Friday, September 01, 2006

Thinking About Moms by Joan Foster

I've been thinking about the Moms a lot.

Dave's Mom, and Reade's, and Collin's.

Motherhood is not for the faint of heart, even in the best of times.

The early days are easy. They are either in your arms or a room nearby. Their tears turn to smiles with a cookie or a coloring book. Trips to the playground fit in any Mom's budget. Your lap is the center of their little universe, and their happiness seems so much within your loving control.

Enjoy it, girls.

Later years bring heartaches you can't soothe, wants you can't buy and wishes the unfeeling world denies them. You feel it all. Every bit of it.

That's the part no one tells you and you can't fathom at first. You're going to feel it all, live it all,, bear it all.. through them. She'll call at 2AM,..... the feckless fool she loves, a cross between Scott Peterson and Alfred E. Newman, has disappointed her again. You console,... very logical, calm, composed. But you spend the rest of the night in that chair, rethinking her words, re-living her pain. Why is this happening to HER? You review your parenting style, you critique your parenting think about the gene pool.

Sometimes the older daughter will call in the night as well. She cries in frustration over MCATS and med school admission essays, never about men. Her relationships have a shelf life of about two years. Somewhere in the second year, each "love of her life" becomes a "psycho", "controlling", "possessive." That means they've mentioned marriage. Why can't SHE commit? You review your parenting style, you critique your parenting skills, you think about the gene pool.

The son never calls in the night. You know why. He looks like his Dad, but he is emotionally programmed like you. He knows his pain gives you pain. So his hurts and disappointments are scripted for your "enjoyment." You play the game and laugh on cue. But it leaves you wanting to say more, ask more, feeling shut out and shut down. Why can't you reach him? You review parenting styles, you critique your parenting skills, you think about the gene pool.

You fly on every plane with them these days. At a party, you check your watch...they should have landed. You fret about the daughter who lives in that lonely country place: you fear for the daughter who lives in that NYC walk-up.

Sometimes your friends call in the night. Some of them have faced the things you fear and worse. Drug overdoses, accidents, death.

Years ago, a friend's mother wrote in her yearbook, "With all that I have and with every breath I take, all I want from this life is your happiness." I was seventeen years old and, though the words strangely stayed with me, I didn't get it then. I get it now. A mother is only as happy as her unhappiest child.

So I think about the Moms.

I think about them on those unfortunate days when my eyes encounter Nancy Grace or Wendy Murphy staring out from my TV screen. I watched them early on. Lawyers who condemned others for "lawyering up." Attorneys so consumed with their TV appearances here and there that they are often unprepared and ignorant about the basic facts of the case. They speak in absolutes, interrupting any with an opposing thought, ...pompous and pretentious. Their legal backgrounds do not require them to accord any presumption of innocence to the boys. They are on a personal mission to condemn them in fact. Why? Well, for the "theatre" of it...for entertain the masses. Like the Roman Gladiators of old, it is sport to them, nothing more. Blood builds the numbers. They feel not even the basic need to be fair or prepared. It's show biz.
Of course, they don't think that some unfortunate day, the eyes of one of these Moms might see the spectacle.

Hear their rousing condemnations.

Watch the fun.

Her child, her boy, her son...fodder for the entertainment harpies. Pulling fat pay checks to exploit their family tragedy.

Nancy Grace, the fawning victims advocate, creating victims of her own. For entertainment. For a paycheck. For your viewing pleasure.

Well, I tell you, as God is my witness, NO program with Wendy Murphy or Nancy Grace as guest or host will taint my home again.

I think about Elvis, who alleged shot up his television sets when the programming offended him.

I think about my children and how every tear they shed is matched by my one of own.

I think about Collin, Reade and Dave and all they must endure.

I think about the Moms.


Anonymous said...


What you wrote touched me so much. You have the gift of putting our deepest feelings into words. Thank you so much for writing this. I think a lot about the moms too.


Anonymous said...

Your article was very moving. Mothers suffer so much for their
children.I'm praying for these boys, their families, especially their mothers.

I would be embarrassed to have Nancy Grace or Wendy Murphy for a mother.

If you want to get a better perspective on Nancy Grace do a bio search on Wikipedia. Pay special attention to the Elizabeth Smart investigation.

If I see Nancy Grace or Wendy Murphy on TV, I immediately turn the channel.

I've found excellent descriptions for these two characters.
If you have a thesaurus ( look up the following:
For Nancy Grace look up vile and sourpuss.
For Wendy Murphy look up chatterbox and frivolous.

