It’s that time of year, time for the Worst Mothers Maybe of All Times Award, at least up until now. And the two nominees are:
Queen Elizabeth the First. No disrespect to the English people or anything, but I wasn’t aware of what a rapscallion the ginger-haired Queen of England was until I wacyhed the movie “Anonymous” starring Rhys Ifans as Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford and Vanessa Redgrave as Queen Elizabeth I.The movie centers on an oft-heard debate in English literature, who was Shakespeare? Was he an actor, who could read but barely write and had trouble signing his name, barring that maybe he had psoriasis and eczema on the hands, or was it Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere? The movie points to de Vere, and I agree for these reasons.
a.) Although one of the most prolific writers in the English language with 154 sonnets and 37 plays, “Shakespeare” could barely sign his name, which, barring any eczema, would be odd for someone who was so prolific in a time before typewriters and computers.
b.) Some of Shakespeare’s plays were about royalty. De Vere was an earl while “Shakespeare” was an actor who didn’t hobnob and socialize with that set. He was never invited to one of their weddings, baptisms, bar mitzvahs, etc.
c.) Some of his plays were set in foreign lands, but “Shakespeare” had never been outside of England. De Vere, on the other hand, was well-traveled.
d.) Most writers write about what they know best, themselves. “Shakespeare’s” son died, but he never wrote anything about this. The son of one of his contemporaries, Ben Johnson, died, and Johnson wrote a play about it.
e.) Nowhere in the bard’s will is mention made of his work and what to do with them, which is highly unusual for someone who had such a well-received oeuvre.Alas, England’s puritanical society in that era considered plays and sonnets to be the work of the devil, even though Elizabeth I often attended the theatre and thought that plays were a hoot. Besides, de Vere would have been labeled a heretic and lost his earldom if he took credit for writing anything other than a letter or two or his own name.
But I digress. Allegedly, a really bad mother came from that era, which was Queen Elizabeth I herself. Based on what I saw in the film, she had a spitfire temper, so it appears that she may have had bipolar disorder, as that can happen when the gene pool gets restricted. And let’s face it, back then the royal gene pool was barely the size of the English Channel. They either married their second cousin twice removed, or the earl or duke or duchess of something or forget it, so they smiled through pursed lips and sucked it up to keep everything going. The results and some of their offspring have been somewhat dicey, hemophiliacs, people who make bad decisions, and in this case, at least, a mood swing disorder that was out the yin-yang. Or her truss was too tight.
Elizabeth had many affairs (extreme randiness is another sign of a mood swing disorder) and several kids with different fathers. Whilst middle-aged and way past childbearing years, and we all know what THAT can do to a woman’s endocrine system, she thought that two of her sons wanted to depose her, so she ordered their heads to be cut off. It happened to one of them, but Edward de Vere saved the son he had with her and probably chalked up to the change of life because Freud hadn’t been born yet and no one knew about bipolar disorder.
While what her sons may have plotted was disrespectful, if true, it’s too bad she didn’t sit down with them like a good mother would and talk to them calmly and rationally about what’s going on. It’s too bad they didn’t have any child welfare agencies back then or at least some psychology books because then history might have played out differently. But she is my first choice.
The second nominee, in my Midwestern woman’s opinion, is Edda Mellas, the stepmother of formerly convicted murderess, Amanda Knox, who was paroled from an Italian prison after the family waged a one million dollar PR campaign. Most parents don’t expect perfection from their children, but the family seemed to sidestep portions of Amanda’s diary containing entries about how she likes sex and drugs. Had that been me, my mother would have showed up to the precinct with a rolling pin in her purse, and it wouldn’t have been to make pies for the captain, either. And that’s probably why I never got in any major trouble and have a good credit rating.
But not Edda Mellas and Curt Knox. After a day where the convicted killer, Rudy Guede, said that Knox and her then-boyfriend, Rafaele Sollecito were in on it, Mellas told the press that they didn’t know the real Amanda. Au contraire.
This is the type of parent who could see a video of her child making a bomb and find notebooks of directions for places to detonate it but would excuse it by saying what a keen scientific mind her child has and admire the penmanship in the books, the logic of it all and the attention to detail.
A woman I used to work with, a mother herself, said that all women should have a little computer chip placed inside their reproductive system that only gets activated if they pass a parenting exam. That one should be on the ballots.