Monday, June 1, 2009

percolating under the surface

My Father-in-law often refers to Sweet One as "our baby" or "our little girl". I hate it. The first time he said it I was still pregnant and my gut reaction was "No, this is my baby." Since then it doesn't matter whether it is in person, on the phone or via email, I immediately begin to personify a mother bear who's cub is being threatened. There's a major difference between your baby and your grandbaby and I feel that it needs to be acknowledged. (The implications of this being his baby well, ew. That's for the soap operas, not me.) Big Love understands that it bothers me a lot but believes there are other more important things to "fret" about. I firmly believe that were my FIL to stop calling Sweet One his then I would not feel so threatened and be able to be more gracious during their time with her. I am trying to let it slide but also wish Big Love would stand up for me without me having to ask so that I can feel more comfortable around his family. The situation has been reversed and I stood up for him.

From where I stand Big Love's family is very contained. Take all your emotions, expectations, relationships and experiences. Tie them up and put them in a very small box. The most important part is to make sure that this box, labelled comfort zone, is never tampered. Surround this with a constant happiness that seems fake and conversations that never get under the surface of things. Stepford is fictional but they are very close neighbors. I sometimes believe that I have too strong of a personality for them and that I might shatter their world by accidentally blowing the lid off of their comfort zone. Big Love once told me that his mother's "comfort zone was quite small."

If something happens to Big Love and I we have asked my sister to take Sweet One (good lord was that hard to vocalize and may it never come to pass!). Today as Sweet One and I walked Big Love to work I told him that I would hope his parents would not fight this because I do not want his parents to raise her. I think he was surprised at how strongly I felt this. "Yes, they are contained but I don't think it is as bad as you make it out to be." In my eyes, this controlled containment is awful. There just has to be more depth to people than what they show. I felt completely stifled after 5 days with them.

And then it hit me. Countless times I'd get excited/hyper as a child and be told "that's enough" or "don't be silly". How I wanted to express myself was unacceptable and wrong. I remember being so excited to share news that I had walked to school for the first time all by myself and I was ignored. I was desperate to be heard and wholly accepted for who I was but it never happened. I can't count how many times I felt spit on my face from his screaming at me or from the end of a forceful shhhhhht. My acting out for attention was always met with anger. The violent response was never his responsibility, it was always mine. Whether it was the beatings of my younger years or the verbal abuse later on, I was constantly afraid of an outburst. (To this day I cower if I hear a male voice screaming.) It didn't matter if I was five or twenty five, the fault was always mine. A few years ago I asked him why I got more 'discipline' than my siblings. "When it's your first kid and you're at your wits end, what do you do?" was his excuse. Again, a complete lack of responsbility.

I have spent a lot of time digging through the crud to find my own truth. To be honest with who I am and where I am coming from so that I can heal. The journey has been hard but it has helped the pieces fit in a better way than they ever did. I believe this is why I struggle so much with the "make believe" world I feel I am thrust into when with my in-laws. Within her first few days of life I promised Sweet One that I would never yell at her or hit her. I want so much for my daughter to feel proud of who she is and free to express herself. Hearing my in-laws place their words of ownership on her makes mamabear rear her ugly head because I immediately become afraid they will expect her to fit into their cramped comfort zone. In the end I can not expect my daughter to want things as I do but I do want to give her the freedom to choose rather than putting her in a box.

1 comment:

  1. No matter what, she'll always know who her mother is. And when it comes down to it, she'll lay the claim on you, regardless of how anyone else tries to word things.


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