Tag Archives: in laws

Mourning

I put on some old Crosby Stills and Nash this morning and was taken back to my mum through the song Teach Your Children. I sang it at school and also sang it at home with my dad on the guitar and me and my mum singing together.

The moment my father told me my mother had died is so starkly imprinted in my mind. My world stopped spinning for that moment. It just stopped.

I am still trying to make sense of this reality – that my mother is no longer in this world and that I no longer have that base of support. I recently received some photos from my dad (included in this post), and I just broke down. I was crying for the missed opportunities and the unmet potential. As I cried I knew that it was pointless. She is gone. And what about celebrating her life instead of being miserable about all that was not perfect. The photo that actually was unbearably painful for me was this one. It looks so perfect. A part of me wants to believe there were moments of perfection. But I also know it wasn’t all that perfect.

My family outside our home on a biodynamic farm - a moment caught unaware

 

I have been thinking a fair amount about my relationship with my mother and the pain that that memory evokes.

We never really got to know each other. We never really understood each other. And she still remains elusive to me.

I have also been thinking a fair amount about therapy and why I am happy to be giving it a break.

I had the feeling like my therapist was interested in helping me understand how the important relationships in my life helped mould my experience of myself and my life. And when I was able to see my mother through critical eyes, I had the feeling like my therapist felt he had done his job. My mother was no longer a mythical figure in my life.

And yet, I have been feeling in this time of mourning that his job was not done. He could have taken it a step further, towards encouraging me to find the tools to take what I had learned about my mothers shortcoming and weave that into a compassionate attempt to heal the rifts. This was ultimately my responsibility, and I missed the opportunity. And that hurts. Some want to comfort me by telling me that our relationship is not lost and that I can indeed work towards that healing even though my mother has died. I do not see how this can be. I wish it were so, but it eludes me.

And this all ties up with my IL’s too. I have to have some sort of relationship with them. And more importantly, I want my DH to heal any rifts or hurts that he carries with him. That is after all such a huge part of life – being at peace with life and the people in your life. So when I rant and rage about how completley inappropriate my IL’s are, I know that I need to be somehow taking it a step further….

My mother with me in 1977

Mum, I miss you and our potenital so very much. I hurt that we can never go out for another tea at our favorite cafe next to the sea in Kalk Bay – that we can never share what it means to be Mother – never know each other as a person. I still need you.

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Life is full or surprises

I have two mother in laws. And both of them have played an important role in how I have developed as a mother. Until recently I was mostly defending myself to them. And yet, I have come to appreciate both of them in different was and for different reasons.

One of them has just been diagnosed with cancer. Hence my absense from the blog. It has been an emotionally draining time as we waited for news and results from tests. It is looking good. It looks like she will not even need chemo now after the surgery. And this is the MIL with whom I have a strained relationship to say the least. And yet we were able to talk honestly and openly about life and about me loosing my mother and her being diagnosed with cancer. It is a cliche, but such life changing experiences really do put things into perspective. And I have gotten over my anger that my SIL did not have to deal with loosing her mother unexpectedly. The reality of loosing my mother was brought home to me when I saw the panic around me with my SIL thinking she *might* loose her mother.

My 2nd MIL is a woman with whom I have had my differences with regards to parenting choices. Yet, essentially she has tried to be supportive, even when she has called me extreme.

And it is this MIL who took the time to tell me how admiring she is of how I have chosen to mother my son. How I inform myself on the importance of nutrition, preventative measures for health, discipline that empowers my son, not belittles him etc. She really spoke from the heart about how much she admires me for doing what I feel is best for my family. We also spoke about my relationship with her son. And how much DH and I have learned and grown from each other and from being parents together. She respects our relationship so much and appreciates me in a way that I did not know. It felt so good to know that I am so appreciated and respected.

In turn I could be more open with her and explain why I am concered about plastic in my sons environment and that I am still trying to decide where ‘the line’ is that will inform me on decisions regarding having plastic in his life. And to share a bit more about why I chose organic foods where possible. We actually had a non threatening conversation on such charged issues.

Today is Yom Kippur. I still have not decided how I want to observe Yom Kippur. I’ll get there. This year is not the year for me to honestly consider what this day means for me.

But I did want to share my experience of a softening in relations between myself and two women who are significant in my life, even if we don’t see eye to eye.

I look forward to posting more frequently again. I am sewing a wonder box and look forward to posting pics and experiences.

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A moment of contentment

Today we were visiting family for a birthday celebration and DS was having a fabulous time interacting with everyone. He really just was having a complete ball and people were loving interacting with him.

So my MIL turned to me and said (roughly translated), that she would have thought a child only at home with his parents and not in childcare would be timid around strangers. And that she is pleasantly surprised that this is not the case. We seem to be parenting him in such as way as to build his confidence.

It made me feel good to get some sort of recognition for a parenting job well done – although to be honest, I think it is more his personality than our parenting…. but still, it makes me happy to have her make a positive comment rather than a questioning one.

Happy days…..

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Respect and ridicule

Is it that hard?

Is it that hard?

Another post-therapy post.

