Midnight Pub

Filial Piety Considered Harmful


A White Lady for me, please, @bartender.

I got back from Christmas with my family last night, and I regret going. I'm processing a lot of emotional toxicity from that visit, and rather than dump it on my wife I'm dumping it on you. Isn't that why we still go to bars and pubs?

My mother always had a plan for me, a design for my life. Apparently, the first thing she said once I was born was that now she had a son who could give her grandchildren. That never happened, and my mother has never forgiven me for that. Nothing else I've done matters; all of my modest successes are as nothing compared to this singular failure.

It doesn't matter that I hold a secure salaried technical job and am being groomed for management despite being an autistic college dropout. It doesn't matter that I'm still married to my first wife after sixteen years. It doesn't matter that I've written and published novels, and been to London and Paris. It doesn't matter that I didn't get to be a "normal teenager" because when I wasn't at school or working I was taking care of my crippled and clinically depressed mother while my father was at work. It doesn't matter that whenever they needed help, I was there for them. Hell, it doesn't even matter that for most of 2009 I was paying their mortgage on top of my rent.

Because I haven't given my mother grandchildren, I'm a failure and my very existence was apparently a mistake. Well, it wasn't MY mistake. My mother just couldn't bear to be a virgin any longer, and she had to pick some college guy who barely had a pot of his own to piss in to be her first? That's no more my fault than it was that dad's condom wasn't good enough and mom's birth control pill was a dud.

All of this came to a head at the end of July, and I had told my mother point-blank that my life was mine to live, and that since my wife and I made no effort to avoid having kids, it wasn't our fault that we didn't. She obviously didn't appreciate being told to take it up with her God.

She thinks I told her to fuck off, and I wish to all of mankind's imaginary gods that I had. But I never went that far. Hell, I even wrote and sent three letters of apology afterward.

I remain unforgiven, but that didn't stop my parents from telling me that my father has cancer, might not survive, and that my mother expects to move in with me if he dies first.

And what did I do, because I was the elder son and a guest in their house at Christmas? Not what I should have done back in July. I should have told them that they were on their own, that they should strike my name from their will and find some other idiot to handle their affairs. I hate that I have it in me to hate my parents, but—call it common decency if you can't call it cowardice—I don't have it in me to kick my father when he's down. I wasn't going to tell the old man that if he dies first, his narcissistic tyrant of a wife is on her own.

I should have cut ties and ceased all contact when I was eighteen. It would saved me tens of thousands of dollars and a couple of decades of heartache.