My mother is 85. She’s been married to my father for 54 years now. In the past 10 years she has taken us to task (literally screaming) when we show her photos taken during family gatherings. She says we are trying to make her look bad.
I think she is beautiful, but I always acquiesce and destroy the photographs when she asks me to.
Is there anything I can say to her to try to circumvent the horrible mass-media stereotype of older being “ugly”? This, still at age 85, seems to be how she judges herself, and it makes me cry. It’s ludicrous at every age.
You’re certainly free to share your own view. “Mom, you’re beautiful to me; these pictures now are happy memories later.” But even if your mom were in her 50s, it wouldn’t be your place to rid her of beliefs you happen to find “ludicrous.” Her being 85 only invites the further argument that after eight and a half decades, she has earned the right to a reprieve from people trying to fix her.
That said, she has no right to scream you into destroying photographs that are rightfully yours.
The compromise is right in your lap. You know it upsets her to see herself in pictures, so stop showing them to her.
But do keep them, even if she insists on seeing them and insists they be destroyed. Out of respect for her discomfort, just don’t take any pictures surreptitiously, delete any that could be classified as a “visual typo,” and don’t circulate even the good ones outside your own nuclear family.
At least not during her lifetime; reasonable people can disagree, I believe, on whether such an embargo extends from the grave.
We have a wedding coming up and the couple have proven themselves thus far worthy of the -zilla designation. The words “my/our special day” have been uttered multiple times, unreasonable expectations have been set, guilt trips issued, and less than gracious behavior has ensued on their part. I’m wondering how to get through the special day without throttling anyone and helping family harmony to prevail once it’s all over.
— Surviving Their Special Day
Don’t care so much?
Seriously. (Or don’t go, but I’m guessing you’ve already opted for family harmony on this point.)
The silver lining of the “my day” mentality is its unstated corollary: It’s not your day. You’re just a guest! So, dine like a guest, dance like a guest, drink like a particularly well-behaved guest, wish the couple well like a guest, deflect drama like a guest.
Yes, I snuck that last one in as if it were just like the others, because it can be if that’s what you want. You don’t have to meet expectations that aren’t reasonable. Whether you feel guilty for something is up to you. To remain gracious amid others’ rudeness is strictly a matter of choice. You can opt not to nominate yourself for the role of family peacekeeper, and simply model peace instead. You can just say no to throttling, and yes to laughing with people you love.
A couple’s wedding misbehavior presents bystanders with many opportunities for veiled delight — an all too tempting I’d-never-do-that! buffet. It’s also an opportunity to choose not to partake.
(c) 2016, Washington Post Writers Group