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to be upset when my son goes to my mother to be comforted

(34 Posts)
keely79 Tue 22-Jan-13 13:53:01

My mother is a lifesaver and looks after DD (3) when she's not in nursery and DS (1) full time. We do pay her, but it is a much more flexible arrangement than a nanny would be. I work full time, as does DH. This is partly financial and partly by choice - I love my career and it is not something I can do part time. My mother is enabling me to progress in my career while secure in the knowledge that my children are being looked after by someone who loves them. So far, so good - right? We are also all living together at the moment while various house sales and purchases progress - that's also going fine for the most part.

However, my son currently has chickenpox. He is therefore miserable and it breaks my heart because he is too young to understand what is going on and why we can't make it better. Last night he woke up around 9pm. He was making complaining sounds but we have been leaving him for a few minutes when he does this as he often self settles. However, yesterday my mother swooped upstairs and brought him downstairs. I was home from work by this time and offered to take him but (a) he didn't want to come to me (which was really upsetting); and (b) my mother said "he only wants me and he's upset because he was left to cry".

This really got to me - but was it unreasonable to be hurt about this?...

apostropheuse Wed 23-Jan-13 01:03:10

Your mum probably shouldn't have said "he only wants me" out loud for you to hear. She could think it, because it was probably true. She is his main carer and he's obviously very attached to her. It's only natural that he looks to her for comfort. I'm sure he does love you very much too though.

Regarding leaving a sick child to whimper/cry. Well tbh I think you should never ever do that. I have a vivid memory of being in a big black metal cot and crying, wanting my mother to come to me. I can remember wondering why she was ignoring me, and crying louder and louder and her not coming.

I remember having a discussion about this with my mother when I became a mother myself. She was totally shocked, because the only time I was ever in a black metal cot like that was when I was in hospital for six weeks due to being burned. I was 11/12 months old when that happened. I'm 51 now and back then parents were only allowed to visit according to strict visiting times.

I think that's why I hate babies being left to cry at all. That's for a different thread though.

Sorry for going off on a tangent there.

Mimishimi Wed 23-Jan-13 00:36:05

I've seen this happen with SIL and her kids. My MIL, along with a nanny, has had primary care of the elder two for most of their lives. They still ask for 'Patti' when they want to be comforted. It is only natural but you should be glad that your DS has such a strong bond with her , it would be worse if it was a stranger. Your DS is also sick with quite an irritating illness, that is not the time to be practising 'self-settling' techniques.

differentnameforthis Tue 22-Jan-13 23:25:26

I had CP when I was 10 & I was covered in them. I was pretty miserable & begged my mum to stay home with me instead of going to work & she refused. Even when I called her sobbing that the itching was unbearable & I was in pain.

It felt pretty horrible, to be fair. This is for a 10yr old who understood why her mother wouldn't be there (work) so I have a little idea how your poor 1yr old felt at being left to cry. Normally I am not the type of parent who answers every little whimper, but when my kids are ill I do very much so because it is so bloody miserable for them.

I can't understand why you would let a tiny, poorly baby cry!

It is not unreasonable to be upset by her comments. But it is unreasonable to expect him to self sooth while so poorly & expect no one to say anything about it.

LuluMai Tue 22-Jan-13 22:50:55

This is why, when I went full time when ds was two, I switched from childminder to nursery. I never wanted any one person to spend more one on one time my son than I ever did. Maybe you need to rethink your child care if you're struggling with this set up.

glamourousgranny42 Tue 22-Jan-13 22:20:39

Lopopo you are so right. My daughter and baby grandaughter live with me and my mothers instinct totally kicked in again.

I react to my grandaughter in the same way I did with my chilfren. It breaks my heart if she cries and I have had to sit on my hands on a number of occasions because I was ready to take over.

This is not a childminder but a grandma and the relationship is totally different. She has looked after him all day when he has been ill and probably has more understanding of him and his needs at the moment.
However I would make sure that you have agreed how you will jointly parent and look after your children so that there is no inconsistency

CoolaSchmoola Tue 22-Jan-13 22:10:09

I think Joining has it spot on.

Your Mum has been with him all day today - maybe today, due to his illness, leaving him a couple of minutes resulted in a mass escalation of the hiccuping sobs variety. I totally appreciate that you know your son - but he is ill and today your Mum has been looking after him, so today, in this situation she may well know him better than you.

DD is currently ill - when she is well we leave her to self settle, and it works just fine. It doesn't work when she is ill - if I leave her to whimper as normal when unwell she doesn't settle, she starts sobbing and is inconsolable. Imagine being ill and trying to get attention and noone comes - it is far more distressing than when you are well because you feel so crap to start with.

