No Ladies’ Weekend, more thoughts

(Scroll up for the results of the early riser question.)

This is a response to this post.

Sarah said, "What a thought provoking question. I love how the way we see this
letter provides a little view into our own heads. A mini personality

That really seems to hit this one on the head! I think we all brought our own assumptions to this situation. (And I was hoping to avoid more hurt feelings about my comments about attachment parenting gone to extremes. I wish I’d been able to express it the way Another Reader did: "We practice Attachment Parenting, not Attachment Mothering." And of course AP doesn’t cause any more identity problems in mothers than other parenting styles do. I thought that would be obvious in what I wrote, but I guess it wasn’t.)

One thing I didn’t mention in my original response, but which informed everything I wrote, was the part in the initial question about how S and her husband are always fighting and how even when A and Nikki were in her town for a visit S still only wanted to stay home and watch her daughter play.

S and her husband are constantly fighting and since she never wants to
leave her daughter we end up spending the whole weekend sitting around
her living room or doing only toddler-friendly activities.

I don’t think this is healthy. First of all, if S and her husband fight so much and so constantly that they can’t even control it and be civil for a weekend in front of other people, that’s not a good sign for her marriage. And it also sounds like she really doesn’t trust her husband for even a few hours with her daughter (even just to play with the daughter while S and the friends are drinking coffee and talking in the kitchen). Why?

My hope, and what I based my answer on, was that she’s lost herself in the mothering thing. Because the other scenarios–that the father is abusive, that S is having mood problems or other problems that are causing her to misjudge her husband–are not good at all.

Many commenters said, and I completely agree, that S just doesn’t seem to want to spend a weekend with her friends. Now that Nikki’s reported back that S made an excuse not to come even when they asked her to bring her daughter along, it’s pretty clear that she doesn’t want to hang out with them anymore. She could be so consumed by motherhood that she doesn’t feel like they have anything in common now. She could be having such problems in her marriage that she’s feeling like all her emotional resources are going to that and she just can’t make the effort. She could feel like A and Nikki hurt her feelings in some way and she doesn’t want to make the effort to see them. She could be feeling too poor to keep up with Nikki and A. Who knows? But this is a separate issue from what’s going on with S and her daughter and husband.

A couple of people brought up cultural issues about leaving your child. I definitely think this should be taken into account. I was raised in the midwest and (in my family, at least) the idea that anyone would leave a baby is preposterous and that anyone would leave a toddler for anything that wasn’t a medical emergency is rare. (And yes, Elizabeth, I think things are different on the East Coast, from what I’ve observed. And here in NYC all bets are off. There are people who leave 8-week-olds with a nanny to go off on a vacation cruise, and there are people who wouldn’t ever separate overnight from a 10-year-old.) But it also seems like such a normal assumption to me that people would just say outright, "I don’t feel comfortable leaving her" instead of offering up excuses about the father not being able to handle the child, etc.

NumNum and a few other commenters brought up the fact that it’s no one’s business but the parents if and when they leave their child overnight. Very true. It just seems like there’s something going on with this story that just doesn’t add up. I was emailing with a commenter about this, and we both agreed that there was something about this story that’s staying with us, and that it just doesn’t make sense.

That’s what sticks with me. A sense that there’s something not right about S’s situation. Not that she doesn’t want to leave her daughter, or that she doesn’t want to leave her daughter with the grandparents. And not even that she doesn’t really want to spend the weekend with her friends (as the update from Nikki tells us). It just makes me worry about her relationship with her husband, her self-image, and her mental state that she’s making excuses instead of saying "I just don’t feel like I can take this time right now" or something else more direct.

I hope that this is one of those situations that turned into a game of Telephone and got twisted in the retelling. Otherwise, the daughter could be in the middle of a bad situation with S and her husband.