Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day, Me, and Drew Peterson

by Libby Hellmann

by Libby Hellmann

I am not a Mother’s Day person. To me it’s always been one of those made-up, Hallmark holidays that primarily benefits florists, restaurants, and card makers. Not that that’s inherently a bad thing, but why hang the angst and emotion of parenting or being parented on a lovely Sunday in May? Why not just have a “Buy-a-Card-or-Flowers-or-Go-Out-To-Eat-day?”

I never thought of myself as having “mother issues.” My own mother rocks, and I'm the mother of two wonderful kids myself. Yet I’ve felt guilty for not considering Mother’s Day a “real” holiday for a long time, and I never quite knew why. Then, a few years ago, FLASH… EUREKA moment – it came to me.

I was about 12 when the mother of one of my friends committed suicide. Mother’s Day was about a month after that, and my friend spent the night at our house. I usually picked flowers from our rhododendron and azalea bushes and arranged them on a breakfast tray we carried up to my mother, but that year I remember feeling very self conscious about it. I had a mother, but she didn’t, and I didn’t want to remind her of it. At the same time, I didn’t know what to do. Should I ignore the holiday? Forego the bouquet and the breakfast tray and pretend it was just another day? Or should I do what I normally did on Mother’s Day? I remember settling for half measures. I did pick the flowers, but I made sure to say. “oh, it’s no big deal.” As if I picked flowers for my mother every day.

Of course it was a big deal. For both of us. And I don’t know if I did the right thing. Probably not. She and I never discussed it. Like many people from one’s childhood, we’re not in touch any more. But I wonder.

That memory surfaced again when I heard about Drew Peterson's arrest. Yes, I’m glad that he’s finally being held accountable for his third wife’s murder. And I think his red jump suit, private shower, and 90 minutes of exercise a day at the Will County jail are probably more than he deserves. More to the point, though, I’d like to know how HE observed Mother’s Day. He’s accused of killing Kathleen Savio, the mother of two of his children. And he’s the major suspect in the disappearance of Stacy, the mother of his two other kids.

So, how did he celebrate the day? Before he was arrested, did he honor the memory of his kids' mothers? Or did he ignore the holiday altogether... pretend it was just another day? Come to think of it, what does he say when his kids ask about their mothers? Or, in Stacy’s case, when she’s coming back? Does he tell them they were the best mothers in the world? Or does he tell them they were bad mothers and thank god they’re out of the way? Are there moments on Mother’s Day when he feels uncomfortable in his own skin? Even guilty?

Probably not. Sociopaths rarely do. I’m sure whatever answers he gives his kids are about as credible and persuasive as the rest of his lies. But I’d sure like to hear him weasel his way through them.

What do you think? What’s Mother’s Day to you? And what about Drew Peterson? Are you glad he's in jail? What about his kids?


Maryann Mercer said...

I spend Mothers Day every year thinking about my mom and what she taught me...and the fact that I have an amazing daughter of my own, who knows so much more than I do :o) My one sad thought is that my mom did not live long enough to meet Catherine. My happy thought is that Catherine talked about her with my father before he died and got to know her a bit.
Drew Peterson? I don't wonder whether he honored his mom or his wives...I'm sure he did for the sake of impressing his children and those around him. I only hope that they are fortunate enough to learn about them from their aunts and uncles.
(And yes, the Sun-Times "CUFFED" brought a huge smile to my face.)
Hallmark Holidays? Well, this one makes more sense than some of the others...

jnantz said...

I'm glad he's been caught, but I don't personally think jail is the right place for him. A simple pine box would be better, IMO.

Sara Paretsky said...

Mother's Day is a U S invented holiday, and it seems to reflect a cultural preference for isolated families. Anne Jarvis, who created the date & observance in 1912, was specific that it had to be mother's, not mothers', because we weren't to think about women collectively, but only each individual family's mother. As de Tocqueville said, American invidivdualism " “disposes each member of the community to sever himself from the mass of fellows and to draw apart with his family and friends, so that after he has thus formed a little circle of his own, he … leaves society at large to itself."

Tim Chapman said...

I'd love to see Peterson tried and convicted, but with some actual evidence. If they manage to push through this hearsay law we're in big trouble. Then we'll have plenty of sad mothers whose wrongfully convicted children are behind bars.

Libby's Son Michael said...

First of all, let me say that I love my Mom and I called her on Mothers' Day! Now, I have a few thoughts on the author's post:

-Does it matter that Mothers' Day is a Hallmark Holiday? If we take a sort-of Marxist view of History and Culture, aren't all holidays created by an oligarchy to force an agenda on the rest of society? Not that there's anything wrong with that...but since we already have it, why don't we just take the opportunity to honor the special women and nurturers in our lives on their own special day, Hallmark Holiday or not. Just sayin'.

-On Drew Peterson: Look, I'm definitely not a fan of smug cops who think they're above the law. However, Tim's right on the money on this one. It's natural to sympathize with victims of terrible crimes like those in this case, but all too often society rushes to a conclusory judgment based on selective reporting and omitted or exaggerated facts.

As Americans, we're all entitled to our constitutional rights which include due process of law and a fair trial based on sound evidence- not on the defendant's character or propensity. So while many of us sympathize with Stacy Peterson like she's our mother, sister or daughter, it's important for us to also sympathize with Drew Peterson like he's our father, brother or son-however much we might dislike him. This is Chicago in 2009, not Salem, Mass in 1692 or Nuremberg in 1935.

Libby Hellmann said...

ooo, Michael. Strong language. Guess you turned out Okay!!