And the understanding of the fear both DH and I live in. The fear of his family.

On the one hand his mother is friendly towards me, making me clothes and voicing her support for me doing what works for me as a mother. On the other hand, she went and bought plastic toys for DS after numerous conversations about why I do not want DS playing with plastic toys. While this is not the only example of what I find difficult in her behavior – it does illustrate just where the difficulty lies. My values are foreign to her and therefore not worthy of her respect. I think in her experience I am just being difficult and I should compromise for the sake of family unity and good feeling. It seems that she has a fundamental issue with respecting my choices. Sneaking plastic toys into DS’s toy box is not exactly open communication.

And on the other family front, while on holiday in South Africa I had the strong sense that I need an apology from FIL. It is almost a year now since him and his wife laid into me for not vaccinating my son. When it became clear that I was not giving into their pressure  – they kept attacking my intelligence, reasoning and choice from any angle they could – despite me having broken down in tears as I tried to breastfeed my son. They kept attacking me through my tears. And for that I am not sure I can forgive them, unless they were to ask for an apology. The last year has shown this general lack of respect for my choices to be pervasive and all inclusive. Our choices are constantly questioned and ridiculed.

Now, neither with my MIL nor my FIL would I expect a fundamental change in their personal beliefs or values. I could not. I do however expect my choices to be respected. And I expect to be given the space to be the best mother I know how to be.

An observation made by our therapist today was that our therapy has not been so much about dynamics in our relationship, as much as finding a way to manage our relationship with DH’s family. I think that is true.

So, our way forward – regardless of whether we choose to move away from the family or not, is to talk to both MIL and FIL. This is a big big deal. Both need to at least know that I have been hurt by them and that I am asking them to respect me and my choices, even if it goes against their beliefs/expectations. At best I might actually get some of the support I need, at worst I will have faced off a ‘demon’ and DH and I will be freer to move on.

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Fish out of water

I am sure I have alluded to the difficulties with my IL’s, particularly one set of them. FIL and his wife, and particularly the wife.

It’s not going away.

Step MIL (SMIL) does not approve of any choice that I have made as a mother/parent. From the birth through to where DS sleeps, vaccinations and what and when he eats is all met with the most scornful and biting disapproval and not so passive aggressive jibes. In my mind she has come to embody the *anti-mother*. She is highly distressed and offended by breastfeeding, convinced babies need to be left to CIO and not manipulate their parents, and that infants require a diet of meat, white flour products, sugar and dairy products. And let me point out that this is a woman who is a MD who works with diabetic patients. Our relationship has become strained to say the least. I react in the moment of conflict with her with silence, and then let loose at DH with a long list of words describing my sense of frustration, hurt, dislike of this woman: bully, disgusting, revolting, despicable, slimy, underhanded, unctuous, arrogant, ….. the words that flowed so freely today are now missing…. Yep, I do not really like her and for some reason that keeps tripping me up she gets under my skin each and every time.

And then I try and conjure some sympathy and the people around me just do not get it. I think she has some real problems with my choices as they threaten her and her choices. For someone who is so anti sleep sharing, I find it hilarious that her large dog crawls into her bed each and every night…. and it’s also a bit sad. Babies are supposed to be trained to sleep alone and dogs are allowed in bed… whatever. To me it is f*cked up.

And I am just having a crappy time with IL’s in general. MIL and her husband, while being emotionally very much there for us, think I am totally barmy for wanting to eat organic whole foods and beleive that it is a ‘personal taste’ choice that I am making. In their world,  I should be prepared to compromise on food. Somehow, in their reality, when you choose to drink OJ or apple juice, so you make the same decision if you choose organic or pesticides… it’s a matter of personal taste. And this frustrates the hell out of me. I get branded as this extreme individual who doesn’t like to compromise, and the people branding me just have no clue. It makes me hopping mad it does.

Gosh, how I wish I could find more people who didn’t freak out at the term ‘organic’ or ‘wholefood’ or ‘complementary medicine’ or ‘environmental’. I am really really tired of having to do what I know is best for my family while the people around me snicker behind their hands and feel oh so comfy on their high perches looking down on me and my choices. Inform yourself people. Ya’ll don’t even know what ya’ll are talking about.

I’m off to look for a comfy pond.

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Honestly

I have the coolest relationship with my DH, or I think so anyway. We are still in couples therapy and while we have felt like maybe it has run its course, today was one of those sessions where you walk out beaming and in love and so sure that all will be OK…. it’s great to have sessions like that 🙂

We got into couples therapy after repeatedly banging our heads on the metaphorical wall of ‘The Family’. Essentially his family. And their problem with respecting our choices (which often boil down to my choices) and them not understanding their role. Being our Elders, I guess they felt we had to do what they think is best, which would have sent us down the road of vaccines on schedule, CIO (cry it out), paracetamol for every fever, sleep training, introducing solids as early as possible, TV for infants, diet soda…. and of course copious amount of second hand smoke. I have a step mother in law who is sick to her stomach that DS is breastfed. She is also deeply disturbed that he is as yet unvaccinated and takes every opportunity to remind us how catastrophic this decision is. I have learnt to dislike this woman and essentially tune her out unless she tries to get chocolate mousse (raw eggs, sugar and cream amongst other things) into DS’s mouth – in which case boundaries that are very clear have to be drawn.

