Monday, September 01, 2008

Shame

When she was born, we raced to the store to buy the pink Polo dress and teddy bear. It seemed so appropriate that we be the ones to give her that first teddy bear. We held the baby, we enjoyed the time with family, and we were grateful to have been able to see her during that first week of life. Uncle BB and Aunt NGS were so happy.
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Six months later, something has changed. Every phone call is about the baby. We got engaged and his mom was happy, but later on in the same phone call, we were told all about how the baby had her half-birthday and there was a big party. Apparently everyone (but us) was at this party. Later that week, the baby's mother sent us a link via email to pictures from the party. The pictures were all of the baby. Where were the grandparents? The great-grandparents? The aunts and uncles?
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With every passing month, we get more and more pictures of the baby. Just of the baby. The calls home become more and more focused. We ask after the siblings. We get cursory responses before the conversation morphs into stories about the baby.

The siblings are split down the middle. Half are just as gaga as the grandparents. The other half realize that it is ridiculous. The family is not about the child. There has been no attempt to have the child sleep through the night or stay with a babysitter.
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We're visiting. We barely walk in the door and they ask, "don't you want to go visit the baby now?" Uh...no? We'd like to go to the bathroom and drink some water first.
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Wedding planning turns nightmarish after we realize that not having children means that the baby can't come. BB's mom cries. We relent to allow her to be there for pictures. We are the bad guys. The family is whispering behind our backs that we hate her. We don't hate her. We don't want her to be the center of attention.
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A routine doctor's visit leaves BB's mom in the hospital. We rearrange our schedules and go to be there pre- and post-surgery. The sibs do the same. An even dozen of us crowd into this small hospital room. She gets out of surgery; it has gone well.

We can hear the baby squealing down the hall. "Ahh..." says the grandfather, "here comes who she really wants to see."

I see BB exchange a look with his youngest sister. The pain and shock going through their faces hurts my heart. I squeeze his hand. He looks off, into the distance. I don't know what he's thinking, but my heart hurts for him. I look at his sister. Tears are streaming down her face. She quickly wipes them away and as the baby comes into the room, we all but forgotten.
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BB starts deleting the baby pictures. We get them every week now, it seems.

We aren't going back to visit until the wedding. We decided that maybe they were just seeing too much of us. The child is over at the house during a phone call one night and we had to get off the phone because she is screaming so loud. The rumor among the sane members of the family is that she is brat. The rumor among the less rational members of the family are that she is adorable.
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Even the grandparents start describing her has stubborn and willful.
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At our wedding, she was allowed for pictures. The mother was forced to leave immediately after the ceremony because the child wouldn't stop screaming in the hotel room.
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This past weekend was a big family reunion. The baby and her parents couldn't make it. I put together a big album of wedding pictures. We went through it, discussing how adorable some of the aunts and uncles look in the dancing pictures. Literally, as soon as we closed the album, she says, "you want to see something really cute?" and pulls out pictures of this child. Who is now fanged with two pointy teeth and has an unfortunate hair growth pattern. I smile, say nothing, and quietly pass them on to BB. He smiles, says nothing, and quietly passes them back. She notices, of course, and continues waxing on about how adorable this child is.
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We are resentful of this child. She made our wedding tense and she has made my husband angry with his family. We are deeply ashamed that we are resentful of an eighteen month old child. But with every family gathering, it gets worse.

We made a decision on our six hour drive back today that we are going to let this go. We will try to enjoy the time with the child because she is at a fun age and she should be fun. We are going to be optimistic and enjoy her. This is my purge of the anger and bad feelings and I will never speak of it again.
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2 comments:

  1. She really DID seem kind of bratty...

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think your feelings are understandable. Babies are cute, but other people exist and have feelings too.

    ReplyDelete

 
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