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Doting Grandmother

Maybe I just need someone to tell me I'm not a complete psycho. Maybe I just need to vent. But either way my perfectly wonderful, always pleasant mother in law is on my last nerve. I have a terrific relationship with her, so I never in a million years would have imagined that she'd be such a nuisance to me.

Until her grandson was born.

She is over a few weekends a month. Not a big deal, totally normal, probably even welcomed for some mothers trying to get a few things done. But that's not me. I'm a first-time mom who took 3 months maternity leave & negotiated a work-at-home situation for the first year so I could SPEND TIME WITH MY SON. He is not in the way. He IS my way. I work him into every part of my day, from chores to work to grocery shopping.

When she's here, I don't see my son. All day long I hear: "Wanna come to Grandma?" as she's taking him out of my arms. Seriously, if it wasn't for breastfeeding I would never get to hold him while she's here. Additionally, I have been - for the last 3 weeks - trying to get him on a routine & when she's here, it all goes out the window. She also buys tons of clothes for him, so I never have a reason to buy anything for him myself. (I know, I have a lot of nerve complaining about not having to spend money.)

I didn't say what I was feeling was rational. In fact, part of me realizes it isn't. But reason often exits the stage with sleep when you're a new mom.

I love her. I do. But I'm so close to saying something I'd really regret because I'm exploding with rage inside.


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May. 23rd, 2008 06:45 pm (UTC)
My blind guess would be that she has no idea she's getting on your nerves. She's probably just trying to help. As awkward as it will probably be, you have to tell her that while you appreciate her help and are glad she gets to spend time with her granchild, she has to take it down a notch.
May. 23rd, 2008 06:48 pm (UTC)
My MIL doesn't live far away, and while I love her, she was VERY overbearing too. I ended up saying something to her, that I cannot possibly stand it when she (or anyone) takes my daughter out of my arms. And I also told her things like not to excite her before a feeding (distractible baby), not to yell and scream to amuse her when she has to go down for a nap (because my MIL would try every trick in the book to get us to stay longer and have my daughter stay awake so she could play). I'd always say it nicely, and in a "You know, I'd rather ... because..." way. It worked.
But even with that, every time I think of her I want to murder her. It's totally not rational, cause she is absolutely awesome. I guess it's a territoriality issue for me. MY daughter, don't want to share ;)
May. 23rd, 2008 06:52 pm (UTC)
Precisely. I recognize that some of what I'm feeling is territorial issues. Yours & mine should do lunch.
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May. 23rd, 2008 06:51 pm (UTC)
i completely agree with this comment.
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May. 23rd, 2008 06:49 pm (UTC)
Well, the thing is, she probably doesn't even realize that she's driving you crazy, and until you say somthing to her, she never will realize it.

In her mind, she think's she's really helping you out. She thinks she's coming to give you a break and let you get some rest.

Is this her first grandchild? If so, that probably factors into it also.

As far as the clothes, somethings are better left unsaid. Besides that, you can never have to many baby clothes. Just take them, and enjoy the fact that she cares enough to buy things for him.
May. 23rd, 2008 06:53 pm (UTC)
I had the same exact problem with my MIL when my son was a newborn (actually it is still that way at almost 2). But as he got older it didn't bother me nearly as much. I am honestly glad I did not say anything even though I really wanted to. I just said something to my husband and he would make it a point to extricate my son from her arms every little bit so that I was able to spend time with him. Luckily, the breastfeeding was always a good excuse. I am glad I didn't say anything because now that he is a toddler and always on the go, she will be the first to run after him and after days and days of being the one to run after him, I greatly appreciate the break!
May. 23rd, 2008 06:59 pm (UTC)
It sounds like this is her first grandchild.

honestly, she's probably just excited and wants to spend as much time as she can cuddling him.

Please don't take offense, but you do need to let go once in a while. When I had our first I would get all upset if things weren't done just hte way that *I* would do them. I realized that it doesn't always have to be my way. It was very hard for me to give up control.

I'd say have a sit down discussion with her. Keep it along the lines of "we are trying to establish a schedule for him. This is what we are trying to do. Naps are from blah to blah and blah to blah, we usually do meals at blah and blah times.". let her know what the schedule is and you just might find she's sticking to it. Instead of just saying "hey it's naptime" out of hte blue. Include her in the schedule. She sounds like an agreeable person, but not having been part of the discussions between yourself and your husband she honestly has no clue. So take a moment, step outside and take a deep breath, then go back inside and talk with her and you might surprise yourself.

