Some of the advice has been solid. Some, not so much. Like when I asked if she'd be willing to babysit while I went in for a post-partum checkup.
"You know, Jamie, a lot of single mothers usually have to take their children with them."
"...yeah, but I'm not a single parent. And who's gonna watch him while my I'm being poked and prodded on the examination table?"
"If you were in Africa..."
I look up from my cell and stare at her in disbelief, searching for words that will command respect but not wound her.
My sister-in-law interrupts the exchange, announcing that Langston had smiled before spitting up on her shirt.
A few weeks prior, she's sitting in my living room, quizzing me on L's feeding habits. She asks if I've given him any water. When I tell her no, she launches into a lengthy lecture on the importance of flushing out his system. When I tell her that his pediatrician made it clear that he'll get enough water from the formula and breast milk, she counters with "Well, when I had you I gave you water, milk, and juice and you turned out just fine."
I silently wonder if I'd been switched at birth as I pour her a glass of water.
As my mother has grown older, she--like most folks her age--has long abandoned the filters that bind us in our youth. Diplomacy and tact are no longer necessary because she's old and doesn't give a fuck. Trust, no group embraces their id more than old folks. And there's nothing you can do but suffer through it.
I wish I could say that Langston's arrival has brought us closer. It hasn't. But it has made me realize how hard it must have been for her to raise me on her own. It has made me appreciate her sacrifices and her love, even when she seems hellbent on working my last nerve. It has made me examine (and reexamine) my own choices as I navigate new terrain. And I'm quite thankful for that.