Wednesday, October 25, 2006

On Being Bea's Daughter

Being Bea’s daughter hasn’t always been marvelous.

In high school, Bea would insist on reading my weekly essays, then give suggestions, which I didn’t often take. My mother also would present, on occasion, what she considered appropriate suitors. When I announced my intention to marry a Frenchman after college graduation, Bea took it upon herself to inform my former boyfriend, who showed up, out of the blue, to propose marriage. Her opposition to this union had been dwarfed by the idea of my leaving the country. While her motives were comprehensible, such intervention felt totally wrong. After my move to France, Bea continued this behavior with Nick, who rejected the Russian-American girl our mother had chosen as future daughter-in-law.

Such over-involvement provided the impetus for a policy of non-intervention in the lives of my own children. And so the pendulum swings from excess to restraint. I sometimes wonder if Bea's attempts to control my life didn't spring from her own childhood ...


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