Anybody who knows me can attest to the fact that I like to talk; most of the time, I’m good at expressing myself. If you were to say, “That girl talks a lot,” it wouldn’t be an insult, it would be a statement of fact.
But after what happened on Thursday March 14th, I was at a loss. I didn’t know what to say and I didn’t know how to say it. However, it’s been several days and I am now going to attempt an an adequate and cohesive expression of my thoughts.
On Wednesday evening around 6pm, I got a surprise phone call from a relative. He and his family were in town and wondered if I wanted to bring RJ for a hotel swim. Unfortunately, I couldn’t because RJ’s bedtime was 6:15 that evening. They said they would stop by the following morning for a quick visit before leaving town.
The wife of the relative has very high standards of cleanliness and (even though I didn’t have to) I went into overdrive cleaning the house. By 9am, on the following morning, the house was spotless, the boys were both bathed and dressed in matching outfits and I was dressed nice (with makeup even) and had tea and cookies ready for serving.
We waited and waited and finally I had to put JP down for a nap at 12 noon (he had been up since 6 and was starting to scream). Then the relative called and said they were on their way. I said, “Okay see you soon, but JP is in bed.”
When they arrived at my house at 12:15, the wife of relative asked, “Where’s JP?” I said, “He’s sleeping. He was up at 6 and I couldn’t keep him up any longer.” She said, “Oh, I’ll just go wake him up.” I said very clearly and emphatically (as if I was speaking to RJ), “Relative is joking because she KNOWS what it’s like to have a child who needs naps!”
Apparently what I said was perceived as a joke because wife asked RJ to show her where JP’s bedroom was. She and RJ went upstairs and woke JP up and brought him downstairs. He was kind of whiny and grumpy but overall, he was in a good mood. And why wouldn’t he be? He just had a 15 minute power nap!
You read that correctly: someone came into my house and woke up my baby on purpose.
Wife of Relative said some stuff along the lines of, “Will he go back to sleep later? Should I not have woken up him? He seems a little grumpy, does he want to go back to bed?”
I said, “He’ll be fine for now, but around 4 o’clock he’s going to crash into a mess of hysterical overtired baby and I’ll have to keep him awake until a suitable bedtime hour. Then he’ll probably sleep poorly and be up several times tonight. And there’s going to be lots of crying.”
All that DID happen. I’m the mom, I know my own child.
This was dismissed with a, “Well, we’ll be out of town by then so it won’t matter to us!”
Then I shut down my brain and went through the rest of the visit on auto-pilot. I don’t even know what we talked about. I just kept repeating, “I can’t believe that just happened” over and over again in my head. I could hear the blood pumping in my ears and my heart was beating quicker than normal.
For the rest of the day (through an already planned play-date for the kids), I was operating in a daze. When the kids were both in bed, I poured myself a glass of whiskey and put on some mindless television and tried to figure out what happened. Why did I freeze in place? Why couldn’t I be stronger and stand up for myself? Why did it make me so angry?
First of all, as to why it made me so angry? Put simply: the audacity. I don’t know any other person who would walk into another person’s house and wake that person’s child.
If it was my own mother, and she was visiting my brother in Alberta…and she was going to visit his (not yet existing) children…and she was only there for an hour and that hour happened to be naptime….she still wouldn’t wake the kids to see them!
But that situation would never happen because my mom would have planned a trip and let everybody know she was coming and made sure to visit long enough to see the child in waking hours. The point is, you cannot walk into someone else’s home – where you are a guest – and take over. Unless specifically asked to do something, just be a guest! You are not the proprietor of the home or the parent of the children who live there.
Which brings me to the next point: Call ahead. I don’t mind spontaneous visits but the visitors have to realize that I have stuff going on all the time. I can’t just change my children’s schedules without consequences (those consequences being days of grumpy behaviour and poor sleeping) so if you want to drop in, you have to accept that you might be coming in the middle of a nap and you might not see the kid. If you do want to see the kid, there many helpful tools that enable communication, such as the phone and email.
When the wife of relative woke up my child, I felt as if I myself was a child. She is my relative and she is my elder. I have known her since I was quite young and it’s difficult to get past the mindset of “child/adult relationship.” But we are both adults now and we are both mothers. The power dynamics should be equal. However, in my home, the power dynamics should have been shifted in my favour because, as I said, it was my house. It is not fun to be made to feel like a child in your own home around your own children. It was a belittling and demeaning experience.
Which brings me to why I was unable to say anything or address the incident when it happened. This is tough. Part of it was shock. I was literally rooted to the floor unable to move as I watched wife of relative go up the stairs to my son’s bedroom. I could NOT believe it was happening and I couldn’t move. Also, I’m not particularly quick witted in situations that demand confrontation. Because of the delicate relations many family members have with this particular little group of relatives, I find it almost impossible to say what I really think for fear of causing even more drama. There have been plenty of past incidents that dictate careful words and careful behaviour in order to maintain peace. Why do I want peace maintained? For my Grandmother. She’s almost 90 and worries about her children and grandchildren, she does not need another worry.
So, talk to me? What do you think about what happened to me? Has anything similar ever happened to you? What would you have done in my situation?