The Not So Perfect Relationship
Every mothers eyes are filled with love and excitement when they have their first baby girl. All the possibilities that may come in that little girls future like her first date, prom and when she gets married and has her own family, are all dreams that every mother has for her daughter. But not all mother- daughter relationships are the same. In the play Night Mother, Jessie is the daughter of Thelma but the way the family works in their household, Jessie takes care of her mother and plays the part of a adult in the relationship. For a daughter not having a mother figure around and losing her father early in their childhood like Jessie did, could definitely put pressure on their confidence and happiness. This could to but doesnt always lead to suicidal thoughts.
When the play first begins, you see how much Thelma relies on Jessie to do even the simplest tasks. Jessie, its the last snowball, sugar. Put it on the list, ok? And we are out of Hershey bars, and wheres that peanut brittle?... (pg. 5). When Thelma asks Jessie to get more of the treats she likes, it shows that Thelma doesnt really have the maturity to even remember what she needs to go to the store from. A grown adult would make their own list of groceries to buy at the store. There are more times in that first scene of the play that Thelma asks Jessie to do to things for her that could have been easily done by her. Dawson took the shotgun, didnt he? Hand me that basket, hon Now my glasses, please. I told him to take those rubber boots, too (pg 8.) Thelma asks Jessie for the basket and then her glasses, which are both easy tasks to do herself, but the attitude she gives off is that she rather Jessie do things for her.
There are more situations in the play where Thelma acts like the child in the relationship and has Jessie do things she is able to do. After Jessie asks her mother where the gun is at, Thelma is expecting her weekly manicure. Jessie has to remind her mother at least 3 times to wash her hands before she gives her mother the manicure. Every word. Wash your hands and thats the last time Im telling you. (pg. 12). You wouldnt think of hearing those words come of the daughters mouth being said to a parent. Their relationship seems to build on a parent child bond, but Thelma has gotten so used to Jessie doing things for her that she needs to be told many times until the task actually gets done. After Thelma hears from Jessie that she wants to kill herself, Thelma starts to ask questions and one she sees that Jessie is serious she almost tries to be a mother and tell her that she cannot kill herself in her mothers house. And you cant use your fathers fun, either. Its mine now, too. And you cant do it in my house. (pg. 19). From how we first saw how Jessie was acting, cleaning and doing all the responsible roles in the household, Thelma thinks she can just jump right into being Jessies mother and tell her that she cannot do certain things in her house. But that is probably one of the first times in Jessies life that her mother was attempting to act like the adult and keep her daughter from doing something she shouldnt.
People who are so unhappy and decided to kill themselves usually have been hurting and have been thinking about suicide for a while. Jessie tells her mother, Mama Im just not having a very good time and I dont have any reason to think itll get anything but worse. Im tired. Im hurt. Im sad. I feel used. (pg. 28). Jessie explains exactly how she is feeling and what pushed her to her unhappiness, but Thelma doesnt understand. She keeps thinking that the situation can be fixed and everything will go back to normal so she can have her perfect relationship with her daughter. Jessie is finally telling her mother how she feels, but Thelma has been so blind to what has been going on with her only daughter, that even when Jessie tells her straight in the eye whats wrong, she still doesnt see it. Jessie tells her mother, Whenever I feel like it, I can get off. As soon as Ive had enough, its my stop. Ive had enough. (pg. 33). When Jessie tells her mom about how she feels and compares it to a long ride on the bus, Thelma still tells her Youre feeling sorry for yourself! as if she wants Jessie to feel guilty about what she is about to do. After all Jessie has said to her mother about feeling used and having to look after her mother for all these years, you would think Thelma would be the one feeling guilty but she still doesnt understand.
A daughter should look to her mother and see a role model or someone she can look up to. But in Jessies life, she never saw that in her own mother. Parents are there to encourage their children and push them to succeed in everything they try to do. Jessie says You know I couldnt work. I cant do anything. Ive never been around people my whole life except when I went to the hospital. I could have a seizure any time. What good would a job do? The kind of job I could get would make me feel worse. (pg. 35). This quote from the play shows that Thelma wasnt the mother that Jessie needed. Children need to get positive words from their parents because children will soak up everything that has to do with their parents because they are supposed to be seen as the biggest influence in a childs life. Thelma never told Jessie she would be good at anything, and Jessie had to grow up hearing that which got her to believe it. Having nothing to look forward to and work to doesnt bring much positive light into a persons life and could bring them to the thoughts of ending their life.
Daughters in every part of the world have some sort of connection with their mothers. Some might be better than others but no one else can replace that mother figure that was in their life from the beginning. Parents dont always know whats going on with their children, but all want the best for them. Sometimes there are warning signs when a child is so unhappy that suicide seems like the only answer. But to see those signs, parents must be involved in their childrens lives. Just thinking that everything is great and they have a perfect relationship with their child isnt enough. Just like Thelma, some parents have no idea.