Abstract

In this article I have explored why I love and hate my mother. It is a retrospective and ongoing participant observation of the phenomenon of being the daughter of a mother with mental retardation. In it, I make use of a layered account— an experimental, postmodern, ethnographic reporting format that enables researchers to use varied resources, such as social theory, lived experience, and emotions. By using my own experience, I explore, through first-person narrative, the complex issues and emotions involved. My conclusion is that the situation is fraught with ambivalence because my present interactions with my mother are cast in the light of a past where my mother simultaneously neglected and protected me.

I am grateful for the assistance of Rabecca Cross, Tiffany Parish Akin, and Jack Ronai in the preparation of this manuscript. I am also grateful to six anonymous reviewers and the editor of this journal for providing thought-provoking and supportive comments. In this paper 1 have referred to Suzanne as a mother or parent with mental retardation within passages where I have taken on the role of “the scholar.” Within other contexts I use language such as “mentally retarded mother” to portray language that typically occurs within those settings.

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