Read Part 1 HERE
Over the years, my mother has developed a very close bond with my daughter, partly just due to physical proximity. However, more & more, I've felt that she occasionally "forgets" that I'M Princess' mom, not her. She has cut me down with things like, "Oh, that must skip a generation" when something about Princess is good... and "Oh, she must get that from her father" or "she must get that from your father" when Princess does or says something my mother doesn't like.
Recently, as she has since Princess was 7yo, they were overseas on an intergenerational trip (to Australia this time). Now, most of you know that I signed her up for Youth Cheer (which is through our local high school) back in May (I think?). Every year since she was 3yo (with the exception of the two times her bio father intentionally blocked me from taking her -- thank you to our judge for overruling him), she's gone to GrandCamp. This is a cabin camp for three days in August, hosted by my mother's church. I found out while they were overseas that Cheer Camp is the same weekend as GrandCamp.
A few days into their trip, I got an email from the president of the Cheer/Football League regarding Cheer Camp, uniform fitting, parent meeting, etc. I sent him a response, asking if Camp is mandatory & what they'd be doing. My original intention, as with most things concerning her, was to ask Princess which she'd prefer to attend. I was planning on waiting to bring all this up until they returned from Australia.
I then got the medical release form emailed from my mother (forwarded from the church). I sent her a response, telling her "We may have a problem..." and explained about Cheer Camp. Her email back to me? "... M******* is aware that she can't let C*** down a second time." I said, "She can if she has to... we'll discuss it when you get home." I was HOPING that was the last of it until she got home (since that's what I just said)... but no. She couldn't let it go.
Multiple emails, and some (by my interpretation) not so nice comments -- about my parenting, my parents, etc -- later, we agreed to talk about this stuff & more, when she returned. I told her that for the remainder of their trip, she was not to discuss this stuff with Princess (she had shared the emails).
Then, I sent Princess a message: "I was originally going to wait to talk to you (& Mimi) about all of this, but since Mimi has shared her emails with you, and refused to let it go until you both returned, I had made a decision - you'll go to Cheer Camp. However, if what Mimi says is true, and you want to go to GrandCamp instead of Cheer Camp, I would like you to tell me, in your own words (not hear it from Mimi). I'm not sure what Mimi is saying to you, and how she's wording things, but I sincerely hope she's not guilt-tripping you again. You need to make this decision based on what YOU think/feel/want, not what Mimi thinks.
Things to take into account before you make your decision:
1. This is your, & your alone, decision to make. I will back whatever you wish to do.
2. Cheer camp is not mandatory, but will be an important bonding experience for you & your team.
3. You made a commitment to Mimi (& C***) to attend GrandCamp.
4. Mimi can get her money back if you don't attend GrandCamp, but Youth Cheer Camp's cost is covered in my fees and I cannot get them back.
5. There will be a lot more of these types of decisions you're going to have to make as you go through middle, and high, school. Some will be easier than others.
6. According to B**** (President of the Cheer/Football Association), "They will work on routines and cheers during camp. The High School coach may even include stunting but I am not sure." As a new cheerleader, the more practice you get, the better.
7. I spoke to D**** and she said, "C*** knows you & M******* are trustworthy" and "She's 4yo, the world doesn't revolve around her." She also asked if you were going to GrandCamp next year, and if you weren't, her & L*** can start a "sisters with Grammy at Camp" tradition.
I also want you to know that I am going to have that talk with Mimi that I told you I would. But, before I do, I want to talk to you about my plan. So, it will wait until you both return."
After picking them up at the airport, we dropped my mother off at her condo & stopped at my studio to drop off the chair I bought (had to exchange the IKEA chair I originally bought because I accidentally bought the square-based one, and I needed the swivel-based one). Princess ran upstairs really quick to see all the work I'd done so far. On our way home, we discussed her choices for camp with pros & cons, and I asked what else she wanted me to bring up.
Tuesday, after I was done with a couple morning clients, we had our talk. I brought up a lot of things... but mainly, I needed her to back off a bit. I have never felt like she deserved the title of "mom" (not something I ever intended to say to her, but I had to get it out); that was my stepmother's role in my life. I felt that what she said about my upbringing was a cut-down toward my parents (it wasn't; she truly feels guilty that she wasn't around for my childhood). I also brought up that she needs to remember that Princess is MY daughter... I may allow her to have a say over most things in her life (because Life is, afterall, mostly a series of negotiations & decisions), but the final decision is MINE.
My mother did not grow up with grandparents; this role is new for her. So, I explained that while Disneyland Parenting isn't acceptable, Disneyland GRANDparenting *is*. Princess doesn't need to feel she *has* to spend time with her extended family; she should *want* to. She also doesn't need to be in the middle of things between people who love her; she needs to know that, in the end, at least until she's 18yo, her parents (Ace & I) have the final decision to everything.
I also set some new rules for my studio (it is no longer a drop off or pick up spot for paperwork, packages, etc -- it is a place of business, not a mail drop), for mom spending time with Princess (I am not a taxi service), and for dealing with Princess as a teen and me as the mother of a teen (her school & afterschool activities come first, fun with Mimi should not be expected, sometimes activities need to be canceled, etc). No more rude comments about my parents, or my parenting.
I fully anticipated arguing, yelling, and a lot of crying. I am thankful that it didn't happen that way. There was a little bit of crying, but I really felt that the talk went well; that my mother was receptive to what I had to say. My hope now is that she can continue to respect the boundaries that I needed to set; for my own sanity.