My daughter has been progressively been turning more and more towards her grandmother over the past couple of weeks, preferring her grandmother over me, calling out her name at night and pushing me away when I come to take her home. My experience and perception is that my mother in law revels in being favorized and this adds to my experience of dread and shame when I come to take my daughter home and she says no and clings to her grandmother.
It is a very strange – new – experience for me. Because at my core, I am glad that my daughter loves her grandmother. I am glad she has a grandmother that loves her and wants to do what is best for her. My mother in law is very protective of my daughter and as for her faults, they are (from my perspective) minor compared to the joy the two ladies feel for each other.
But at the same time I cannot help reacting, taking it personal and feeling so hurt and rejected. Interestingly enough, I see that the signature of the reaction comes from my memories from having girlfriends as a child, and us fighting over being friends with each other.
What happens within me is that I feel rejected, cast aside, and I start second guessing myself, wondering what I am doing wrong since I am not the favorite anymore. And ultimately at its very worst moments, I noticed how I respond by conceding which is a default mechanism of mine when things doesn’t go my way, and I back down and pull myself away from her, as if saying: “alright, if you don’t want to be with me, fine. Then I’ll pull away.”
But as I did self-forgiveness and reflected on this, I saw how this is the reaction of a narcissist and that one of the lessons I have to learn / stand as as a mother is to love my child fully, wholly, unconditionally, no matter what she says or does – that my love is an unwavering certainty, that I am here no matter what.
Coincidentally the pinnacle of this progression towards favoring her grandmother, happened at the same time as my family, including my mother and sister came to visit. My mother and sister have a strained relationship, and as I observed them I could see how a big part of the problem lies within my mother’s total narcissism, which for some reason is much more triggered when she’s with my sister than when she is with me. She makes everything about her, and she waits for my sister to show her love – something that is totally impossible because she is the adult in the dynamic, at least when one follows traditional family dynamic patterns. To a great degree I am proud to say that I’ve released myself from almost all such patterns, which makes it possible for me to have a relationship with my mother without much expectations towards her being “motherly” as such. Early on I realized that if I were to have a relationship with her, it would to some extent have to be on her terms, and I would have to accept her as the woman she is, not as the mother she’ll never be.
But as I watched how she behaved towards my sister, in a selfish and self-absorbed way, and remembered what that was like for me as a child, I started fearing that this is how I am towards my daughter, and that she’s choosing her grandmother over me, for this reason. But the ironic thing about it is that me taking her preferences personal, is exactly that point of narcissism in a nutshell. And being like that is the last thing I want to be. But it did get me reflecting on where I AM lacking in my parenting, and where my mother in law has strengths that I could learn from.
I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to make my child’s preferences about who she wants to be within in a moment, about me
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to take it personal that my child prefers to be with her grandmother over me, and that she will actively push me aside when I come to get her from her grandmother
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to not see, realize or understand how I’ve contributed to creating a polarized situation where I desperately wants my daughter to prefer me, most likely causing her to be somewhat uncomfortable with me, as she picks up on me not being natural and unconditional with her, and with me wanting something from her, wanting her to be something and do something for me.
I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to feel rejected by my daughter, and take it personally, when she prefers her grandmother over me, when the fact of the matter is that there can be a thousand different reasons why she has this preference, that has nothing to do with me or our relationships
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to make my relationship with my child dependent on her prefering to be with me, and her expressing herself positively towards me, and as soon as she doesn’t I retreat, concede and start backing out of the relationship
I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to create a habit and pattern of conceding almost immediately whenever things don’t go my way
I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to define relationships as exclusive within me, where I have created a belief that someone can only have one meaningful and loving relationship, and as such that a relationship is a scarce resources that must be fought over
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to start second guessing myself when my daughter prefers her grandmother, as though my value and quality as a mother is exclusively determined by my daughter liking me and wanting to be with me – a problem because there is likely to be times where she’ll react to me, which doesn’t make me any less of a good or decent mother
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to make my relationship with my child about me, about her being or doing something for me, that makes me feel a certain way, because that is how I’ve always related to other people – having no stable or solid relationship with myself and not having developed any self-value and therefore tying my value to other people liking me
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to judge my mother for being narcissistic and I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to feel paranoid and afraid that I am towards my daughter like my mother has been towards me and my sister, when I know for a fact that it is not true – and yet in some aspects it is, like in my needing her to love me, but in contrary to my mother, I have the tools of self-forgiveness and self-correction, so I have a direct opportunity and responsibility to change
When and as I see that I react to my daughter preferring to be with her grandmother or someone else, I stop and I breathe and let go of my reaction.
I commit myself to open myself up and push myself to be curious and open towards my daughters preference of someone else, and I remind myself that it has nothing to do with my relationship with her – and I stand back inside myself in the certainty of my love for her.