Monday, March 10, 2008

Growing Up

A few issues have cropped up lately and I have this sneaking suspicion that the same problem underlies all of them.

This is one of those entries I'm writing mostly to try and work through something, so it's going to be scattered and disconnected. Please bear with me.

We just finished reading "Babyproofing Your Marriage" which was an entertaining, if not entirely helpful, book. (Also, more than a little sexist.) The chapter we read last was the one about In-Laws and Outlaws, detailing the issues that can come up (mostly from grandparents, but also aunts and uncles) after a child joins the family. There were several horror stories, such as:

One woman talked about how she wanted her mom and dad to be waiting outside the hospital room and come in to meet the baby right away. At the last minute, her husband decided they couldn't come in until *his* parents arrived too. So the parents waited outside for an additional three hours until the other set of parents appeared, at which point the husband handed the baby to *his* mom first. Apparently, maternal grandma has *never* forgiven him for this.

There are two parts of this story that horrify me. First, the bizarre (to me) reliance on who gets to meet/see/hold the baby FIRST. Second, the fact that someone who didn't get to be first could hold a lifelong grudge.

Even if all the grandparents showed up at our birth at the exact same moment, SOMEONE has got to be the first to hold the baby. And that means someone has got to be last. It had never occurred to me that this mattered, until a very recent discussion with my sister. I don't know how to resolve this.

That's all. I just don't know.

The next issue that comes up is that while Chris's parents live only 30 minutes away, all my family lives out of town. This means that while my in-laws can come the day baby arrives, say hello and hold her and coo over her and then be on their way to give us some space, when my parents arrive they will want to stay. For a week. In our house.

And while I'm sure that my parents will be exceptionally helpful and incredibly generous, having that many people in my house for that length of time is simply not a restful situation for me.

The "BYM" book reflected on the genetic hardwiring that makes grandparents feel like they have a stake in their grandchildren's lives: this is their genetic legacy, after all. This is how they achieve a measure of immortality. It was helpful to have that perspective, as heaven knows I've done some weird things in the past 7 months that were very traceable to genetic/hormonal hardwiring. Of course, in our modern day these tendencies can seem rude and inappropriate, such as one set of grandparents replacing all the pictures of the other set with pictures of themselves, or each set vying aggressively to spend more time with the grandkids, or heaven forbid be the grandparent who buys the most toys. All of this done with the intent of having the most influence on your grandkids, and therefore the greater legacy left. But how unfortunate for our home to be the battleground, and our child to be the weapon.

So, after reading that I can really recognize that telling my parents I don't want them to come the day the baby comes is a hurtful, difficult thing for them to accept. The question is: then what do I do? It's starting to occur to me that Chris and I are going to have to come into our own, perhaps sooner than later, and start making the choices that are best for our family - meaning the three of us - instead of allowing those choices to be made for us. I don't want to be adversarial about this, but neither do I want to be pushed into things that make me/us uncomfortable, just for the sake of keeping the peace. We're about to become parents - isn't it about time we grew up?

1 comment:

Kat said...

Just wanted to say that I just caught up and read your last three entries. I keep forgetting to check this blog!

I have a schwack of time off in the end of April so if I am able to visit anyone it will be you. (Its cause you are cheap and easy...)


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