My parents and my younger brother drive up from Baltimore. They pick up Camille at the airport in Philadelphia, and then make the trek to St. Francis. Kenyatta hasn't dilated much since they first brought her in. She shifts in and out of consciousness. Camille calls to tell us that they are just moments away. I'm scared because the last thing I want is a fight with Camille in the maternity ward. I think back to some advice my dad gave me after the baby shower. The time there with Camille had been uncomfortable. Once again, I felt judged and I told my dad as much, hoping for a bit of affirmation. He was unsympathetic: Kenyatta's her whole world, man, and you've gotta understand that. I could see it in how she looked at her daughter. Kenyatta is everything to her, and you really need to respect that.
Yet I remember my father's own attitude toward his in-laws. For most of my childhood, my maternal grandmother's relationship with my dad was polite and cold. I never saw them fight, but I also never saw them have a conversation that extended beyond the level of "How's the weather?" And my dad seemed unwilling to do much to repair it. He would not ingratiate himself in the slightest, and never believed he had to prove that he was worthy enough to be with my mother.