Also, admitting to her that you might be overreacting, and you realize that, but you can't help it and ask for her to be patient with you as well.

May. 23rd, 2008 10:12 pm (UTC)
Not her first grandchild, although, yes, you are right, one would think it was.

You are absolutely right on. I recognize that I have to relent control & I have handled the "routine" talk in exactly the diplomatic way you suggest. I come to rant on LJ because it has made no difference.
May. 23rd, 2008 07:01 pm (UTC)
Can you have your husband have a *tactful* conversation with her, presenting it as "his" idea, so as not to cause strife between the two of you? Whenever I have issues with his parents, I go to my husband and let him deal with them, because they just get upest with me (but I don't have the world's greatest relationship with them, either). They just take it much better coming from him. For some reason, they need to think it's HIS idea.
May. 23rd, 2008 07:02 pm (UTC)
P.S. I haven't bought any clothes for my oldest since I got her first Easter dress, and I have yet to buy a single item for my youngest. I don't mind, though, because I still get to pick them out. They take me shopping with them, I just don't have to pay, lol! :-)
(no subject) - wineswirl - May. 23rd, 2008 10:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 23rd, 2008 07:02 pm (UTC)
It's going to get worse if you don't speak up.

"I really appreciate all the help you're giving me but my son and I need to bond and I've take this time off to do that. Of course you're still welcome here, but I need some time alone with him for the next little while."

If you aren't comfortable saying it, email it or write it in a note
May. 23rd, 2008 09:08 pm (UTC)
While I really like the suggestion of what to say, I really really disagree with writing it in a note or email, especially email. This needs to be a face-to-face conversation.
May. 23rd, 2008 07:04 pm (UTC)
Take the night and think about something rational to say to her. He is YOUR son and things need to be done your way.

You need to tell her how you feel. Maybe she's visiting too often? Perhaps not nearly so often. Yes it's great she loves her grandson and wants to help - but if you don't want it, you should put your foot down. Does your husband/significant other have weekends off? Perhaps you could reasonably use that as more of an excuse of new family time.

As for the clothes, I snarked at my MIL and own mother becuase they bought like 20 onsies in the 0-3 month size. Then bought more and more and more. I didn't get a chance to use most of the clothes because we didn't NEED so many. After that one snark, I just thanked them for their gifts and put them in the dresser. I didn't feel bad if my daughter didn't get to wear the clothes; instead I just stored them for baby #2.

Whatever you end up doing, just try to breath a bit and think about what you're going to do and say. It's hard, it's kind of a turf-war type deal. I give my MIL one day a week with my daughter. That's it. My mom would have a similar relationship with her, but she doesn't like things on my terms... (ie, my mother can't understand that when I say NO CHOCOLATE, it actually means no chocolate, rather than give a whole chocolate bar to a 14 month old. "it wont hurt her.." urgh..).
May. 23rd, 2008 07:08 pm (UTC)
We have the same issue with my mom. She doesn't listen so I can't trust her alone. My MIL and I don't get along, but I can trust her. My kids go over every Sunday from abut noon to 7pm.
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May. 23rd, 2008 07:06 pm (UTC)
If I were you, I'd use some of that time that she's over to go out and have a little you time, if you're okay with that.
May. 23rd, 2008 10:20 pm (UTC)
You'd think that would be the first thing I'd do, but I really, really, really enjoy my time with him. I don't feel I *need* me time. It's too early for that. In another few months - maybe *then* I'll be desperate for a pedicure or something.

But not now. It's all still too new & wonderful.
(no subject) - kaleidoscopeeye - May. 23rd, 2008 11:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 23rd, 2008 07:09 pm (UTC)
My family doesn't live anywhere close to me, and I feel sad that my children won't grow up being extrememly close to their grandparents, aunts and uncles. My mom would take the kids for a week straight if she could (and in fact, can't wait until my oldest is 4-5 and she can have her for a week or two without Kira missing us SO much as she still would now).

Maybe you could use the time when she comes over to get something else done. Organize a closet, work on your work from home business, or even just take a bath or a nap. That way, you can just let her go crazy loving your kid, and you're not upset that she's taking him from you. I understand not wanting to let go and telling her to get lost, and you do have the RIGHT to say that, but you still probably SHOULDN'T say it.

