...to tell my mother we are never going to just "drop the kids off"?

(118 Posts)
CheerfulYank Thu 01-Sep-16 00:52:31

I genuinely don't know if I'm being a massive bitch. confused

For starters we're all Americans and I know that long distances to you wouldn't seem quite so massive to us, so that may come into play. smile But.

My parents live about 300 miles from us. Takes five hours in the car on a good day. We have three kids (9, 3, 1) so it always takes considerably longer given bathroom stops etc.

DH works 8-6 Monday-Friday. I stay at home and do part time child minding during the school year and don't drive. blush (I really need to learn and stop being so afraid!) My parents are 56 but my mother is frequently not in fantastic health. She has chronic migraines and thyroid issues and has to get cortisone shots in her knee every few months. sad She works from home and is pretty flexible. My dad also owns his own business but works ib a hardware store on the side. (His business has been slow lately so he's picked up more shifts at the store, too)

Anyway. My DC are the only grandchildren on my side and seem likely to remain so, at least for years. My mom talks a lot about us moving closer but seems to have accepted that won't happen. She's talked a lot about moving closer to us but my dad REALLY doesn't want to. She still talks about it but I don't know how serious it is. She looks at houses occasionally but she admits that if it weren't for us, she would never think of leaving. I would like them closer but it's a lot of pressure for my family to be her only reason for being in a certain place. I would feel like we had to be around every time she wanted to stop by and also like we couldn't move if we ever wanted to. (I don't think we ever will, but who knows.)

They see the kids pretty often. They are really good about coming down and staying if I have a meeting or even a doctor's appointment or something. I NEVER make them feel obligated too but they always offer.

They often have the older two for long weekends at theirs.(Maybe every six weeks or so?) Usually we meet them halfway and drop off the kids. Sometimes they will bring them all the way back and sometimes we meet again. We don't often go all the way to theirs...maybe just a few times a year and then we stay in our family's lake cabin. The reason we don't is that our house is a fixer upper and there's always SOME project or another going. Plus DH and I rarely get to go out together so we use the time the kids are at my parents' to work on house stuff and/or occasionally go see an actual movie that doesn't have cartoon characters in it. smile My mom wasn't fussed about seeing me all that often before I had the kids (we get along well but she's pretty clear on the real draw being the DC) so I never think it's all that important that DH and I go up there.

This weekend is a long one (Labor Day here on Monday) and then DS starts school on Tuesday. A few days ago I was telling my mother that as it's the long weekend I was going to get a babysitter to be with the kids so I could finish the project I'm working on (switching some bedrooms around including repainting and ripping up carpet) because I want the boys to be settled in their new room before school starts. She texted "well you know you can drop them here anytime" and I didn't say anything... probably sent a smiley or something.

Today she brought up the weekend again and suddenly started in on how we never "just drop them off, you only bring them all the way here if you're going to stay at the cabin." confused I explained that that probably wouldn't happen because DH wouldn't be able to get there before midnight on a Friday night with them and then he would have to come right back on Sunday to get them. She just said "yep, I know" in a tone that implied she and my dad are always doing that very thing. Which isn't entirely true, they never take them just for a few days because it's not worth it with the driving. It's usually a four day weekend at least.

She said she was telling my dad how we NEVER just "drop them off" and he agreed and was angry about it.

I don't know if I'm BU or not but honestly I can't see that we are ever going to do that. I don't drive but even if (when, hopefully) I get my license I can't see driving five hours at night on a Friday and dropping them off and then leaving. If DH or I bring them up there we will stay for the weekend and then come home all together.

She got off the phone kind of quickly after that and I'm not really sure what to make of it all. My dad will drive down to drop the kids off or pick them up and then drive back a few hours later, but I always tell him it's madness and he should at least stay the night. He doesn't usually want to though. Once they drove down and stayed for six hours to see DS's school concert and then drove back home. I have never asked them to do any of this and I always try to get them to stay. We don't have a lot of room but they could sleep on our bed or the couches, but they never want to. My dad has talked about putting a guest room in our garage (he's a carpenter of sorts) and maybe then they would.

I don't want to make it sound like "if you don't pick them up halfway you won't see them as often" but to put it bluntly that's kind of the way of it. DH can't take his whole weekend driving there and back and there and back again and we can't always get away for an entire weekend to stay up there (we have a massive dog too and no one to watch him when we leave so we have to take him with us and he doesn't get on well with my parents' dogs). We could probably make it up every 2-3 months as a family and stay for a weekend but I know she will complain about going that long and also not seeing them "all to herself."

AIBU to say that we are never going to just "drop them off"? Sorry this is so long.

VioletBam Thu 01-Sep-16 01:00:32

Don't even think about it any more. They're older and don't have small children...it's easier for them to drive and collect than it would be for you to drive and drop and leave.

Sounds like she was just having a moan.

