I was really surprised about the range of emotion that I received yesterday in comments... and I just wanted to say thank you to each and every one of you who took the time to comment about the crisis my family is going through.
This is s difficult situation to be in. Yesterday I mentioned that I can hold a grudge, and honestly... I can be a little hard hearted at times. Having grown up the way I did I realize that my own reactions and emotions can be a little extreme, and this is why I tend to look for examples around me as to what a NORMAL reaction might be.
My first instinct (as I said in the original post) was to basically crush the MIL- body and spirit- after what she did to Anna. I wanted to hurt her so bad. I was so angry and protective of Anna when the MIL threw the water in Anna's face that I wouldn't even let the MIL touch her. The MIL kept saying over and over"You're OK" to Anna and I yelled as I shoved her aside, "Yeah, she's FINE!". I wanted to pummel her with my fists and at the very least my words, but my first priority was to see to my child. I was so angry that the MIL took the opportunity to hurt her own flesh and blood, and it was conveniently done while neither John or I was looking.
While helping Anna get her dry clothes (Anna, the big girl that she is, insisted on having alone time to dress herself), I discussed with John's cousin's wife what I WOULD do to her when I went outside. My options were to be childish like her and dump a bucketful of water over her head, curse her out, and then to ask her if she would like to hold Emma's head under the water next- in the kiddie pool.
As I looked out the porch window before Anna and I went back outside, I could see the MIL drawing into herself... and though she will probably never admit it, I could see that she realized she had made a grave mistake. I sat Anna down with me on the porch and cuddled her, then told her that I didn't want her anywhere near her grandmother, to stay away from her. "Nana did something that was very wrong, do not go near her at all... I just don't know what she will do next." With wide eyes, Anna nodded... then went outside with me.
To avoid what would surely end in me being arrested for assault, I steered clear of the MIL. I feel bad now in a way for not having said anything in my child's defense... but if I had to do it all over again I don't know if I would do much differently, because as I told the MIL's sister a few days ago...
I bit my tongue BIG TIME on this situation and DIDN'T thrash her and humiliate her like I wanted too because frankly, she had humiliated herself enough as it was. I could see it since she didn't utter a word to anyone, even when she left with the BIL.
Also, I knew at the time that I probably would go nuclear and not be able to control myself. Getting thrown in the slammer for possibly assaulting (in one way or another) the MIL wouldn't have done my children any good, or me for that matter. the fact that I even have that in me scared me, so I did what I could do- which was discussing the situation with Anna the next day, and John and I agreeing that she couldn't see the kids anymore unless she was supervised every second... and keeping my distance from that woman.
What will be interesting is what happens in the next weeks. The MIL's birthday is coming up and I told John that I am SURE that she will be trying to get back into our good graces purely for selfish reasons: she doesn't want to be alone on her 61st birthday. Well, I'm sorry, that's not going to happen.
I told John this morning about the overwhelming response that she shouldn't be allowed to see the kids anymore and I realized I hadn't really asked John his opinion though I had discussed this with Anna, and we hadn't discussed how I felt either. John told me he is gong to try to read your comments today because he is really interested in reading your responses. He also said that if he was deciding on his own he wouldn't let her see the kids at all, he would wait as long as possible before letting her near our kids again... but he knows that he can be hard hearted sometimes, so he feels that the decision that he and I came to is a good one. Lets let Anna decide when she is ready to see her. Not putting too much pressure on the kid but letting her know if and when she is ready to see her grandmother, we would call her and tell her that she could come over for a supervised visit.
I know I have a hard heart about things too so knowing that I wasn't the only one who wanted nothing more than to be done with her forever, now I don't feel so bad. Also knowing that my husband feels the same way I do is a comfort. I know that if he felt strongly enough, John would firmly tell me that in no way would she ever see our kids again so he isn't as "hard hearted" as he thinks. :) I think it's good to know that sometimes both of us can be extremists, but in this instance we are waiting to see how Anna is going to respond.
I don't know if never seeing her grandmother again is the answer, but I definitely know that being with her alone isn't an option. AT ALL.
If it were me, my mother would have made me see my grandmother, and probably would have made the incident somehow my fault... twisting things around to make it sound like it was my fault and that I was a bad person for not wanting to see her.
Though I would never do that to Anna, in contrast I am letting her know that she has a voice, an opinion. She has choices. On the other hand, I am responsible to make sure that my 6 year old is making an appropriate decision. We don't want to tell Anna that she isn't allowed to see the MIL (it's not like she killed anyone, for Pete's sake), and risk Anna being angry with us later for not letting her see her grandmother. On the other hand we have to do what is safe for our kids... which could be supervised visits, depending on how the MIL reacts. We are trying to judge the situation, and amend the rules so that they are appropriate for the situation.
I think John and I both know that the underlying thought here is that what the MIL did was wrong, and the thing that bothers us the most is that we KNOW the MIL would NEVER do something like this to Emma- or least she wouldn't do this to Emma until she too has fallen out of favor when she gets older... which makes the situation even more confusing. BUT we are trying to find a balance in this situation that is appropriate.
A lot of what will happen next will depend on the MIL. There is a remote possibility that the sky will open up and the angels will sing... and she will receive divine intervention, and realize how much she hurt her granddaughter. And realize that she will have to do a lot to regain Anna's and our trust- if ever. But I seriously doubt this will happen. She'll do what she always does which is to avoid confrontation in hopes that we will eventually act like nothing happened. Not this time.
So far the MIL has been a selfish cow. She hasn't shown any interest in Anna's feelings and hasn't attempted once to regain trust. If I had been an idiot like that, I would have been over the next day bearing gifts and apologies... doing whatever it took.
It's been 3 weeks today since the MIL hurt Anna and not a single word. She SAYS she apologized, and Anna says she remembers the MIL apologizing... and it's possible that I didn't hear the apology over the blood pounding in my ears, but I do not remember an apology coming out of the MIL's mouth. The fact that she has made no attempt at all is making things worse for the MIL and my kids. It's not looking good. She has gone this far to avoid seeing both of her grandkids because she doesn't want to admit she has done something very hurtful. 3 whole weeks and she only lives 3 blocks away from us.
3 whole weeks and Anna hasn't asked to see her either.
*sigh* The topic of the MIL's birthday should be interesting. Like I said though... if the MIL continues to act ignorant, she wont be able to see the kids at all.
Thanks for letting me ramble on, trying to explain myself a little better. In the end though, even if Anna never sees her again, I hope that by my own actions I can help my daughter heal- meaning not talking about the situationout of anger in front of Anna anymore. And my point yesterday is that you don't have to reconcile with a person to forgive them. You don't have to be best buddies with someone in order to forgive and move on with your life. I'm not forcing my child to see the person that hurt her, I'm not even forcing forgiveness... I'm just giving her another option. BUT I am giving my child the opportunity to forgive if she can, and IF my MIL can decide to act right, SHE will have an opportunity to make things right with her granddaughter.