What Happened To The Woman Who Raised Me?

by E. R. Catalano
Originally Published: 

My daughter is my mother’s first, and likely only, grandchild. Because of this she dotes ’til it hurts, and then she digs deep and dotes some more.

This weekend was a case in point. My mother was over and we were going out to dinner along with my sister and her husband, both older and wiser, i.e., childless. The occasion? My mother’s birthday. Now guess if even though it was her birthday, she brought a gift for her granddaughter. If you said yes, you guessed wrong.

She brought four gifts. And when our reservation at the restaurant was late, guess who shelled out more money for another gift at the toy store next to the restaurant?

My daughter was overexcited and hungry, the one-two punch of misbehavior, so The Husband and I had to keep disciplining her, reminding her of her manners, threatening to take toys away, etc. Meanwhile she continued to slide around on the banquette, whining and making repeated demands for chocolate milk and pasta.

None of which fazed my mother, leading me to wonder: Who was this woman?

If I’d behaved this way in a restaurant as a child I would’ve been in so much trouble. Where was the lady who wielded her wooden spoon with authority, promising to smack my sister and me on our respective fannies if we didn’t shape up and stop acting like hooligans?

The answer: This woman was now The Grandmother, not The Mother.

Her job was to sit back and relax, enjoy her birthday, her meal, and the antics of her granddaughter. My job was to be the killjoy disciplinarian.

And that’s fine. Really it is. I don’t expect my mother to discipline my child. However, I also didn’t expect all the blatant enabling, and part of me wondered if she was getting revenge.

See, after all of her shenanigans, I told my daughter she couldn’t have dessert. Not only didn’t she deserve it but I was honestly afraid of what an influx of sugar would lead to.

That’s when Grandma said, “Don’t worry, sweetie, you can have some of mine.”

Uh, wut now?

Sure enough, when the desserts came and my daughter didn’t get her own plate and started to cry, Grandma came to the rescue, shoveling chocolate cake and ice cream onto her plate.

Grandma even spooned the final large bite into my daughter’s adorable gaping maw when the little eating machine wearied.

Alas, the bite was too big, so she was forced to spit it out into Mommy’s hand, freeing her mouth to complain about the bite and its bigness. Then, surprise, a millisecond later, she said,

“My tummy hurts,” and put her head down on the table, the picture of suffering.

And then, the woman who gave birth to me, who taught me my manners and scolded me for misbehavior, this same woman stood up, moved beside my daughter, and started massaging her back, as I looked on, in appalled silence.

Related post: The Magic of Becoming Grandparents

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