Nita Question: Mom

Okay, here’s something that’s been bothering me: Nita’s mom.  I was swinging really wide in the first drafts, which is what you’re supposed to do, but I think I may have swung too wide on her.  For those of you who remember Mitzi, was she a deal-breaker in believability?  I need her nuts and lethal, but . . .  

41 thoughts on “Nita Question: Mom

  1. You can leave her nuts & lethal as long as you don’t try to make her loving in the end.

    I’m not crazy about the “let’s all get together & sing kumbya in the end” endings.

    5+

    1. Mitzi does not sing “Kumbaya.” And she’s still awful at the end, just more layered. At least you know why she’s awful. It’s a reason, not an excuse.

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  2. How to put this? I unfortunately know some moms so breathtakingly batshit crazy I can’t think of anything a fictional mom could do that would make me say, “nah, not believable.”

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    1. I don’t know you or I wouldn’t ask, but are you fairly well-adjusted? My real problem with Mitzi is the idea of all of her children being good people (and Nita and Mort and their sisters, whose names escape me, are) despite her being a complete narcissistic nut who kills people, thinking they’re demons.

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      1. The kids have each other and a good strong father figure in the Mayor, who thinks they’re all perfect and has a huge collection of Best Dad Ever mugs to prove it. They’re fine in general. Keres doesn’t ever want to get married, Mort’s in love with a demon, and Nita has some repression to deal with, but they’ve got each other, they’re good..

        3+

      2. LOL depends on who you ask. In most ways I am, because I’ve done a LOT of work to figure out what’s healthy and what’s not and establish boundaries with my mom. Studies have shown that just having one sane/loving adult in an abused child’s life can make THE difference, and I was incredibly lucky enough to have had more than one adult validate me and give me emotional support/safety when I was still in the larval stage. That said, I have my stuff, as do we all.

        4+

  3. The impression that I got was that given her level of “it’s all about me” that she was fairly narcissistic.

    The part that didn’t compute for me was that she was so narcissistic yet her kids were still dealing with her. My experience of kids with a parent at that level, is that there’s a certain point where the kids say, “Enough. I’m outa here.” (Not me, a couple of friends of mine).

    Everyone’s different, but I think there needs to be a redeeming feature in there from the beginning, so that there is more of a reason for her kids to be dealing with her than just “She’s our mother so we have to”.

    Which I have to admit is the whole premise Nita’s discussion with her Bro in the car, so maybe that’s the point. Family, no matter how warped, trumps all.

    3+

    1. Can of worms here. I have a really narcissistic mom . ( True story: She would talk to me every Sunday for years and years and never ask me about my life. Finally I pointed it out. Now she asks one question about my life and then talks to me for half an hour about what she’s been doing. I once said to my brother “I don’t think she has ever asked me about how I am feeling” and he immediately said “oh no of course not”.)
      I haven’t cut her off and neither have my siblings. Partly that’s because of the family narrative “oh, but that’s because of how her mom treated her when she was a kid” (true but no reason why I have to take abuse–took me a long time to figure that out and some sibs haven’t yet). And partly it’s because she won’t let go–if her kids won’t interact with her on the terms she thinks they should as a
      Proof that she is a Great Mom then she is relentless. It’s emotional blackmail but it’s easier to go along.
      So I can imagine reasons why Mitzi’s kids still deal with her.
      And it’s really hard to realize that your mom will never be the loving mom you want so that makes it hard to walk away–particularly if there is some intermittent reinforcing where it looks like she cares.
      Ok, I know, waaaay too much info, but I’m hoping it’s helpful.

      4+

      1. I have one friend with a narcissistic mom, and she didn’t cut her off until she was in her forties and her mom was in her seventies and got really abusive. I have another who stayed close to her nightmare of a mother until the mom died in her nineties. I think it’s hard to just walk away, especially if the mother isn’t clingy. If she only shows up a couple of times a year for a day or so, you can cope. It’s one of the reasons I made Mitzi’s job off the island.

        I want to think that the three kids are so close that together they can cope with her, too. They’re a tight knit family, and their father is great, if over-protective. So they basically brace themselves three times a year for birthdays and Christmas, and then take care of each other the rest of the time.

        6+

    2. Hmmm. I saw her as somebody who’d arranged an expensive dinner for her children, only to be stood up and sent to a bar instead. Then when she gets there, the child she’s always been afraid of is in distress, and she’s torn between protecting her and protecting everybody else from her (yeah, that “afraid of” part comes later). And then she sees somebody she thinks is the guy who got her pregnant (the sex was consensual, the pregnancy wasn’t) with his arm around her daughter, and she’s already angry, and that’s it.

      Maybe I should set up that “afraid of” part of ahead of time.

      5+

      1. I think that was the part that threw me when I read it (it was a while ago, though. That she came in and was furious at Nick with the implication (or outright statement) that he was the one who impregnated her, and I was confused as to how she was getting that mixed up, that she could misidentify him, thinking ‘doesn’t she remember what he looked like’. I hope that makes sense! I’m sure there is a reason, but in the meantime it jarred.

        I recall her being angry very quickly, but that wasn’t necessarily an issue with her, more I felt I had missed something. And expectations of her as someone Nita is dreading spending time with are set up early and clearly, so that’s not an issue.

        2+

      2. Ok, so I missed all 3 of those points – particularly about her thinking that Nick was an ex. 🙂

        What gave me the “all about me” impression, was that she walks into the bar upset about the fact that she’s gone to all this effort to book dinner, whereas she could have walked into the bar wondering what had gone so wrong that they were now at the bar.

