Monday, December 24, 2012

Mommy issues (originally posted November 20th, 2012)

So last night me and B got to talking/arguing about my family and what we're going to do for thanksgiving after we have the baby. I said we should go to my parents house for thanksgiving if they invite us because we go to his parents for christmas, and he said he wants to spend both holidays with his parents and we can go to my parents some non-holiday time, cause why should they get to spend the holidays with our kids after the way they've treated us all these years.

At some point in the argument I started weeping hysterically, because I realized that this whole conversation was academic, because my parents have never invited my husband to their house ever, let alone invited us both over for thanksgiving. O, pregnancy. I don't even remember the last time I cried, I think it was before I even moved to the south. O wait, I think it was actually that time I couldn't have hush puppies a few months ago.  B got all concerned and nice but I felt bad and was like "I'm not trying to win this argument by crying I swear, I can't help it!" But then that turned into a long crying rant about my parents and how much they suck and how my dad is totally going to be offering to pay for circumcisions if we have a boy even though I don't want to circumcise our kids.

I've been thinking about my parents a lot lately, and how they are going to react when we tell them. Especially my mom. My dad I'm actually not worried about at all- every time we talk he keeps asking how TTC is going, he's suggested I pray to try to get pregnant (which I never responded to that email- but in retrospect, yeah, that probably means he's not anti-me getting pregnant) and I know he will be super excited about being a grandpa. Heck, my entire teenagehood/20somethingyears he was shoving babies into my arms and taking pictures while I held it awkwardly, while I guess he was imagining himself as a grandpa. In fact we had huge arguments in my early 20s cause at the time I wasn't sure I ever wanted to have kids (wasn't really sure about that until I met B / was in my late 20s) and he would argue about how what's the point of life, etc.

Anyway, I am really not at all worried about my dad, but I am super worried about how my mom is going to react, and it's been really pissing me off the past few days that I AM worried about this, that instead of plotting how I *get* to tell my parents they are going to be grandparents the first time, I'm worried about how to *break the news* that they are going to have a grandchild whose father will be a man they have met twice and disapprove of. Why do my parents/mom have to be such fucking jerks and threaten that my "kids will be totally estranged from the rest of my relatives" when I was getting married, and so now put a shadow over a time when I should just be happy and thrilled and not have to worry about this bullshit. I just keep flashing back to when I called my mom to tell her I was engaged, and she was silent for like an entire minute and then when I was finally like "So...are you going to say anything?" she was like "You know how I feel!" and hung up on me and then we didn't talk for like 4 years. Until last thanksgiving in fact.

I want my kid(s) to have a relationship with their grandparents on my side (although not one where my parents are trying to convert them). I want my mom to make a baby quilt for my kid the way she made baby quilts for all my cousins when they had their first kids. I want me and my husband and kids to go visit my parents down in their Florida condo (that they inherited from my grandparents and are planning to retire to) the way I used to visit my grandparents living in that same condo, and hide awkwardly in the second bedroom with my kids the way my parents and us used to hide from my grandparents in that same room.

I'm want to wait a bit longer to tell them, although I am probably going to talk to them on Thanksgiving and who knows, I am terrible at keeping secrets so I might just blurt it out. But what I also really don't want is to have a miscarriage (well in general I don't want that), for me to have to tell my parents, and for my mom to be secretly thinking that I am being punished for not being religious.

On the other hand, the longer I wait to tell them, the longer I have to worry about how they will react, which has now led to at least one weeping episode. So maybe I should tell them sooner, just to get it over with.

I was talking to another former-orthodox jewish friend of mine who also has a really bad relationship with her mother, and she told me that she is always making friends with older ladies her mom's age as substitute mothers...and it struck me that I totally do the same thing. My adviser/coauthor from college is in her early 60s, and has been like a substitute mom for me- she's come to visit me down here more than my mom has (twice now), she actually came to my wedding unlike my own mom, and even gave a little speech during the ceremony (which my MIL also did). Here in the south, my closest friends in my department are women my mom's age- my chair (late 50s/ early 60s) my department secretary (early 60s) and a deadhead prof I go to shows with (exactly 60 years old). At my 30th birthday party this year there were more 60somethings than 30somethings. There are lots of people/women in the department much closer to my age, and yet I became much better friends with all the ones who are the same age as my mom. Woah.

Meanwhile, when I told my brother he sent me a bunch of text messages asking how B and I feel about it, how I'm feeling in general, etc. It was really nice, I didn't expect him to be all protect-y like that. :)


  1. One day at a time; one brige at a time. Visualize the out come you want.

    I remember my blood pressue off the scale at one visit, after an argument with my husband. My doctor sternly said stop it; you aren't doing that baby any good.

    So, that's my grandmotherly advice. Stop it. Have your beautiful baby and see what happens next.

  2. Your kids will grow up in spite of you, not because of you. That was the best advice my mother gave me (and I'm very close to my mother, but I totally agree LOL).

    The best advice I can pass on about being a parent is: take every advice you recieve with a grain of salt (including this one!). As a parent, many of the "I would never do that!"s become "Oh, guess I am doing that!"

    I think great parents are made, rather than born. I was totally not maternal before having kids, and I think I'm doing a pretty adequate job raising them.

    About your mother: I would write her a nice letter (as in a real one, not an email) and explain that even though you know this situation is hard on her, you hope she will love and accept her grandchild, including making a blanket for him/her. If she does that, then view it as a gesture of peace even if she doesn't treat you as you want to be treated.

    I'm not saying you should accept mistreatment of you or your husband. Or your baby. Or your wishes.

    Good luck! Becoming a mother is really amazing.

    And please make sure to double check the batteries in your smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector! Its extra important while pregnant.

  3. First, congrats!

    Also, just want to bring up that becoming a parent tends to bring up unresolved emotional issues that you had growing up. Which you have in spades as it is.

    I stumbled across your blog, and read it since I A) admire all you've overcome and B) empathize because I had to overcome a difficult childhood.

    I haven't had much to comment on as I do not come from an Orthodox background. But I can comment on motherhood issues. You are seeing the effects of pregnancy hormones on you already. But postpartum can hit you like a total ton of bricks. So please be aware of how you are feeling, and don't try to minimize or discount it if things get too much for you. I ended up with full blown postpartum depression and needed several years of therapy and medication to finally help me deal with everything I thought I had left in the past.

    Now might not be the best time to try to fix things with your parents. You are emotional, and there are all sorts of issues related to your pregnancy with them which will be new territory and added stress. You should concentrate on yourself and B and your friends and maximize the good things in your life, rather than picking at the scab of your relationship with your parents.

    Wishing you the best-


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