I recently wrote a post about making difficult decisions. As I mentioned in that post, I already have made many since having the baby – including one very difficult one that had to do with my family.
My mother and grandmother have never had a good relationship. Growing up I was often withheld from my grandparents because of the issues between them. After my grandfather passed away in 2009 some events took place that, frankly, forced me to close the communications with my mother. They always say death brings out the worst in people. That couldn’t be more true unfortunately. It’s a shame that at the very time when families should be clinging to one another and helping each other stay strong through a difficult time that they often instead resort to pettiness, thievery, insults and so much more. I’m sure everyone who has lost someone has a similar story.
The bottom line was that actions my mother decided to take strictly went against my morals and what I would tolerate from a person. It made me feel cheap and also made me feel that she did not have any maternal bond when it came to benefiting herself. I confronted the issue with her but got no response or remorse. So I walked away and prayed all the time that she would realize how badly she had hurt her family and that she would make it right.
Well the years went by and nothing happened. She never reached out to make it right. The only communications from her were messages on Facebook on my birthday and Christmas with a simple “Happy Birthday” or “Merry Christmas”. Never an acknowledgment. Never an apology. Never anything more. Needless to say, it killed me. I have always been a believer that when you do something wrong, you own up to it and you find a way to fix it. Some things can’t even be fixed but at least by trying you show you care in your actions. The lack of effort quite similarly can show just the opposite and make those around you feel that you don’t care at all.
Because of her actions my relationship with my sisters was also strained because they both lived with her. Simply put, it was an action that created a rift in the entire family. Both fortunately and unfortunately for me, we had bought a house right across the street from my grandmother and uncle. So obviously I had to deal with hearing their heartache over the situation and had to continue to hear it when that heartache turned into resentment and anger as time passed.
The day I found out I was pregnant, among the feelings of joy and fear, I also cried knowing that something had to be done about this so my baby wouldn’t suffer at the hand of all this stubbornness. One good thing that came out of the pregnancy was that my sisters and I got closer. Still, I didn’t want my daughter in the middle where I had always been. She had nothing to do with this fight that started long before her and I refused to continue to repeat history by subjecting her to it either.
When the time came that we finally had her it was a joyous and bittersweet moment. For days after I stared into her innocent face and simply cried my heart out about it. How could such a sweet little thing already have so much negativity in her life? I was determined to stop the cycle with me and make sure that my daughter knew her whole family and was able to form her own opinions of them all – not a forced one that someone else put into her head and not after never seeing a person.
So, i did it. I reached out to my mother in an email and conveyed all my thoughts and feelings about what happened and why I had to walk away and what I hoped could be in the cards for our future. At first I was met with some stubbornness of her justifying her actions but soon later she apologized and, I want to believe, finally realized how badly her actions had hurt me. Though I knew she would not be able to rekindle a relationship with her mother and brother very easily I felt optimistic for once and hopeful for my daughter to meet her grandmother and my mother and I to once again be in each other’s lives.
Still, this reunion came with its complications. I, though willing to move forward and forgive, obviously would not forget and so we knew that I may be more guarded for a while before I fully let her back into my heart and could trust her again. This is understandable. The other issue would be that I didn’t want to sneak her back into my life behind my grandmother’s back but also didn’t want to advertise it blatantly to my grandmother who lives right across from me and somehow make her feel bad. It was bad enough that she had gotten a cold right after the baby was born and hadn’t been able to see her for the first two weeks after she was home. So I knew she would be very sensitive and likely not very sensible with her emotions about it all if confronted by her daughter now coming back into the picture.
She had called while she was quarantined in her house and during our discussion she asked me if I had heard from my mother. While I am many things, a liar isn’t one of them so I confirmed to her that my mother had sent up food and a gift with my sisters after the baby was born and that they had told me that she was so sad and wanting to see the baby. This launched my grandmother into her defiance against my mother and all the hurt she had caused our family. Understanding her point of view (as it was mine too) I sympathized but explained that still, my daughter had no business in this fight and that she shouldn’t suffer from it all. My grandmother hung up on me at that point.
Now, I’ve lived with this woman so we certainly weren’t immune from arguments. My family are all the type that go with the phrase “Can’t live with em”. Apart we could get along fine but under one roof we were at each other all the time. However, the last time my grandmother and I had a fight was before I was driving a car. So this reaction totally floored me.