So when she is ill I do "swoop" if she whimpers - because I know that that is what she needs and that I can calm her down relatively easily but if I leave her it can be incredibly difficult.

Point proved here last night when DH left her for a couple of minutes as usual after she whimpered and the result was she was sobbing for half an hour and clinging to me for two hours. Not his fault, I had popped to the shop and he'd been at work all day and he just didn't think about it.

I can totally understand why you feel hurt - but atm your Mum is your sons primary caregiver, so it is normal for him to seek comfort from her, just as my DD seeks me for comfort because I am her primary.

mynewpassion Tue 22-Jan-13 22:09:15

YABU. Maybe as his main carer, he wanted her only for the moment. That doesn't mean that he doesn't know that you are his mother or love you less. He just wants someone to baby him and he knows he will get it from your mother.

MrsHuxtable Tue 22-Jan-13 22:06:29

YANBU to feel hurt
BUT and this is the big but, it sounds liek your mother is DS's primary care giver so his atatchment to her will be stronger than to you. Sorry, to say it like that.

I was the same with my granny. She looked after me when my mum was at work and I still feel more connected and loyal towards my granny now than I do towards my mother.
I've been told my mum was hurt as well when I wanted my granny over her but it's just natural. It's the price you pay for working full-time.

theweekendisnear Tue 22-Jan-13 21:50:41

keely79 - not that it is really important, but is your mum living at your place while she buys/sells her house, or are you living at hers, while you buy/sell your house?

I think you were all tired that evening...

DIYapprentice Tue 22-Jan-13 21:43:33

YANBU to be hurt about this - it is hurtful when your DC prefer someone else to you.

Your mother - she was MASSIVELY unreasonable. To say 'he only wants me' is really cutting. It must be hard enough leaving your child at home and going to work full time, and that would just make it 10 times worse.

I think you need to make it clear that when you are home you are their main carer. You appreciate that they have a strong bond, but that as their mother you must have the primary bond. She has to give way to you, even if she finds it difficult, and it will be difficult for her.

Hopefully this was a one off, and doesn't happen usually, but a frank and honest discussion is needed.

lopopo Tue 22-Jan-13 21:32:45

I love my mum to bits. She is a fantastic mum to me and my brother. But a couple of occasions my son 5 months has got upset and she has literally pulled him from my arms to comfort him. I've been a bit put out to be honest. It has felt like she thinks I don't know how to comfort my child. However I realise its really just because she loves that much she can't bear to see him cry. It's a bit weird but its completely from a loving place. I think that's what's happening with you and your mum. It's her mother's instinct (like yours) coming in to play.

Joiningthegang Tue 22-Jan-13 19:28:21

Yabu - as others have said, she is is main care giver, they probably are more tuned into each other than you do.

What she said eas thoughtless but she has had a long day.

If a sahm ran straight up to the baby and her dh had just got in and wanted to let them cry everyone would be saying "as the mum who has been with yiur poorly son all day you know what he needs" - i dont think this situation is all that different.

We all make choices and you have to take the rough with the smooth.

Hope he is better soon.

defineme Tue 22-Jan-13 19:16:49

You cannot reasonably employ your mother for full time childcare and live with her and not expect boundaries to get blurred.
She's human and your mother, you can't expect her to live with you/care for your children more hours than you do AND never slip up from deferring to you when you're there-she's be super bloody human if she didn't.
Tbh I think you're asking too much of her if you do expect that.
I think your dc will do nothing but benefit from this situation, but I'm not sure if your relationship with her will survive intact.
Hopefully things will improve when you move out.

cansu Tue 22-Jan-13 19:14:02

I think your mum is probably well meaning but she said the wrong thing. She should be more sensitive and respectful of your feelings. That said try not to take it personally. I think this is probably a good reminder of why your mum should not live with you even if she is a great carer for your child. Having a bit of distance is a good thing for everyone's sanity.

GirlOutNumbered Tue 22-Jan-13 19:07:36

I'm with you casserole. My ds1 loves my mum so much, I think he would probably move in, but that's a wonderful thing.

Casserole Tue 22-Jan-13 18:52:39

I never get these threads. My kids love my Mum pretty much nearly as much as they love me and I AM SO FUCKING THANKFUL FOR THAT.

I am so thankful that someone cares for them so well that they love them. I am so thankful that they are looked after by someone who loves them as much as I do. I am so thankful that I don't ever have to worry about the care they are getting.

