quesadilla meltdown

I have two beautiful nieces.  I see them once a year at Christmas because we can’t afford to travel more often than that, and my brother and SIL aren’t interested in air travel with preschoolers.*

When they found out my SIL was pregnant with their third child right before Christmas, my brother called me and said he had something to tell me.  From the tone of his voice I thought he was going to tell me he’d lost his job or that someone was sick — it was definitely Bad-News-In-Hushed-Tones Voice.

He said they were having another baby and he wanted to tell me before our visit so that I would be prepared.  He didn’t want to hurt my feelings.  He had apparently discussed this at great length with our mother and both of them had determined that I am a hot mess who needs to be handled with care.

I think he was expecting me to have a meltdown right there on the phone.  But I really mean what I say about metta, karuna, mudita, upekkha, and I know that babies for them is not the same thing as taking babies away from me.  There is not a fixed number of potential babies floating around in the universe.  I told him so, and yet he kept pressing.

“I’ll understand if you’re upset.”

“This must be so hard for you.”

And I know he was doing his best, trying to take my fucking infertile feelings into account (he probably Googled “how to tell your broken and crazy washed-up failure of a sister you’re having another baby”).  But all I could think, then and now, was boy, he must really think I’m headed for the loony bin to be tiptoeing around this like he is.

This news is not about me.  I hate that it has to be about me, that I have apparently made such a spectacle of being a fruitcake that my mom and brother think they have to give me the padded-cell treatment for major family news.  I hate that I’m having this reaction to what was a very nice gesture on his part.  I hate that they were talking about me behind my back.

So anyway, we went on the trip.  And it was good, for the most part.  My SIL is feeling fine (she who ran a freaking marathon while pregnant for the first time), my brother is a great dad, and my nieces are the coolest little kids.  I was doing great until my brother asked me to make lunch for the kids.  I went into the kitchen and started making quesadillas.

Then my mom came in and it became clear that I really am the Crazy Aunt, Not to Be Trusted.  She looked over my shoulder and told me the portions were way too big and I’d have to start over.

Of course.  Of course I wouldn’t know how much food to give a kid.  Of course I would need to be told how to do it.  I had a little internal freakout, then bit my tongue and started again like she wanted me to.

It’s such a tiny little thing but it cut me right down.  It was so much harder to deal with than the news of the pregnancy.

*They did it once.  The girls had a blast.  My brother nearly had an aneurysm.

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9 responses to “quesadilla meltdown

  1. This makes me sad! I know kids can be picky about what they will eat and how it must be shaped, etc., but…if I can say this without maligning your mother…DUDE! If it’s too big, cut it up! AAAARrrrg! What ever happened to being polite and appreciative of people’s helpfulness?

    As for the consultation over how to break the news to Crazy Sister, it always sucks to find out that people have been talking about you and strategizing about how to deal with you. No-one deserves to be “handled”. I can only hope that the sting of that will fade and leave behind something more positive. After all, this is what we ask people to do (not surprise us with this news). But I guess we shouldn’t be surprised when they bungle it.

    Anyway, you’re not some freak who needs special care, you’re an awesome person faced with an incredible life challenge, and doing great at navigating it. Anyone who says different will feel my wrath.

  2. There’s trying to be sensitive, and there’s almost patronizing. It’s a fine line, and I’m sorry that your brother seems to have crossed it. Kudos to you for being mature about it and explaining your feelings, it’s just too bad he wasn’t hearing it.
    And yes, that’s one horrid thing about being the childless one in a family – being reminded in not-so-subtle ways that you’re not a mom so you can’t possibly know how to deal with children. DH and I get that as well, since apparently there are only 2 kinds of ppl in our families – parents and children. We aren’t parents so we must be silly little kids, and we are never trusted with other peoples’ kids. It seems small to outsiders, but it’s just another bit of salt for the wound, you know?
    Your readers know that you’re not crazy or clueless. 🙂 Hope that, at least, is a bit of a comfort.

  3. I absolutely hate when people act like I have no clue about taking care of babies or kids because I’ve never given birth.
    I grew up in a large family – lots of siblings, lots of young cousins. Was babysitting, changing diapers, watching babies being taken care of all around me. My friends on the other hand, were all from one or two kid families with no real extended family and no experience raising babies, so I had to bite my tongue a few times and not offer them advice (like the fact that you need to burp a baby during a feeding, not just after) because I inevitably would get written off as “not being a mom” and therefore not qualified to have an opinion.
    Sorry your family went all uber “sensitive” on you. I’m sure they were just trying to be helpful…but WOW that’s a little over the top!

  4. No matter what, sometimes people don’t realize what they say can be cutting. Ignore, move on, and enjoy the extra quesadillas yourself!

  5. I was once told at an office birthday party that I didn’t know how to cut cake because I didn’t have kids! Imagine that!

    You handled this whole situation very well. Your family clearly loves you and doesn’t want to hurt you.

  6. That quesadilla incident would have elevated my tone of voice by a few decibels and had me throw cheese across the counter. Good on you for only biting your tongue.
    Your family obviously cares about you a lot to think about how to break the news of another baby coming. But I totally get how that would make you feel like crap. And how much more real it makes the infertility and the impact it has had on you. If they are handling you with kid gloves, then it must have visibly impacted you, enough for them to notice. And how could it not. 😦
    I hope there are happier times with your family members in the near future.

  7. Oh this is painful. Pls tell them not to raise anorexics.

  8. Pingback: deserts, part 2 | ginger and lime

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