Home > grandmothers, motherhood > The M-I-L thing

The M-I-L thing

So we co-sleep. The Child is lovely and perfect in many ways, but she’s a crappy sleeper and for the first nine months of her life, it was impossible to get her to sleep for more than 20 minutes unless she was in very close proximity to a person. So we co-sleep. And for a long time, she took her nap in my arms.

I know that’s counter to everything all the books (except Dr. Sears) say, but it was a matter of necessity. Ten 20 minute naps hampered my already-limited functionality as a human being. So I held her and took naps with her or read or just watched TV and had some necessary downtime.

This bugged the crap out of my mother in law.

And she felt the need to bring it up every time she saw me or my husband or my child. Everything from blunt but understandable, “You shouldn’t do that, that’s bad for her,” to bizarre nonsequiters like, “My parents abused me by holding me and now I have insomnia.” (HUH?)  It was relentless and began pissing me off. I tried everything from smiling and saying “Thank you, now how about that game last night, huh?” to “Thank you for your advice, we’re trying it our way,” to a somewhat more blunt (and nearly rude), “You’ve said that a couple of times, yes. We clearly disagree.” And yet she brought it up every damned time!

The last time she was up, I was putting The Child down (she is napping by herself but still not putting herself to sleep yet) and the M-I-L started with it again. She sighed, tsked, and said, “I know it’s none of my business–”

“You’re right. It’s not,” I snapped. 

“…but I think—” as if I hadn’t said a thing.

“You’re right. It’s not!” I spoke with a more stern and somewhat louder voice.

“…that you ought–”

You’re right!” I shouted. “It’s not any of your business!”

I hate to be rude. It’s against my basic programming. I really hate raising my voice, especially to an ‘elder’. But fuck, in my house, she speaks to me like that?!

There was a moment of awkward silence as she finally shut up. But, never one to get a ‘hint’, she then says this: “You weren’t around when my sister was visiting were you? Her husband told a funny story about how if her son could get out bed, walk into their bedroom, and ask in perfect English to be nursed, it was time to wean him. My sister totally spoiled her kids.”

I did not slap her. I did get up and walk out of the room, to prevent slappage.

And she hasn’t been invited back to my place since. I have seen her, but briefly. On one level, I feel bad. The Child is her only granddaughter. (She has two grandsons.) She really wants to be involved. But on another lever, I think: “Well, I can disrupt my life and the lives of The Husband and The Child for her to visit me for a weekend, eat my food, criticize my child-rearing skills, and generally get in the way. Or I can not invite her and spend a nice lazy weekend with my family.”

I mean, the choice is pretty obvious.

The thing is, I know she thinks I’m freezing her out deliberately. And now I am — sorta. But before that last incident, I was the one who would nudge The Husband into making plans with his mother, I would coordinate the ungodly mess that is any family even with the In-Laws, I would say, “You should call your mom tonight and let her know how The Child is doing.” Now I’m just not making the effort.

I feel bad. Really I do. But not bad enough to make plans to visit her on Mother’s Day.

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Categories: grandmothers, motherhood
  1. Raise Hell
    May 5, 2007 at 7:56 am

    “So we co-sleep.”

    I first read this and thought “Oh no, that’s bad” but then I continued to read.

    “but she’s a crappy sleeper and for the first nine months of her life, it was impossible to get her to sleep for more than 20 minutes unless she was in very close proximity to a person.”

    You do whatever it takes to get some sleep.

    “I know it’s none of my business–”

    “You’re right. It’s not,” I snapped.

    “…but I think—” as if I hadn’t said a thing.

    “You’re right. It’s not!” I spoke with a more stern and somewhat louder voice.

    “…that you ought–”

    “You’re right!” I shouted. “It’s not any of your business!”

    Oh my god. My own mother is like this. I’m very sorry.

    “…fuck, in my house, she speaks to me like that?!”

    I agree. Even if you are coming over to my house for intervention.

    “preventing slappage” and saying fuck off during or after slappage, you’ve chosen the high road.

    ” feel bad. Really I do. But not bad enough to make plans to visit her on Mother’s Day.”

    Why are people always messing with momma bears and their cubes then act all surprised when they get malled?!

  2. karriew
    May 5, 2007 at 11:22 am

    Can I come slap her?

    As you know, I do *anything* to make sure I get some sleep. I let Max nap in my arms too when I was little, even when I desperately wanted to have that nap time alone. He goes in phases where he is able to fall asleep alone, and then again, out of nowhere, he needs one of us to lay down with him.

    And a little secret? He’s almost three, and every once in awhile, he will doze off in my arms, or in his carseat and instead of transferring him to a couch or bed, I’ll sit down and just hold him. Even though his limbs are all akimbo, and he’s heavy enough that my limbs start to fall asleep. I know my days of being able to hold him while he sleeps are limited. Suddenly, he’s all little boy, and almost no traces of baby.

  3. May 5, 2007 at 9:55 pm

    Eventually, she will realize that if she wants to see her grandchild she will keep her mouth shut.

  4. May 7, 2007 at 9:05 pm

    Raise Hell — Thanks for the support. Just curious — why did you get nervous when I mentioned that we co-sleep?

  5. May 10, 2007 at 12:35 am

    Huh. Lila will turn 4 in July, and she and I still co-sleep. Chris sleeps in her bed most nights, which is where any rare action takes place… I know. I need to work on that one. But seriously, they’re gone and off to school and think you’re a dork before you even know it. I just don’t see what the big deal is. Now my son? He co-slept for a little while, but by the time he was 2 or 3 he needed his own space to kick and thrash.

    My mom is the one who asks her leading questions about whether or not her granddaughter is sleeping in her own lovely pink bedroom yet… I just say sometimes and leave it at that. But she’s never been mean about it, only “concerned” and trying to be helpful. Once I told her that it wasn’t a topic I wanted to debate, she let it go for the most part.

    Grandparents are funny… sometimes funny ha-ha, sometimes funny strange.

  6. Raise Hell
    May 10, 2007 at 3:51 pm

    Jamanda. I’m in a relationship with a guy who has a child and the child never slept by herself for the first 4 years of her life. I felt like I was living with a roommate and not my boyfriend. When she was at her mom’s place they slept together because mom had issues of being lonely. If the child did not have mom or dad by her side to sleep with, she would go into fits of rage and anxiety until she made herself puke. Later on (to ween her off of co-sleeping) the boyfriend would go back and forth between our beds all night and that would wake me up. My mom thought I loved to co-sleep with her. I hated it and later told her. She didn’t believe me. Every co-sleeping situation is different and yours seems healthy to me. I am a royal bitch when I don’t get enough sleep so I understand. You go do what you gotta do girl!

  7. Flo
    May 24, 2007 at 2:11 pm

    We co-sleep too-we’ve been told that we’re “damaging” our children by my fil. Good for you-someone who can’t respect you in your own house doesn’t deserve to be invited back, relative or not. I mean, we’re assuming that your mil IS an adult, and as such, has the ability to control her behavior and comments, if she would like access to her grandchild.

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