Thursday, May 29, 2014

Her Turf, My Terms

Giving Mom and newborn Baby time to bond and room to breathe seems to be a universally respected boundary.  Breastfeeding extends the courtesy for a while longer.  But I've noticed that every week that baby ages, relatives get bolder and more determined to interfere with mommy time.  

I've tried to have an open door policy, allowing friends and relatives to come to my house whenever they can to see the baby.  (Prior to having a baby, I rarely had visitors, and was very content to keep my home a private sanctuary.)  My mother-in-law is the only such visitor who never calls ahead and the only one who dares to come every day and twice a day when she finds a suitable excuse to do so.  I have often thought of refusing to answer the door for her, insist that she call first, or limiting her to bi-weekly visits.  But, I don't know how that would set with my husband who generally views her interference as "helping."  Besides, her visits, though frequent, are generally brief.

But I've noticed that she is making remarks by telling the baby, "When you get a little older, I'm going to take you away from your momma and buy you a hamburger."  And more unkindly, "If you're mom will cut the apron strings, you can come home with me."  

Well, she is very hurt that I won't let her babysit, and for some reason she has an intense desire to have the baby on her own turf.  So, I came up with a plan to take the baby to see her.  Her turf; my terms.  I asked if we could visit her the following day so that the baby could have a change in scenery.  She was overjoyed and said that she would love that and asked me to bring his bathtub so she could bathe him.  Her daughter remarked to me how happy Grandma was, but in the course of the conversation, we realized that Grandma was expecting me to take him to her house and leave him there in her care.  I have to wonder if she purposely misunderstood me, or if she simply heard what she wanted to hear.  At any rate, I was sure that my gesture would end in her disappointment.

I planned my escape by making a lunch appointment with a girlfriend so that we would not get stuck at Grandma's all day and I did not take the bathtub.  When it was time to pack things up, my mother-in-law suggested that I leave the baby with her while I enjoyed my luncheon, but I said that the friend was looking forward to seeing baby.  She came up with several arguments, but I overcame each objections without raising my voice or seeming irritated.  But when it came to the moment where she needed to hand him over to me, she held him close and said, "No.  You can't take him."  I must have looked furious because she made it into a joke and gave him up.  

I went to my luncheon with baby and when we returned home, we received a phone call asking if we had gotten home okay (Grandma is a worrier).  And in a few minutes, Grandma arrived at the house and said that she hadn't gotten enough time with her grandson.  She stayed for several hours--the longest visit ever.  This, I felt, was a real intrusion.  I foresee a time when she and I are going to have a physical altercation where we are pulling at two ends of a screaming child and I see no way to avoid it!  

Why do people want to spend time with your baby without you around?  It's not like I hover or supervise their visits.  I often take a nap or a shower when relatives come to see the baby.  But they keep pressuring me to let them take the baby away from me.  And the pressure is building as the baby gets older.  As long as I am breast-feeding, I am maintaining control.  But I'll probably wean him in a year or so.  Why is the emphasis on TAKING him?

Monday, May 26, 2014

Over-stimulated Baby

My brother-in-law came to do a photo-shoot of my 3 month old baby.  Auntie and Grandma came along to help pose and entertain the baby.  They all played with him rather vigorously and got great photos of smiles and laughter.  I was relieved that they got the shots they wanted quickly because they have pushed the baby beyond his tolerance on previous visits.  Grandma, though, has the most energetic play style and being wound up herself continued to play, play, play until baby cried.  My husband held the baby and attempted to calm him, but Grandma followed them around cooing and tickling him excitedly.  When baby's cries escalated into a steady shrill scream, I took him and left the room to let him settle down.

Having raised her children 40 years ago, my mother-in-law believes that it is safe to let babies sleep on their stomachs, eat cow's milk, and sweat to the point of dehydration.  So, I wonder if the idea of children being over-stimulated is a somewhat new thought.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Blanket for Baby

My mother-in-law asked me if she could swaddle my baby in a blanket because his feet were cold.  I looked at the thermostat and said, "No, it is 74 degrees in here, but you can put a pair of socks on him if you like."  I started to run the vacuum, and she retreated with baby to his nursery to protect him from the noise.  (She thinks that you should never make noise around a baby.)  When I had finished, she came out of the nursery with the baby folded inside her winter coat!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Choosing A Sitter

I decided to return to work one day per week when baby turned 3 months.  My sister-in-law has worked at a daycare facility, loves children, and is currently unemployed, so she seemed the natural choice for baby sitter.  She agreed to do it, happy to have a new opportunity to spend another day per week with her nephew.  We were finalizing our plans the day before I returned to work.  My mother-in-law happened to be present at the time and started yelling, "Why didn't you ask ME to watch him?  I'm the one who has been asking to take him!  What, am I too OLD to take him?"

I'm not used to seeing her snap.  It is new behavior that started when her grandson was born.  I just looked at her like she was crazy and said, "It is already arranged."

My husband got home soon after and assured her that she was welcome to help the sitter because two are better than one.

She is nearly 70 years old, but the real reasons that I didn't ask her to sit for me is that she panics in serious situations, she disagrees with me on many child care issues and insists on doing things her own way.  My husband naturally sees his mother as the perfect care taker, but agrees with me that her DESIRE to be his baby sitter doesn't qualify her.  At the end of the day, I have to be able to drive away feeling like baby is in good hands.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

To Sock Or Not To Sock--That Is The Question

So, I've been away from the internet for a while--busy being a mom.  But I have a host of new outrages to share.  Just to catch you up:  baby boy is 3 1/2 months old now.

My mother-in-law is very old-school in her approach to child care.  And she loves to over dress and bundle my son in layers upon layers of blankets.  Since he was born, she and I have had this little passive-aggressive conflict of me pulling layers off and her additions whenever I turn my back.

Well, the other night we all went out to eat.  My husband handed the baby off to me for a diaper change and my mother-in-law followed baby and I to the restroom.  I sat baby on the cold granite countertop (the only surface available), and she expressed concern for him.  I assured her that he wouldn't be there long enough for it to matter as I peeked into the diaper to discover quite a mess.  I pulled off his socks to prevent them from getting messy.  She objected with a grunt.  I reached for the diaper bag for supplies, but she had moved in to play with the baby.  I tried awkwardly to reach around her for diapers and then again for wipes, each time she was impeding my efforts and kept repeating to me that she thought he was cold.  Frustrated, I offered to let her take over.  She was happy to do so, and I returned to the table.  When she delayed, I returned to the restroom to find her lining the counter with soiled diapers and she gasped, "He's not finished!" I could not believe that she didn't just put a single diaper in place and let him finish!  She ran an assembly line of diapers as if she was filling up ice cream cones with soft-serve!  It was truly a Lucile Ball moment!

I jumped in and got him all cleaned up, and disposed of 8 dirty diapers as well as a large pile of discarded baby wipes. His clothing had to be changed, and the counter had to be cleaned.  I reached into the diaper bag to find only one clean diaper left!  Then she said to me, "Didn't you bring any more diapers?" as if I had miscalculated our needs for a single dinner outing!

So, this is the kicker:  in all that time worrying about him laying on a cold surface, she could not get a diaper on him, but she managed to put socks back on his feet!