Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Very Ugly Post-Birth Saga, Episode 2

Thank you guys for all your support. It's also nice to have some pats on the back for Mr. Right. I'm so grateful to have him in my life, and he feels the same way about me. We're a couple of very lucky dogs, even more so thanks to the Bee's presence in our lives.

Soooo... Where were we? Okay, this is what N wrote in response to Mr. R's well thought missive (these next few exchanges are brief):
"Goodbye and good luck… you’re gonna need it."

[My initial thought was, "Why am I going to need luck? I don't receive any kind of support from my mother. What, precisely, am I going to miss out on? Agita?"]

Mr. R's reply:
"Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out..."

N's reply, also sent to me & my mom:
"Just thought you’d all like to read what Mr. R has to say… I think what I might do is save this little exchange and pass it along to Anna when the guard dogs aren’t present…"

What N didn't realize is that Mr. R sent his initial response to not only her and my mother, but also to me and my father. He then sent the following e-mail to everyone, including my brother:

So, here you go guys! Pass it along to Anna. And [Anna's Father]. And [Anna's Brother]. And [Anna's Mother]. and the rest of the family as well.

Here you go everybody! Enjoy! Gossip Gossip Gossip. What an evil little shit Anna's Husband is, standing up for her. I tell ya.

Hey [Anna's Brother]! How ya feelin? Isn't this fun? Let's see how badly this gets out of hand. I'm really looking for a family tussle right now...

Oh yeah everybody - don't forget to read from the bottom up... LOL

Eeeeevil Little Shit."

Oh, good Lord, he's such a wise ass. So was my brother. This all happened the same day. The day before the Bee turned one week old. The only e-mail I don't have is the last one: N sent a reply that was an apology. She realized that she had been wrong, she should absolutely not have gotten involved and she understood Mr. R's stance. She congratulated us on the birth of our son and wished us all the very best.

Mr. R brushed it off, but I chose to accept the apology. If you were going to believe and accept any of it, then you had to accept all of it. This was a woman I had grown up with whom I recalled being funny and firm, generous and kind. They were happy to let us visit and use their pool, their house in Sunny Vacation State, their computers when I needed to work on my resume after graduating from college. She cut my hair, and braided it for my high school graduation. So it really hurt to have received this scathing e-mail from her. However... I know that this is what my mother does. She pleads her case, appeals to someone and makes herself looks like a victim: "My OWN daughter won't let me come to visit my only GRANDSON!!" Oh, I can hear it now... She whips people into a frenzy until they'd gladly go to hell and back for her, not realizing they'd been cleverly manipulated. I know because I have been manipulated by her before. She's really good at it, and for years she knew just how to push my brother's buttons. He'd already be in the air before she could finish saying "Jump!" And her control and manipulation of my brother is something I have a very difficult time with, but that's another post in and of itself.

So things died down, and eventually my mother called to check in on me and the baby... and pretended none of the above ever happened. As per usual. Trying to talk to her about any of this stuff is an act of sheer folly, as she can never acknowledge that she did anything wrong - she is always the victim in any situation! So I didn't bother to bring it up. Hey, I'm no glutton for punishment...

A few months later, we brought Bee out to visit my mother and see some of her family. She had some of her aunts over, and her cousin N. People brought gifts for the Bee, which was nice. N was friendly and told Mr. R in the kitchen, "He really is just beautiful." To which Mr. R replied coldly "Thank you." She kind of shrank under his steely gaze and told my mother she really had to go.

Later that day we went to visit my brother, which was a sad visit. I had no idea he had deteriorated so. He could barely move his arms, he was on pureed food, and he could only manage a word or two as a whisper. He did get to see Bee, though, and his eyes widened. We met up with one of my cousins and her husband for dinner then stayed at a hotel. The three of us drove back to our home state the next day and enjoyed the leisurely day.

Eventually, procrastinator that I am, I wrote N a thank you note. Here is the letter I included:
"Dear N,

I hope this letter finds you well and in good spirits. I hope your family is doing fine.

