If you remember, I wrote you six months ago about a childhood spanking incident.
I got spanked for not leaving a note telling my mom where I was while she was gone. But I did! My little sister threw the note away. My mom spanked me in a moment of panic when she couldn’t find me.
I never forgave her, and a year later went to live with my dad. I declined a wedding invitation when my mom remarried, and I did not accept or exchange gifts with her. Fast forward almost 10 years. I’m in college now and my little sister urges me to make up with mom.
I do and spend a great summer with mom, her new husband and my sister. My relationship with my mother is going real well, better than I ever expected. I will never be the one to break this peace. My word is good. It’s good now, just like it was 10 years ago.
My problem is my maternal grandmother still hates me. This summer she fussed at me because I “just had to win” against my mom 10 years ago. I never saw it as winning. But my grandma sees the unjust spanking incident as being about this great victory I achieved at mom’s expense.
Grandma is angry I fought City Hall and won. She stopped just short of saying I should have taken one for the team. You would think my mom won an Olympic gold medal fair and square and I stole it from her.
Not that I care, but grandma says I am not in her will. I think money is much overrated. If money mattered that much to me, I wouldn’t be dating my current boyfriend. Again, mom and I are fine. It’s grandma. She argues with mom about me. Is grandma a lost cause?
Renee, can you see the commonality between you and your grandmother? It took you 10 years to get over a spanking. But you’d like your grandmother in 10 weeks to get over the missed holidays, missed birthdays and the pain you caused her daughter.
Your grandmother has a bond with you, but it is one level removed from the bond she has to her daughter. Your grandmother’s 10 year clock began just this summer with your return. The event years ago isn’t what she is holding on to. It is the nine years of pain she witnessed in your mother.
Who do you think bore the brunt of what your mother was going through? Her mom.
Your mom let this go. That says good things about her. But your grandmother lost out, too. Often people get angry when someone close to them gets hurt. Often they are even angrier than the person who got hurt because they are powerless to fix things.
Your grandmother was hurting for her daughter, and because she was powerless, she was angry.
Maybe she needs to fuss each time she sees you. The fussing is for her, not for you. She’d like to kick your ass for hurting her daughter. She wants to inflict the pain on you that you caused your mom. There’s a bit of justice in that.
While your grandmother is grousing, remember she is simply letting steam out of the pressure cooker or helium out of the balloon. Let her vent. Look at this as your gift to her. She is still protecting her daughter.
Eventually she will realize she is repeating herself. When it’s all vented out and the pressure is relieved, you two can rebuild. With the will all she is saying is, “Don’t you know you hurt me, too? I want to hurt you back.”
Time can cure this. Every shared birthday, holiday or summer will be an opportunity to make the family whole again.
Wayne & Tamara
Column for the week of October 17, 2016
Send letters to: [email protected]