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Ask Dr. Heartlander

Posted at 6:00 AM on May 7, 2010 by Dale Connelly (29 Comments)
Filed under: Ask Dr. Heartlander

Dear Dr. Heartlander --

I'm dreading Mother's Day once again because it makes me feel awkward and sad for my for Aunt Esther - a dear relative and gentle soul who loves Victorian novels, afternoon tea and breakfast plates with food arranged in the shape of happy faces.

Ann_Landers small.jpg

Aunt Esther has been like a mother to me while my biological mother, her sister Grace, (I refuse to call her "mom"), has been traveling the world as a Cher impersonator. Grace's stated reason for getting into the business? Bright lights and free drinks.

Each Mother's Day since I turned 16, Grace pauses her never-ending tour to present herself on our doorstep to be feted and fussed over, claiming that she's making up for lost time since she skipped Mother's Day in my earliest years because I was so selfish and needy. But now that I'm 19 I am apparently old enough to do something sufficiently "fabulous" with her in observation of this significant day.

Dr. Heartlander, the past three years I've feigned illness to avoid the stress of facing this uncomfortable situation, and this year I'm genuinely sick with worry. Not only is poor Aunt Esther not getting the attention she deserves, but as a person who is accustomed to the life of a Cher impersonator, Grace has highly unrealistic expectations when it comes to having a good time. Flowers and a nice brunch don't seem to impress her - I think she's hoping for something glitzy and spangly, possibly involving cocktails and dancing motorcycle dudes in skin tight leather.

But that's only a guess. Though Grace gave birth to me, I don't really know her. Plus, she insists on calling me "Chastity" even though that's not my name.

Dr. Heartlander, what can I do to properly observe this day? There is only one mother's day and I think of myself has having only one mother, though technically I am her niece.


Aunt Esther's Girl

I told Aunt Esther's girl she should celebrate Mother's Day in the way that feels best to her and not worry about the expectations of others. Perhaps Grace will be disappointed, but anyone still working as a Cher impersonator today has already found a way to deal with rejection. Bookings are simply not what they used to be, and it's not just a side effect of a bad economy. Perhaps that's the real reason she has decided to re-enter your life - loneliness and that continuing, insatiable need to be adored. Of course, it's never too late to make room for the person who gave birth to you, but be honest! Is there some place you could take both of them? A biker bar where they serve waffles?
If you time it right, Sunday brunch might dovetail into happy hour - then everybody could get what they want.

But that's only one opinion. What do YOU think, Dr. Heartlander?

Comments (29)

Dear AEG - it's only one day. fake it for "Grace" but maybe for breakfast or something. then leave her early and give the rest of the day and year to your real mother, Aunt Esther.
then give yourself a big hug - sounds like you are more like your Aunt than your biological Mom. thank you lucky stars!
good weekend to all you Moms and non-Moms!

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | May 7, 2010 6:14 AM

Just finished reading yesterday's limericks-what a wealth of talent on display. Especially early in the morning and in Clyde's case, in an altered state of reality.

Happy Belated Birthday Aaron!

To Aunt Esther's girl, I say do the typical things with Aunt Esther first-it isn't like a Cher impersonator is going to be awake in time for brunch anyway, so she won't be "left out".

As for a spangly night out-good luck finding one on the evening of Mother's Day. Even biker dudes have mothers, and they do not expect their boys to be dancing on tables for the enjoyment of other women on Mother's Day.

Everybody has expectations, it is not your purpose in life to meet them. That way lies madness.

Posted by catherine | May 7, 2010 6:17 AM

Good morning all. I think the best thing to do for Grace, with Aunt Ester involved, would be to recreate the a scene from the movie Mermaids where they dance around the kitchen making little cookie cutter shaped sandwiches and other party food that is served for diner. It's my favorite scene from a Cher movie and I think it would be a good way for Aunt Ester's girl to celibrate Mother's Day with Grace and her Aunt

Posted by Jim | May 7, 2010 6:27 AM

Dear AEG,
Brunch and orchids with Aunt Esther followed by a Cher film festivalfor Grace. Show "Mask" even Cher the biker was a fantastic mother in that picture.

When she calls you Chastity, remind her that Chastity is now male and has changed names.

I am sure other mothers and non-mothers from TB with deeper knowledge of Cher will be able to offfer addditional activities for the film festival.

Posted by Beth-Ann | May 7, 2010 6:43 AM

maybe you could share the day with both moms? have your mom be her cher self and have ester do her best sonny imitation. a bad wig and mustache and a shirt with 6 inch collar ought to do it. then you could be charachters from cher events. this year eric stoltz from mask would be fun if you could figure out how to do the face make up , next year put on a waitress uniform and be come back to the 5 and dime jimmy dean jimmy dean. it could be fun. if you want to get back and be spiteful you could do your cher imitation. 19 vs 39 is a tough act to follow. come on chastity get with the program.

