I have been incredibly lucky to have my mother stay with me for four weeks to help me with Baby E. She was a much needed source of babysitting, home-cooked meals and overall mothering.
She was also the source of some new mother angst.
Do you know who the biggest critics of mothers are?
Other mothers – particularly their own.
It seems that once you become a mother you never stop being a mother – not with your own kids, not with your grandkids, not with your siblings’ kids, not with that tantruming toddler in the supermarket, etc. Whether or not we actually express that mothering urge, I’m willing to bet that its always there.
Mothers have the tendency to want other babies mothered in the ways they would do it. I think this is because consciously or unconsciously we want to prove that we are good mothers – that no matter what, we didn’t truly eff our kids up. I’m willing to bet that feeling’s even worse when your daughter rejects your mothering advice. It’s the reason for the common response, “Well, you turned out okay…”
So, when my mother would say things like, “Make sure you do x, y, and z,” I would respond with an eye rolling, “Baby E doesn’t need x,y,z” or “Of course I’ going to do x,y, and z because I actually know what I’m doing!” It got to the point where I would get this vague feeling of irritation at any piece of her advice whether or not the advice was good. I realized that this was because I felt she didn’t think I was a good enough mother – that she didn’t trust me to make good decisions about Baby E. Thus began my complaining.
– I’m not incompetent, you know!
– We did survive six weeks together before you got here, you know!
– I was just about to do that, you know !
– Mother! I know!
But, I know she does what she does and says what she says out of love for me and Baby E. I know she can’t help but be this way since we’ve lived so far apart for so long. After all, when I left Barbados I was only sixteen. She hasn’t really had the chance to mother the adult me very often. When we get together she tries to make up for lost time.
So, I sigh and remember that despite my irritation she is the one that realized Baby E had cradle cap when I thought it was just dry skin and that no matter what she did differently with me I’m a relatively happy and healthy adult.
Of course she’s probably just waiting for the day when I finally say to a grown up Baby E, “Well, you turned out okay…”