Tag Archive | only child

Contemplating Single Motherhood

As listing makes me feel better and calms me down exponentially, but I keep running out of novel things to list because I have to do it so much, I tried to find something valid and interesting to make a list of and stumbled onto the topic of single mothers.  Now, I have said before that I have no doubt that I will be a single mother by choice because I need children but cannot bear to envision a life with another adult.  However, it got me to thinking, seeing as this blog is about the media and how it can help and hinder a medium mind like mine, about how many single mothers appear and have extremely positive roles in television.  Now, you may observe that there are some controversial additions to this list of positively characterised single mothers, for example, Ellis Grey and Lettie Mae Thornton, but to me even they are good examples of mothers.  This is simply because they did their best.  They may have succumbed to obsessive working and alcoholism respectively, and throughout the TV series that feature their characters their daughters hate their mothers, but even characters whom the audience is supposed to view as villains are redeemed by the realisation of their children (though sometimes it comes all the way in season 11) that their mothers worked with what they had and did their best in the given circumstances.  There are times when I empathise heavily with Meredith or Tara Mae, both scarred and having died and attempted suicide by life, but knowing my luck my life will pan out quite like a TV show and it won’t be until the last season that my mother and I call a ceasefire.  Either that, or one of us will end up killing the other…

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Anyway, this post was meant to be cheerier than the last one and here I am talking about homicidal tendencies!  So, I present to you the – by no means exhaustive – list of single mothers that I consider to be good examples of both the triumphs and mistakes of single motherhood on television.

The Single Mothers of TV

  • Martha Rodgers (Castle)
  • Shelby Corcoran (Glee)
  • Jackie Tyler (Doctor Who)
  • Ellis Grey (Grey’s Anatomy)
  • Shirley Bennett (Community)
  • Vala Mal Doran (Stargate SG-1)
  • Patty Halliwell (Charmed)
  • Liz Forbes (Vampire Diaries)
  • Lettie Mae Thornton (True Blood)
  • Catherine Bordey (Death in Paradise)
  • Carrie Mathison (Homeland)
  • Rachel Green (Friends)
  • Edith Crawley (Downton Abbey)
  • Regina Mills (Once Upon a Time)
  • Eleanor Waldorf (Gossip Girl)
  • Norma Bates (Bates Motel)
  • Joyce Summers (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
  • Darla (Angel)
  • Claire Littleton (LOST)
  • Karen Roe (One Tree Hill)
  • Vy Smith (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air)

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

04-03-2015

The Madness, Misery & Mourning of Motherhood

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/charlotte-bevan-mum-found-dead-4758275

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In the light of this article and having written a lot about how I have to be a mother, not to mention a single mother with mental health issues, I would just like to put this out there as a memoriam to this poor young lady and her child.  All it would have taken was one human to remember that they were one to save her life.  To me, Charlotte Bevan’s tragic death is more of a national crisis than all of the poor souls in the world wars (and I’m not diminishing their sacrifice) put together, as the deaths from 1914-1918 and 1939-1945 had an entire nation to mourn them and remember their sacrifice for democracy, their country and their families, but Ms Bevan’s death will most likely fall into oblivion or recalled in part and pithily as a story that people who suffer from mental health issues recall when they have children.

She deserves better than that.  Her daughter deserves better than that.  Her family and friends deserve better than that.

I won’t forget and this I will remember.

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

08-12-2014

Let it Go

I am about to attempt something completely new and different (can you tell that’s the theme over the past week or so?).  I am going to attempt to communicate the way I feel about depression and social anxiety and coping with the aforementioned through music and a video blog.  So, this post is less wordy than my others but I hope you will play the video below and listen and see what it is I want to say but often am unable to.  Otherwise, stick around and the next post in my guest series will be up presently!

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

12-11-2014

Father Dracula

In the year of our lord 1442, the Turkish Sultan enslaved one thousand Transylvanian boys to fill the ranks of his army. These child slaves were beaten without mercy, trained to kill without conscience, to crave blood of all who defied them – the Turks. From among these boys, one grew into a warrior so fierce that entire armies would retreat in terror at the mention of his name, Vlad the Impaler, Son of the Dragon.  Sickened by his monstrous acts, Vlad came to bury his past with the dead and return to Transylvania to rule in peace. His subjects called him prince, I called him father, but the world would come to know him as Dracula.