Count your blessings. Then stop, start again, and count them again. You have what people would give their right nipple to have.

I hope he gets well soon.

EugenesAxe Tue 22-Jan-13 17:50:22

She was wrong and unfeeling to guilt trip you about 'leaving to cry'. I have seen first hand what rushing to a baby every time they cry can do; you end up with very needy babies 9 times out of 10. I'm not advocating minutes, but like you do, a couple of minutes to see if they are 'serious' - and I don't know about you but I know when it's a cry that means they are in need, or one that is just attention seeking.

Don't feel guilty about being upset that he goes to her for comforting, but also don't take it to heart. If he is very little he won't understand, and in time he will tell you how much he values you! My DS often used to go to his CM for comfort and sometimes cried when we left! I am a SAHM now... but I had to mantra myself out of it at the time as it was a bit heartstring tugging.

farewellfarewell Tue 22-Jan-13 17:48:43

Well isn't attachment a two way street? It could be that the gran was as upset listening to the crying as the child itself was while crying-but I do understand how it could be seen as deliberately undermining the mother, perhaps she could have waited, but we are only hearing it from op's pov, maybe gran didn't "swoop" up, or if she did maybe she didn't think it through-might be worth sitting down with your mum and talking about how upset you are by the whole thing but I don't think you should blame her. Maybe set some firm guidelines for evenings?

ApocalypseThen Tue 22-Jan-13 17:29:40

She probably didn't analyse it that much.

2rebecca Tue 22-Jan-13 17:25:31

The son's behaviour was natural. The mother's behaviour and comments were nasty unkind things to say to your daughter and the swooping upstairs undermining her daughter was completely unnecessary.
The mother must have known her behaviour and comments would upset her daughter, she could have been much nicer about it but chose to be unkind and undermining.

farewellfarewell Tue 22-Jan-13 17:06:30

In answer to your question I think yabu-he spends a lot more time with your mother, she is in effect his main carer, this is lovely for him, he has his lovely granny to love and care for him. When he is feeling ill, naturally he wants her. On the other hand I understand completely why this is upsetting for you, but that is not her, or his fault!

theweekendisnear Tue 22-Jan-13 16:04:32

I would be upset too.

However, you are so so lucky that your DC are looked after their loving GM, a person that you can trust 100 %. I know you are paying your mum, but the flexibility you can have, the fact that you don't have to worry about "will the babysitter be nice/fair to my children", the fact that you can rely on your mum's love and experience, well, all this has no price. I have no family around, and I hated when I had to leave my DC with essentially a stranger. Your DC spend their time with their granma, what a wonderful thing.

Also, I am convinced that any child would actually prefer their mum to anybody else
(under normal circumstances, not if they are being abused or neglected, but even in these cases I think that the child/mother bonf is really strong). So i wouldn't worry that your child is closer to your mum than to you. Your DC will always love you above anybody else, but sometimes their behaviour might not show this.

Really, I do envy you and the fact that your DC get to spend so much time with their grandparents. Please, remember to show your gratitude to your mum as often as you can.

2rebecca Tue 22-Jan-13 15:35:54

I would be telling your mu that she is undermining your parenting and that comments like that do nothing to help your relationship and that although you are living in her house you don't want or expect her to act as your child's parent just because you are all together and that although you are grateful for the help she gives you don't want the undermining to continue.
I hope the house sale goes through soon so you have more control over your life.
I think the fact that your son has a strong bond to his granny isn't a problem, the fact that she over-rules you when you are there is a problem.

ApocalypseThen Tue 22-Jan-13 15:21:21

I think my SIL must feel like you do right now, OP. my parents do the childcare for my nephew during the working week and the little guy has formed a particularly strong attachment to my mum as a result. It's tough on you, and I can see why you'd bristle.

Having said that, your son is happy with his carer, feels loved, can ask for affection and comfort when he needs to so there's a huge upside.

YDdraigGoch Tue 22-Jan-13 14:49:15

I think that if you outsource your childcare its reasonable to expect that the child forms a strong attachment to the carer. This isn't a criticism, I went back to work when my DDs were each 6 months old (financially, I had to). They both loved their CM, and I was really pleased that they felt equally comfortable and comforted by her as by me or DH.

I also see it as a good thing, because you never know when you might not be able to be there for your child, and if there is someone they love who can deputise for you, you are very lucky.

Children are notoriously fickle - they will go to the adult they think is most likely to give them what they want. One day it will be you, the next day your mother, another day DH.

I really wouldn't be concerned, I would be happy that DD has three adults who care for her, instead of just two.

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