Commentary

This mom is thinking of William
and Harry, not H&M

We Baby Boomers have yet to get used to emotional striptease
which the younger gen seems to have turned into science

I know, I know, there are more urgent issues to worry about—like, do I get the vaccine and how, will this government bungle this life-and-death issue yet again, what of our family members who go out as usual to work, what of the frontliners who plod on without seeing the light at the end of the tunnel—and the anxiety issues go on.

Yet, you can’t turn your gaze away from the Meghan/Harry vs the royals issue, the same way you can’t from a car crash you happen to pass by; you know there could be blood and gore—but you steal a glance anyway. My chat groups, unintentionally perhaps, have turned the topic into their sign-off at the end of the day ever since the Duke and Duchess of Sussex did the interview with Oprah. They must add their two-cents worth before they call it a day—if that takes your mind off the new abnormal, why not?

My friend who lives in London dismissively calls it “a storm in an English teacup. Today’s paper, tomorrow’s fish-and-chips wrapper.”  In my case, giving my two-cents worth is just a matter of tapping send-and-publish on the keyboard (no need to kill trees for the paper).

I’m looking at it as a Baby Boomer who grew up brainwashed by Jackie Kennedy/Onassis, and as a mother of two adult sons whom I want to be tight brothers forever and ever.

Jackie O said something like, you don’t ‘disembowel’ yourself in public

I remember distinctly a quote from Jackie O about why she was discreet about her public and private lives, and she remained so to the day she died. She said something like, you don’t “disembowel” yourself in public. It was written how she burned some of her private letters that could affect her friends, family, or acquaintances, and in effect how she became the “guardian” of “Camelot,” as the Kennedy political dynasty was known. It was oft written how the Kennedys were the closest to a “monarchy” that Americans would ever have.

The internet makes a great laxative for disembowelment

But then Jackie O was generations ago—her no-disembowelment rule didn’t even leave its mark on Diana Princess of Wales, as it turned out. Diana’s life and death spawned a media and entertainment industry of news, books, documentaries, films, fashion and style. Among my mom’s possessions that we waded through after her death was her mammoth (no exaggeration) collection of magazines, books, photos of Lady Di.

So—in this sense, H&M (Harry & Meghan) is no original brand. The difference might lie in the costs of such media access and the reach of multi-media and digital platforms—the internet makes a great laxative for disembowelment. The world can’t seem to stop talking about H&M, which seems to have divided the pond between the Brits and the Americans, or at least the Brits who perceive an affront to one of their oldest institutions, the monarchy, and the Americans who, after Trump, now have instant recall of long-held no-nos such as racism.

Piers Morgan calls the H&M’s hour or so with Oprah a “whine-athon.” The anti-H&M raise their eyebrows—didn’t she know what she was signing up for when she married into the royal family? Why the inconsistencies (an Oprah interview on the heels of the demand for privacy; quitting the royalty yet complaining about the titles not being bestowed on their offspring)?

The pro-H&M rant and rave against the racism and bullying Meghan denounced she suffered.

Some of my generation have finally gotten around to doing selfies—but we still have to get used to emotional striptease in public which the younger generations seem to have turned not only into a digital skill, but also into a science most viable. The H&M episode pushed reality TV show several notches higher (or lower?). Whatever, you feel that this showbiz-like saga, no matter how long it runs, will have no winners (don’t count airing rights’ revenues), only battered survivors.

It’s reported that brothers William and Harry have had a “falling out,” given the rift in the royal household.

It is tragic when a family—any family— suffers discord, or their ties break, upon the entry of in-laws

As a mother, I still can’t forget the heart-rending sight of the young princes William and Harry, their heads bowed, walking behind the hearse of their mother on the streets of London for all the world to gawk at. I know of no mother who didn’t feel for the two royal orphans at that moment. Then years later, it became heartwarming for a mother to see how close the two brothers—dashing young men—had become, no doubt conjoined by family and institution, as they went through their father’s second marriage. And it was admirable to see how both worked together at perpetuating the memory of their mother. Then it was simply cute to see William, the heir to the throne, stand beside his younger brother in church waiting for Harry’s bride to walk down the aisle.

It is tragic when a family—any family— suffers discord, or their ties break, upon the entry of in-laws, even if the in-laws are no villains. That’s what’s sad about this H&M chapter.

It brings to mind an advice I heard a long time ago, given a young man who was drifting away from his family on account of a third party; an old aunt told the young man: “No stranger is worth it.”

Now that’s a blunt advice to give grownups with minds of their own, but you can’t but heed that advice when you see families growing apart from each other on account of in-laws, when you see daughters-in-law pulling their husbands away from their own mothers (like anti-gravity) and husbands subsequently turning into wimps. I have yet to have a daughter-in-law, but when we talk about in-laws in general, I tell my sons (I’m paying for dinner) that any mother thinking of a future daughter-in-law inevitably asks herself: will she pull my son away from me or closer to me? I tell my sons, without necessarily referring to them (yeah, right), that a son’s relationship with his mother in her old age—would he be present constantly in her weak, feeble days or would it be reduced to monthly calls/visits or none at all?—will depend usually on how dutiful, and kind his wife would be. Would she be a bridge or a barrier to a mother-son relationship? Would she smooth out differences when they arise and reconcile the son with his mother, or would she even widen the gap?

Diana didn’t live long enough to play mother-in-law in the H&M saga. Yet listening to the tell-all gives this mom the creeps. You wouldn’t wish it upon yourself. I wouldn’t want a future daughter-in-law to be telling on me and my family, so I’d better be nice to her. (Racism is out of the question.) Better yet, I’d better forewarn my sons (presuming that sons listen to moms).

About author

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After devoting more than 30 years to daily newspaper editing (as Lifestyle editor) and a decade to magazine publishing (as editorial director and general manager), she now wants to focus on writing—she hopes.
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