Family is weird. And when you have one of your own, and your primary focus is your kids, some of the family dynamics with “outside the home” members of the family change. This is important to note because, this week, my Father-in-Law has been visiting. He called, a couple of weeks ago, to wish MB a happy birthday and then informed him that he would be coming to our house for a week. No dates set-in-stone. Just a generic, “after the 19th” kind of notice.
I was not thrilled.
When you first have a baby, as many of you know, things change a lot. Your sleep changes. WHERE you sleep might change. Your meal times change. Even WHAT you eat changes because, if you are in a similar situation to mine, you don’t really have so much time to think about feeding your own face when you are spending so much of your time concerned about feeding tiny faces. Things are chaotic. They are unscheduled and they are completely unpredictable. And if you are anything like me, being in a situation like this would be enough to leave you bald and hiding under your bed in the fetal position by the end of a regular day. Because the anxiety. Oh, the anxiety. Its a heinous bitch. And it can turn ME into a heinous bitch too.
It takes any mother (parents, really) a minute to adjust to a newborn. And their neediness. And the lack of normacly. Because. Well. Welcome to your new normal, new parents. Gone are the days of free time. For us, gone are the days of dinners before 8pm or watching a television show uninterrupted. Or sleeping together in the same bed. Gone. At least for now. Because we’re still figuring this “parents of two” thing out. And we are doing damn well if you ask me.
But then, when you get an uninvited houseguest who sleeps on the couch in the middle of the day and cuts watermelon (and you HATE the smell/taste/idea of watermelon) in your kitchen and leaves it sitting there for hours while you nearly vomit because of the smell (which you can do nothing about, because you are busy wrangling a 14 month old and feeding a newborn and cooking dinner and washing dishes and sweeping up today’s lunch from under the high chair…you get the point), you might tend to spin a little (more) out of control. You know, if you have control issues/a hefty anxiety problem. And that, my internet friends, has been this week for me. I’m tired and stressed and ready for a serious break. But I’m a parent. And breaks don’t exist.
My FIL isn’t a bad person, if you ask me, although, I know some people who would disagree. He has done some things that he regrets to the people that he loves and spends most of his time with them trying to make them understand that he loves them. But also making them feel guilty that HE lives several states away from them. Yes, you read that right. Because he moved away after being a not-so-great person to them and now wants all of them to feel guilty that they aren’t where he is. Sometimes, there is even crying. And I used to feel bad. But then I started getting to know him. And hearing stories about the kinds of things that happened when he was “not-so-good” and I don’t feel bad anymore. In fact, I am annoyed. But I bite my tongue because I love my husband. I have bitten my tongue so much this week that it is currently hanging by a little muscly tongue thread.
Last night, I was talking to my sister-in-law about being a parent. And I told her that, before I had Baby O, I was genuinely worried that I wouldn’t be able to love him as much as I love Baby L. This, I have heard from other moms with more than one child, is a very real fear. And very common. I mean, you give birth to someone, right? And they are your everything. They give you the motivation to be BETTER. And they expand your capacity for love and they fill up your WHOLE heart. Because that’s what happens when you have a child. And then you are faced with having another one. One that you haven’t met yet. And you wonder, “how will my heart expand enough for this new little one to fit in there with the first one?” Because it seems impossible to love ANOTHER person the way you love your first. But then you do. You just DO.
Anyway, I was talking to my SIL about this and FIL says with a snide roll of his eyes, “Well, that’s hateful.”
And, in my head, I said: “Well, I didn’t try and smother either of my kids with a pillow, did I? So, I guess you would know better than me about hateful.”
In real life, I said, “Well, I guess YOU wouldn’t understand, seeing as you’ve never carried a person in your BODY for months and months…”
“Well, I never had a problem loving my kids”, he says to me.
And in my head, I said, “Sure, if by loving your kids, you mean locking them outside and making them pick weeds in the hundred degree heat for hours on end.”
In real life, I said, “You couldn’t possibly understand any of it anyway.” And I walked out of the room.
MB and my SIL did back me up, because they GET it. It is a process. But I could have gone to prison last night, internet. PRISON.
I can show him hateful. I really can. I am REALLY good at hateful. I did it for years as a teenager. I got this. But I’m biting my tongue. Because he is leaving today. And after he is gone, my life can go back to a degree of chaos that doesn’t make it necessary for my husband to hide all the knives.
(Just FYI, I don’t know that the above things actually happened. I mean, I can only imagine that they did, because they were told to me BY his kids. But…I wasn’t there. I just thought I should say that.)