Can a mother love her child too much?
Rachael’s Gift examines a co-dependent relationship between a mother, Camille, and her teenage daughter, Rachael. Camille worships her daughter in an all-consuming, and adoring way that sometimes feels uncomfortable. It seems Rachael gets away with whatever she wants, exhibiting some sly and manipulative behaviour, but it’s soon apparent that Camille is no less controlling and calculating. Together, they push and pull at each other to get what they desire most and Camille thinks nothing of lying on her daughter’s behalf.
Most people would say they would never do this and would not condone this behaviour in others and yet it does happen – probably more often than we think. I know of one mother that lied to the school’s headmaster about the whereabouts of her school-wagging son; another who lied about the age of their child so they could start school early and one who flatly denied their child had been a part of a gang of bullies even though there had been witnesses.
So why would we lie on our child’s behalf? Is it because their behaviour reflects badly on us? Do we love them so much we want to protect them at all costs, even if it means turning a blind eye and acting badly ourselves? Perhaps it is a case of not wanting to address the issue at hand? Most probably it is a combination of all of the above.
Being a mother to a two-year old I am just discovering the emotional complexities that inevitably arise. For the past year my son has shown aggressive behaviour towards his peers – hitting, biting, pulling hair – the usual. I’m told it’s completely normal and is a phase that will pass. It doesn’t make it any more bearable. Once the offence has been committed, hanging my head in shame, I run through a ritual of apologies: console hurt child; ask my son to apologise to the distraught victim; repeat ‘No hitting’ and then separate him from the scene followed by copious amounts of apologies to the parent of said victim. It’s a mortifyingly soul-exposing exercise that makes me wither with embarrassment at my child’s behaviour and reluctantly take responsibility. If I am too tired, it's far easier to stay at home than to take him out, and watch him like hawk with bated breath. I admit, sometimes I have witnessed my son do something and I have wanted to turn my head the other way, smile at the parent and raise my eyebrow with, ‘What? My son? Never.’
Thankfully, my own mother (incidentally nothing like Camille) inspires me daily with the extraordinary yet everyday feat of having raised five children. I still don't know how she did it! Thanks Mum!
Happy Mother’s Day!