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I’m writing to you under the influence of a little alcohol (as I’m not sure I’d have the courage to write to you about this sober). I’ve got an awkward (understatement) situation.
My mother left her e-mail logged in on my computer, and I decided to be an asshole and snoop out of boredom. I honestly wasn’t expecting anything, but I found a few intimate e-mails between her and a strange man that pretty much confirmed that she was cheating on my dad.
My parents have been married for almost three decades, and it’s kind of an understatement to say he’s an antisocial psycho. He restricted her from so many things during their marriage—partly for religious/cultural reasons—and honestly did not appreciate what he had. He’s been a physical wreck for most of their marriage and has no personality to compensate. (I could go on about how abusive and fucked-up his personality was during my childhood, but that’s a whole other issue.) My mother, on the other hand, is one of the nicest and most caring people you could ever meet. She’s also “hot”—a lot of my friends (male and female) have pointed that out to me, as awkward as that is.
OK: Dad’s an abusive asshole and borderline psycho, and Mom’s a beautiful woman with a lot of opportunities and social skills. The only reason she didn’t leave him was to keep the family together and for those same stupid cultural reasons. But it’s hard knowing my mom is a CPOS. It’s killing my older brother, who is close to her, and it’s making him really depressed. He feels betrayed, because for years he’s defended her against my father when he accuses her of cheating and calls her a whore. So what I want advice on is how the hell to confront her about it. I know I snooped in her e-mail, and I know that was wrong. So what the hell to say? —Mother Obliterated Monogamy
Here’s what you say to your mother: “Good for you, Mom.”
But you’re going to say it under your breath, MOM, audible but not quite loud enough for your mother to hear.
Because you’re not going to confront her about this affair or any other affair that you might uncover between now and your father’s death and you’re not going to tell your mom you snooped and you and your brother are going to go right on defending your mother to your father and you’re going to show a little respect—a little retroactive respect—for your mother’s privacy by pretending that you don’t know what you do know.
Is that clear?
Your mom sounds like a lovely woman, MOM, and you and your brother should be happy that she managed to find a little solace, a little love and tenderness, in the arms of a man who isn’t a raving asshole. She deserves that, doesn’t she? As for the CPOS label, that gets slapped only on people who cheat without cause, MOM, and it sure sounds like your mom had cause. Which means she’s not a cheating piece of shit. She’s cheating on a piece of shit.
Yes, yes: Maybe your mom should’ve divorced your father, or had him murdered, but for reasons that will only ever be known to her, MOM, she decided that keeping her family intact—maybe for cultural reasons, maybe for her boys—was more important than remaining faithful to an antisocial psycho. It’s easy to say that cheating is always wrong and to call everyone who cheats a POS, but sometimes an affair is the least worst option.
As for your brother’s feelings of betrayal: Maybe your dad was right and your mom was cheating on him throughout their marriage and his tirades were justified and your brother was a fool to defend your mother. Or maybe your mom decided, after being accused of cheating again and again, and after being called a whore again and again, that if she was going to be accused, indicted, and tried for that particular crime, she might as well have the pleasure of committing it. Encourage your brother to give your mother the benefit of the doubt. It sounds like she deserves it. —Dan
I’m a 28-year-old gay man. My only sibling is getting married next year, and I’m invited. My family doesn’t support my gayness. My mom has met my boyfriend only once and refused to be in his presence for more than two minutes. Should I bring my boyfriend to my sister’s wedding or ask him to stay home? My invitation came with only my name on it. —Brother Of The Bride
You say: “Hey, Sis. Looking forward to the wedding. I’ve been seeing a great guy for two years now, as you know, and I’m planning on bringing him to the wedding.”
If she says, “Don’t bring him. It’ll just piss off Mom,” then you say, “I’m coming with my boyfriend or I’m not coming at all—and remember, Sis, one day Mom will be dead and it’s just going to be you and me. So in the long run, you should be more concerned about pissing me off than pissing Mom off.”
And if she says, “Don’t bring him. I don’t want your gay boyfriend at my wedding,” then you say, “If you don’t want gays at your wedding, Sis, then you shouldn’t have invited me. I want to be there—but if I come, I’m bringing my boyfriend.”
Have the confrontation now, BOTB, so that you can’t be accused of trying to make trouble/drama right before your sister’s wedding. But you need to seize this opportunity to dictate terms to your family: They can have their homophobia or they can have you in their lives—but they can’t have both. —Dan
Last year, around this time, you promised to share your mom’s Christmas cookie recipe with the readers of your blog. I would love to try it out if you’re OK with sharing the recipe.—Jason
I’m delighted to share my mom’s Christmas cookie recipe. She made these chocolate snowballs every year when her kids were young. Once her kids were grown, Ma Savage shipped tins of these cookies to us if we couldn’t make it home for Christmas. Now I make them in December and ship tins off to my siblings on her behalf. It’s a great recipe for folks with little kids: There’s a step where you roll the dough into balls, a perfect job for little (freshly washed) hands.
I made some earlier this month, had a little sob (I’m still missing my mom), and got some tins off to my sibs. I’m happy to share my mom’s recipe with you, Jason, and with Savage Love readers.
Ma Savage’s Christmas Snowballs
2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups pecans
Sift flour, salt, and cocoa together. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy, and add vanilla. Gradually beat dry ingredients into butter and sugar. Blend in pecans. Form dough into a loaf, wrap it up, put in fridge overnight.
Cut loaf into inch-thick slices, cut slices into inch-square cubes, roll cubes into balls about one inch in diameter. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 20 minutes maximum. Transfer cookies off sheets right away and allow to cool completely. Put cookies in tub or tin, sift confectioners’ sugar over cookies, put lid on, turn tin or tub over a few times to coat cookies with confectioners’ sugar.
Enjoy my mom’s cookies. —Dan Savage
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