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Family calculus

I’ve written about this before, but only in passing. But I feel certain that I’m not the only Mama with this problem so I’m hoping someone has a suggestion. Or twelve.

My parents are married, happily, and live mere moments from my brother. (My brother lives with his girlfriend-soon-t0-be-fiancee.) The Husband’s parents are divorced and each remarried to a lovely older woman who has a family of her own. The Husband’s sister is married with a pair of boys.  She has her in-laws to contend with. For extended families, The Husband has all four grandparents still alive! Yay for longevity genes! He’s also got a variety of aunts and uncles who live spread around the country. I have a small handful of relatives in N.J. and another fistful in S.C.

Now, I love all my family and my husband loves his. We are thrilled that they want to spend time with our Darling Daughter. But let’s crunch some numbers here.

There are, on average, four weekends a month. Let’s say that we lump our siblings in with our parents and that leaves only three main branches of the family — my parents & brother, The Husband’s mother & sister, and The Husband’s father (and sister). Let’s say each of those branches gets to see The Child once a month — the minimum, they say, that they will be happy with.

Okay… that’s three weekends a month! Add in a friend event once a month — a wedding, a birthday party, a bat mitzvah — and suddenly we have no downtime. At all.

That doesn’t include the time spent with the extended families — The Child’s great-grandparents nag us constantly about seeing her. I haven’t laid eyes on my N.J. relatives in almost exactly year now and that was for a funeral! Don’t ask about my Carolinian relatives.

On The Husband’s side, his family makes sympathetic noises: “Oh, that’s hard. I remember how hard that can be! Especially when you’re working around a nap schedule!” But they continue to push.  My family — okay, to be fair, my mother — simply argues the facts with me. “Well, that’s just one day out of the weekend. You have the other day to relax.” Or, “Well, if you came here, you could leave her with us and go see a movie.”

In addition, we commited the unforgivable sin of moving away from our families. Never mind that my mother moved from S.C. to N.J. when she was 23 to ditch her family. I’m a horrible daughter for having moved two hours away from her. And since she’s “an old lady” then I should drive and visit her and it’s inconceivable that she drive and visit me. And The Husband’s family seems to think that if they drive two whole hours they should spend the night. And of course, they can’t afford a hotel that often, so they sleep in our library/dining room/ad hoc spare room.

Never mind that we used to drive two hours, visit one set of relatives, drive another hour, visit another set of relatives, and then drive home all in one day.  Never mind that we used to do this three or four times every two months.

All they care about is that they don’t get to see The Child.

I need a way to stop this so I don’t get inundated with  passive-agressive crap all the time. I just don’t see how!

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Categories: grandmothers
  1. Wendy
    August 6, 2007 at 9:44 pm

    The only suggestion I have is to be firm. Tell them that you all need time to yourselves. Also, that if they do choose to come see you then they must stay somewhere other than your home. It must be clear and firm.

    The biggest thing is for you and your husband not to feel guilty. I believe that once you get married that is your family priority. Then maybe set up a few times a year to see your extended family.

    If they truly wanted to see you and had your best interest at heart they wouldnt lay on the guilt. Once I started showing my MIL that none of her guilt bothered me, it died down a bit. Notice I said a bit. I refuse to be held captive by other people’s hang ups.

  2. August 10, 2007 at 1:23 pm

    Is The Child old enough for sleep overs? Or at least to spend the day without you? It might be worth your while to drop her off at the gp’s. They get one on one time, and you get a child free day (or weekend!)to do what you want with.

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