The legend of Vlad Țepeș has been many things throughout the years: a horror story, a legend of atonement and sin, a vampire chronicle, a story of romance and loss.  However one aspect of the fact-based narrative that has rarely – if ever – been explored is the role of Vlad Dracula as a father.  As I sat today watching the new Legendary Pictures and Universal Pictures release, Dracula Untold, I found myself utterly enchanted until the epilogue section which will henceforth be unmentioned, with the movie that saw Luke Evans play Vlad Dracula the Father.

Vladimir Dracula (Evans) with his son, Ingeras (Parkinson)

Vladimir Dracula (Evans) with his son, Ingeras (Parkinson)

I sat down to this film with my best friend as one of our traditional Matt-Pippa movie excursions and so I was by no means depressed or morose when the film commenced.  A happier and less depressed person would have grasped onto the historical or west vs. east themes of the film, which I did eventually, but for me, it was the sheer raw emotion displayed that caused my poor old ticker to palpitate in my breast.  With the initial voiceover by the Impaler’s son (see block quote), it felt crystal clear to me as a slightly deranged and basket case of a viewer that fatherhood and the father-son relationship was the crux (no pun intended!) and the heart of the movie.  It is – in short – what sets it apart and bears it aloft from the commonplace and slightly boring modern vampire films that have reformed the image we have in the 21st century of the vampire.

As a daughter of a delightful father, whom I adore to the ends of the earth, I am incredibly drawn to the father figure as painted onscreen, but as the daughter of a father who often did not raise arms and try to move heaven and earth to protect me, I was taken in heart and soul by the powerful and sacrificial father image that Dracula Untold created.  I have no desire to detract from your enjoyment of the film and all its wondrous surprises and positives by illuminating its plot too much so I’ll endeavour as best I can not to divulge too much as I write now.  That having been promised, the story about the drive of the royal prince who has to fight the Turkish threat and offer up his soul, his kingdom, his subjects and his reputation in order to safeguard his child is too enchanting for someone in my position not to elucidate.

Vlad the former Impaler who occupies the screen for the first section of the film reminds me of my father: at home in Castle Dracula during a ten year peace and happy with his queen and son having suffered extensively during his own formative years.  It is the Vlad who refuses the Turks what they demand as the cost of peace that made me smile and almost weep in my seat.  He defies the greater threat, a threat that has the potential to wipe out everything and everyone he holds dear, when the price of peace grows too dear.  It is his love for his family, his respect for his wife and his unconditional love for his son that drives him from this point forward despite his underlying yearning for peace.  The ultimate draw of the character is that his paternal and visceral need to protect his offspring outweighed and conquered his preference for peace in his land.  I can only say that I would be very different now if in the 21st century and without the magic and the devil and a pressing Turkish invasion, my father had valued my sanity, my unscarred body and what my future might be above serenity in Theydon Bois.

So, you see during this film instead of feeling for and finding myself in the shoes of the mother, unusually and refreshingly for me, I felt more kinship with young Ingeras.  This certainly put things in a different perspective than usual and instead of feeling the force of a natural maternal love, as I did in Brave, The Borgias and Angel (to name but a few!) I found myself in a role of vulnerability and the unconditional love of a child and feeling as a child does as my mind flew into the media and put down roots there.  That is not to say that the feelings of Mirena never took rest in my mind – they did – but it was ever linked to the child and a child’s link with his father.

The questions that floated around my mind during the film were: what will my children do without a father to protect them?  How can I possibly hope or think it’s possible for me to protect them by myself?  Will I be enough?  Is it selfish and heartless and unbelievably evil of me to knowingly bring a child – or children – into this world to face it without the love and pride and protection of a father?  Understand that if during a movie that is essentially about a vampire prince in Wallachia, I can be ruminating those questions, precisely how unstable and mental I am and why I need this blog to get some of the crazy out of my brain.  What is especially troubling still is that a piece of media can still get into my head and lay all its babies there and turn me into a blithering, blubbering, bawling shell of a person just because a vampire is a daddy!