Later that day I got a message from one of her friends who, ironically, was going through a similar situation with her family. Knowing that she knew our situation (as only a handful of people did), I let her in on the day’s events. She agreed with the fact that my daughter had a right to meet her grandma and also said she’d talk to my grandma too.
In the meantime, my mother asked if she could come to see the baby. So, we arranged a meeting at my house that weekend in the evening. It went really good for everyone. Of course there were tears and emotions but the bottom line is that I could feel the love of my mother toward her newest grand baby and it warmed my heart. I knew in that moment that despite the past and whatever may come of the future, I had made the right decision.
As the days continued to pass my time at home with my baby had been filled with getting adjusted to my new life of no sleep, squeezing in naps whenever she would let me, breastfeeding, changing diapers and working from home during any other available time I had. Needless to say I wasn’t spending my rare time off work gossiping on the phone with all my friends and painting my nails. Actually I didn’t call anyone because I was just too consumed with it all. That’s not to say I didn’t get lots of calls and visitors though. This past week was the cut off day for our office to get out the 1099’s and W-2’s in time. As the office manager this entailed a lot of follow up on my part in between feedings to try to get info from the various people for our accountants. Not that I had a whole lot of time on my hands any other day to make calls to people, but this week was particularly crammed full. However, when I got a text message from my uncle telling me to give my grandmother a call, I did.
To my surprise I was greeted with a huge attitude. She didn’t even say hello before launching into a million accusations about how I should make more time to call her every day and that I hurt her and am keeping my daughter from her. Now mind you, it’s January and we have snow on the ground outside and she is right across the street. Also, I haven’t gone anywhere during the week because I don’t want to drag my newborn daughter out into the cold. I told my grandmother that she is welcome to come over or call whenever she wants. That didn’t go over well and sent her into a flurry of sentiment about how she had two kids and knows what it is and that she had time for this and that and that she shouldn’t have to reach out to me. With all of this anger I obviously took it personally. She’s basically telling me that not only do I suck as a granddaughter but I suck as a new mother too.
After hanging up with her I tried to calm myself down. I reminded myself that she had been sick and not able to see the baby for weeks but just sitting in her house and wishing she could come over. The other side to this though was that she was basically being too stubborn to call me or come over now that she was better and I also knew it wasn’t fair that she made me the bad guy about this. I also know that my life was totally different from hers when she was a new mom. For one, she wasn’t managing an office from home. For two the world itself was a simpler place. For three, she wasn’t breastfeeding and doing all that came with that. I am sure the list could go on and on.
So after stewing over the altercation for a while I sent my uncle a message back and simply told him that this type of behavior was ridiculous and that she was welcome to come here anytime or call anytime but that I was not going to call her anymore because I shouldn’t get thrown under a bus for doing it. I knew well enough that she wasn’t going to apologize for her actions and I would be damned if I call thinking she’d act like nothing happened because she would just keep it going. (Did I mention the women in my family are stubborn as hell?). My uncle says that she just felt bad that I have been home and that I’m not calling her asking her to help me with stuff. That she didn’t feel needed enough. I reminded him about the saying about attracting more flies with honey and that I also had been raised (much by her) not to show weakness so naturally I wasn’t calling ANYONE for help. The dinners we had family bring over for us were at their own demand, not my request.
So that was four days ago and I have heard nothing from her. Apparently now it’s the game of who gives first. She refuses to apologize for what she said and how she acted and won’t be the one to call me and show any weakness and I just refuse to play these games anymore. (Not to mention that if I called her and asked her to come do some laundry for me like my uncle suggested I would no doubt just get an attitude about “oh NOW you need me”). It’s funny how sometimes we want something so much that when we get our chance to provide it to someone we ruin it. She’s so focused on being angry and needing to be placated now that she refuses to see what her original desire was or how to get back to that.
And so it appears that this whole situation is just a matter of the universe. There is no way that the three of us can live in harmony. If I make peace with one side then I am destined to be at war with the other. There is no happy medium and no way to pacify the situation. It’s a war of wills and I simply don’t care to fight anymore. When my mother used to forbid us to see my grandparents and talk about how stubborn they were I used to advocate for them that they were older and had earned the right to be stubborn and we should just deal with it. And even though now I can still agree with that point, I also can’t cater to this craziness by calling and playing the act of falling on my sword and saying I was wrong for everything and begging for help because I’m such a “terrible” mother.
So where does it give and what do you do in this situation?