A Jumped-Up Pantry Girl Who Never Knew Her Place

My second year in Austin, I was a nanny to twin babies, a boy and a girl, from the time they were 13 weeks old until they were 18 months old. Eight hours a day, five days a week. We got really close, they were wonderful babies. After my time with them was up, I would occasionally visit, and as soon as he spotted me, the boy would always immediately just kind of lean over until he was laying in my arms, like a slowed down trust fall. The girl would wail when it was time for me to leave. I always had to sit and hug her for a little while before I actually walked out the door. They were fine, but we had a close bond from all that time we spent together when they were brand new. Even today, when I see them, I always wave extra to the little girl when I say bye and give her extra hugs, and the boy still trust falls onto me to say hello, and they're almost seven years old now.

The girl baby was smaller when they were newborns, and they were already small because they were twins, so since the mom worked from home she would often have the girl with her in her office and I would focus more on the boy. It's instinct, she wanted the needier baby nearer to hand. But it meant that boy baby and I were really tight. He would only nap for me, and one time when he got a stomach bug and got dehydrated, I held him all day before they decided to take him to the doctor. At one point his grandpa took him from me so I could go do some stuff in the kitchen, and he brought him in to see me because he had been weakly calling out, "Ingieee... Ingieee." I freaked and forgot about the dishes or whatever bs I had been doing and ran and grabbed him. I couldn't let my little sickie call out for me like that! *insert crying emoji here* (I had the babies call me Ingie because the family had suggested Miss Inga and that was way too formal for someone who's going to be kissing your cheeks every three seconds and wiping your tushie, in my opinion.)

One night I was sleeping peacefully, when I suddenly snapped awake with a gasp. I couldn't figure out what had woken me up, but I laid there a little agitated for a while until I drifted off again. When I got to work in the morning, they told me that the boy had had a rough night and had woken up screaming about the same time that I woke up. It's like he used his baby radar to alert all of the caretakers in his little network that he needed help. It happened a few more times, and every time I asked if he had woken up in the night at the same time that I had woken up for no reason, he had. My wittle bebe. 

I've been thinking about that today because my daughter is going to go on an overnight trip without me for the first time in October. My mother-in-law (ex or whatever) invited my daughter and her dad to her new vacation apartment in Florida, she's giving them the gift of the plane tickets if they want them. I'm not invited. I'm sure I could go along if I wanted to, but... message received. 

In a way it's fine because I'm planning on taking my little girl with me to Europe around Thanksgiving. But she's never gone on a trip without me, never gone on a plane without me, and never spent the night in a strange place without me before. I have a feeling that driving away from the airport will be a lot like when I drove away from her preschool on her first day. I cried for like twenty minutes and called my mom twice to sob into the phone. It's just hard for mamas and babies to be separated. I'm going to have a hard time sleeping until she's back in the nest. I'm the only one who sings her lullabies right. 

When she was born, I had to be induced because my blood pressure suddenly spiked (I got the same thing that killed the nice sister in Downton Abbey). Because of that, and because I was at an amazing hospital, they had me come back a week later to follow up on my blood pressure and make sure I was okay. I was not okay. I had to be readmitted into the hospital and put on a bunch of medicine for about a week, and then stayed on blood pressure meds for three months afterwards until things went back to normal. 

My parents were still in town for the birth at that time and had rented a really nice apartment nearby, so we had decided that they would just drop me off for my checkup and keep the baby with them so she wouldn't be exposed to gnarly hospital germs. Well, when suddenly I was in a scary room with tubes in my arms and a blood pressure cuff going off every fifteen minutes, I texted them and asked them to bring her to me. They hesitated because she was doing fine, but I told them to hurry. I couldn't stop crying, the tears were just rivers out of my eyes, I couldn't even see. I kept thinking that I didn't want to die and leave my baby here all alone. (Stupid Downton Abbey. One of the nurses even asked me if I had seen that episode because I guess that happens a lot in the maternity ward ever since it aired.) 