I just wanted to address something that has been hanging over me for the last few months. I never liked ignoring things and pretending they never happened. I think it’s better to get it out, talk about it, resolve it and move on. Life is way too short to be angry or hold grudges. I can completely understand why you called and e-mailed after Bee was born and my mom called you. Many times I have been in the same place. When you see someone you care about so upset and hurt, sometimes you can’t help but want to rise to their cause. I’ve done it myself (for my mom) on numerous occasions. It did take me quite a while to realize that no matter how convincing one side is, there are always two sides to every story. One of the reasons my brother and I drifted apart over the past seven years was due to similar exchanges. It went like this: My mom and I would have a telephone conversation. She would misconstrue something I said, usually in passing. She would get upset and talk to my brother, hurt by the perceived insult. Will, enraged that I could possible say [fill in the blank] to our mother, would call me, harass me and threaten me (“I’ll make your life miserable, I’ll make your life a living hell, you know I have a gun and know where you live”, etc.) before I could get him to tell me what the problem was. Every time he told me, it was always something that had been said innocently, or without any hidden meaning. As an adult, I have never said anything deliberately rude or cruel to my mother. I do have a tendency to be blunt, so I can certainly see where she might take things the wrong way. What makes this odd is I would never dream of talking to my mother the way [my brother] sometimes talked to her.

After each exchange, I would call my mom and clarify the statement in question. I always asked her to call me if I said something that might have rubbed her the wrong way, or if she took offense to anything I said. She promised that she would, but she never did. I would get a call from [my brother] and have to deal with the triangulation cycle all over again. For whatever reason, that’s just the way she is, and I’ve accepted that. She doesn’t see this as a behavior that needs changing, so I’ve learned to adapt. Every family has their own little idiosyncrasies, usually to one degree of dysfunction or another.

Hindsight is 20/20. After your initial phone message, I should have called my mother. Yes, this would be continuing the whole triangulation thing, now with someone new, but this is how it goes. Even my dad suggested I call my mother directly to diffuse and clarify. Frankly, at the time I was exhausted and overwhelmed. And maybe a little hurt that my mom couldn’t understand. I didn’t want to keep triangulating. I just wanted to try to eat, sleep and learn how to take care of my son. Then your e-mail was sent to Mr. Right. He was furious that you were involving yourself, and he was overprotective of our new family and me. I read the e-mails; I was pretty shocked too. I also could imagine how upset my mother must have sounded to compel to action. I’ve heard her that way also, many times, usually about my dad. It can really light a fire in your belly to fight and defend those you love. I guess what I’m saying is that I’ve been there and I understand where you were coming from. At the time I wasn’t prepared to deal with any of it, but I thought it should be addressed. I sincerely appreciated your acknowledgement and apology.

You are such a wonderful and dear confidant to my mom; I’m so glad that she can call you friend as well as cousin. I have always admired you while growing up. I remember you laughing a lot and being a fun person. What impressed me and what I remember most about you was your kindness to me and understanding when I put the toothpicks in [your daughter’s] pillowcase. You were firm, but not over emotional. I can remember thinking, even as a young girl, that when I grew up I wanted to be that kind of an understanding mother. It made sense to me then, and it hits home even more now that I am finally a mom.

Mr. R has since calmed down, and he thanks you for your gifts for Bee as well. We will use them in good health with the best wishes. After trying so hard for so long, seeing his beautiful smiling face and hearing his laugh make the countless injections, blood draws, ultrasounds, procedures and dashed hopes all worthwhile. We’re just so grateful to have the opportunity to be parents, and I’m also grateful that I was able to experience pregnancy. We are so very blessed to be entrusted with this wonderful little boy to love and rear, and we owe it to him (and to ourselves) to do the very best we can.

On that note, I hope you and your family are all well and enjoying the summer as it draws to a close. I send my love and best wishes to you and your family; I look forward to seeing you again soon, and giving you a hug." And then I signed it.

How would holding onto this anger help me or my family? I didn't want to stay angry - it takes too much goddamn energy, and frankly I'd rather focus my energy on my husband and son.

Tomorrow I'll sum up her handwritten response to me. Thanks for being there while I work through all of this.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Very Ugly Post-Birth Saga, Episode 1

Yes, I know, I haven't updated for ages. Quick Bee update: he's started walking! Well, he started about a month ago, one step on a Monday, then another on the following Monday... I started thinking at this pace, he'll be running by kindergarten! I guess I thought he'd be walking by his 1st birthday, even though I KNOW children all develop at their own paces. So in his 14th month, he's gotten the hang of it and is now walking. He still crawls, too but he's walking more every day. He's doing a great job and we're so proud of him :)

He says Dada, Mama, Mimi (we have no idea who or what Mimi is, but we're on the lookout...), cat, there, bye, yes, and I swear he said baboon in reference to a balloon, but he hasn't repeated that. He loves playing peek-a-boo, hiding his face and then peering out from behind the hiding object (pillow, wall, blanket, my leg) with a huge grin. His napping is a little sporadic, but he's sleeping great at night. We love him oodles and still can't believe he's here and healthy. So, our little family of three is thrilled about our domestic bliss. Yay us!

