-Mad Men meta ahead-
Seriously, one of my favorite - most beautiful and real and frustrating - aspects of Betty’s character is her inability to connect with her kids. Because it’s kind of a myth that ~maternal instincts~ are a thing that’s innate to all women — all the platitudes about a Mother’s understanding and love. She takes care of her children, she keeps them fed and safe and socially normal, and I’m sure that she loves them in a way, but there’s a gap there - the same gap I’m sure she felt secretly with her own mother - that she just fills with performance, following scripts of motherhood.
(Remember her script when Gene was born and Betty took such care to be like HERE IS A BARBIE DOLL, WE STILL CARE ABOUT YOU? And it really could’ve been sweet but Sally wasn’t feeling it, and Betty was completely useless at gauging what on earth Sally - not just My Daughter, but this specific human being going through specific grief of her grandfather’s death - was going through and needed? The sad thing is that Don’s a much more intuitive parent when he bothers to jump in, but for him it’s always just an option. Society asks so much less of him. So does the audience.)
But as Sally in particular gets older, reaches the age where she’s rebelling against her, now Betty wants more than ever to get that bond back with her, the one she *never really had*, which is heartbreaking. She’s resented her children, paid someone else to do the heavy lifting raising them, fails spectacularly at knowing Sally on a regular basis, but she wants to know she’s still needed.
And it’s so much wrapped up in self-centeredness and jealousy, losing Don (who she left, who she was right to leave, but who she wishes was still a sad lonely bastard ruing the day she did) and now her daughter to some hot new Canadian thing, the new perfect wife and mother. This sweet scene is a victory: not just the petty one against Megan, but also in Betty’s own mind, where it means so much that after everything Sally will still come running to her for help and guidance, for understanding things that Matter in the grand scheme of sex and womanhood. She hasn’t failed at being a mom. Her greatest pride would revolve around a Major Event in Sally’s confusing life, one where hugs and platitudes were just what she actually needed.
Just… it drives me so nuts when fandom and even professional critics can only respond to this character with jokes about “robot” Betty who doesn’t know how to express emotion. Better than the fat jokes, I guess. (Sorry for the meta explosion!)