For the last five days my in-laws have been in town. The first really neat part of them visiting is they have been taking T off my hands for large chunks of the day. It is fantastic for me to get a break from T because then I really miss him. And it makes me grateful all over again that my job is to spend all day with him. No one loves their job 100% of the time, but all things considered I love it way more than I am frustrated with it. It makes me feel incredibly lucky.
I also have had the opportunity to write much more frequently. In fact, I’ve been choosing writing over napping. Which is pretty big because napping is my number one favorite thing to do in the universe.
The other thing it has me thinking about has actually been on my mind since before T was born. About two months before my due date I started to want my Mommy. I mean, I wanted her in a way I hadn’t since I was a little kid. Basically, I wanted her to take care of me. Turns out I got my wish because I developed preeclampsia and was on bed rest for the last 3 weeks of the pregnancy. Mom was with us for the 3 weeks before T was born, and then for an additional 5 weeks. Yes, I am a spoiled brat.
If you had told me at the beginning of my pregnancy that Mom would be living with us for 8 weeks I would have laughed in your face. I haven’t lived with my mother full time since I left the house to go to college at 18. My family is close, but very independent. When I was 20 my folks moved to the Middle East, and frankly having them that far away didn’t affect my life any more than when they lived in Texas. But when she left to go help my pregnant sister when T was 5 weeks old I wept as she drove away and frankly for the next several days.
Additionally, at the beginning of my pregnancy I would have been shocked to find out I wanted Mom in the delivery room with me. And yet there she was holding one leg while Z held the other as I pushed T out into this world. Granted, I sort of hated both of them at that moment, but I also would have been devastated if they were not there.
Bottom line—I have wanted my Mom a lot this past year. I have needed my Mom more than I ever thought I would need her again. Because she was around so much when T was brand new she developed a wonderful closeness with him. At first T still seemed to be a part of me. I think this is true no matter how the baby is fed, but if you are breastfeeding during those first few weeks the baby is constantly with you no matter how supportive your partner is. It is the nature of the beast. It really felt like all I did was breastfeed and try to nap in between sessions. And I was so raw physically and emotionally. Mom helped me get through that time. And by doing that she also developed a lovely intimacy with T.
So in our case (and in the case of many of my friends who I’ve discussed this with) the relationship between the maternal grandmother and grandchild is different than that of the paternal grandmother and grandchild during the first year of life. I think this difference will pass by the time T is a couple of years old and really becomes his own person. It is already lessening. And I think it is totally natural. The relationship my mother-in-law had with my niece during her first year was much closer than hers with T. Once a month either my mother-in-law went to my sister-in-law’s home or vice versa. In fact, my niece is almost 3 and the monthly visits continue. Before I was a mom I remember thinking that was a lot of visiting, but now I understand perfectly. My sister-in-law needed her mom, and her mom has been there to support her every step of the way. I’ve seen my Mom more this year than I have since I was 18. And I’ve been grateful for every second. Our moms have been around for us, and it stands to reason that through supporting us they have developed a special bond with our kids.
I was so happy when we found out T was a boy. I just feel more equipped to deal with a son. I mean, I was a teenage girl and it was awful. The mother/daughter relationship can be so toxic at that time. Before I got pregnant I didn’t realize that our relationship was going to have the opportunity to deepen dramatically. If I end up as the mother of only boys, that will be a beautiful thing. But now I don’t dread the idea of a girl. And I know that it is a special gift to be a maternal grandmother.
Note: This entire discussion presupposes both grandmothers are alive. And I understand how very lucky we are to have both grandmothers in T’s life and how many people don’t have that opportunity. I am grateful for them both every single day. The fact that I can think about the subtleties of their relationship with T is an absolute luxury.
T’s granddad took some great pictures over the last few days. I love how this one captures the mischievousness that is always there alongside the sweetness.