If it makes you feel better, I live thousands of miles and thousands of dollars away from my family.

5 hours seems like a dream to me. smile

It takes me two days and about 6 thousand dollars to take my kids home to see my Mum.

She's lucky to have the set up she's got.

AND she's young! I'm 44 and have two small kids still.

Jizzomelette Thu 01-Sep-16 01:05:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

bibbitybobbityyhat Thu 01-Sep-16 01:13:13

Omg that is just too long for me! I nominate it for the most epic op in the entire history of Mumsnet. Ya probably being a bit bu somewhere in there.

FabFiveFreddie Thu 01-Sep-16 01:13:40

I have different issues with my parents, but there's a common theme I think. One can't generalize but I think that once kids have left home and got married and had kids of their own, grandparents can sometimes think their job is done and now it's time for them to enjoy themselves. So, any babysitting of grandkids is done both out of sheer pleasure (which is great) and with an undertone of "I'm helping you out here, consider yourself lucky" (less great, even though it's true). This can lead to a sense of entitlement on their part and resentment tinged with guilt on the parents' part.

It can be difficult. I think the key is to accept that both sets of adults are different people with different issues and problems and drivers, different personalities etc and that it's incumbent upon the middle generation (ours) to cut those child-parent ties and stand firm on what works best for your children and your couple without feeling any guilt.

Canyouforgiveher Thu 01-Sep-16 01:36:53

I am in the US too,

I will confess straight up that I found your OP way way too long to get my head around.

What I will say is:

learn to drive as a priority - seriously, the most important thing you can do for your entire family is get your licence. Just do it. I am kind of bewildered that you have US parents and you don't know how to drive? Did they not teach you?

Stop being so sensitive.

A few days ago I was telling my mother that as it's the long weekend I was going to get a babysitter to be with the kids so I could finish the project I'm working on (switching some bedrooms around including repainting and ripping up carpet) because I want the boys to be settled in their new room before school starts. She texted "well you know you can drop them here anytime" and I didn't say anything... probably sent a smiley or something.

In this situation I would have said to my mum, yeah you are great for offering but we are fine. Oh the dog was really funny today when ..."

Why do you have to react to her offer to take your kids? My parents lived 3000 miles away and would say stuff like this (same as they said to my sister who lived 3 miles away). I just said, I know you would (take the kids if you could) and went onto the next thing.

CafeCremeEtCroissant Thu 01-Sep-16 01:36:57

She's bonkers!

WHY the hell would DH drive 4x5 hrs over a weekend, when hiring a babysitter for the day us the alternative?!

You choose, sensibly, to stay when you take the kids up.

You give them the option to stay with you, but they choose not to take it, that's their problem.

They see a lot more of you & the kids than mine would living that far away. It's 5 hrs driving, no matter what the distance is that's covered.

Flum Thu 01-Sep-16 01:42:28

Well... Difficult one....that is a seriously long drive! I woudl not be driving and dropping the kids off either. That woudl be 20 hours driving in a weekend!

Sunshineonacloudyday Thu 01-Sep-16 01:45:23

I have to say this you are so lucky I wish I had a family like that my family don't make any effort. I think you should do surprise visits sometimes to shock them. You have to do what works best for you and DH and the children. Be firm with you're mum but be kind at the same time it won't be easy she will come around.

At the moment I am receiving a lot of attention from an 80 year old man who wants to teach my children piano but I had to fob him off. He was willing to teach them for free.

CafeCremeEtCroissant Thu 01-Sep-16 01:45:40

bibbitybobbityyhat. If you can't be arsed to read the OP then close the thread, there's no need to post a rude reply.

Canyouforgiveher. You must really struggle with books - poor thing 🙁

hmm

As for...*learn to drive as a priority - seriously, the most important thing you can do for your entire family is get your licence*

Seriously?

I can think of others things that are WAY more important than driving that CheerfulYank does for her family. Lots of people don't drive, the children still grow up just fine. Fancy that!

hmm

Sunshineonacloudyday Thu 01-Sep-16 01:49:17

Until you pay for taxi fares. For me to take my dd to Orchestra I have to £28 return by taxi. I feel robbed half the time.

CheerfulYank Thu 01-Sep-16 01:52:36

Jizz they don't have to. I never ever ask them to take the kids, they always ask.

Apologies for the length again, it didn't seem so long when I was typing it! blush

Canyouforgiveher Thu 01-Sep-16 01:57:05

Oh so you disagree with me Cafe using lots and lots nice use of lots of sarcasm to do so. Go you - you are so smart..

Actually I do think the OP should learn how to drive. Despite your sarcastic response to me.

RattataPidgeyRattataPidgey Thu 01-Sep-16 02:00:30

You must really struggle with books - poor thing

This is so childish that it took me about 3 minutes of re-reading posts and skim-reading for something I'd missed for me to get it.

