This afternoon, we went to visit my mom and stepdad to celebrate my stepdad’s birthday. Soon after we arrived, my mom said to my wife “we’re so used to having J around now that we tidy everything that she might get into away before she comes”. This is one of many statements my mom has made lately that are very clearly meant to assure us of her exemplary grandmotherly-ness and of J’s hypothetical safety if we do eventually leave her with them.
Which we haven’t done. We’ve never left J with anyone for more than 1/2 an hour. Why? Well, in the beginning it was definitely us being overprotective. But for the last year, we’ve mostly really wanted to. So why haven’t we? Because I don’t trust the person who most wants us to leave J with her (my mom), and I feel too guilty asking someone else to babysit J when I won’t leave her with her own grandma.
My mom loves J. So much. It isn’t that I don’t trust her intentions, which is what I feebly said when she accused me of not trusting her. I know she’d never hurt J on purpose. But what went mostly unspoken was what I don’t trust: her judgment. And in the event of her poor judgement leading to some awful place, her honesty. If J, for example, hit her head while my mom was taking care of her, I don’t 100% trust that she’d tell me, because she hates being blamed for anything so much that she can never accept responsibility. Which wouldn’t be as huge of a problem, except…
Except that when J was 3 months old, I specifically asked my mom if I could leave J with her for a minute while I left the room (everyone else in the room was a child). A minute later, I saw my mom leave that room, and when I went to see what was going on, J was alone, on a waist-height bed. When I confronted my mom, she said that she asked J’s ten year old cousin to watch her and that she should have known better, and when that answer didn’t fly, that I should have specifically told her (my mom) not to leave J with the kids.
Except when J was about 7 months old, and my mom was alone with her on her second floor balcony, my mom dangled her over the balcony to “show her to the neighbour”. Half an hour before that happened, my mom had complained of being so dizzy that she couldn’t stand up.
Except that I routinely find prescription medicine pills that have been dropped on the floors at their house, and when I mentioned that as a safety issue, my mom angrily responded that her home is so much cleaner than mine (true, but I don’t leave pharmaceuticals on my floor).
Except today I discovered a bottle of super strength cleaning product WITH NO CAP ON, AT FLOOR LEVEL in the “baby proofed house”. And when I freaked out about it, all she said was that she didn’t think that J could have got to it.
I’ve felt sick about it ever since. I feel super stressed that J could have perhaps taken a slug of cleaning liquid, bad about the fact that I’m always making my (unwell and depressed) mom feel bad, angry that she’s so undependable in so many ways, and on a pettier level, increasingly frustrated that this dynamic is getting in the way of D and I from having a date night. Or a date morning. A date anything that doesn’t have a pit.
Nothing will make my mom change. Even the prospect of spending more time with her granddaughter, which is probably very high on her list (though at this time, I think it’s equal parts desire and power struggle). So where do I go from here? What would you do, internet friends?