I was talking to a friend of mine last night on the phone - we'll call her T. T has a 6 year-old daughter and is divorced. She was telling me how very depressed she was because her daughter had gone away for the week with her father. T was bemoaning this, saying how she hates it every year, that she dreads her daughter being gone, saying how desperately she misses her. Then she said what, to me, borders on obsessive behaviour - while her daughter is away, T watches (not records, just watches) all her daughter's favourite shows "in order to feel closer to her."
Um, what? I didn't really know what to say to that. I laughed a little bit. T said that I probably thought she was nuts (ya think?) and then we changed subjects.
I've always thought that T was a bit unhinged about her daughter, with an unhealthy attachment towards her that only got worse when she got divorced. I remember soon after her daughter was born, T and I were talking and she told me she was afraid to take a shower if she was home alone because she was afraid that someone would come in and steal the baby while she was in there. After the divorce, T would sleep with her daughter, saying that the child wouldn't go to sleep on her own, but I know most of it was T and her neuroses.
T's been in and out of therapy for depression, but this seems way beyond depression. I suffer from depression and I'm not like this. I honestly don't think T sees anything wrong with this behaviour, that she's not that different from most mothers. I certainly don't get that way about my kids. I love them to bits and worry about them, probably more than some at times, but I do like to have a break from them now and then. And I would never watch Blue's Clues or Hannah freakin' Montana while they were gone. I'm too busy getting caught up on back episodes of Top Chef and House. (Plus? I'm really, really sick of Blue's Clues and Hannah freakin' Montana.)
I worry, in a resigned way, about what T is doing to her daughter. I haven't seen them in a while (it, apparently, being too far a drive from Boston to the Pioneer Valley), but the last time I was out there, when Boo was a baby, the girl suggested that T bash Boo's head on the floor while T was holding her. Freaked me out.
I know that T is this way with her child because she had such a horrific upbringing herself. She's overcompensating. But in the meantime, I think she's causing other, equally damaging problems for her daughter. It's sad, it's unhealthy and I don't think there's anything I can say that would change her behaviour.