When your mother hates you but adores your child..

Childcare isn’t cheap=understatement of a lifetime.

There are two reasons why I consider myself very lucky. One: I quit my job as a newspaper reporter right before I became pregnant and began teaching because a) the business of education fascinates me (policy, history, the politics behind it, etc), b) I love kids, and c) I couldn’t imagine having a baby and a job that required me to go who knows where at a moment’s notice and stay at the office until who knows when waiting for an editor who has nowhere else to be while he takes smoke breaks (because he’d like to think this is still 1965 and he works at The Most Important Newspaper On Earth) and takes his sweet old time deciding if my sentence needs a comma or a semi colon.

Second reason I’m lucky: my mother has pretty much freed up her entire schedule whenever I need it to watch K. I love her for it, but at the same time, I can’t help resenting the hell out of her for it. Are you seriously that ungrateful, you ask? Yes, possibly. But I, like millions of women out there, have always had what you’d call a strained relationship with my mom.

She would die for me—there’s no doubt in my mind about it. But she doesn’t actually like me. She constantly says I “lack roots” (You could say I was slightly flighty in the past…and have no interest in sitting still at long Italian dinners). She has told me my lack of church-going makes me a disappointment in her eyes, which is fair to say, I guess, considering how passionate she has become about Catholicism in her later years. She’s entitled to her opinion, right? One night, however, after drinking a bit too much wine, she blurted out that she was going to tell my daughter a person who doesn’t go to church is going to hell. Hmmm. Is she entitled to that opinion, too? You could say that made me reconsider my daycare options.

But I didn’t. Despite many, many arguments with my husband, we continued to let my mom watch K. The thing is, she may dislike me, but she is wild about my daughter. She looks after her—for free, mind you—in ways I can’t even begin to describe. She trims her hair and makes her homemade fruits and $15 filet of sole dinners and reads countless books to her and has taught her to sing “Happy Birthday” in Italian, and gives her endless kisses and hugs.

The good outweighs the bad. But boy, does it sting sometimes to rely so much on her.

Sometimes when she kisses K good-bye and proclaims, over and over again, “I love you, I love you, I love you,” I wonder if she isn’t overdoing it because she feels she can’t do it with me. Then I realize I’m the mom now and this has to mean I’m too old to obsess over whether my mommy loves me or not.

Still, I wonder how others would handle similar issues with grandparents…

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