Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sons and Lovers

As we come up to Mothers' Day, I thought I'd point you in the direction of two contrasting stories that have emerged this week - both about mothers' relationship to their sons, both causing a bit of a stir in the press.

Julie Myerson has hit the headlines on the back of her latest book, a reworking of the real life conflicts which resulted in her barring son Jake from the house. Should she have put all this in the public domain? The general concensus is no.

Meanwhile, Lucy Baxter is going public with a completely different problem. Her son Otto, 21, has Down's Syndrome, and as a result is finding it difficult to have the normal sexual experiences that a lad of his age wants and expects.

Now, I'm not a mother, so my insights will be limited here - but I'm far more moved, and far less outraged by the the second story than the first. It feels to me absolutely commendable - and very farseeing - that Lucy should be fighting publicly for her son's right to a happy, healthy sex life; his mother is not only doing him a good turn, but doing good for all the other physically and mentally handicapped youngsters (and oldsters) who aren't seen as sexual beings, and who are therefore denied an outlet for their passionate feelings.

The slight nose-twitching that has been going on in response to her speaking out seems to me to be utterly unwarranted. Why should Otto be penalised simply because he has a medical condition? Why should we not support him simply because he does not tally with our view of 'fit'. Why should we not see him as a sexual adult who needs and deserves the pleasure and comfort of an intimate relationship. As Lucy Baxter says, "it's society who has a learning disability" in this respect.

As for Julie Myerson? Yes, her child's drug habit is heartbreaking and everyone sympathises. But perhaps she could learn a lot from Lucy Baxter's support of her son as he tries to make that difficult transition to individuated adulthood.

And perhaps both Julie and her son should thank heaven they don't have the challenges that the Baxter family faces, day in and day out...

1 comment:

Ell said...

Lucy can be grateful she and her son don't live in Massachusetts --