This may be better suited for IMHO than MPSIMS, mods, so feel free to move it without fear of complaint. As for responses, if possible I’d like to keep them sex-segregated: this is, daughter-to-mother or son-to-father comparisons only, as oppose to cross-gender. But if you have good reason to break that rule, fellow Dopers, feel free to go to town.
A very little background. Very recently, my best friend was – well, let’s just say she had a tragedy in her life. This friend, whom I shall arbitrarily call Valerie to protect her privacy, suffered a home invasion that ended as badly as possible as it could without her being dead or disfigured at the end of it.
Now Valerie is a member of my family in all but blood. She comes over for holidays. She sends my mother Mother’s Day cards. When there’s a wedding and we’re taking family pictures, she’s the one blond in the sea of blackness. So I’m more than a little upset by this.
A few moments ago we were talking about things, and I was trying to offer what feeble help I could–money to replace what she had lost and so forth. Valerie was resolutely being stoic about the issue, because she’s Valerie, and that’s how she deals with things. I do the same thing, actually, and during this conversation I realized why my mother and my biological sisters find me so frustrating to deal with when I’m upset. So I commented on the fact that we’ve known each other since 1985 and still neither of us can open up to the other without tons of hemming & hawing & gallons of tequila and beer.
“Mom’s right,” I said. “We’re emotionally constipated.”
She paused. “Don’t tell Mama Mary,” she said. “Some idiot already told my other mother and I don’t want them both upset.”
Now Valerie’s family is a disaster. She’d be the first to call them white trash. They’re petty, provincial, mean, stupid, unreliable, and a host of even less complimentary adjectives. Her mother, while not the worst of the lot, is up there, and it’s always been a wonder to me that Valerie shares any DNa whatsover with the rest of her clan.
“I won’t tell Mom,” I said. “But you know, even though she’s been sick, she could handle it. She’s strong.”
“I wish she was actually my mother,” Valerie replied.
“You’re ten times the woman your mother is,” I said.
Valerie shrugged, and took another drink, and didn’t reply, because part of being ten times the woman her mother is is not putting her mother down unnecessarily. But it hit me then that, while my statement, however tactless, was true, the reverse is true in my case.
By a few objective meaures, I’m “better” than my father. That is, I’m smarter, and better educated. But on many more objective measures, and endless subjective ones, my father is not just ten times the man I am; he’s a hundred times. When he was my age he had fathered seven children, all of whom he supported and none of whom had reason to doubt his love. My only foray into parenting consisted of years of cowardly denial followed by frantic and ultimately feckless attempts to make up for it. My father has stood behind my mother in her illness with grace and unshakeable devotion, while I’m pretty much incapable of keeping a girlfriend for more than a month (and typically just a weekend). Yes, my fathers a fundamentalist Christian, with unsophisticated and, I feel, basically flawed beliefs about the Bible; but he is also far kinder, far mroe giving and generous, to strangers and acquaintances as well as to friends and family, than I, the liberal Christian, ever manage to be.
So my father is a much better man than I am. My best friend is a much better woman than her mother.
How about you?