I have spent a lot of time wondering how different my life as a parent might be if I were lucky enough to have family nearby. Mostly, I fantasize selfishly about having a support network with years of training in our inner workings, messy bits included. Of course, the family in my fantasies reflects my own idealized version of this institution rather than any of the actual people who share our names.
G is far more practical about these things. He recognizes that family can be a colossal pain in the butt and believes generally that the very best help, while challenging to find, can be purchased. He has a point. But that doesn’t change one very important detail: you can’t pay somebody to love your child.
During those occasions that we do get to spend time with family, I’m reminded just how right we BOTH are. My MIL has been here visiting for the past few weeks and life has been rather challenging – and wonderful. g has soaked up the love and attention with delight. I have been given not one but SEVERAL opportunities to make plans sans child and each time I have returned to a happy child – monumental.
I have also been trying and failing and trying and failing to be patient, to skip over all of the little and not so little moments that have made my hair stand on end. But these moments are making me yearn mostly for opportunities to make plans sans MIL. I’m afraid that some of them are destined to sit with me even after she has been safely returned to her home thousands of miles away – like her hasty decision to tell g that he will be a big brother. I have spent months planning the when and how of this discussion and, despite my apprehensions, I somehow believed that it was mine to tell.
But perhaps the most difficult part of this particular relationship is the part that will never go away. It’s the fact we share something, our two precious boys, even though they aren’t easily divided and it’s almost always my turn. It’s not something to take lightly, especially because, if I’m lucky, I may one day BE her.