Monday, September 19, 2005

Family dynamics

This last week I found myself talking to a woman who has just become a grandmother for the first time. When the baby was born a couple of months ago, she was ecstatic (of course) and even happier that the baby's parents were moving from The City to be closer to her. Now she can see baby J all the time. She seemed thrilled.

Last week, she said the following things:
  1. She thinks the parents have a completely 'different' way of parenting from hers (because they are taking two weekends to get away this fall). She never would have done that, etc. Plus they only asked her to be available for childcare on one of those weekends; 'some kid' is watching the baby the other one.
  2. They expect her to be available and willing to watch J whenever they need her.
  3. She doesn't love J, and doesn't care about seeing him.
  4. Her daughter-in-law doesn't really talk to her; neither does her son, who accuses her of always being 'negative.'
Talk about doing a complete 180 in outlook--in just two months!

What I wanted to say:
  1. You're only jealous because you couldn't take off like that when you had babies. Different times, etc.
  2. Seems to me, since they only asked for one weekend of your time, they really aren't relying on you that much. And you can, and should, say no if it's an imposition, or if you don't want to Grannysit J.
  3. Right. Of course. I have 5 square acres of dry land to sell you in New Orleans, too. And if you don't, well, that's fine, but then don't be a hypocrite and have 3 dozen pictures of him everywhere!
  4. You wanted them closer: no fair complaining now--or, as my dad said to me when I got engaged, "You make your bed, you have to lie in it." Oh, and by the way, you are negative!!
What I actually said:
  1. "And what's wrong with that? I'm sure my parents raised me differently than you raised your kids. Everyone does this job differently. I doubt the baby will be scarred for life from two weekends away from his parents!"
  2. "Then you just have to be willing to say no and let it go. No guilt. 'Not this weekend' doesn't mean 'never ever.' They probably can deal with that, eventually. Remind them you've got a lot going on in your life."
  3. "If you don't love him yet, I wouldn't worry about it. But don't be silly...of course, you care about him."
  4. Oblique answer: "This is the one of reasons I'm glad I live a long way from 90% of my family."
It's discouraging to think that some of what I think of as the Wise Ones so totally lie to themselves. What will I be lying to myself about when I'm 60?

But then there's this, from ol' Luke (the Nicey-Nice Gospel Writer--though certainly not here!): "And why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but the log which is in your own eye you do not consider? How are you able to say to your brother, 'Brother, allow me to take the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the log in your eye! Hypocrites! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will be able to see to take out the speck from your brother's eye."

Yeah, so shuddup, Cat.!

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