However, I would tell her something like, "It really bothers me when you take him while I'm holding him. I'm so excited to be a mom, I can't get enough of him either. Please ask first and give me a few minutes to give him up, instead of just taking him." I never liked it when people think they can just snatch the baby from you. I had to tell my mom that too. Make it sound like no big deal, just something you thought of that you wanted to mention (not as something that fills you with rage) and if she's as perceptive as she sounds, that'll be all the hinting she needs. If not, next time, just remind her a little more firmly of your request not to grab him.
May. 23rd, 2008 08:46 pm (UTC)
Your icon is cracking me up. It looks like she's doing military maneuvers!
(no subject) - wineswirl - May. 23rd, 2008 10:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 23rd, 2008 07:17 pm (UTC)
when my MIL comes into town its a similar thing, and I take full advantage and do things I want to do. Maybe I'm selfish, but I do want to do something other than dote on my kid 24x7. I am a SAHM and need a break once awhile. My daughter is 8 months though, so give it time. Once she starts getting more active you'll love the breaks. I have my cousin and my aunt come over once in awhile to watch her too so I can run errands without dragging her and the diaper bag out (especially in the winter when the flu is rampant). She isn't super super attached like some kids are at this age now and its nice not having a child that bursts into tears because I left a room.

The clothes buying did get annoying but it will taper off. If you don't want her to take her make up something like "just a minute Grandma, Mom and I are doing X" or "uh oh I think I have a dirty diaper, Mom will clean me up before she hands me off".

My Mom died when my daughter was 2.5 weeks old. I wish she was around to annoy the hell out of me :(
May. 23rd, 2008 10:27 pm (UTC)
"Once she starts getting more active you'll love the breaks."

I absolutely recognize that there will soon be a time in the not-so-distant future that I'll welcome the pass-off. But right now, it's all just too much.

"My Mom died when my daughter was 2.5 weeks old. I wish she was around to annoy the hell out of me."

I'm so sorry. For whatever it's worth, I have, in fact, had a conversation with myself (while counting backwards from 10 to calm down) that I'm very lucky to have such familial atmosphere.
May. 23rd, 2008 07:21 pm (UTC)
My SIL is overbearing too. *lesigh* With the coming over all the time we nipped that in the bud... and then moved an hour away so there's no more of that.

With the clothes UGH! In the two years my son's been alive I have bought him maybe MAYBE 10 outfits. Maybe! Probably fewer! My SIL gets gooey in the head and buybuybuys him clothes like there's no tomorrow. When I put a stop to it - she went up a size and bought him those. Now I've got 3T & 4T clothes in the wings waiting for him to get bigger. It will never end.

And you know? She insists on dressing him like Little Lord Fauntleroy, totally NOT MY STYLE!

In my case I had to come to the conclusion that no matter how much I said I was not going to change SIL after she had 50 years practice being an overbearing busybody nosey pill. I take it, roll with it, and then make fun of her to my friends behind her back. KIDDING! OK, not kidding. But I try to recognize her kind intent and not let it bother me. Much. What, I have to complain because someone loves my kid?

I have no advice, I only commiserate with you.
May. 23rd, 2008 10:29 pm (UTC)
THANK YOU for commiserating.

I think I just needed some girl power with this one & so I appreciate it.
May. 23rd, 2008 07:22 pm (UTC)
Have you tried explaining this to her at all? Or sitting down with her and your husband, so he can stop you if you get a lil too angry?

Honestly, I know it's the last thing you want to hear, but my MIL hates my guts and I'd love it if someone would watch Toph for a lil while a day. How old is your son? When mine was a newborn I never wanted to be away from him, even for a second. Now that he's 11 months, I love him still more than anything but a little break now and then would be super welcomed.

Good luck, either way. :-)
May. 24th, 2008 03:01 pm (UTC)
He's only 3 months - so yes, I'm still enjoying the honeymoon phase. And you're right, I should save face for the time when that phase expires.
May. 23rd, 2008 07:23 pm (UTC)
While I'm sure your MIL's behavior gets irritating, just keep in mind that her involvement is a blessing. Both my mother and my children's father's mother are ill, and we'd give anything to have them be a bigger part of our lives, be able to do all the things typical Grandmas do. Don't take that for granted, because I, for one, am more than a little jealous.
May. 23rd, 2008 07:39 pm (UTC)
*nods* my hubby's parents are older and couldn't manage the kids very often so, they don't. My parents are getting divorced and are all about themselves lately....

