An email from my mother in law is in my inbox. I haven't replied because I have to wait for the angry feelings to go away first.
She spent some time with my youngest recently and was commenting on how much fun she'd had *stab stab stab* being with my "darling little girl". *stab stab stab*
She asked what I thought my daughter would like for her birthday, what her interests are and what size she wears *stab stab stab* and then went on to remind me that a) I had once "chided" her for sending a gift card b) which had been my husbands idea c) since we'd just moved out west and didn't know what stores were there. Uh, ahem, really? Let's talk about this, mother in law dear...
First of all, my husband hated gift cards for children - said that they were thoughtless and showed that the sender couldn't be bothered to know the recipients interests or put forth the effort to give a gift that showed any care or connection. At the time I bought into it and agreed with him - this was information we shared during our dating and first holiday years. As our children came along he was disgusted on a personal level when a gift card was given to them. What is a good wife to do? Smooth it over, shine a positive light on it, make it feel as good as possible, and subtly discreetly refer to the gift card vs gift giving concept in a neutral non threatening way at some time in the future. Check. Secondly, the situation she was referring to happened almost 6 years ago - SIX YEARS - when my "darling" daughter was six years old. A) 6 year olds are pretty easy to buy for and B) after six years I think it's time to let it go.
But... whatever. I'm easy to blame, I make a good scapegoat for the dissolution of the marraige: I'm not there to defend myself and I never could stand up to their expectations anyway; so it's ok for her to *stab stab stab* me with rubbing my face in my separation from my daughter and to bring up old grudges as a way to set a precedent for what a horrible person I am and have always been. Whatever helps her sleep at night.
In the meantime, a more real reply to her email would be this:
What my daughter wants most isn't something you can buy "grandma". She wants me. She wants to be happy and secure and safe, and to know that her family is not divided and in conflict, tossing around accusations and lies and trying to hurt each other. She wants her grandma to help her see her momma, to talk with her daddy about how to make this better, to come and visit with her and do some of the things daddy can't or won't do. Come, grandma, do some laundry or cook a hot meal, bring her to visit her momma an extra time or two just because you know it's the right thing to do. Want to go shopping and buy her something? Invite momma along and share it all together. Want to make her little heart shine and grow? Do what you think you can't: interfere, intervene, intrude. Or, you could just shrug your shoulders and send a gift card. Whatever helps you sleep at night.
I don't care if you send a gift card or a gift or if you even consider my words or not. I am still the mom.