So you see how the maternal-paternal-filial feelings have all come together in the aftermath of me watching this film to a head.  My children – I know and promise to every higher power and the cosmos – will have all the love I can give and will never have cause to doubt their mother’s love, but what plagues me now is that although I will give them the best godfathers, uncles and grandfather I can, I want them to know that if anything should happen to me, then a father on this earth will fight to its ends for them.  I say that knowing and being certain that I cannot ask nor expect their godfathers to do that for my children.  That frightens me more than anything; that something will take me away from my children and they’ll end up living the same life I do, not knowing if anyone really loves me or if the world is really against me or I just have that kind of luck.  Then, what I have sworn never to do and have often said to my mother, that I would die before I created another me, I will have failed dismally and utterly and it’ll be infinitely worse than failing myself or my parents or my friends because I’ll have created through my own means and by my own will, tortured children who will never be whole, all because I wanted a family of my own and then failed to protect them and ensure their secure future.  That is what Dracula Untold revolves around: the legacy of leaving a safe life for your children no matter the cost or what stands in your way.

That’s why, I guess, I invest so much heart and mind in these sci-fi & fantasy shows, books, and films that have these awesome father figures that possess magical powers or vast armies or some superhuman (or all of the above!).  Angel is the vampire with a soul father to Connor, John Crichton is father to baby D’Argo with the knowledge a whole galaxy wants in his brain, Noah Bennet adopts Claire and exercises his influence to protect her and that’s just fathers in Angel, Farscape and Heroes for you to consider.  Vladimir Dracula as played by Evans, like Angel, other than being a vampire, alternates between being good and bad, light and darkness and right and wrong, illustrated ever so clearly in his final showdown with Mehmed II (played – vexingly, I might add – by Dominic Cooper) where the adage, “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter,” (Harry’s Game, G. Seymour, 1975) has never been so apt.  This is not least due in part to the fact that they symbolise a clash between east and west and Christianity and Islam, which I found a bit on the head due to the threat from ISIS currently experienced by the world, but nevertheless, it presented me with an interesting conundrum.  Although Vlad is undeniably set up as the protagonist and Mehmed as the “cardboard” (Matt’s word) villain, in the final fight where perhaps conventionally. we would usually side with the man who didn’t sell his soul and his eternity to the devil, oddly, we find ourselves rooting for Vlad as he fights for his son’s future and to keep the promise he made to his wife.  Much like Buffy the Vampire Slayer is ironic as it is now the pretty (meh) blonde girl chasing the monsters with a knife, the inversion of a supernatural heroic villain fighting a foreign threat who is – in this film, if not in history – represented as a bit of an arsehole for his family made me ask the question: can – and should – a father simply be good?  Mine certainly was and is, but I don’t know if I would have the mental and physical and psychosomatic problems I do now if my father had had a bit of evil or darkness in him enough to wage a bit of a war for me against the arseholes (myself included!) that turned my life into the circus it is today.  I know that Mirena is portrayed in the gothic setting of Dracula Untold as the stereotypical mother and damsel in distress and therefore, she is not characterised or shown, at least, to have any flaws or darkness within her – it’s all in her husband!  So, the question of whether a mother can be innately good and sin-free never really entered my mind during the feature film, for Mirena does appear to be the perfect, almost fairytale if in an Angela Carter setting, mother.  Vlad, however, in order to be a good father to his son (and, indirectly a good husband to his wife) is required to turn a bit evil, if initially temporarily and with the potential for redemption, so I just wonder if when a mother has a pristine soul, a father has to be bad, or if a father just has to have that hint of darkness in order to be the strong, virile protector he has to be.  Needless to say, it’s something I’ll be thinking about for a while and I doubt I’ll ever reach a cast iron decision on my opinion on the matter, but I will say this: the darkness within my mother has never in my life been a darkness used to protect me and the light within my father has not protected me from her darkness either so as a future single parent, I aim to be a light shade of grey and thus tone down the darkness from how strong its pigment is at the moment.  That is all I can do for my children: not be my mother and not be my father, but have the darkness of my mother and use it the way a father like Dracula did in the film for their good and to have my father’s light and accept it as the good in my soul the way the mother in Mirena does to counteract the strong and masculine darkness in Vlad.

I hope this article hasn’t bored you to death as I skirted around the plot of Dracula Untold and that I haven’t dissuaded any of you from seeing it, if you haven’t already!  I will conclude by saying that we all have monsters residing within us but it is whether we allow them to have the active or passive role in our lives that defines us as people and as children and as parents.  The right kind of darkness can be a force of light and the wrong kind of light can be detrimental.  Don’t judge someone’s darkness because it is not an obvious asset to them – it may be the only thing keeping them alive because that’s certainly what the darkness in my soul is to me.