When they finally got there with the baby, my mom handed her over to me and I just sobbed and tried to open my eyes wide enough to look at her around the tears, and my mom started crying too, and my dad tried to lighten the mood by saying, "What? She was fine with us!" I was crying too hard to talk, but the oldest nurse (I love older nurses they're so bad-ass) looked at him and exclaimed, "It's hard for mama to be away from baby now! She's a good mama!" (Thank you, nurse lady, I loved you for that.) 

The thing about having your first baby is that you worry a lot about how you'll know what to do. Like, I already knew how to take care of babies because I had nannied twins, for crying out loud. But I worried about the mental shift it takes to go from being a girl to a mother. Mother-girl. Woman-mom? You know what I mean. The twins' mom had told me that it just happens, but then my best friend told me that she didn't really feel "obsessed" with her baby until he was several months old and became more responsive. My own mom was super maternal right from the start and said not to worry. 

My experience was that your body does it all for you and you really don't have to do anything to suddenly be fixated on everything your baby does. Her dad and I didn't even turn on the TV for the first three weeks, we just stared at her while she slept and every time she made the tiniest movement we'd be like, "Omg her eyelid twitched! Did you see that? Awwwww!" Everybody does that with their babies and it turns out you don't even have to like kids for that to happen. Your body just goes, "Hi, nice to meet you, in case you didn't know this, you're actually a mammal, in fact you're a primate, so you're going to stare at your baby and hold them to your chest without thinking about it. You can't sleep even if you want to because every time the baby sighs even a little bit you'll snap awake like a grenade went off and check to make sure she's breathing. Also, if she doesn't make any sound at all, you'll snap awake like a grenade went off and check to make sure she's breathing. And you won't want to admit it, but even if she's just peacefully staring out the window while you stand three feet away, you'll probably reach over and check to make sure she's breathing."

Also, the first time we changed her outfit after we brought her home, she started crying because newborn babies typically don't like getting their outfits changed, and I burst into tears because she was crying. Her dad had to finish the job while I stood by yelling at him to be careful not to accidentally dislocate her arms. (He was not about to accidentally dislocate her arms. Give me a break, I was hormonal, I had just almost died having my first baby.)

So I'm worried about this trip because I am a mammal>primate>human>woman>mamma.





Also, I'm not going to lie, I'm a little annoyed that I'm being excluded. Not that I want to go to Florida so much, but like, what the hell? I don't want to run my mouth about people in this thing, not because I'm afraid of the repercussions. I tell the truth because I don't have to lie. I can defend whatever I say either with my brains or my conviction or both. I may not say certain things because I don't want to deal with the headache, but I generally say what I mean and mean what I say with the information and awareness I have at the time. *shrug*

But I have my daughter to think about, and that's her grandmother. 

Hm.

Neptune is in a tight conjunction with my Pisces moon for a while, so that explains why my dreams have all been very meaningful lately. I either haven't dreamt at all, or I've had "visions" rather than dreams. Messages right before I wake up and I've been writing them down. Something's coming, I can tell you that. 

In my cosmic sisters of the moon and other galaxies circle (I'm gonna change the name every time I mention it), we have this general rule that if someone shares their journey or their dream and wants help interpreting it, we don't say definitively what it means, we say, "If it were MY journey/dream/whatever..." and then say what we think. Because everyone is working with different symbolism in their own little universe.

So my oldest friend, the one I've known the very longest, is divorced too. She had a mother-in-law who never really warmed to her, and she didn't know why. Her ex-husband came from a small town, from I guess you could say kind of a prominent family. His extended family really liked her and gave her the stamp of approval when they met her, and they didn't do that for just anyone, so she was honestly pretty proud of herself. But her mother-in-law just didn't cotton to her. Funny, that. 

She used to tell me about some of the trouble she got from those in-laws. Seems like even other members of the family noticed that her husband's mom was extra hard on her. They even pulled him aside to comment on it and let him know that they noticed and they didn't like it, and couldn't understand it, either. 

