You know that old saying—if Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy? Well, that is definitely the case with Deborah Queen, Macy and Caroline's mom. She's not much of a presence in the first half of the book, just checking in with Macy every now and then, but boy does she make her feelings known when Macy's in trouble.
A Mom's Gotta Do What a Mom's Gotta Do
Deborah is dealing with a lot of the same issues as Macy. According to Macy, Mama Queen never really let herself mourn for her husband. Instead, she just kept busy to keep the pain away. And to make matters worse, "she blamed herself for his death, thought that […] if she hadn't pushed him to expand so much everything would have been different" (2.20).
So let's see, what does she have on her plate at this point? Guilt, grief, and the sudden responsibility of raising and supporting (financially and emotionally) two daughters—alone. That's enough to make anyone go a little nuts, don't you think?
It's no wonder, then, that it's hard for her to accept Macy's sudden behavior changes. She probably feels pretty out of control, and she's determined to do whatever it takes to keep her daughter on the straight and narrow. Even if it means cracking down on her super harshly:
"I don't want you seeing your friends from catering. […] All of the issues I have with your behavior—staying out late, showing less concern about your commitments—began when you took that job." (16.105)
Just one problem: Deborah doesn't realize how much those friends are helping Macy finally get over her dad's death. She just sees it as some sort of teenage rebellion to be squashed.
Meanwhile, Deborah's other daughter, Caroline, is trying to help her deal with her own grief by getting her to collaborate on the beach house renovation. But with all the extra work she's put on herself and the added stress of Macy's behavior, Deborah never quite gets into poor Caroline's efforts: "My mother and I, concerned with our own problems, had given what attention we could, but neither of us was ever as involved as she would have liked us to be" (18.52). Deborah is still trying to maintain that façade of perfection that Macy is slowly dropping, and taking time out to grieve just doesn't fit in her plan.
Out of Control
But when events spin out of control at the gala, and Deborah breaks down, she finally realizes that she has to slow down and take time to mourn, so she can really be there for her daughters—and herself:
Every once in a while she'd pass behind me and I'd feel her hand on my back or my arm. […] My mother was okay. (21.5-6)
And when she hears the full story of Macy's experiences, she's finally okay with what her daughter's trying to do. And even better—she follows right along in her footsteps.