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June 25, 2014

Why My Son Will Never Know My Mother

Having a baby forever changes a person, duh. But it’s not just the parents who suffer undergo identity transformations, grandparents do too. When I see my mom with Dylan I think, who is this lady? Because growing up we had a little thing called “rules”, and there were a lot of them. In fact, there was an entire room in the house that my sisters and I weren’t allowed in because it was “too nice” for us grimy peasants children. Shoes on the couch? Psh! Unless you wanted to risk a double amputation, forget about it. Those were the days when talking back guaranteed a smack to the face and you feared the wrath of mom’s disappointment. “Don’t even think about it” were words to live by and eyes in the back of her head was a real phenomenon. And yet Dylan will never meet the legend I know to be my mother because that’s his Oma; they’re two different people. 

Now-a-days, my mom dotes on Dylan and makes excuses for his unruly behavior. Sure, he’s only a 1 year old and that in itself comes with a lot of passes but HOLD UP - he’s allowed in the dining room? I STILL don’t dare! But my mom isn’t the only tyrant gone mellow yellow. Last week when my mother-in-law took my husband and I to dinner, I realized that I too will never meet the legend that is my husband’s mom. Throughout our 9 year relationship I’ve heard countless stories of the strict household he grew up in. From what he’s told me, it sounds like both of our moms were militantly possessed with superior skills in mind control and could hit you with the “one glare” that’d stop you in your tracks (or knock you out). 

So as we sat in the booth of a steakhouse we had no business being in with an exhausted toddler whose bedtime was 2 hours past due, I watched the disaster adventure unfold. There was crying, fussing, squirming, relentless begging, pleading, “up, up, up?” And as I practically died of embarrassment in between the trips outside, my mother-in-law urged me to let it go. “Just enjoy your dinner Mija, let him cry.” But what about all these nice people that came out for good food and a fun Friday? Shouldn’t I consider their experience? “They can leave if they don’t like it, he’s a baby.” Whoa dude- either my husband is super dramatic about his childhood or this is not his mother. 

After dinner we went back to the house and she went on to tell me that I need to lighten up and let the baby be a baby; that this is the age of exploration and everything for him is a new experience; that Dylan isn’t trying to misbehave, he’s just being a baby. LOL! Though I agree with the bulk of what she said, there’s also a gray area known as a nice restaurant and a brat baby. And yet Grandma was such a good sport! At one point during dinner, a frustrated Dylan picked up his food and flung it across the booth at grandma’s face. She hardly flinched. As my husband apologized and gave me the glare that I translated to, “WATCH YOUR KID, IDIOT,” she shrugged and pulled the “he’s a baby” card. 

Hmph…surely this cannot be the same lady who was feared by my husband’s best friends, one of which voluntarily cut his metal-esque hair to appease her; and there’s NO WAY this is the same lady that scoffed at a stick hanging out my husband’s leg at 11 years old, saying, “I told you not to climb that tree. Deal with it.” Somewhere in between parenting and grandparenting, a personality abduction takes place. And you know what? It’s a beautiful thing. Mom said no? Call 1-800-GRANDMA.