She has kind of a strong personality so she figured that it was just a battle of wills thing and it would calm down eventually. But you know what's funny is that it didn't. In fact, that mother-in-law got it in her head that my friend was like, controlling her son behind the scenes, that she wouldn't let him call his family or visit, none of which was true. My friend is very close to her own family and is also not a monster and would never do such a thing. In fact, she often reminded him to call his family, and she really wanted to go visit the place where he was from, but he always refused, saying that they didn't have enough money, and he wasn't really keen on saving up for it either. 

Gosh, that mother-in-law said so many weird things about her. Things like, she couldn't hold down a job (she had to quit a job because her boss had been sexually harassing her and she couldn't take it anymore), or that she was holding her now ex-husband back from pursuing his interests or getting an education, things like that. It was crazy. She would never do anything like that. 

Frankly, she didn't really care what a couple of in-laws in some small town far away were saying about her, even when they called her mean names right to her face and accused her directly of doing all this crazy crap. 

But when she had her kid, she started to care. Because, as she explained it to me, she said, "It's one thing if you try to hurt me. I'm a grown woman, I can handle myself and I have the life experience to process my own emotions and choose my battles. But now that I have a child, if you hurt me, you hurt my kid too. If a child's mother is out-of-sorts, the child notices, and they'll blame themselves and feel kind of lost and sad. They don't understand what's causing the tension or the upset, they just internalize it. They just want their mom back to normal. And it hurts them to see their mom in pain. Mamas and babies are connected for life that way. And I've reached out to these people without prompting from anyone else, because I believe in peace and harmony and keeping families together, and offered olive branch after olive branch, and words of love and unity, even after the divorce, and yet they still take the first opportunity they can to start pushing me out of the family? You know, go ahead and say whatever you want about me. I'm not scared of any of you. But try and come between me and my kid, or hurt me and affect my kid negatively, and the gloves are coming off."

So I told her, if this were MY situation, I guess I would say something along the lines of...

After all that my family and I have done for your son, all the money we've spent, all the dreams I haven't pursued, all of the support from the very first day together... After all of the tears I've cried and the myriad ways I've distorted my very soul to try to make life easier for your precious offspring, while receiving not only zero appreciation, or affection, or even an unprompted thank you from him, but also scathing words, judgment, and coldness from you when all I ever wanted was to do the right thing and be a family...  You want to do me this way?

I may not be perfect, but I am loyal to my people. I don't allow anyone to talk badly about the people on my Short List in front of me, I don't care who they are, I don't care if my person is on death row and the shit talker is the Queen of England, I don't stand for that crap. And I don't leave any of my people down all alone when they're out for the count. No one gets left behind if I'm around. I don't walk out on people when they need someone to care. I'm the one who drags their ass home and makes them soup, either literally or proverbially speaking. Make me your emergency contact, I will be there. Forever.

But in return, I expect a modicum of respect. I'm not a doormat. I'm a loyal footsoldier for the movement. That's how we work in my family. We take care of our own. If you bring harm to a single hair on my child's head, for example, you will never be found. There will be a headstone with nothing in the ground underneath it, because that's what happens to people who hurt children in my sphere of protection. Are we clear on that?

If you thought I was crazy before, I got a little surprise for you. 

That was me with one hand tied behind my back. 

Now my hands are untied.

You know, if it were me, and this was someone I've known for many years trying to do me dirty, that's what I mean.

I would also say...

You have no idea what perfect timing this is. Go ahead and keep running your mouth, because you know what, if a person who is good keeps getting called bad, eventually they might start to think that there's not much point in staying on their best behavior anymore, since they're treated like they're doing wrong no matter what they do. Do you understand what I'm saying? No, I didn't think you would. 

And maybe if I was feeling extra sassy I might say something along the lines of, you have no idea who you're dealing with and now that I see how things are going to be, I actually feel great because that lets me know that I'm free to do whatever the hell I want with my life without worrying about things like your feelings or keeping things as close as possible to the way they were before. Because the truth is that the way they were before was complete and total bullshit.

I've got two passports and a wild streak so do not. Test. Me.

That's what I told my friend that I would say if it were my mother-in-law. I mean my journey.





























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