Sunshineonacloudyday Thu 01-Sep-16 02:01:16

You are lucky and you shouldn't take them for granted.

Sunshineonacloudyday Thu 01-Sep-16 02:02:23

RattataPidgeyRattataPidgey do you struggle with books to.grin

CheerfulYank Thu 01-Sep-16 02:02:27

Sunshine I am lucky smile

I plan on doing more visits. It was tough the past few years with my two smallest, it felt like I was always ill with pregnancy or had a tiny baby. (DD screamed her head off in her carseat for the first nine months of her life too) She's not very much the surprise visit type as she's really busy on weekends with her visits but I do need to go up more. Still, it probably wouldn't be more than every three months and I know that will upset her.

I didn't want to be accused of drip feeding so I laid it all out in the OP, okay! grin

canyou obviously they didn't teach me to drive or...you know, I would drive. confused

Canyouforgiveher Thu 01-Sep-16 02:05:31

This is so childish that it took me about 3 minutes of re-reading posts and skim-reading for something I'd missed for me to get it.

Me too - and I was the recipient of the dig. smile It made me smile.

OP honestly just ignore and say "yeah it would be lovely but we live a bit away really"

But I am intrigued why your parents didn't teach you to drive - it is a real thing with most US parents I know (including myself) - teach your children to bike/swim/drive, (and maybe ski/skate depending on location).

Canyouforgiveher Thu 01-Sep-16 02:09:56

canyou obviously they didn't teach me to drive or...you know, I would drive. confused

Well you could have learned to drive after you left their home right?

But given they didn't make it a priority to teach you, I think, if I were you, every time they raised the issue of you getting the kids to them, you should say "well I don't know how to drive, remember you didn't teach me , so that is a bit of a problem"

I actually stand by what I said which is that the OP should learn how to drive. For herself more than for her children.

CheerfulYank Thu 01-Sep-16 02:10:00

I am a fantastic skater and can swim forever wink

CheerfulYank Thu 01-Sep-16 02:10:51

Right, but you asked whether they taught me. Obviously they didn't. Or I would know how.

Sunshineonacloudyday Thu 01-Sep-16 02:13:57

You are not being unreasonable it will probably get easier as the youngest gets older. Explain to her that she could see them more often if she met half way. Maybe they are fed up with the driving. You have to explain to them that is all you can do a trip up there every 2-3 months. You could tell her you have to think about homework and activities that they do and they would hate to miss out. She may reluctantly give in then.

Italiangreyhound Thu 01-Sep-16 02:19:36

CheerfulYank bloomin' heck, that was long!! But yes, Cheerful, I did read it all.

And my advice is, tell them (if you want to) or don't tell them.

You could not (and should not) do a ten hour round trip to drop your kids off at your parents house. Way too exhausting. Neither should they.

If your dad wants to build you a spare room, I'd let your dad do it, and I'd encourage them to stay if you would like them to.

If the looking after the kids is for your parents benefit (e.g. they want to see the kids) not they are doing you a favour by having the kids, then I think it is perfectly reasonable they do the bulk of the driving.

I'm a person who likes to clear the air, so I would probably say something like "Mum, it sounded on the phone like you were a bit upset, can you explain more if you are upset about something?"

Then when she talks just respond to what she says.

If her and your dad decide to move closer, they could, their choice, and you would not need to be there at their beck and call, just make it clear that you would not before they sold up and moved!

In your shoes I would also develop a local network of friends who could look after the kids for appointments etc and make family meeting times a time for you and your dh to see your parents as well as the kids; rather than a time to do up the house. Just get the job finished and get on with life.

My parents are both now dead, one died aged 70 something and one aged 80 something; my dad never met either of my kids and my mum's dementia was so bad by the time our son joined us by adoption that she wasn't really able have a relationship with our son. So maybe I am a bit biased!

I'd make the family more of a priority, get the DIY fixer upper out of the way and make time to learn to drive if you would like to.

All the best.

Canyouforgiveher Thu 01-Sep-16 02:21:51

Right, but you asked whether they taught me.

Yes I did. They didn't. To my mind considering they drive themselves, they were a bit shit in not teaching you to drive or ensuring you learned how to drive.

Or I would know how.

Doesn't make sense to me - you can learn to drive at any time. My comment about your parents was more about them not being on top of the things your needed to learn - not about you - you can learn to drive any time,

Unless you live in downtown Manhattan or equivalent I think you probably should. But that is my priority, not yours.

But to go back to your OP, I would just smile or laugh when your parents say anything about your meeting them halfway or whatever. Just say "well I don't drive as you know and we don't need the kids to go to you, we're fine as we are"

bibbitybobbityyhat Thu 01-Sep-16 02:25:11

Oh don't be so bloody po faced cafecrem! I said it an affectionate way ... CheerfulYank knows me from years back.

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