We feel bad for Hahp's mom—she's like one of those little lap dogs that has a pretty coat but is always afraid of getting stepped on. When she escorts Hahp to the academy, "She was holding herself straight, moving with exaggerated, fluid grace, looking vapid, which means she was frantic with worry over me. And fear of my father" (2.3). Living in fear doesn't sound like any fun.
She has the nervous habits to go with her fearful life: "She straightened her rings, touched her hair, smoothed her skirts, then did it again: straighten, touch, smooth" (4.9). She tries to maintain a hold on social situations for the prestige involved: "The opinions of the women watching us mattered desperately to my mother, because they mattered to my father" (8.5). It must be really awful to constantly maintain a false social front like that.