I know there are probably some people who think that I try to push my opinions about my mother onto my children.
My son doesn't like her. And while that gives me a smug satisfaction that nears euphoria, I genuinely don't actively seek to destroy his image of her. It's an opinion he's formed for himself, based upon what she's shown him.
Maybe he dislikes her partly because of her treatment of me. I know that when I was young, I felt protective of my mother when I felt someone treated her poorly, or had unflattering things to say about her. Regardless of her treatment of me at the time, I would become infuriated with my precious grandfather when he dared question her parental decisions, or her "party" lifestyle...even if I agreed with him. Curious.
Whatever the reason, my son dislikes her.
And I have tried my best not to influence his decision.
I sat with my daughter tonight, combing thru her wet and tangled hair, and having a lazy chat after her bath. Wrapped in her little towel, I began rubbing her back, and her shoulders, and she slumped over in a lazy heap, declaring, "that feels nice, mom."
So, I told her, "my mommy used to rub my back for me like this, too."
"Yeah, she did. She was really nice to me sometimes when I was little."
I realized then how hard it was for me to say nice things to my daughter about her grandmother. How actually physically hard it was...
"What about when you were older?"
Now, I really had to bite my tongue. I wanted to say a million things. I wanted to tell her that she was crazy and awful. That she was a lunatic, unhinged, and that for every sweet little back rub she offered me, there were a thousand red hand prints on my face, and countless ugly names, and a permission slip for a pedophile to attack me at his leisure, all while she pretended she was a model mother. I wanted to tell her that her grandmother was a useless, mooching piece of shit who cared more about men and money and medicine than she ever did about her daughters, or even her grandchildren, and that she should put that evil woman out of her thoughts for good...
But instead, I said:
"Well, we didn't always get along, but sometimes she gave me really nice back rubs. And she always came into the bathroom when I was sick, and she rubbed my back then, too."
"Ooooh, that's nice! I love Grandma!"
Dagger to the heart. Don't love that woman. Love anyone. Love the mailman. Love the guy who bags our groceries. Love Lindsay Lohan. Just don't love that woman.
But I didn't. Of course I didn't. It isn't my place, and just like my son, I know my daughter is smart enough to eventually see her for who she is. She will. My mother isn't the kind of person who can stop being ludicrous long enough to fool anyone.
Loving her grandmother because she was once kind to her mother isn't the worst thing in the world. And in the end, I get to prove to myself that I don't force my kids to dislike her.