It’s enough to strike fear into any vulnerable new mum – the visiting grandparents.
Once upon a time, pre-babies, my mother-in-law and I got on fine. We didn’t even argue about the wedding. Sure, she was not averse to telling me to wear a coat when I didn’t think I needed one or to eat various things, but I didn’t really mind and just went along with it – after all, I could see that what she was doing was mothering me, which in a way was quite sweet.
And then, BabyBoy and BabyGirl were born. And suddenly I was not prepared to ‘go along’ with things which concerned my babies.
It must have been a terrible shock to her. For the first time in what I guess was a long time, she was no longer ruling the roost. She didn’t have a meek and mild daughter-in-law, but one who was now a mother herself and that meant that no-one else was going to mother her babies without her say-so.
My MIL didn’t get, for a long time, that she now had to play by my rules. After trying to override my wishes that I (and Multidaddy) hold the babies first (which meant waiting until I got out of theatre as I had an emergency c-section), she insisted in walking in while I was trying to breastfeed (no way you can tandem-feed discreetly), taking the babies away from me when they cried, constantly telling me that they were hungry / cold / sleepy….the list went on and on. She just didn’t listen, to either myself or Multidaddy.
I couldn’t bear the unwanted advice, the intrusiveness, the complete lack of respect for me as the mother. No doubt (some of) this was well-intentioned, but it was also clear that she thought she’d be running her grandchildren’s lives, at least while they were small. No way, lady, that’s our job.
Now, things are better, partly as a result of several heart-to-hearts between Multidaddy and MIL (which made it very clear that mummy, not grandma, was in charge), partly because the babies are older and I’m more secure, and partly because I refuse to be left alone with her. If the paternal grandparents want to visit that’s fine, but Multidaddy has to be around. I’m not constantly justifying myself to his family without him. I can now even cope with the grandparents and Multidaddy taking the babies on short outings while I do other things, as long as they’re back for feeds, meals and naps . They get some bonding time, I get some rest. Needless to say, they are never asked to babysit – I’m very sure any instructions we left would be ignored.
As a sign of things improving I have now invited them to visit us for a long weekend – these four days. It’s an olive branch, a hope that we can move forward with us all understanding our new roles. We’ve all had some adjusting to do.
Hopefully I can hold it together….