Baby Silk is doing wonderfully. She just passed the two-month mark. She’s awake more often, an occurrence that has the effect of changing the way the baby looks, almost drastically. When she mostly ate and slept, her little face was a basic sketch, with thin curly lines for eyelids and lips. Dots for her nose. With the combination of weight gain (she’s up to about 10 lbs., at this point), and the natural development of her features, wide open eyes really do animate her beautiful face.
Each one of her gestures, no matter how minor, is so entertaining! For instance, I breast feed her, and she’s a ravenous little thing at meal times. Sometimes she becomes so anxious for food that her arms flail around like airplane propeller blades and she gropes and claws at me — all while she pants desperately for food! This can all be very cute, but my breasts have been a tad sensitive since I started nursing her, and those groping little fists can deliver quite a jolt on days when I’m particularly sore and I haven’t fed her before she’s become frantic.
There is also the matter of Grandmother Morrill. She hasn’t seen the baby yet, and to be honest I wanted to get settled, catch up on sleep and get my act together before another sleepover guest. She, of course, got really offended by this and wrote a really nasty typed, two-page letter to vent her anger at me. (The letter was a follow up to angry comments she made to me over the phone after I called to say Happy Thanksgiving. Actually, I had Little Sister speak to her first, then the phone was passed to me, and during that part of the conversation, she complained about unreturned phone calls and the fact that she hadn’t seen the baby yet.) The letter was her usual: a haughty and obnoxious tone, rehashed grievances, grossly distorted retelling of events from the distant past, and contradiction after contradiction. She kept asserting the fact that she is Baby’s grandmother — as if I could forget — and arrogantly told me how wonderful a person Baby would turn out to be — by virtue of the fact that she was her granddaughter. The parts that stung most were the petty, mean-spirited predictions that what goes around comes around, and that Baby and I would have a bad relationship after she grew up as punishment for my own bad relationship with Mother. She also invoked Bible scriptures and what I suspect to be distorted comments from another individual as a pretext to calling me a murderer.
I complained to my cousin Mary about the letter, and after a lengthy conversation, I realized that too many people are depending on the birth of my baby to magically close the breach between my mother and myself. Mary was in that bunch, but after I explained that the letter was a continuation of the brutal verbal abuse I grew up with, certain events that she witnessed started to fall into place and make more sense. I don’t believe that the burdens of domestic harmony should be put on my daughter’s shoulders. People always assume, wrongly, that the birth of a baby will bring harmony to domestic discord. No. Mothers and daughters and husbands and wives and siblings ought to get their houses in order before the baby comes along, so the child won’t grow up feeling tense and insecure about all the fighting going on around them.
I truly believe in what I just said, but let me be clear: I won’t be docile and allow my mother to be mean to me, Little Sister or anyone else, all for the sake of maintaining good vibes for my daughter. Kids know when one adult is being unfair, mean or abusive to another. Mary’s children have explained to me how hurtful it was to watch their grandmother tear into their mom, and watch their mother sit there and take it, just for the sake of keeping quietness and order and, presumably, peace at home. Trust me people, even if you absorb the brunt of another’s abuse in a docile way, you do the child no favors.
So, I chose to stand my ground. I finally, finally decided that my life is too full to dedicate a lot of time to a difficult mother. As it stands now, I’ve got a new baby, custody of my teenage Little Sister because their relationship had taken an abusive turn, plus a relatively young marriage and career responsibilities. My mother should learn to be supportive, instead of a drain on my patience. She needs to be civil. If she insists on falling back on the same arrogant, pugnacious, vicious and narcissistic behavior, then I won’t allow my mother to see the baby on her terms and continue her brand of chaos in my life.
And the letter will be destroyed, of course.