When people hear that I have twins one of the first questions I’m usually asked is, “Is your mother around to help you?” The answer to that question is like one of the options for relationship status on Facebook: It’s complicated. I haven’t spoken to my mother since Elby turned two. She bought her a tricycle but yet she’s never seen her ride it. Of course since Elby turned four last November she has a big girl bike she rides everywhere anyway. Elby doesn’t know my mother as her grandmother. I think she has a vague idea that I have a mommy too since there are pictures of me as a little girl with my mom on display but when “grandma” calls that means Jon’s mother. When a package comes from Gram and Gramps that only means Jon’s parents have remembered her birthday or sent her something “just because.”
My mother’s never seen my baby girls. I don’t know if she even knows how small Sadie was when she came out or how scared we were in those first months. I do know that she knew I was pregnant with twins because after hearing it through the grapevine, I did get a card wishing me luck. I can’t help but to wonder if she cared how my pregnancy turned out.
When the babies were colicky and Jon couldn’t come home from work to help me, it was my brother and sister-in-law who came over, held babies, refilled my wine, read Elby stories when I couldn’t and listened to me cry. Jon and I couldn’t have done it without them -which only makes me realize even more how important family is in these types of situations.
It’s funny and trite and complex how your view of parental relationships change when you have children. When I was pregnant, I was bursting with ideas of how I would parent differently than I was parented. I knew the good – and fully intended to pass that on and I knew the bad and planned to avoid it at all costs. But sometimes the good and bad coexist in ways you can’t know until you’re in the thick of it. A love of reading comes from introducing your child to books early and reading to them relentlessly. But when you love books, it means you also read them and tell your child “just a minute, let me finish this page” way too many times because your head is in a book and you can’t be bothered to pay attention to their story.
The bottom line though is now that I have my kids, I can’t imagine what it would take for me to not speak to them (and my mom’s currently not speaking to my brother either). I’m pretty sure they’d have to kill me first. And even then, I’d come and haunt them. “Sadie, I know you killed me but are they feeding you enough in prison?” “Elby, I may be dead but I still think that jumpsuit looks fantastic on you! Not everyone can do vertical stripes.” “Mattie, no biting!”
I guess my mother and I will never see eye to eye on this. Some people say, “Well, it’s her loss.” And I used to think it wasn’t. Because if it felt like a loss to her she’d make attempt to regain it. But I look at my three gorgeous girls and I have to agree; it’s a huge loss. And it’s hers.