DEAR AMY: I’m a 22-year-old girl. I live with my mom (my parents are divorced). My mom and I have a healthy relationship built on mutual trust and honesty, but I am struggling with a secret that I have been keeping for the past six months. I was bit by the motorcycle bug at a young age, but she gets extremely angry every time I’ve mentioned it, because a close family member died on a motorcycle. Mom has threatened to kick me out if I ever buy a motorcycle, so I went behind her back last summer and got my M1 license and recently bought a street bike. I am planning to move out this year for a job position, but the dates are not solidified. I keep my gear and the bike at a friend’s house to avoid my mother finding out. I recently told my dad everything, and while he has been horrified and worried for my safety, he understands because he also hid a motorcycle from his family when he was younger. I feel incredibly guilty that I am keeping this secret from my mom, and I want to tell her, but I am scared of damaging my close relationship with her. She has health problems that worsen with stress, which could be very dangerous for her. What should I do? I stayed away from motorcycles as long as I could, but it has been a dream of mine. Should I tell her? If so, how should I go about it?
DEAR CONFLICTED: I don’t want to come down too hard on you, but your selfishness makes my eyes water.
You lost a close family member to a motorcycle accident.
Your mother has health problems, which are made worse by worry and stress.
Your mother has been very clear in describing the conditions regarding motorcycle ownership and you living at home. She is also providing (I’m assuming, free) housing, enabling you to buy your street bike on the sly.
You have all the information you need to have concerning how your choices would affect others, and so you decided to lie about your choices, but now you feel bad because your guilt is such a burden.
I can’t take your guilt away. Your guilt about this is actually a gift. Your guilt is your mature adulthood come calling, and it is telling you to stop being such a baby.
The mature thing to do would be to sell this bike, use the money from the sale to hasten your move-out and then live your life however you want to — telling the truth in the future and compassionately handling the consequences.
You won’t do the mature thing, and so you’ll have to do the harder thing, which is to be honest with your mother now, reassuring her every step of the way about your training and safety on the bike. Before you have this conversation, you had better line up other housing.
DEAR AMY: Responding to the letter from “Sober Sally,” whose mother-in-law had been drinking when watching Sally’s baby — wow you were way too easy on her! My mother refused to use child safety seats in the car and would NOT childproof her house (she had a bottle of lye under the sink). “We didn’t do it when you were a kid and you turned out fine,” she said. (I worked in a hospital and saw the results of childhood injuries). Absolutely — do not leave kids with someone who drinks/refuses to take basic safety precautions. I’d also like to mention that when you’re a grandparent (and older), it’s much harder to keep track of a baby. I adore my grands, but I’m 66!
DEAR GRANDMA: I got a huge response to this question, all agreeing that this mother should never risk leaving her baby with a grandmother who drinks — even if the grandmother agrees not to drink. Another response is below:
DEAR AMY: I was that grandma. My son and wonderful daughter-in-law confronted me with respect and caring, causing me to admit what I already knew — that I was drunk and unreliable. Because they intervened, I have enjoyed the glories of five grandchildren for the last 37 years. The son needs to step up and do his mom a big favor so she doesn’t lose out. Under NO circumstances should the grandparents be allowed to babysit unsupervised at this point.
DEAR CHARLOTTE: This intervention saved your relationships, and possibly your life.