Perhaps re-directing the help to help you but, not take baby,.... ie: Baby has a load of laundry I haven't got to, would you mind starting that while I take baby for a snuggle. Or, I was thinking of taking baby for a walk this afternoon,... would you mind helping out with a few things around her... trivial things of course, sweeping kitchen floor, putting laundry away...etc.etc.
(Deleted comment)
May. 24th, 2008 03:04 pm (UTC)
Thank you for taking my post for what it was, really - an impromptu acting out.


May. 23rd, 2008 07:28 pm (UTC)
I think everyone else has already said everything you need to hear, I'm just imagining Reason and Sleep sneaking off the stage for some alone time back in the props room. Reason is figuring he's going to get lucky, because what else could it mean that Sleep has agreed to sneak away with him to be alone in a dark room; Sleep, on the other hand, hasn't thought it out, she just wants a nap. Poor, disappointed Reason ...

Reason: Well, look at it this way. We're here, we're alone, we like each other ...
Sleep: *yawn* Hmm?
R: You ... you give me strength. You make me able to go on. Without you, I am nothing.
S: Ooh! Is that a quilt? Can you hand me that, please? Here, help me spread it out.
R: So finally you see it, yes?
(stretches out beside her)
S: Zzzzzzzz ...
Poet_ess (still standing at stage center): All I have left are my baby and my rage! En garde, foul villainous mother-in-law!
MIL (in that voice we all hate): Come to grandma, you widdle cutie! (Normal voice) Now you'll have both hands free for that sword. Isn't that better?
P: AAAAAAAAAAaaaaarrrrrrgh!
S (startled awake): Huh?
R: Zzzzzzzzz ...
May. 23rd, 2008 08:36 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - poespretty - May. 25th, 2008 01:36 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 23rd, 2008 07:33 pm (UTC)
on the clothing thing,.... tell her you went through his closet and notcied he has a lot of things he won't wear cause he is growing so fast and perhaps tell her what she may buy,... say "he has lots of things in this size but, if you would like to buy something he could use ---- in the next size or ----for the fall". Or send her on a mission... "we were thinking of starting the baby's library, would you mind finding a copy of a couple of books you read to your son when he was young to add to the library"

Sometimes redirection helps :D
May. 24th, 2008 03:49 pm (UTC)
Very good advice. And you won't believe this but - she had/has the books covered, too. Because we didn't know his gender while I was pregnant, most of what she bought him in the early days were books - lots & lots of books.

(I know, at this point I'm just sounding sorry for myself, but for the love of Bob leave me *something*, woman! heh).
May. 23rd, 2008 07:47 pm (UTC)
Like the poster above me, I agree with "redirecting" the generosity. Something along the lines of "Hey, I really, really appreciate all of the gifts you give us. It is so kind of you to do that for us and I know that you do it because you are so happy about being a grandmother and that's great, but...our closets are spilling over with adorable outfits and I feel badly that you are spending so much money on something that might not get used as much as it should. What would you think about adding to his book collection with some of the books you read to your son?"

It might not work--I tried it with my mom and it went way over her head, so finally I had to be blunt with her (because OH.MY.GOD. I would never dress my daughter in some of the stuff she buys. Leopard print black velour pants suits for a 6 month old? IN JULY??? Yeah, I don't THINK so.) and she finally backed off. I also told her in a not-very-nice way that it didn't do me much good to have gazillions of designer outfits when I couldn't afford diapers all the time. I know that makes me sound like a selfish brat and I wasn't suggesting that she should never buy anything for my kid, but that if she *really* wanted to help, buying diapers, wipes, formula, etc. would be much more helpful. Thankfully, she understood what I was trying to say and has seriously cut back on outfit buying since then.

