Feed on

A parent’s absence in a child’s life can have a negative impact on the child’s ability to be a parent in their adult life. In the short story “Good News for a Hard Time” by Belle Boggs, the struggles of a woman without a mother are addressed by how she feels about her pregnancy. Ronnie, the descendant of a Native American woman and a white man, lives on an army base with her husband, Jeremy, who has recently lost part of his right arm in a blast. When she goes back to the Mattaponi Indian Reservation where she grew up, she is instantly reminded of the hurt she felt and still feels from her mother not being in her life. Throughout this story, she constantly questions what type of mother she will be and if she will abandon her child as her mother had.

Two months pregnant and still reeling from the news of her husband’s arm, Ronnie spends her time with her father, Bruce, and reflects on her life without her mother. According to the story, Ronnie seems to be a person who suppresses her feelings a lot. This happens very often to children who have had a parent leave them; whether voluntarily or by death. She wants to be strong and not admit that she wants her mother’s approval and love; especially with the baby on the way. This is shown in the interaction between Bruce and Ronnie on page 4:

‘How do you feel about it?’ Bruce asked as he set down the bowls, not looking at her. ‘You happy?’

Ronnie shrugged, embarrassed. ‘I suppose.'”

Seeing how her father treats her mother’s absence as inevitable, Ronnie does not want him seeing how confused and lost she is. She wants to be seen as strong and competent even in the midst of all the uncertainties in her life. There are two main options for personality that I have seen and gone through myself as a child that has been abandoned by a parent. There is the person who wants to be seen as completely independent so it seems as though they never needed the parent all along and there is the person who begs for attention and love from everyone they meet because that they did not got it from the parent. Ronnie is a lot like me in the aspect that she is the first type of person. Without my father in my life, I shoulder as much responsibility as I can for myself and I rarely ask for help. Often times, I feel as though this is a defense mechanism because a person left by a parent feels as though they were too much of a burden for the parent so they do not want others to feel the annoyed and leave. So, they internalize their sadness and even their joy because any type of emotion feels like placing a weight on the remaining parent. I also understand Ronnie’s reluctance to celebrate the pregnancy with her father because she feels as though she has failed in his eyes. She has grown to be like her parents and it unsettles her.

…what she really wanted to hear was this:

Jesus, Ron, I really let you down (8).”

As a child becomes an adult, the things that happened in their childhood often catch up with them. Ronnie’s insecurities about her mother have caught up with her as she realizes she is going to be a mother soon. Psychologically, she internalizes her mother leaving as a foreshadowing of her future. But she also has hope that Jeremy will be a good father and, maybe, she will develop confidence in herself that she has the ability to be a good mother.


Leave a Reply