Posted by tim | May 7, 2010 6:50 AM

I've actually been thinking about while I go about my routine this morning and have decided no more placating. When Mom/Cher shows up, say "Oh, you're here early. I still have a few things to get from the store." Then leave and have a great day with Aunt Esther. If at the end of the day Mom/Cher says anything about you not being there, say "Oh, sorry." Then get a good night's sleep. No one should have to dread Mother's Day.

Posted by sherrilee | May 7, 2010 6:57 AM

Greetings! Be sure to check out Tim's final entry in yesterday's blog -- he penned a fine series of limericks -- thanks, Tim!

I'm tired and can't decide what to do about Grace and Aunt Esther for Mother's Day. Tough class in karate last night, so I'm feeling stiff. Good day, all!

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | May 7, 2010 7:08 AM

It's a sad day in hell when someone as kind and devoted as Esther has to play second fiddle to a harlot. My suggestion is to have brunch with Aunt Esther while Cher mom sleeps in (great insight, Catherine). Have an early light dinner with both of them (little cookie cutter shaped sandwiches would be perfect, Jim). Then give Aunt Esther her gift (Victorian novel, plates and sweet tea) and while she's enjoying those, take Grace to the local race track and ditch her. She'll be surrounded by plenty of fans who will be drawn to her terrific rear and front end. Trust me, she'll have no problem finding a ride home -- although it might not be your home.

Happy Friday and Mom's Day Heartlanders!

Posted by Donna | May 7, 2010 7:16 AM

dale this mothers day topic seems to be dying on the vine. what are you doing for your mother? is she really dressing up like cher? does she still live in illinois? does she read the blogs? are you a preset on her computer for the webcasts?

thank you for the reminder. i need tocheck and see if my mom will be available on sunday. my dad passed away a year ago and she has been doing a whirling dervish routine since then with a real foggy goal. maybe she would like to do her celebrity imitation for the day. who would she be? maybe carol channing. that would be fun. pick a movie character and act it out for the day. mame would be a fun day. much better than nurse ratchet. or ma kettle. oh the possibilities are endless. how can you picture your mom?

Posted by tim | May 7, 2010 8:00 AM

dale can you still sneak white winos in for mothers day. its a fav

Posted by tim | May 7, 2010 8:03 AM

AEG--all unchilded aunts, whether adopted or genetic, are to be feted on MD. Period!!!
Nice, Dale, some good lines in there, especially about why there are fewer Cher-type bookings. But then we are eating waffles on Sunday; it's a charity thing. But g-kids will love it, so grandma will too.
Speaking of charity, we delivered our old van to a local charity that has the tech school fix them up and gives them to families at the bottom of the economic ladder. With some work it should go awhile and a van I am sure is a prize for them to get.
Thanks Joanne for catching tim's work yesterday and then tim thanks for that. Glad you are home unmelted.
Dale, we should do a "Bertie Wooster Day" some day, by which I mean exchange aunt stories. I bet we all have a few to share, some touching and some outrageous. Maybe a day on the things aunts have given us. I bet I am not the only one with an aunt Nellie and an aunt Mabel.
And why isn't there an aunt form of "avuncular"?

Posted by Clyde | May 7, 2010 8:03 AM

Well, it certainly is tempting to recommend dumping Grace as some have suggested. We could also go for a happy ending. Maybe Aunt Ester would like to see a mother daughter reunion. For a more positive ending they could shower Grace with gifts, prepare her favorite meal and tell her they always loved her and want her live with them. A happy Hollywood ending for the Cher impersonator.

Posted by Jim | May 7, 2010 8:09 AM

Whatever you decide, AEG, be honest with your birth mom, as mentioned above. Might be time for some tough love, as mentioned above.

I've actually thought a lot about this. Years ago I sent out "mothers" day cards to my sister (then child-free)and several friends who had never married, but did excellent "supplemental" parenting with kids who really needed some extra attention. A lot of kids have a favorite single aunt or uncle (sometimes with no blood connection)who have no kids of their own, but fill in the gaps, so to speak. Bravo to them, and Happy "Mothers" Day.

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | May 7, 2010 8:09 AM

Barbara in RD--we have always included those "aunts" on MD (But not Nellie and Mabel; we would have if they had lived closer, which thankfully they did not) and my daughter continues the tradition. Our g-kds have many such "aunts," being PK's. The Sunday waffle feed will be full of their other aunts and a another grandma or two.

Posted by Clyde | May 7, 2010 8:16 AM

I like Clyde's idea of A Bertie Wooster day to celebrate aunts. My great aunts are a real colorful group. I am happy to report that our predicted snow fell as rain, and we only have a light dusting of snow this morning. My son phoned to tell me that my mother's day present would not arrive until next week, and my thoughtful but insolvent 15 year old daughter told me that she'd get me a present as long as I would give her the money with which to buy it. I fear she may raid neighborhood gardens for flowers for me. It's just as well she is in Denver on a high school band trip and won't even be here on Sunday.