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      3. I actually followed that. Of course she’s afraid of Nita, she knows whose blood runs through her veins. But she’s still her child so there’s some love there. I assumed the quick, rabid overprotectiveness was the fear pushing at her (can’t attack Nita, so gotta attack Nick) + her view of herself. The kids think she’s terrible, but what does she think of herself as a mother? If she thinks she’s awesome, then of course she would have to act super protective, cause that’s what good mothers do!

        0

        1. She does love Nita, but she knows what Nita’s capable of, which Nita doesn’t know yet because her mother never let her lose her temper after she lost is as a toddler, taught her anger was bad. So Nita gets waspish but she doesn’t lose it and yell.
          Of course she’s gonna lose it and yell in another couple of chapters, but for now, Mitzi’s kept a lid on her.
          And she really did think Nick was just the Devil in another form, which of course, he is.
          I’m not sure the kids think she’s terrible; I think they have a grasp on who she is, but they also know that if they need protecting, Mom’s there in a flash because nobody touches her kids.

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          1. I mean, Mitzi has problems. She’s either dumb or good at lying to herself or really just detached from reality (she’s that good a killer but didn’t realize at all that these are humans?). But she’s apparently (helped) raised stable kids, she taught Nita self discipline, which I wouldn’t poo-poo…yeah, I can believe there’s love there

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          2. I think it’s the serial killer bit that’s a bridge too far. Must cogitate. As Carol points out, she confesses that to that too easily in the bar, although she really doesn’t think she’s doing anything wrong since she’s not killing people, just demons.
            Of course the demons feel otherwise.

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  4. I assumed (in as much as I thought about it while reading, which wasn’t much) that there was more there we weren’t seeing. Otherwise, as Philby says, why do they not cut her off – and there’s obviously some positive there as she’s still engaged in her kids’ life (that puts her a rung above some mums). Also, she was entertaining.

    Re believability, ummm, smiting devils coming down to earth? I know the relationships have to be realistic, but I think someone who chooses to read this kind of book (me me) is willing to suspend believability and roll with it, to at least some extent.

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  5. She seemed like a pretty awful person, but not totally unbelievable. The memory has faded for me, though. As far as Nita and the others continuing to deal with her, the impression I got was that they only do it on certain occasions (like their birthday) when they feel they don’t have a choice. Maybe I’m remembering that wrong? If that’s the situation I would believe it since a couple hours of her might be less painful than having her hound them for refusing to see her when she wants.

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  6. We heard more about her than actually saw her and now I’m having trouble remembering details. I thought there must be something remarkable and nonhuman about her that we’d eventually hear about although, now that I think about it, that doesn’t make sense from the perspective of Nita genetics. Anyway, she worked for me because I was expecting something exceptional to be revealed later.

    I’m not sure I would enjoy reading about children who dutifully attended a mother who was truly awful unless she was exceptionally entertaining. I know there are many dutiful laudable children but I’m just thinking about what I’d like to read.

    I have a half memory that Nita’s dad still loves (pines for?) her and that I did find unbelievable if she is as horrid as I’m expecting

    Hm

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    1. Nope. Nita’s dad is still sleeping with her occasionally, although I don’t think that’s in there yet. Pining, no. Vinnie thinks she’s hot (which she is) and she’s going to be very attractive to several men in the story, but he’s not pining at all. The Mayor isn’t the type to pine.

      Maybe it’s because he tells Nick that if he hurts Nita, her mother will kill him?

      1+

  7. I have an advice column addiction, and found Mitzi believable. With the exception of murdering, she is, sadly, not a unique type.

    3+

  8. I don’t remember Mitzi very well – it’s been too long ago for me – but she seemed believable, if horrid. But even horrid people can love their children (although it would be difficult to be close to a daughter who screams when you touch her). And even parents doing the best they know how can hurt their children if they don’t realize the harm they are doing, or believe it is for the child’s welfare. (When I was raising my kids, many ‘experts’ were still recommending you let babies cry because catering to their whims would make them selfish adults.) Parenting is hard.

    Or were you concerned if Mitzi’s demon-killing persona was over the top? Maybe you could post that scene again so we could refresh our memories?

    2+

    1. Yeah, that bothers me, too. I do think large corporations can get away with a lot, but as the body count mounted, somebody would start asking questions.
      Plus I have the Button family.

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      1. It doesn’t surprise me she gets away with it. There’s no motive, right? There’s no connection. Serial killers are hard to catch even when they have a pattern or a type. People she randomly thinks are demons who are not actually demons would be hard to place.

        She’s also a woman. And every cop knows that serial killers are 1. male and 2. usually the same race as their victims. If she’s not a nurse and she’s not talking to the fire hydrants, most witnesses will never even name her.

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        1. I think she’s not a serial killer, she just kills a lot of people. That is, she isn’t driven to kill people, she kills for money and because she has demon issues, thanks to her baby girl and some other stuff in her background that comes out later. So maybe if just take “serial killer” out and put “hit man” in, it becomes more believable.

          1+

    2. Now that part didn’t bother me at all. She has resources most of us don’t, she’s smart, she’s competent. There are many murders that are never solved. If she was bumping off people connected to her, like husbands or employees, then it would get suspicious fast, but just random people she meets and believes to be demons? I can see her being smart and careful enough no one would ever suspect. Except for the part where she confesses to being a serial killer in a bar.

      0

  9. Having watched a few American films featuring pushy/weird/killer mothers, NO.

    Having watched Dance Moms and Bring It and a tiny bit of that child pageant series, Nita’s mother’s brand of crazy is not a stretch at ALL.

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  10. I really didn’t have a problem with Mitzi. I was willing to just roll with it. However, since it’s been mentioned, I think her admitting to being a serial killer really was too easy.

    1+

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