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P.Mistry-Norman

15-10-2014

Motherhood

“In a child’s eyes, a mother is a goddess. She can be glorious or terrible, benevolent or filled with wrath, but she commands love either way. I am convinced that this is the greatest power in the universe.”

~ N.K. Jemisin, “The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms”

At this point, I would just like to shed a bit of light on my relationship with my mother.  Over my life I’ve met a few people with notable mother-child relationships.  Some people are lucky enough to have a mutually loving relationship with their mothers, others have mothers who adore them but they cannot love them back and vice versa.  I don’t know which of these broad categories my mother and I fit into but I am going to try and pinpoint it in this post – if I can…

My childhood was traumatic.  It felt incredibly harsh and almost as if it didn’t exist at all.  I still swear that when I was twelve years old I was at my most mature.  I am an only child born to parents who were already looking at their prime in the rear-view mirror at the time of my birth.

I am not laying any blame for how I’ve turned out at my parents’ feet, I just feel it is a contributor to the negative as it is to the positive as well and thus, needs to be shown as part of what happens to make a young adult with such a cocktail of mental disorders.  

I will start by saying that my relationship with my father is uncommonly strong.  We talk almost everyday for about an hour each time and I love my daddy.  Even when both of us – since neither of us are the most talkative of folks – run out of things to say, it is one of the most comforting things for me just to know that my father is on the other end of the line just listening to me and spending time with me.

Contrarily, my mother and I do not have a solid or stable relationship at all.  When I was in school, I attended counselling to deal with various problems that – I feel – stemmed from how I felt about my mother and how I perceived her feelings for me.  I am not going to lie about anything here to make people feel better or to sugarcoat what happened.  This is my story and I intend to tell it how it really happened, though, there are two sides to every story, but I’m telling mine.

When I was a child I was hit.  There, I’ve said it.  I was slapped for things I did wrong, I was hit for making mistakes.  It was a time when it was acceptable for parents to smack their children and some of my friends had the same punishment tradition at their homes and a few claim to be glad that their parents struck them as it supposedly made them disciplined, but I do not share in that view.  I don’t at all.  I think it is the most loathsome and cowardly thing to strike a child and there is no excuse for it whatsoever.  It literally makes me weep when articles come up in newspapers and headlines come up on news channels telling the story of some poor innocent child being killed by negligent parents or being beaten to death.  I am thus not even capable of thinking about hurting a child and I am quick and harsh to judge people who do.

The fear a child can have of their mother is a horrible thing.  I was plagued with night terrors all through my formative years and they’ve only just begun to dissipate now with the help of medication and audiobooks, actually.  Some of my earliest memories are of running through my parents’ bungalow from my mother.  It is what prompted me to ask for a bunk bed at Christmas and what makes me still need to lock my bedroom door at home in order to get a decent night’s kip.  Never underestimate how a ladder can keep you safe when your mother has a back problem!

The annoying and incredibly vexing aspect of the relationship my mother and I share is that it is so changeable and difficult to read.  One of my former best friends once told me that every child is genetically predisposed to love and cling to their mother and I suppose that is true. She is a graduate psychologist so I might as well take her word for it.  This primal instinct is what keeps me coming back and never being able to truly let go of the aspiration that one of these days, my mother and I will put everything behind us and stop this endless cycle of cruelty that has been fostered for two whole decades…hopefully, while I’m still young!

Some days, my mother is the ideal mother, she is a fantastic cook – honestly, no one can make as nice a proper Indian prawn curry as my mum can.  On those days, no one loves her more than me.  Sadly, those days are few and far between…most of the time, my mother despises me and resents me and blames me for everything that has gone wrong in her life.  When I was born, she was kept in hospital due to a badly done epidural and I was a sick baby so I was a nightmare and a problem then too, but I think that possibly due to that separation so soon postpartum, our relationship was affected permanently.

On the days when my mother is a gorgon sent from Tartarus, it is not even worth stepping foot outside my room just to be called fat and huge and useless and weak.  This is the ultimate point of what the relationship with my mother has done to contribute to my condition.  It is not the words or the actions themselves, it is how intimidating and memorable those insults and strikes are when you are literally at rock bottom and have to work up to no self-esteem.  That is the effect of a poor mother-daughter relationship on a depressed, socially anxious and mythomanic child who didn’t quite manage the transition to young adult as easily as it’s done in “The Sims”.

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

28-01-2014