-Please don't eat sushi. Love, Mom
-Grapes are good for your bowel movements. Love, Mom
-Don't have anything to do with your paternal grandmother.
-There's a resistant form of gonorrhea going around…use a condom.
-Don't drink rainwater.
-Make sure it's children knocking at your door on Halloween.
-Don't go into Mexico as they're kidnapping Americans and cutting off their heads. Love, Mom.
My name is Adam Chester, and I am a smothered son. I saved over 1,000 letters from my mother (some of which I had never opened) to prove it. Letters which date from 1981 (the year I moved away from home in Miami Beach to attend school at USC), to the present day in Los Angeles, where I've lived ever since.
At the advice of my wife, I began to blog about this phenomenon more than three years ago, and started receiving emails from therapists, religious wise men, counselors and other smothered sons and daughters from all over the planet. I ended up getting a publishing deal to write a book I named S'Mother: The Story of a Man, His Mom, and the Thousands of Altogether Insane Letters She's Mailed Him, which was released this year.
I love my publisher, Abrams, as they were willing to listen to my mother's warnings, fears and curious discoveries, when I clearly was stifled by them. The book is basically the story of my life as it weaves around these never-ending neurotic letters. Why did I keep any of them in the first place? Well, I knew I'd need them one day to use as evidence.
But let's get one thing straight…I love my mother no matter how bats she is. I'm actually quite proud to introduce her to people, so THEY can validate what I already know: aside from being paranoid and filled with anxiety, she's also a tad disconnected. In fact, when I called and told her back in 2005 that I just got a job rehearsing the Elton John band, (playing the piano and singing with my music idol's band mates), her comment was…, “That's terrific.” Then I received the following letter in the mail…”Adam-You're not getting enough rest. You need to sleep at least 8 hours a night! Drink some chamomile tea and take an Advil PM. Love, Mom.”
Obviously, she was dying to meet him.
Anyway, it all makes me wonder…am I doomed to be a smothering parent? I hope not.
But I gotta tell you, sometimes I worry when Elton goes off to Mexico.
Adam Chester blogs at www.smotherboard.com. He will be signing his book, S'Mother with his mother, and performing a small set of songs about mothers with Davey Johnstone of the Elton John Band inside Barnes & Noble (2nd floor) at the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, this Friday, July 22 at 7 p.m.
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