I've had so much stuff brewing in my head for more than a year... Issues with my mother, and Manuela's latest posts have really brought it to the front of my mind. This is a big thing I've wondered about how, precisely to address it; I'm just going to plunge in. This chapter starts after the Bee was born...

Four days after the Bee's arrival, my mother called to tell me she was coming with her cousin to visit me and the baby on Saturday. This was after my first night home with the wee one and I was so exhausted and overwhelmed, I couldn't form a coherent thought. I was panicked because I didn't know what to do to get Bee to stop crying. I told my mom that I'd love to see her, but I was exhausted and wigging out, and could they come next weekend instead? She sounded very put out and said she didn't know if she could make it next weekend; her cousin's husband would be away this weekend and they could come then. Then she said that she only wanted to peek at the baby for 5 minutes, drop off some gifts and leave. Ummm... okay, so you don't really want to visit with me, or see how I'm doing, you just want to see your grandson, say you've seen your grandson and skedaddle? Gee, I'm touched! I asked her again to come another weekend, I was tired and overwhelmed and trying to figure everything out. She got all huffy and said she'd see and hung up. You might not have noticed, but my mom isn't the one to turn to for sympathy (or empathy).

Thankfully my aunt & cousin were arriving that same day to help, so I was eternally grateful to get some assistance. Plus, they would be there for five days. I was so happy once they arrived I cried. They did everything - cooked, cleaned, help me take care of the baby, helped me take care of myself - it was a priceless gift.

Six days after Bee's arrival, the phone rang early in the morning. I didn't answer it (duh! I was exhausted, and Mr. R was sleeping, too). My aunt who was sleeping in the living room with my cousin heard the message: my mother's cousin, the one who was going to drive her (we live about 2.5 hours apart), called to admonish me for treating my mother so rudely, telling me I owed her an apology and said, "Well, I don't know what we're going to do with the gifts now."

My aunt was livid. My husband was livid. I was stunned and hurt. They both told me not to call anyone back. I recognized the tactic; my brother had called for years chastising me over some perceived insult my mother would cry about. My mom is fantastic with triangulation. Since my brother had such a difficult time talking, I felt immediate dread: NOW who's going to call defending my mother?! I didn't call my mother back, or her cousin, by her cousin sent an e-mail to our company's website, which was received by my husband. It was horrible. It was scathing, insulting, rude, insensitive... I was shocked. Mr. R was ... livid is just too mild a term. I was debating on whether or not to post this... I think I will. This is the actual e-mail my mother's cousin (we'll call her N) sent (names have been changed to protect the identity of those involved):

… if you are receiving your messages… or if someone is screening them or what the story is out there in [your town].

I just need to make sure you all know how your decision not to allow [Anna's mother] to visit her daughter and first grandchild has left her devastated. Frankly, I think it’s inconceivable.

[My daughter] has just delivered her third Caesarian birth, so I know from what I speak. I offered to bring [Anna's mother] this Saturday because it was convenient for me. I am not at her beckon call, nor at Anna's whim. We weren’t interested in being entertained by any of you; our intention was to make the drive, stop for lunch somewhere, see the baby and new mother and father, and drive home. It wasn’t going to be an imposition on anyone, least of all Anna.

I feel sorry for all of you. Once again, your inconsideration, thoughtlessness and insensitivity have won out over clear thinking and decency. Too bad; any good that could have come from the fences you mended regarding your equally ill-planned wedding in [Small Country across the Atlantic] have been all but forgotten. Someday you’ll know it’s really your loss.
Sincerely, N"

Just as a note, I have been compared to N's daughter nearly my entire life (I'm 2 years older). So much so that until a few years ago, I used to preface my thoughts, actions, purchases with "Would she do this? Would she buy that?" etc. Late in life I stopped and thought "Who the fuck is SHE?! And why do I keep comparing myself to her! STOP IT!!!" I've finally stopped it.

After a little time but during the same day, Mr. R drafted his response and e-mailed it to both of them:

N & [Anna's Mother] -

I am receiving all of the messages, and I am not giving them to Anna. Having gone through the c-section and taking care of Bee has been trauma enough.

Anna's "decision not to ALLOW [Anna's Mother] to visit her daughter" is simply not the case. We have people here catering to her every whim (and Bee's), The house is being renovated and I have a business to run - sans Anna in her regular duties. We simply felt that this weekend was inconvenient for us, due to the company staying here and the mess around the house. Anna ASKED her mother to come up at a more convenient time. She was not ORDERED TO STAY AWAY. That is simply ludicrous and untrue. Obviously, miscommunication along the grapevine has occurred again, which is regrettable. By no means do we want [Anna's Mother] to stay away. For what reason would we want that?