Posted by Renee | May 7, 2010 8:34 AM

Thanks to the listener for request for the tribute to Officer Bergeron, and to Dale for coming up with the Springsteen. It's a great example of what Radio Heartland does so well. Public Radio, public servants, creating community. There is more to life, Ayn Rand notwithstanding, than the sum of indivual citizens' efforts.

Posted by jimck | May 7, 2010 8:38 AM

Missed the tribute to Officer Bergeron--had a custmoer call--hope I do hear it on replay. Thanks for mentioning it jimck.
Renee--when my daughter lived in Rhame, it astounded me how that area is in the orbit of Denver; but then when you look at the map, you see it.

Posted by Clyde | May 7, 2010 8:45 AM

Uh-oh, I feel a limerick coming on...

All children deserve at least one mother
It never hurts to have some other
People who care and are
Willing to share all the
Joy and the woes, Amen Brother.

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | May 7, 2010 8:53 AM

Just caught on--Amazing Grace was for Officer Bergeron. Turned sound back up in middle of that; I thought I would maybe have requested it for Mother's day. But I own that CD and it belongs only to him today. Both of my athiest parents asked that Amazing Grace be played at their funerals. We hired a flute player for both. My daughter did my mother's service and did not stint about her granmother, which my mother would have approved of. Never figured out their choice, but then I never figured out my mother. Dale, sometime we should do the bagpipe version. We can play it without JEP. The small part of me not German is Scot.

Posted by Clyde | May 7, 2010 9:03 AM

There was just a show this week on Kerri Miller's show (news station) about raising girls, and a piece of that was the need for girls to have adult women in their lives who aren't there moms. As a mom, I'm grateful for all the fabulous women in my daughter's life who can help her grow and become her own fabulous woman.

So AEG, spend Saturday, all day, with your aunt. Have tea, hit a few antique stores for some lovely plates for breakfast, find a corner at the Como Conservatory (or other appropriate setting) and read some of her Victorian novels out loud to each other. Celebrate the woman who raised you. And then on Sunday, when Mom is awake, give her a little bit of pomp and circumstance - and then go on with your life. I'm willing to bet if Aunt Esther is as wonderful as she seems, Mother's Day is just one day in her year - you can celebrate her on the other 364.

Posted by Anna | May 7, 2010 9:18 AM

thanks for the white winos dale.

Posted by tim | May 7, 2010 9:24 AM

Anna-John Bly's book "Iron John," which is good but wise and stupid at the same time, is about the need for mentors (and remember the word mentor comes from Ulysses in reference to such a man named Mentor) for boys too. "It takes a villaghe to raise a child," which is what that proverb means in africa.

Posted by Clyde | May 7, 2010 9:26 AM

Anyone else read Aldous Huxley’s "Island"? There is a utopian society in which the children are raised by a cluster of families living in close proximity. If a child is "on the outs" with his/her birth family, he can spend the evening, overnight, whatever, with one of the other families.

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | May 7, 2010 9:49 AM

Haven't read it, Barbara. Interesting. My brother and I and friends built a shack in the woods on our land. My father got us started and provided the used lumber (we used do demolition of small buildings). We learned construction and had a retreat, not with adults for sure. But a retreat. At the timne did not realize this was probably in my parent's minds when they did it.
'Nother topic--if you want to read what a real poet can do, read Garrison's poem for today. Wow!!

Posted by Clyde | May 7, 2010 10:01 AM

Clyde - it indeed, does take a village to raise any child. And it is wise to remember, too, that there is a village raising and influencing your child outside the walls of your home.

Posted by Anna | May 7, 2010 10:27 AM

Indeed, Anna, and the messages of the media village are terrible for boys but much more so for girls, in part for how men treat women. A major news tory today on both CBS News and CNN websites is about Goldie Hawn and Kate Hudson, for Mothers Day no less. Could there be a worse message for girls than plasticized stretchd-skin bubbled-head bleached-blonde bimboism!!

Posted by clyde | May 7, 2010 10:34 AM

Think I'm still wired. Sorry about getting on my favorite soap box. I'm going st shut up and take a nap for lunch at my desk.
Good weekend all. Hope it rains a lot in Carlton County. Hope your voice holds out Dale.

Posted by Cy de uff dah | May 7, 2010 11:07 AM

Feel like I miss so much, sitting at a computer all day and very limited access to TB and RH.

I strongly second Clyde's motion for the Bertie Wooster Auntfest.

Mine are all priceless. We are spending tomorrow with one (childless biologically, but a get support to all the 17 grandchildren of the family) and next weekend with another (whose only child is too far away).

The son and heir would not be nearly as spectacular without all all the aunts and uncles of the heart we have had.

Hats off to adopted grandmas too!

Posted by catherine | May 7, 2010 6:18 PM

Oh good, Catherine - on the Museum field trip we were trying to remember if it was you who used the phrase "son and heir", and here you've said it. :)

Happy weekend, all.

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | May 7, 2010 6:39 PM

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