Some of my parenting choices are a little bit unconventional. Not outrageously so, but mildly. I co-sleep and breastfeed my toddler. We did baby-led weaning. I skipped the purees and instead introduced table food at eight months. I don’t believe in spanking and I am not planning on telling my son that Santa Claus is a real person.
As a parent, I have thought these things out, researched them and made the choices that are right for me and my son. The problem is, my parents live with me and often disagree with my choices. My mother made faces as if she were in terrific pain the first time she saw Troy gumming down the solids, and she complained loudly about the co-sleeping. When he was a brand new baby just home from the NICU and unable to latch, she complained about seeing too much of my breasts while I was pumping in order to bottle feed. I’ve always simply ignored her. I respect her position, and I’ve heard it before from other sources, but this is my son and my choice.
Today, however, I overheard her complaining about my decisions regarding Santa. First, she misunderstood my point and didn’t ask for clarification. Somehow, my telling her that I wasn’t going to “do the Santa thing” was interpreted as, “You are not allowed to put up Santa decorations.” But then, she stepped across the line and in venting to my father proclaimed that my choice was, “Just stupid. It’s a harmless tradition anyway.”
I was laying in the bedroom and tried to call out to her and explain myself, but Troy was nearly asleep, so I waited.
While I waited, I became more furious.
Part of me wanted to just say, “This is my child and how I raise him is quite frankly none of your business. I don’t have to defend my choice to you and you can believe it is “just stupid” if you want. Secondly, I disagree about it being a harmless tradition, but hey don’t bother investigating an opinion or thought outside your box.”
Another part of me wanted to call his daycare and increase the amount of time he spends there, because if my mother is talking badly about me like this -- while I am in the next room nursing -- is she doing it in front of Troy when I am not home? Does she understand how badly that hurts a child? I still remember my grandmother talking badly about my mother and I still remember how small, helpless and angry that made me feel. I don't want my son to feel that way, especially not in his own home.
But, I am the mama in the middle. My parents live with me and they have a lot of interaction with Troy. So, while it is frankly none of their business, it’s a lot different than in a traditional family where the grandparents are only involved on a part-time basis and as many minuses as this situation has, it also has some plusses.
So, I waited until I thought I had calmed down. Then I confronted her, and explained to her that I had never said that she couldn’t put her Santa crap up. I tried to express my anger to her, and I think it got through, though I’m not exactly sure she understood the extent of my frustration. The longer we talked, the angrier I was becoming so we wound up cutting the conversation short.
Because I know, though her choices in raising a child were a lot different than mine, my mom loves me and my son and truly does want the best for both of us. In her mind, Santa is part of that -- and yet somehow, someone raised me to be able to think differently.
Photo Credit: mjryall.
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