I am a new Mom. I am writing this using the voice-typing feature on my phone as a I hold my sleeping newborn, so please understand and correct the lack of punctuation and any spelling errors you incur. Why am I taking the time I do not have to write this to you? Because my mother-in-law is driving me nuts and my husband is siding with his Mom.
My beautiful baby girl is the first grandchild for my mother-in-law, but the fifth for my Mom (my older brother has four children). This is my first baby, and my mother is just as excited over her birth as I am. I was very nervous about giving birth, so I asked my mother to be in the delivery room with me, since she has gone through this several times herself (I am the third of seven children). My mother-in-law took her lack of invitation to join me in the delivery room as a personal slight, and my husband also got on my case about it, saying it was not “fair” that my mother got to witness the birth but his mother did not. He actually threatened to stay out of the delivery room if his mother could not join us, but did not follow through when I ignored his threats and focused on not stressing during my final month of pregnancy.
I came home from the hospital to find my mother-in-law waiting for me. She immediately grabbed my sleeping newborn out of her carrier and told me that it was “her turn” to spend time with the baby, since my mother and I got to hold her in the delivery room. Tazi, my child is not a trophy! Not once did my mother-in-law visit us in the hospital, where she could have held my baby during her waking periods. My husband was no help at all – he just looked at me and said that since his Mom was taking care of the baby I could take care of dinner! I burst into tears, grabbed my baby, and ran into my bedroom. My mother-in-law blamed my reaction on “fluctuating hormones” and suggested that I was too unstable to care for my own baby. For the past two weeks she has been coming over every day (my husband gave her a key after I locked her out of the house) to offer what she calls help and what I call terrorism.
I have tried to discuss this matter with my husband, but he has accused me of trying to put distance between us and his mother; he says that I am trying to make my mother the only grandmother our little girl will ever know. Tazi, I would appreciate help with the new baby, but not the kind of help his mother offers, which consists of waking her up to hold her and telling me everything she thinks I am doing wrong, from swaddling incorrectly to not vacuuming thoroughly enough. I can’t even push a vacuum right now, but do you think my mother-in-law offers to do it for me? No way! She has a bad back and besides, she is “busy holding the baby”.
I am ready to call my Mom and have her come get me and the baby. I am ready to file for divorce and let my mother-in-law have her son back, since by her side seems to be where he prefers to stand. The one thing holding me back is that my Mom lives a five hour drive from me, so if I leave there will be no turning back. Am I making the wrong decision, Tazi?
Dear New Mommy:
Your husband sounds like a first-class Momma’s Boy, and if marriage has not changed him I doubt he is going to cut the apron strings any time soon. An intervention needs to occur before the road to divorce is the only one left to travel.
Your mother-in-law appears to be suffering from feelings of insecurity and a fear of being left out of her son’s life. She appears to want all things to be equal, regardless of the logistics. She also appears to have a screw loose! While it is understandable that she is excited to be a Grandma and wants to spend time with her newborn grandchild, she must know that it is wrong to awaken a sleeping baby! Her motives appear selfish and self-serving, and your husband is living under her thumb. I realize that this is not the life you want for your daughter, to be ruled by manipulation and guilt, but leaving should not be the immediate answer.
I suggest you set up a visiting schedule for your mother-in-law, based upon the baby’s sleep schedule. Let your mother-in-law know that she may visit for one time block per day during the baby’s waking hours. If she wishes to visit while the baby is asleep she will be put to work, helping with the laundry, mopping the floors, or dusting the furniture since she insists that you are doing it all wrong. Tell your husband that he needs to start standing up for you before you decide that your marriage is no longer worth fighting to fix. Be blunt; tell him it is not the “fluctuating hormones” that are speaking, but you – his wife, the woman he promised to honor above all others. Once he sees how serious you are, he might be willing to change.
If after a few months things are still not working, a trial separation may be what is needed. I strongly urge you to seek legal counsel before doing this in order to arrange for proper financial support for your baby and to settle any visitation issues before they arise. A five-hour one-way drive will require that your husband come to see the baby at your mother’s house; there is no way an infant will stand for being separated from her mother for an entire weekend – especially if you are nursing. I do hope that it does not come to this; a loving, two-parent household really is what is best for a child. I will pray for you and your baby.
Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.