A year ago this coming Saturday, I gave birth to my son. Labor was long, and terrible, and I ended up needing an epidural after 7 hours of back labor. But out he came, fuzzy and aware and 59 minutes into his due date. So, timely, too. He was beautiful and angry. So angry. My first picture of him is 2hours old and laying in my lap with a hospital hat and the ubiquitous blue and pink striped hospital swaddle. And he was staring right at me and scowling, the angriest eyebrows I ever did see, said my mil. And I laughed, cuz under his daddy’s caterpillars was my scowl.
This last year has been tough and good and scary and hilarious. Just as it was supposed to. He is exactly what I wanted, waaay back on the day I cried to my husband and told him how badly I wanted a baby, not knowing I was already 2 weeks in. We’re old. Here in the Midwest most first time parents are in their mid-twenties. I’ll turn 33 on the 12th and my husband will be 35 in November. Not impossibly old, we told ourselves. I feel my age keenly now, I know which knee will likely need replacing first. My husband’s family has diabetics on both sides, and the heart ailments common to African Americans, so he’s already started cutting down on sugar and choosing vegetables over barbecue. Painful here in Kansas City. Lol.
So, here I am, about to start the busy week leading up to a first birthday party, and I know I should be so happy. So proud of all my fatbaby has accomplished. But I’m not. Saturday night we went to my sister’s because she knew she was getting proposed to the next morning and she’d worked herself into a state over her looks. She demanded I drive 30min at bedtime with a sleepy, confused baby to tweeze her eyebrows. I did. We don’t like each other, don’t particularly respect each other, either, but I still care for her, and love her in the way people do who survive disasters together do.
Our mother is a classic clinical Narcissist, and I am the Scapegoat and my baby sister is the Golden Child. I didn’t even know these were things until just weeks before my marriage, when my mother’s casual, calculated cruelty drove my fiancée to take me to a family counselor, with copies of the slyly destructive emails she’d send me in the middle of the night, while she knew I was busy working. Lo- the quiet, furtive shame that dogged me into adulthood was not my laziness, my ugliness, my worthlessness. It was all right there in plain words... all my family’s brokenness.
I’ve been in and out of one-on-one counseling since spring of 2013 and been a lurker at a few online forums for the adult children of narcissists. I have books. I have block lists on my phone and special ring tones for her texts. I’ve managed. And I’ve tried to form a better relationship with my sister for my son and her daughter.
But she’s becoming so much like our mother. While I was trying to perfect her arch she casually dropped, ‘You know Baby is on the Autism Spectrum, right?’ Uh, no. No I don’t know or believe that. And this is the kicker- she’s a highly educated elementary teacher, with dual degrees for early childhood and elementary education. So, she believes she is an expert. While of course saying, ‘While I can’t *say* he’s autistic, I’m telling you he’s autistic.’
Fuck you, cunt.
I am a difficult person. I was a difficult baby, the family joke is that I cried til I was four, and then the spanked the ass off me, and that’s why mine is flat and my siblings’ are bubbly. My personality was compounded by a mother who didn’t want a difficult baby. She had an image in her mind of what a girl should be like, and god damn me if I was anything else. I am *huuugely* antisocial.
My husband is the same, mostly. His antisocial nature is more social anxiety than my social refusal. Our baby is a distilled version of us. He is bright, engaging, hilarious and determined. When it’s just the three of us (and maybe his daddy’s mom).
But he is slow to warm up. He will *eventually* interact with strangers, but his first reaction is usually shyness, or ignoring them entirely. Some he takes random likings to, like the African immigrant lady who works at our Walmart. We *have* to go see his Rose for checkout. A strange man at the gas station, pumping on the other side of the stall got vigorous hand waving for his attention, and then my little dude babbled baby nonsense at him for 5 minutes. That guy was confused, but nice. ‘Maybe I look like someone in your family?’ No, guy. No lightskinned guys with locks come around. He just likes ya.
My son distrusts my family. That’s about it. And I’m cool with that, cuz with the exception of a four year old, I feel about the same way. But that bitch has gotten under my skin. Making me doubt and fear. I hate her for taking away the joy this week could’ve brought. I hate myself for letting her.
I refuse to let my problems be a burden on my child. I will walk away from my child and my marriage before I become my mother. My husband promised me that he would run in the night if I become her and don’t notice. It was a vow we made when we got married, and I believe him.