Boundaries that DH is uncomfortable setting, well  *was* uncomfortable setting. Hence the success of our therapy process together.

What I had been wanting to write about before I got sidetracked by my issues with my IL’s (I have 2 sets), was how we were talking today about DH being more convinced by things I say that come from my emotionally honest place. When we think about going out the two of us for a romantic dinner and show, I get all stressed out thinking about DS in the care of IL’s and freeze. At least this is my experience. And I go on a tirade about how DS cannot be in second hand smoke and I don’t want him left to CIO and what if he is fed some mousse? When what I maybe really aught to be saying is: “I am not ready”. This seems so simple, and yet it is so hard for me. I immediately go to places where I feel I have to justify myself, I do not feel that it is enough that I am not ready – I have to have lots of reasons that ‘cannot be refuted’ in order to feel OK with myself…. The irony is that my emotional reality is probably the only thing that cannot be refuted. But I do not want my emotional reality to be up for discussion and inspection by anyone other than myself. I do not want there to be an opening for anyone to tell me that my reality is the ‘wrong one’. So I guard it tenaciously, and amour myself with lots of reasons (irrefutable ones if possible 😉 ). Hmmmm, perhaps this is something that requires some more thought….

So, I am not ready to leave my child with anyone other than DH. I have yet to find someone that I trust with our parenting philosophy. It’s as simple as that.

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Being Pregnant

Me hours before labour started

Me hours before labour started

A bit more about me.

I have pretty much always dreamed of being a mother and I was hugely excited when we fell pregnant and was then pretty miserable with all day sickness, until….. BLISS:

I loved being pregnant once the sickness was over and I think I was pretty much just glowing the last 5 months. I just felt so good and was so vibrant.

I started my pregnancy under the care of a woman whose eye make-up took my fancy… yes, not a very good criteria to choose your gynae. The relationship ended when she made some snarky comment about me not doing all the ultrasounds that are recommended by the Ministry of Health. I moved around looking for doctors on my HMO and finally gave up and went private. I wanted to enjoy my pregnancy and not spend it worrying about the next test and the next results. I felt good and I felt like my baby was doing just fine. No need to be doing a gazzilion tests. (Here in Israel there is a culture of doing every test available as it is in the public health basket of services. And people feel more in control I guess, or worry less, I don’t know. It doesn’t suit me)

The choice of where to give birth was the next challenge both DH and I had to overcome together. How to find a birthing environment we would both be comfortable in. I wanted a home birth with minimal intervention, DH wanted a hospital birth with doctors keeping a close check on all developments and all emergencies being covered for.

We interviewed home birth midwives, doctors and looked into hospital birth details. To be honest, I was terrified of giving birth in a hospital. I was pretty sure that the hospital staff were not there to ensure I had the birth that I wanted – their job was to make sure my birth experience fitted into the hospital ‘best practice’ idea of a ‘normal’ birth. Working in a large hospital, I knew how insignificant the patient  is when the doctor makes a decision. I did not want to be on the receiving end of that.

I guess the deciding factor for me was when DH and I were in the Ante Natal classes and I asked about needing to go to the loo and having a monitor on me (in the back of my mind I had plans to escape into the bathroom and give birth unassisted in the locked room if the hospital staff were not cooperating – yeah, not wildly realistic, but this was the only way I could envision giving birth in the hospital). I was told they would bring me a bed pan.  From this I understood that the monitor’s needs would be more important than mine and finally had the courage to tell DH that I would under no circumstances be giving birth in the hospital.

So, despite the enormous cost, we signed up with the birth cabin gynae…. and I subjected myself to far too many Ultra Sounds with this techno doctor ready each and every visit to measure my developing boy…. but I decided to let that slip – I was going to be giving birth in a cabin with a birthing pool and an amazing team of doula, hydrotherapist, gynae and my husband. No monitors, no change of shift, no medical students, no pressure for an episiotomy, no rush to fit onto any graph…. YAY

All through our journey of deciding where to give birth, I had 2 sets of in laws. One set who were very supportive of our choices, even though the choices were very unfamiliar to them. And one set (both MD’s – one a professor of medicine and the other with a Masters in Public Health) who were a bit apprehensive about not giving birth in a hospital setting – apprehensive enough to tell me that I am risking my child’s life –>giving birth is more than just my personal experience!!!!

Anyway, we had decided and we were happy with our choice. My parents live in South Africa, making them an 11 hour flight away. It is hard.

Other experiences being a pregnant woman. I had dreams of friends who were pregnant…. very cool. I also rediscovered knitting, and knitted a ton of baby things…. and kept myself educated on issues around being pregnant and giving birth. And I discovered the Mothering Magazine and discussion board. Both these discoveries revolutionised my life. I no longer felt like a freak in mainstream surroundings. Other people also aspired to live a wholesome life making informed decisions. PHEW

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