May. 23rd, 2008 07:55 pm (UTC)
Well, just remember, it's only a few weekends a month. Haha, okay, so that isn't that funny. When she's starting to excessively take him away from you, and says something along the lines "Wanna come to Grandma?", I would just turn slightly and say "Sure, as soon as Mommy is done doing X" or "Sure, that would be great for a few minutes, then I'll steal him back, you know how us first time mommies are!" And laugh about it.
My mother in law was this way. And really, it wasn't because she was trying to be a pest or anything of that sort. She just really thought that I needed the time to myself, or the time to sleep or whatever. That and the fact that my son was her first grandbaby and in her head, that was how they do things.
I wouldn't make a big deal out of it, but I do understand that inner rage! It's just that you carried him inside of you for nine months, eagerly anticipating this arrival and it really feels like you are getting a piece of him taken away when she is monopolizing all his time. But now, my son at 3 absolutely adores his grandma, and she's great and I've learned that yes, it does sometimes stink to just bite my tongue when grandma insists on doing something Mommy wanted to do, but she's really just trying to help the only way she knows how. If it gets to the point where it's really bothering you, just make a joke at yourself! I would say "I know I'm crazy, but now that he's here, it's so hard for me to let him out of my arms" or something similar. She'll probably understand-- she was a first time mommy before too!
As far as always buying things, I would just let her buy all the clothes she wants, and how bout you use the money you are saving on clothes to start something new and special that only you buy-- it could be building his library collection with the favorite books you remember from childhood, etc. Something that he will take with him into his future, unlike the clothing, which he is simply going to stain and quickly grow out of!
May. 23rd, 2008 08:13 pm (UTC)
There is nothing wrong with wanting/needing some space!

Does she give you the "Oh I'm so hurt" look when baby wants to nurse? MIL spend months trying to make me feel guilty because I was the ONLY one that could feed my son. GR-Blah! She still says things like "oh her comes the refrigerator" or "there's the food-source"... I think it hurts her that nursing is such an intimate connection that she just can't duplicate so she belittles it.

As for the routine thing... you really should talk to her about that... at least try to get her on board with following his normal routine even if she is the one doing it instead of you.
May. 24th, 2008 12:25 am (UTC)
my bf's mom acted the same way towards me about nursing and when I gave up up switched to formula because I thought I wasn't making enough milk(didn't know about growth spurts) she was so happy and said she knew that I would never succeed with nursing.
(no subject) - wineswirl - May. 24th, 2008 04:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wineswirl - May. 24th, 2008 03:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 23rd, 2008 08:47 pm (UTC)
She probably has no idea.

My MIL was the same way. She wanted to take him away for "a few weeks" and "give him all the things that Mom and Dad say you can't have." He was four weeks at the time. >.<

I ended up saying something to set boundaries... Don't visit at bed time, you have to share, can't come over EVERY weekend or my parents don't get to see him, etc. It caused some minor drama, but it's made things SO MUCH more bearable.
May. 24th, 2008 12:53 am (UTC)
When my son was born my MIL said that I could have him every other month. Yea, okay.
(no subject) - wineswirl - May. 24th, 2008 03:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 23rd, 2008 08:56 pm (UTC)

I think what you are feeling is perfectly rational.

My MIL is the same way.. (as far as taking the kids). I will tell you now, its better to nip it in the bud then to go on stewing. We didn't address it right away when it happened with my son, now it's gotten worse. There were a few times that she did rip my son from my arms, even when I told her not to. We also thouht it was because it was her first grandbaby.. and we weren't close for his first year. But now hes two, and she's doing the same thing with our daughter.

She ripped her out of my arms as she was finishing nursing from one side. My husband is the only one that can talk with her without her getting too crazy, .

Address it now, or have him address it now in the nicest way you can. you'll thank yourself for it later. :)

May. 24th, 2008 03:55 pm (UTC)
She ripped her out of my arms as she was finishing nursing from one side.

May. 23rd, 2008 09:04 pm (UTC)
she probably has no clue, really. Maybe if she's out buying clothes for him, suggest you guys go shopping together to pick stuff up for him, that way she's happy cause she's paying, you're happy cause you're picking stuff out!

If you institute control of the situation, carry on with your routine and keep to his naptimes, etc, I think she'll probably adjust to that fine as well. You just need to take control. No bad words have to be spoken, you're his mother and you have the say, you do what you want to do with him and if she's as cool as you said she was, she'll be fine!
May. 24th, 2008 01:23 am (UTC)
If your MIL is not listening to your ideas on parenting or not doing things you want done, then I would suggest saying something. However, if she is taking the baby because she thinks she is helping you out, I would appreciate that instead of being mad about it. Appreciate the fact that your child will grow up and have a close bond with Grandma. I would give anything to have my Grandma in my life. I am glad my parents and my inlaws are as close as they are with my son (meaning he spends a week at a time with them) because I know my son will grow up and have an awesome relationship with them. Plus, when I need a break, I know I always have someone that can take care of him and give him everything he needs, even when I cant. Maybe you are stuck in the whole "new mom" phase where you feel you need to provide every single thing for your child and spend every possible minute with your child, but trust me, when your child gets older, you will LOVE having the break.

Just really think about it.
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