Anonymous said...

Joan, your words are extremely moving.

For those who missed the CBS Early Show interview with Kathy Seligmann, here is a quote from a companion article that you should read alongside Joan's powerful essay:

"It was 6 o'clock at night and Kathy Seligmann was standing on the sidelines watching her twin 17-year-old boys play lacrosse when she got the call.

"It was Reade," she said, " 'Mom, promise me you'll be strong.' " She tried to brace herself, but couldn't believe the next words. "He said, 'Mom, she picked me.' "

Anonymous said...

I know what my Mother would have done. She would have loved me & stood by me as I am sure Reade, Collin, and Dave's Moms have.

In the long run guys, you have been given the best gift of all, loving Moms!

Concerned mom said...

What a great essay. I for one am always thinking of their moms. Not for the faint of heart, indeed, is motherhoood...when the children are little, we think it's tough...but then they get older, and we realize what tough is. They must feel great pain when they hear the vile things that have been said about their sons, but they need to consider the source...Wendy and Nancy look to be thoroughly miserable woman. In the end, there will be vindication for Collin, Reade, and Dave, and they and their families will hopefully be able to put their lives back together again.

Anonymous said...

This is what happens when you abandon the idea that people are innocent until proven guilty.

People joke about it and claim that they don't have to presume innocence because a blog or board or a TV show is not a courtroom.

Well, the world is watching and listening, and your words are heard and felt.

People are still presumed innocent, and the entire burden is on the prosecution.

Way too many people are abandoning this fundamental idea behind our system of justice.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your eloquent essay. I've no connection to Duke or the young men- only a son who is Dave's age and plays lacrosse.

My children's father took his own life when my son was 9, my daughters 11 and 13. I frequently thought that I "couldn't go on" over the past thirteen years. I wondered how I would be able to raise "a good and honorable man"; I knew how to teach my girls how to be women, but what about teaching my son to be the kind of man his father and I had wanted him to become. An older friend to whom I posed my fears said, "Do you know how they pick fighting bulls?" I responded, "No." "They look at the mother," she said, "that's where they get their heart, their courage." Over the years, when I felt as though I couldn't go another step or that I was failing at my task, I remembered her words. There were a lot of things I couldn't teach my children because I didn't know how to do them myself, but I could teach them to be honorable, to be courageous, and that they were loved unequivocably.

To Collin's, Reade's, and Dave's moms: I hurt for you; hearing and seeing the travesty that this hoax has perpetrated upon your sons, is appalling. Nancy Grace, Wendy Murphy, et al should feel shame at their actions. Unfortunately, I don't think they know the meaning of the word. If it is any consolation, I do believe that "what goes around, comes around"- just often not on my schedule! Patience, it will happen.

Thank you for your letter, Joan. I am
Texas Mom

NDLax84 said...



Thank you. THANK you! You have no idea how much this means to me and my family
~Phil Seligmann, 20 May 06

Anonymous said...

To the Moms,

Please know not a day goes by without a prayer being said for your strength and courage.
Every Mom knows how painful this must be. We also know that justice will win and your families will be stronger as a result.

Thanks Joan for writing what so many of us are feeling.

A NJ Mom

Anonymous said...

Joan, thank you for the outstanding letter. You said it all.

Not one day goes by without thinking our "Duke Three" and their families. I am sure Collin, Reade, and Dave and their families know that they are not alone in this ordeal. Hundreds of people around the country are supporting them,their families, and their teammates.

Thanks again for the great letter.

Duke07 Mom

LieStoppers said...

Thank you to all for the kind words and heartfelt sentiment you have shared here. Joan is on holiday but will certainly be touched, as the rest of us are, by your responses when she returns next week.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful article, Joan.

Anonymous said...

Dear Joan,

Your letter is wonderful. I do not know how to thank you; no words can adequately do the job. I am a mother, and I understand every word you wrote quite well. Let us be hopeful for Reade, Collin, and Dave’s mothers. Let us look forward to the day when justice will be served and we will all rejoice in their happiness. It is a good day to look forward to and it is a good cause to work towards with everything we have got.

Thank you Joan Foster

Anonymous said...

Thank you Joan. Your article is posted on our refrigerator. No one can really understand what a mother goes heart goes out to those 46 moms and I wish them strength. And for all moms everywhere - wishing some level of peace and uninterupted sleep once and awhile.