Now - it seems to me this is an issue of convenience... but for whom?

Anna very much wanted to spend some quality time with her mother, AT LENGTH. Not for five minutes. It was important to her.

Now, If [Anna's Mother] takes it as an affront or a rejection, that simply was not the case. Neither I nor Anna have control over how [Anna's Mother] reacts to situations. Only [Anna's Mother] does. So, I would like to tell [Anna's Mother] directly that it was not our intention to insult you. But you must understand that right now, you are making it more inconvenient for Anna than she is making it inconvenient for you. We were not of the impression that you need to be "entertained". By no means. We simply wish a longer visit.

Now, it seems to me that no consideration is made towards Anna's schedule, but we have to bend over backwards to make sure everyone else is accommodated. Can there be no wiggle room? Can there be no compromise on your part? MUST IT BE YOUR WAY OR NO WAY AT ALL? That's the way it seems to me.

So, [Anna's Mother] let me be the first one to say that your daughter is my sunrise and sunset and I AM VERY OVERPROTECTIVE OF HER. She loves you and wants a wonderful Mother and Daughter relationship. I think that you, as the elder, should be a little more flexible and think before you react. By sicking N on us, you have may have poured gas on a fire of your own making. I WILL NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES ALLOW THIS TO CONTINUE. I DO NOT WANT TO HEAR FROM N AGAIN. EVER. If you have a problem CONTACT ME DIRECT. I love both you and [Anna's brother] as my family and wish us to work out our differences. LEAVE N OUT OF THE LOOP.

Now, I am very busy this weekend trying to support your Daughter and your Grandson, so I'm going to leave it at that. I will call you on Monday when you have had a chance to reflect. If you wish to work out everything, I love and respect you and will be more than willing to diffuse any anger you have towards this unfortunate ridiculousness.

Now, N -

As far as the wedding in [Small Country across the Atlantic] was concerned, do you really think it was about the location? She had no problem going to [Anna's Brother's] wedding in [Desert Casino City], which was essentially the same flight distance as our wedding. We went out of our way to find a place that had a wonderful spot to get married and would be handicap accessible for [Anna's Mother], with a wonderful room, servants, the whole nine yards. Why on earth wouldn't we want her to be at her daughter's wedding? N wanted her desperately to be there. But [Anna's Mother] CHOSE not to go, not because of the distance...


So, in effect, [Anna's Mother] made Anna CHOOSE between her parents.

Need I remind you of the Biblical tale of two women came before King Solomon with two little babies, one dead and the other living. Each of the two women claimed the living child as her own, and said that the dead child belonged to the other woman. One of the women said, "O my lord, we two women were sleeping with our children in one bed. And this woman in her sleep lay upon her child, and it died. Then she placed her dead child beside me while I was asleep, and took my child. In the morning I saw that it was not my child; but she says it is mine, and the living child is hers. Now, O king, command this woman to give me my own child." Then the other woman said, "That is not true. The dead baby is her own, and the living one is mine, which she is trying to take from me."

The young king listened to both women. Then he said, "Bring me a sword."

They brought a sword, and then Solomon said, "Take this sword, and cut the living child in two, and give half of it to each one." Then one of the women cried out, and said, "O my lord, do not kill my child! Let the other woman have it, but let the child live!" But the other woman said, "No, cut the child in two, and divide it between us!" Then Solomon said, "Give the living child to the woman who would not have it slain, for she is its mother."

That was the way I saw the wedding in [Small Country across the Atlantic]. So, for you to call it "ill-planned" just shows to me your contemptible ignorance.

So, the drive up here had to be convenient for you? FOR YOU? You don't give a damn about Anna, all you care about is whether [Anna's Mother] is upset or not.

Having made your way in the world, amassing a successful business, three beautiful children and a wonderful marriage, I would think you would have more of a brain to know that there are two sides to every story. If there was any more smug scolding pouring from your email I think I could have put it in a can and sold it. I am not one of your employees and I am not one of your children. Do your condescending self a favor and stay out of other people's business. You just burned your bridge with me."

Ugh, I feel icky all over just reading this crap, but no one has ever stuck up for me or defended me the way Mr. Right has. (Well, I'm sure my dad would, but I don't think anyone ever attacked me in front of him before). That's all the vitriol I'm going to get into today, but I'll continue again tomorrow or so with N's reply... and Mr. R's response to that reply.

Thank you for reading.