your deep unconscious, but Family Systems Theory would predict the repetition of patterns.

I'm just thinking how cool for you and for your kids that the veil has been lifted.

I loved this post.

And have you seen the movie, The Darjeeling Limited? Must see. I think you'd like it.

smalltownmom said...

Well, I translated all that.

Good luck with the new chapter, and changing family patterns.

Mary Alice said...

I think you should go give your clear sighted friend a great big hug.

Lynda said...

That was one wing-ding piece of writing!

Jocelyn said...

Not to put too fine a point on it (lest there be pressure), but I'm genuinely curious: how does one write a new chapter for one's children? How to break that dynamic?

Manager Mom said...

I don't know how to translate that text! But I am anxious to hear how you fare. I see emerging rivalries with my own, and since I was an only child, I have no lessons to draw from.

Tricia said...

It's a beautiful thing, the opportunity to edit our own life stories.

Angie said...

Oh, what age, time and some therapy will bring to the forefront, huh? I've just recently had this lightbulb go on in my life too:)

Would love to read your book - sounds great.

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