Why should she have what I never had? was my thought when I saw my daughter nurse my granddaughter for the first time. What makes her special?
This was really why she invited me here. I’m sure she thought she was establishing some kind of mother-daughter bond with me, so I humored her when I accepted. Really I came to watch her screw up, heat the formula too long and fight with her husband when the baby wouldn’t stop crying and fall apart until finally, for once in her life, she needed me.
None of that happened. Instead I came to a vision of the perfect household. Quiet baby. Doting husband. My daughter sitting there, like a queen, nursing every few hours without even letting the baby cry for it. I told her it’s good for the baby to cry, keeps them from getting spoiled, but the little snip told me you can’t spoil a newborn. I bet her mother-in-law filled her head with that nonsense.
If I didn’t know better, I’d swear she invited me here to rub my nose in her perfection. She’s always had to outdo me, tried to be better than me. She refused to nurse from my breast, yet she won’t even pump her milk into a bottle for anyone else to feed the baby. Hell, she holds onto that baby as if she’ll never let her go. As if I never told her about all the times I tried to hold her like that, but she pushed me away.
Well, I’ll show her, I thought, watching her nurse.
I waited until they went upstairs for a nap. Then I pretended I’d forgotten something—I forget what—and asked her husband to go get it from the store. She’s got him so trained to get her water and plump her pillows that he never even balked. Pathetic.
Then I went upstairs. She was sleeping with the baby in her bed, can you believe it? That made it easier to justify what I was doing. If they ever find me, I’ll just tell them I was doing it for the baby’s own good. God knew her mother would’ve rolled over on top of her, smothered her.
By now my daughter has probably been crying for hours, wondering why she deserved this. I hope someone tells her it’s not about what she deserves. I look at my granddaughter, sleeping in her infant carrier on the floor of my car. Five hundred miles from home, and all the kid does is sleep. She must have gotten her sleep genes from her father, because her mother sure never had them. She does fine with the formula, too. It’s better for her anyway. When she’s old enough, I’ll tell her she’s with me because I deserved a second chance a hell of a lot more than her mother deserved her.