Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Same Old Shit

My MIL and I communicate primarily through my husband. This isn't quite as horrifying as it sounds as we rarely see each other. We have a weird baby wrangling schedule so he is the one here when she gets here in the morning (I am already at work) and he is the one that relieves her in the afternoons (and he goes back to work when I get home). This has resulted in some seriously passive aggressive shit going back and forth without me really knowing if she is being passive aggressive. Is she asking about fucking JUICE BOTTLES again because J didn't really tell her clearly last time? Or is she being annoying about wanting to give the kid juice even though she knows I don't want her to? Is she being as judging as I think she is? Or just clueless? Sometimes it is hard to parse the intent through J.

Our arrangement . . .is working. I know everyone expects me to be gushing with gratitude and feel so lucky and sometimes I do. But sometimes I wish the kid was in day care. Because day care would do what I wanted and if they wouldn't I could do something about the attitude. But with her I can't really, it is more delicate than that. And while I do think she takes excellent care of my baby, and loves her more than anything, there is a lot that comes with this arrangement that is challenging for me.

She refers to my daughter as "her baby." And has made comments that she is raising her. J thinks that these are a joke and no big deal but they make me seethe with rage. Rage I am not allowed to express. Because those dark weeks after the baby was born (and really prior to the birth) are a bruise in my marriage that is still too tender to rub. I think J is perfection in a bottle but he is not so supportive of me in the face of his mother. Maybe I wouldn't be either if the situation were reversed--I have no idea. But I am Mo's mother and really I would like my MIL to back off. But our situation is so intimate I don't think she can. SO . . .that is not so perfect.

She ignores some of the things I want. Even though I have been assured repeatedly that whatever I want is great. That is really whatever I want that she agrees with. So I say not to push foods and she proudly talks about tricking the baby into eating. I say let her figure out her own way and she insists that it is time to eat. I say STOP CALLING MY BABY FAT and she calls her Fatty Patty. I believe that maybe we are not interpreting "whatever you want" in the same language.

I feel like I have gotten better about this issue, and try to appreciate my MIL for who she is. And she does an amazing job with my daughter. But man, I just feel so judged by her all the time. J claims she isn't doing it but it feels like she is. Maybe I am projecting onto her? I just wish that she would back off, really accept the difference between Grandma and Mama. I wish that she would stop claiming success for everything the baby does (she rolled over because I taught her, she eats because I made her, she got teeth because I invented TEETH)--Mo is doing these things because she is growing up and trying so hard and man she deserves all the credit (my MIL does the same thing with her boys too--everything they do is because of her and man do I have to bite my tongue).

I should probably stop worrying about her and move on. Nothing is going to change. And in a few months this arrangement will be over.

And I will probably miss her.


Laura said...

My mother-in-law gave my daughter candy when I expressly forbade it: she thought that I was too uptight with my food rules. It seems to me that she only knew how to care for children the way she cared for hers and couldn't get with the more modern mores.

Looking back on this now that that baby is 17, I think that dealing with my MIL made me realize that I did not have absolute dominion over this baby. Sure, when she was with me she would have no candy, no juice, no tv and only what I approved. But the more realistic attitude was to loosen my hold on her a bit and say, okay, this baby is an independent being and I cannot control everything that happens to her. Unfettered love will probably have a stronger influence on her than being fed solids too soon.

Chanandaler said...

Dude, I feel like I could have wrote this. I totally get the thing about daycare. I kind of felt that way, too. I think the tricky part about having family watch the baby is that it is hard to just stand your ground on things. Because she IS your baby, no matter if she's with her during the day. You grew her!

and ok, the thing about inventing teeth? Totally laughed outloud.