Here’s an unsentimental postscript to my Mother’s Day blog, one you probably won’t find in the Washington Post or the New York Times. I heard about it from friends, but you can also find it in the online edition of the Mittelbayerische Zeitung (Middle Bavarian Newspaper) for May 23, 2006.
A 92-year-old mother from Hildesheim put in a call to the local Jugendamt (Department of Youth Services), having reached the end of her rope over the intolerable behavior of her daughter, 68; the younger woman was allegedly “fooling around with men.” The two had come to blows over the issue. The Jugendamt declined to intervene, however; they informed the mother that it was at least 50 years past the termination of their authority in this case. They did alert the police, who sent a patrol car to smooth over the conflict.
This story is not so far-fetched as you might think. My mother was 82 when she learned that her eldest daughter, then 48, had started fooling around with women, actually with one woman. The outraged old lady hopped a plane to Boston, intending to bring her straying child back to the straight and narrow without delay. Determined though she was to have her way, she did not call on the Youth Services Department, the police or the Methodist Church for support, and no physical blows were traded. But some of the helpless frustration of the German mother at her daughter’s stubborn refusal to "behave" must have been felt by my own mom when I openly (and successfully) defied her for the first time.... As the mother of two independently minded daughters myself I also admit to having had bouts of occasional frustration; but fortunately I learned early to give up on the idea of trying to tell them what to do—I think it was when they turned two.
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