Thursday, March 01, 2007

Doudou deux

Notice anything unusual in the picture? Well, besides the fact that Miss Baby's hair is not standing on end? Yes, that's right: the soother. Pipe. Suck. Dummy. Pacifier. Plug. The crack cocaine of the baby set. It's Miss Baby's new obsession, coming hard on the heels of her recently declared love of the doudou diaper.

This is what comes of a visit to Gramma's house.

My mom is ... my mom .... sigh. Ok. My mom shows her love by the degree to which she, um, she ... inter- .... bu- .... takes an active interest in the management of your daily life. And she is now taking an active interest in the management of Miss Baby's daily life. Gramma innovations include: put to bed drowsy but awake, find a more proper doudou than a cloth diaper, feed that baby cheez-whizzed celery, give her a soother for god's sake, let her get more frustrated during floor play to encourage her to crawl already, cut her hair she can't see!

"How did it go?" I can hear you all wondering. I'll tell you. Tomorrow.

But first, full disclosure: I have always been jealous of the active interest my mom has taken in my sister's daily life and parenting since S. somewhat precociously started her family at age 20, eleven years ago. Mom would send thoughtful but manipulative gifts: books about toilet training, along with a plastic bed sheet; gift certificates for swimming lessons to ensure a drowning-free cottage vacation in the summer; a new kind of hat she had read about that was far superior to what first-grandchild was wearing; full-body swimsuits to protect his delicate fair skin. She called every day. She made frequent visits, despite living 8 hours away, and working fulltime. She took baby R. for week-long visits, introducing solid food, or advancing daytime toilet training.

During these years, studying in a far away province, I was feeling a bit neglected: S. complained of the constant phone calls and visits from Mom, while I wondered why we only talked once or twice a week. Mom explained that I didn't need her help: she left me alone because she believed in me, found me independent and capable. Her confidence in my capacity to do it without her micromanagement was cold comfort. Just because you don't need your mother in the sense of daily material shortfall, doesn't mean you don't still crave her attention. I have to say that as the years have gone by, I am more inclined to rue my lack of generosity here: maybe I was lonely for Mommy, as it were, but my sister was labouring under real difficulties. Nevertheless, the more selfish parts of me continued to wonder when I might come in for my share of maternal attention. When I moved back to our home province? Nope. When I got engaged and then married? Not really. Bought a house? No, because she made her first move in 30 some years to a new house of her own. When I got pregnant? Well, I started to hear from her a little more often.

Maybe the turn started to come near to when I was to give birth. The Mother Daughter Phone Triangle (me, S., Mom) worked through S. to ask me why I hadn't asked Mom to come for a visit after the birth. Here's why: I honestly thought she wouldn't come. And I was afraid to ask and to be rejected. But she did come. And since I produced the first girl-baby amongst the grandkids, pink things started appearing, and active interest began, but still in a low key, 'here's a gift card from Sears get what you need I'm sure you know best' kind of way. Miraculously, she and Dad spent entire days and nights under our roof, whereas in the first year we owned the house, they spent a total of 5 or 6 hours in it--over several drive-by visits. Things were changing, definitely.

Well. The interest is full-fledged now, and I'm happy to report that my mother must really love me after all because my parenting has been found wanting, and baby grand-daughter in need of intervention.

Hence doudou deux. Which I guess I'll have to tell you about tomorrow.

"I'm two weeks old, but Gramma thinks I need visual stimulation.
In the form of ducks."

12 comments:

Beck said...

Did you know that I live in the same town as my mother and that she barely considers me competent to keep her Beloved Grandchildren Alive? And so did I relate to this post? Oh yeah.

Bloor West Mama said...

I really wish that my mom was in the country. To be honest I am a little pissed off that she is not here to share the joys of her first grand-daughter. Specially considering that she always wanted to have another girl. It was her dream come true when Isa was born.

Oh well...that is life. The good thing is that she will be moving back to Canada this summer. Hurray for us:)

Mad Hatter said...

Ya, I'm with BWM on this. What I wouldn't give for a little of that annoyingly meddlesome attention. As it is, I feel guilty always calling my sisters to say, Help! and WTF am I doing wrong here? The advice, methinks, is easier to take from sisters.

I can't wait to see doudou deux.

NotSoSage said...

Ugh, I have a MIL who takes an active interest but my parents are too far away to be meddling...for the most part. There are some stories, but I won't share them here.

My MIL had an interesting conversation with Joe about it when he took the time to reaffirm some decisions that we had made that she was ignoring. She said that she read that there is an innate need to be able to do things better than your parents did, and to resent their intervention. I'm not sure how I feel about that, but it's an interesting thought.

Melanie said...

I think it's one extreme or the other, isn't it? I always wonder what would be the perfect scenario. My neighbor's mother is over every day. I see my folks about every 6 weeks or so. My parents-in-law seem to be sort of "over" the whole grandparents thing. They live in the same town, but are much busier playing bridge, golf, bunko, etc. to be bothered with their 6 grandkids (only 2 are ours). I guess my problem is that it's not what I expected it to be, whatever that is. Must give it a little thought.

ewe are here said...

I'm still a tad irked at my mom...as she's supposed to be here right now awaiting grandchild no. 2... sigh.

We were never really 'close' either, in fact, I always thought she resented me at a lot of levels. But after my dad died and I produced the first grandchild I thought things had really changed between us for the better. I guess it just takes time and effort.

cinnamon gurl said...

I'm close with my mom, and ask for help a fair amount, but I'm really sensitive to the whole unsolicited advice/you're doing things wrong thing. I really need to feel like we're doing fine, that SHE thinks we're doing fine... I think she's figured that out, and actually sort of complies... with the odd comment, to which I generally respond, "That is not helpful; I don't need to hear that right now." Of course I usually talk to her when I'm in crisis/so exhausted can't cope mode.

Jenifer G. said...

I am very lucky. Both my mother, stepmother and MIL are involved. I don't see my stepmother as much, but she is involved enough that she watched them for a weekend at our house last fall. My mother generally sees the girls twice a week and MIL the same or maybe more.

I am extremely lucky I realize. It has however, taken me a while to accept the good with the bad. They have all tried to do/say/change things I didn't agree with, but always defer to my requests no matter what they think of them.

I won't go on an on, even though this topic begs it.

Am I the only one laughing at the duck? I just think it is so funny and can picture her genuine concern !

Mimi said...

Jenifer G -- *thanks for laughing!* I found the ducks hilarious, personally. My mom has a thing for them, and liked to imagine Miss Baby as developing brain power by contemplating this fine ceramic example in the 20 minutes stretches of cross-eyed consciousness she was getting at that point. Ha!

Boy, the mothering of mothers is a big old sore point with most of us, eh? I think I'm gonna have to think about this some more ...

Jenifer G. said...

My Mom had a duck thing for a while too, our house had many decoys and carvings. She has toned it down a bit now though. I can imagine Miss Baby thinking, I had the strangest dream...

I love the idea of "mothering our mothers" it really is such an interesting dynamic - more so I think if you have a daughter.

Another post is brewing?

Oh, The Joys said...

Becoming a parent has made my relationship with my own mother infinitely stronger. It's so strange.

gingajoy said...

It's made mine a lot stronger too--and we're on different continents. This post reminds me of it all the more, and how much I have the same pangs--wishing Mum was nearer, etc.

So, your baby took a pacifier even at this stage??? (I LOVED my son's Paccy, have to say. Awesome on plane trips).