Ryan and Ben should consider themselves extremely lucky. They have grandparents who are endlessly available to help. And I mean, endlessly with a capital E. I believe both Andrew and myself are not the types to ask for help much when it comes to our kids but having the help readily available is certainly nothing short of wonderful. As such, we consider ourselves just as lucky.
Andrew’s mum and dad live mere 15 minutes away and are just a phone call away if we ever need them. As we both work full time (when I’m not on mat leave), Ryan has been spending Wed/Thu at nanna and grandad’s house as a break from daycare since he could walk and talk. Invaluable quality grandparents time that he loves and cherishes.
Unfortunately, unfavourable geography plays part on my side. I am Australian. But I am also Eastern European. And as such, I come with an Eastern European mother – well, sort of. My parents – as much as they would love to be endlessly available to help – live far away. Different continent kind of far away. And as such, I don’t see them often. However, when babies are around – Eastern European mums are around. You actually can’t keep them away. Trust me, I tried. 😉
So I find myself, for the second time in the last 5 years, living with my mother. Considering I’ve lived out of home for 20 years, there are some challenges. And I am not talking about my newborn here. Mum can be heck of a lot harder.
I am sure you know the type. “Don’t go barefoot” type. “Please dry your hair” type. “Have some more to eat” – says it 5 times – type. Doesn’t really matter that I am 37. I don’t feel a day over 12 on most (good) days. But she’s also the will do anything for her family type. Put everyone else first type. Doesn’t take much to make her happy type. The most selfless, caring, genuinely good person I have ever known. And I am not saying that just cause she’s my mum. She truly is a saint.
But in the craziness of the day that is a newborn and a 5 year old and trying to keep the house in some sort of order, it’s easy for me to forget that. And to view all her long stories as unnecessary. And all her “means well” comments as critique. And in the heat of the moment, watch my feisty go from zero to “I really don’t need this right now”. Works wonders in certain situations, but it does nothing but backfire when grandma’s views on raising a newborn/child are involved. So I’ve come up with a few ways (dare I say rules) that both myself and my mum try to adhere to while she’s out here. If anything, it stops my house from turning into the Balkans battlefield every couple hours.
- 7 to 7 rule. Very simple rule – my mum does not help out during the night. Doesn’t matter how loud baby cries. No means no. Everything is amplified at night – including my “I really don’t need this right now” manner. The only job mum’s got at night is to sleep.
- Allowing help. This one I am still working on (but getting better at it slowly). Ever been in a situation (change example to suit your needs) where you are sleep deprived, holding your screaming hungry newborn in one arm, trying to calm down your 5 year old cause something, somewhere in the room has somehow upset him (lord knows what and even after he tells you three times – each time louder and angrier cause you are simply not getting it – you are none the wiser) and to top if off you’ve got dinner on the stove boiling over? Someone offers help and you snap back “I am fine!”. I sure have (one too many times). Mostly with mum being on receiving end. Cause I obviously suffer from I can do it all gene. In fact, the worse the situation, the more “fine” I am. I’ve learnt to let her help nowadays (once in a while) and amazingly it feels really good. Not so much for the someone is helping me fact, but more for seeing how much happiness mum gets out of being allowed to help.
- Out of sight, out of mind. This one, mum is still working on (and currently not getting better at, but I have faith). As big as our house is, it can feel awfully small when everyone is on each other’s backs. Even in the most peaceful of times. So I’ve asked mum to get out and about every once in a while (like, few times a week once in a while). Unfortunately, this is extremely hard for her to do. Not cause she is not capable to get out and about or even for the fact she doesn’t know many people (woman has more friends out here than me!) – but cause she feels we’ll need her and she won’t be around to help. BAH BOW. Wrong indeed. We are just fine (eh, that gene).
- Who holds the baby. Cause baby won’t know who his mum is, right? HA-HA-ridiculous-HA. When Ryan was a newborn, I literally wouldn’t let mum hold him much cause I was worried he would get the case of mistaken identity. And I am not talking about the beautiful moments of holding your baby on your chest so they can hear you breathe, you can hear them breathe…perfect synergy. I am talking about if I could go to the toilet with Ryan attached to me, I would’ve. And guess what?! He doesn’t remember anything. Who held him when, where, how long for… NOT.A.SINGLE.THING. So I accepted that beautiful moments are beautiful moments, but there is also just plain don’t be stupid and hand that baby over. Voilà, beautiful grandparent moments right there….and lastly and most importantly…
- Play nice. I know it’s never gonna be all unicorns when it comes to our communication. And I know I am not the only one. Generation gap takes on a whole new meaning when it comes to mums and daughters. I’ve noticed that with ALL my girlfriends. But I can certainly do better. Maybe sometimes I am 12. The way I can react rudely when mum asks a simple question. Or an occasional eye roll I give her cause she’ll offer advice on something I pretend I already know. And the muttering under my breath she gets sometimes for absolutely no reason whatsoever. But you live and you learn.
I can just be glad I’m learning fast while mum is around.
Go, give your mum a call and tell her you love her. It’ll feel great cause they never ever expect it. xx