Well, I got an email from Ruth on Christmas, talking about their day and still not acknowledging that we had invited them to spend the holiday with us. I’m wondering now whether she was offended by the invitation; they want very much to keep Christmas away from Cricket. Both of their extending families celebrate Christmas, so it’s a bit complicated—they did spend some time on Friday with Nora’s mom, but they didn’t stay for major Christmas activities. In some ways I’m sympathetic to Ruth’s goals (and I do believe that this decision is driven by Ruth, as Nora is not herself Jewish, although she attends services with Ruth). If I am lucky enough to parent one day, I won’t want my kid to have electronic toys when s/he’s little. Yes, this is out of step with the culture, but I find them annoying and kind of depressing—I like the toys that require more input from a kid. (And for whatever reason, I don’t find this inconsistent with my love of videogames. Shoot, I love movies, too—but no tv for the baby!) So while I am going to be frustrated sometimes by the effects of her anti-Christmas policy, I have some respect for the decision.
I haven’t responded to her email yet—this is part of a conscious (and possibly lame) policy on my part. I have been treating her like a friend, albeit more carefully; I almost always respond to emails within a day, then wait for her response (usually a week to two weeks, although sometimes only a day or two). Now I’ve decided that I need to build in a little more turnaround time—nothing drastic, just three or four days—in part to help me remember the distance that exists between us. I am trying to think of us, for now, as in more of a business relationship. I know that this is in part a lame attempt to keep from having my feelings hurt again, but I think it might be a better model for me to use than friendship. In business emails, I am polite, friendly, and usually enthusiastic: this is appropriate. I guess I feel like my new assignment is to keep being the Good Birthmother ™ with Ruth and Nora, and be more genuine and complicated in my feelings outside of those interactions. My therapist says that you can only keep up the Good Birthmother ™ act for so long before you have a little breakdown, and I suspect that at least in my case she’s right. So I’ll segregate that part of my life as best I can, for my good and theirs.