My in-laws’ recent visit brought home again the ways in which people choose to react to situations.
Martin Luther apparently said that one cannot stop a bird from flying over your head (and maybe even from doing something unmentionable on your head – Martin Luther didn’t say this!) but you can stop the bird from nesting in your hair. I think he used this in relation to sin, but it is true of most things. Especially thoughts. And we all know thoughts lead to actions.
I have always been a glass-half-empty kinda girl. More inclined to see the negative rather than the positive in a situation. At some stage – fortunately very soon after L’s birth – the realization dawned on me that I had to change the way I think. We have nothing to gain from being negative and everything to gain from being positive. And I’m not talking about a cheapskate everything’s-allright-with-the-world-tra-la-la theology. Because everything isn’t dandy. There is a lot of hurt and anger and pain and suffering in this world. But I can choose how I react to it. I cannot always choose how I feel. There are many things influencing that (hello PMS!) But I can choose how my feelings influence my actions.
Through all of this, my mother (and father) has been amazing. They have been praying, pleading, hoping along with me every step of the way. At first, they were the only ones (apart from a few of my aunts) who were prepared to do this. Even D was scared to hope. Slowly this changed.. A little boy with red hair and blue eyes has fought his own way towards his father’s hopeful heart.
D’s parents were/are very angry with me. I don’t blame them. I would probably be too, if I were in their shoes. But what I find difficult to accept, is their apparent lack of interest in their grandson. For 10 months, we didn’t see them. My father-in-law, who is a minister, christened all the grandkids so far. Not only did he refuse to christen L, but he also refused to attend his christening. D loves his parents. I think this hurt him more than they will ever realize. At first they suggested that we institutionalize L. I was so angry about this. I better admit it: I still am.
During their recent visit, they really tried to make up. D’s dad took L a couple of times and tried to get him to sleep. L was uncomfortable and unhappy in his grandfather’s arms. Who can blame him? D’s dad is a complete stranger to him. D’s mother kisses him, (every single time pressing her nose into his eyes that he is unable to blink), but doesn’t pick him up. One night she stood (unasked) with him in his room while I prepared his bottle. I waited and, as I expected, she called out hysterically:
I rolled my eyes and walked to the room.
L, unhappy to be left on the bed, was hyper-extending. His way of throwing a tantrum.
Mother-in-law walked away from him: “I can’t stand this!” she mumbled.
I saw red. I grabbed her, not too gently, by the arm. “Listen to me”, I said. I could see the fear in her eyes and it shocked me enough to calm me somewhat.
I explained about hyper-extensions. She apologized. She said she wants to help but she panicked. I said I understand. Later on she came to watch and talk with me while I feed L. Before, she hated me feeding him in front of her.
I felt so hopeful that things finally were changing. The next day I asked her if she would like to watch a DVD explaining more about our current therapy. She smiled sweetly:
“Just now,” she said. She still hasn’t watched it.
That night she talked excitedly about one of her older grandchildren’s “graduation” from kindergarten. My sister-in-law stays about 5 hour’s drive from them. We stay three hours away. Earlier she was moaning that they are getting too old to drive this far (to us). But now she was gushing excitedly about how important the graduation was and how they were definitely going to attend it. I didn’t say anything. I dropped my head, felt the tears stinging my eyes. Of course a graduation is important to the little girl involved. But so is a christening. And so is getting to know a grandchild. My father-in-law must have seen the hurt on my face. He silenced her brusquely.
Maybe we are making progress, slowly but surely. But I can see the doubt in their eyes which returns at the slightest setback. Every little thing is a revelation to them: “Wow. He yawns. My goodness, he knows it is you! He sees! He turns his head toward sounds!” I get so annoyed. If they had bothered to get to know him, say 10 months ago, they would have already known these things. Why should my son prove to them that he is worthy of their hope. The fact that he is their grandson should be enough to love him unconditionally. Even if he hadn’t be able to do any of these things.
And now that I’ve said all of this, I’m going to listen to my own words of earlier. Of course these things hurt. But I will not allow them to take over my feelings and energy. Because I want my energy and all my love for this:
And it is the last you'll hear me complaining about them. Promise.