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Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Necessary Action

I'm on "vacation" this weekend with C and his family at their beach house.  His parents hadn't seen Eliza in a while and I thought I could make it through a weekend without any dramatics.  I should know better.  I start work tomorrow and didn't want to send Eliza off with C to his folks without me.  I thought I could be a grown-up and make it through one weekend.

Unfortunately, I am such a screw-up that I didn't.  I realize I am only human and my relationship with C is so unfortunately bad, of course I'm going to mess up.  It's impossible to pretend in close quarters that he and I get along.  His parents love Eliza and she is having a fantastic time here.  I don't belong here, I'm not really wanted here, I shouldn't be here.

C's mother has been perfectly welcoming to me.  She has her agenda with Eliza, and though I don't agree with a lot of what she does, she is Eliza's grandmother and she loves her.  She is much healthier than my mother, she tries to make us all happy and she wants to have a relationship with her granddaughter.  The beach house is beautiful in a wonderful town with a boardwalk and rides.  It's a little paradise for Eliza.  I wanted to come here and enjoy my daughter at the beach.  C's mother also wants to enjoy Eliza at the beach--the problem is, she wants me to go away.

Now I have to preface this by saying, she doesn't want me gone all the time.  She just wants her moments with Eliza and she doesn't want me to interrupt.  The problem is; I love being with Eliza so much I do interrupt.  We all went to the beach on Friday and I gave Eliza some time alone with her grandmother by the waves.  But she was having so much fun, I had to finally approach them to be a part of it.  I'd already told C's mother they'd babysit Eliza the following night and they could take her for to the bookstore in the morning.  I figured we could all enjoy her together on the beach.  For the most part we did but if Eliza and I were playing in the sand, his mother would come up with a toy and say, "Come over here."  Little things, manageable things really, but it feels like a competition.

So yesterday rolled around and C started to act like a jerk.  His parents took Eliza into town and C spent the morning with his brother and brother's girlfriend.  I worked while everyone else was out having a good time.  C's parents brought Eliza back for her nap and I'd hoped to take her to a local water park for the afternoon.  She didn't want to go.  C had been nasty to me all day and finally I exploded and told his mother we didn't need them to babysit after all.  I know this was stupid and wrong for me to do.  I don't want to put her in the middle of our shit.  But I didn't want to spend the evening with C.  

Eliza decided she wanted to go to the beach with C and her uncle and "aunt" and the three of them took off for the beach, leaving me with C's mother.  She was in every way kind to me, didn't bring up my outburst and helped me get out a bike.  I had a great bike ride but I missed my daughter.  I knew she was having a great time at the beach and I longed to see her.   I enjoyed the ride and tried to make the most of my time without her.  

When C returned, his mother encouraged him to include me in his plans with his brother.  I refused, saying I wanted to spend the evening with Eliza.  His parents were taking her to the boardwalk rides and even though I knew they wanted to do this without me, I'd be happy to be the third wheel, watching my daughter have fun from afar.  I don't have a good time with C.  I don't enjoy his company.  I know it's awkward and it makes his family uncomfortable.  I know my presence now makes everyone unhappy because C and I don't get along.  This is his family.  We are not married.  

C finally convinced me to go out with him by saying I'm so on top of Eliza, I deny everyone else the chance to have a relationship with her.  This is not entirely untrue.  It's not that I don't want others to have time with her, I just enjoy her so much.  This is part of the reason I'm returning to work.  I know I have to get a life in order to allow her to have one.  

His mother was thrilled to have Eliza all to herself.  She said repeatedly how much she has to have time with Eliza without C or myself around.  This is a bit of an alien concept to me.  We don't act like this in my family.  While I'm sure both my parent relish time alone with Eliza, it is not forced upon me whenever I'm with them.  I am extremely close to my grandmother and we saw her once a year.  I don't even think she and I did things alone together until I was older.  My family would never say, as C's mother has said to me, that Eliza acts differently towards them when I'm not around so I have to give Eliza time with her alone.  I don't have a problem with this if I've got something important to do.  However, on my last weekend with her before I return to work, it's hard to let go.

And this is the necessary action, letting go of my daughter.  I went out with C and we had an okay night.  His mood swung back in the wanting to please me mood.  Whatever had been bothering him before had disappeared.  I am not blameless--I freak out about his mother and her eccentricities when I should not complain about them to C.  She's not going to change and as much as he defends her it probably bothers him too.  But I would have much rather been on the boardwalk watching my daughter smile and wave from the rides then with him.  

I missed her so intensely while I smiled through dinner.  Usually I enjoy going out, having an adult night but I'd hardly spent any time with her during the day and let's fact it, C doesn't really want me around.  And even if he did, we're past the point of saving this now.  I don't belong here.  And yet I came so I could be with her before I returned to work.  I came so she could have the wonderful weekend she's having and I could be a part of it.  

I know I have to leave and I know that I will.  But how will I handle entire weekends without her?  Weekends where she's happily jumping in the waves with her grandmother and father while they all rejoice in my absence?  What kind of life will I be able to give her alone?  She doesn't have beach houses and siblings and healthy grandparents in my life.  I'm afraid she'll go for a weekend and decide she doesn't ever want to come back to her crappy life with Mama.  And then there's the other issue of how much I'll miss her because I don't have a life.  

I have wanted things to work with C for so long for this reason--my inability to spend blocks of time without her.  This is the way it is for split and divorced parents; they shuttle the kids back and forth.  C will go on to have a new girlfriend, one whom Eliza might relate to and love.  I am 40, in a terrible career, virtually ignored by many of my friends because people fall into busy lives.  

This weekend proves that I can't stay with him.  I can't put his family in the middle.  He is their son, they love him and see him as faultless.  To be honest, I find it shocking that his mother is so open about time with Eliza without her own son around.  My father used to say how much he wanted time alone with Eliza when she was littler and didn't respond to him.  Now that she's more into him, he seems to really enjoy the times that we're all together.  As my stepmother said recently, "Your father is your father first.  When he saw Eliza hit you, he was really upset."  So I don't really know how to take C's mother being that she's so different from my own family.   Tonight as we left, C's mother was in the driveway with Eliza saying "Who are you going to go on the ferris wheel with first?"  When Eliza didn't answer, she asked again and again.  Finally, she offered the response she wanted.  "You'll go one the ride with Grandma."  Eliza repeated this statement and C's mother hugged her, elated.  It's no big deal, but I find it funny and a little bit creepy.   I think her heart is in the right place but it does take some getting used to.

Like I said, I need to get a life so my daughter can have one.  I need to do something with myself so when she's happily enjoying her time on the ferris wheel with people who don't love me, I'll live.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I wish I could help you somehow. I suppose it will get easier with time. Transitions are hard and you're going through some big ones right now. I just wish you didn't have to.