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Struggling with DC and feel hurt that DPs don't help

(151 Posts)
FurryGiraffe Wed 07-Jun-17 10:53:51

I'm finding myself increasingly hurt and resentful of my DM and it's affecting our previously close relationship. I really don't want to fall out with her, but I'm not sure how to proceed.

DH and I have two DC: 4 and 1. DC2 is a delight, but an appalling sleeper. This is mainly due to illness and food intolerance issues, which cause him discomfort and wake him up. We're working with the GP to fix things, and it is very very slowly getting better, but at this point we've had 7 months of very disrupted and fragmented sleep and we are both exhausted. DC2 wakes evening and night so evenings are often absorbed by dealing with him, with the result that DH and I often don't eat together and it's fairly rare that we even get to watch an hour of tv together without having to pause it for one of us to sort DS2 out, which all adds to that sense of never being off duty IYSWIM. It was just about manageable when I was on maternity leave, but add in full time work (even in a very flexible job) and commuting and I feel at breaking point: tired, constantly tearful, stressed, very very down.

My DPs live 15 miles away. DF still works full time but DM is retired. She is in her early 60s with no significant health issues. I visit regularly with the boys and they are wonderful grandparents, but they very rarely have either or both of them alone. They used to babysit DC1 in the evening fairly regularly, but haven't since DC2 was born. DM did look after them both for a couple of hours so we could visit schools for DC1 and they have had DC1 once overnight since DC2 was born.

Now, I know that they are my children, not my DPs' and that my DPs no doubt feel (quite rightly!) that their child-rearing days are over and they are under no obligation to look after them. That's fine. I get that- I agree with that, completely. But I am really really struggling and my DM knows that. Moreover, I know how much help both sets of DGPs gave my DPs when I was a child (childcare, financial, DIY, gardening- you name it). DM also regularly visits her sister and helps her out with cleaning/household stuff. I can't help but feel that if in 30 years time one of my DC and their partner were in a similar situation, I would want to help, because they're my children and I love them and I would want to make things easier for them. Even if it were sodding hard work and even if it knackered me, I would want to help. I feel hurt that my DM doesn't seem to want to help. And the longer it goes on the more hurt I feel.

Rationally, I know my DM hasn't done anything wrong, but emotionally, I'm really struggling with it. Being chronically sleep deprived probably isn't helping at all- I'm very emotional/quick to anger etc at the moment. But I need to work out a way of getting past this because it's affecting my relationship with DM- I really don't want to see or speak to her at the moment and I feel horrible about it.


3boys3dogshelp Wed 07-Jun-17 11:02:58

No advice sorry OP. I'm in the same position and it's really shit isn't it. I feel like it just doesn't occur to them that I'm completely, ridiculously exhausted.
I have tried being quite blunt with them but even then they might agree to help (eg took them for one night last Nov after I was in tears because I was so overwhelmed). Apparently the boys were a delight, beautifully behaved. Everyone had a great time. They have asked their GPs politely if they can stay again to be told 'not now' repeatedly until they have given up asking.
Mum asked what I wanted for my birthday. I said a night off and she laughed and asked what I really wanted hmm.

hellsbellsmelons Wed 07-Jun-17 11:05:12

What does she say when you ask her to have them so you can rest a bit?

FurryGiraffe Wed 07-Jun-17 11:22:46

Sorry you're in the same situation. It's crap, isn't it? DS1 is forever asking if he can have another sleepover at Grandma's but they're so unenthusiastic about it (and complain endlessly about how tiring he is) that I don't raise it. My mum frequently tells me that I 'don't look' like I get as little sleep as I do. I don't know whether this is her obliquely telling me that she doesn't believe me. The other week I very very nearly fell asleep at the wheel driving home from work. Very little response when I told her this.

Generally there will be a vague sentiment about wanting to help but having X, Y or Z to do. The other week DH was away for work and DM made noises about how she could come over and help, as long as she didn't have to go and visit my aunt. Lo and behold, she went to visit my aunt (they're both retired, there were no specific events/appointments to attend- she could have gone any night).

Dawnedlightly Wed 07-Jun-17 11:26:44

I think you need to be blunt and say outright- Mum I'm on my knees, can you help me? And follow up with a specific, e.g. next time your dads away she comes and stays 2 nights or you deliver the dcs there next Friday.

Dawnedlightly Wed 07-Jun-17 11:28:19

Reread and seen it'snyour dh not dad, that makes it easier as you have the dates and can be specific.

superfluffyanimal Wed 07-Jun-17 11:30:07

Have you someone else that could help? maybe ask a friend with a child DC1's age for tea/a sleep over and offer to reciprocate?

What is you want from your DM? a few hours childcare in the day so you can nap? or are you wanting your DM to have DC2 overnight? if so I think that you are expecting too much, I wouldn't leave a DC with these sleeping behaviours with anyone other than my DH tbh.

Sleep deprivation is awful, Can you and your DH do alternate nights? so only one of you is disturbed at a time?

My DM has never had my DC overnight without me there, yes to babysitting and helping out but not overnight.

2014newme Wed 07-Jun-17 11:31:24

Have you asked for specific help eg "mum please could you babysit one night next month"
People aren't mindreaders!
We've never had any help from parents ever. I'm afraid it is quite common.

nuttyknitter Wed 07-Jun-17 11:32:48

I can't imagine behaving like your Mum. My DGD was a terrible sleeper and my DD had PND - I couldn't have borne to stand by and watch her struggling. And the bonus is that I now have a wonderful relationship with them both. Can you be very explicit with your Mum and ask her outright for babysitting, a sleepover etc?

3boys3dogshelp Wed 07-Jun-17 11:35:32

Yep - that's what happens to me. Or they agree to do something quite happily and then the day before manage to manfacture a situation which means they can't do it after all. We were stuck for a couple of hours one day last week over half term. Oh and I work together and due to staff illness and holiday we both had to work later than holiday club finished. DM happily agreed to collect them and have them for 2 hours. We had already paid for holiday club for the day rather than ask her to have them for too long. Then the night before rang me to say they wanted to go out for dinner, what time would I be home? (I had already told her 6pm) then said that time was too late because her friends wanted to go ridiculously early (5.30 to a venue an hour from DM's). When I pointed out that I knew DF wouldn't be finished work in time for them to go out that early anyway she grumpily said she might as well have them then!! I won't be asking her again and I know that's what she wants but it just makes me really sad.
I have phases of feeling quite philosophical about it and phases of feeling that she is very very selfish. We used to stay with GPs for a week at a time so they could go on holiday!!

impossibledreams Wed 07-Jun-17 11:36:14

I feel for you OP, sounds incredibly selfish because as you say you're still her child and you need help.

Will she become a martyr if you ask directly for help? Perhaps because of the help she had she doesn't realise how hard it is for you and thinks you're managing.

ssd Wed 07-Jun-17 11:37:50

one thing I've noticed over the years on MN is that grandparents who could but don't help out were very often given loads of help themselves when their kids were young.

they just seem to be extraordinarily selfish

of course its great they have their own busy lives, but they haven't a clue how hard it is for you op as when they were in that position, or similar, they had their own parents diving in and helping out

I feel for you thanks

I wouldn't raise it with your mum as I don't think you'll get anywhere...but I wouldnt forget it.

prettywhiteguitar Wed 07-Jun-17 11:44:10

Oh yes this is familiar ! We recently had a night off and Gp took all the children (3) for the night, but only because we asked them directly and we we're going through an extraordinary experience personally. Dh's mum had her mum round every day to help her with dh was little.

This generation have it all don't they ! Most of them retired at 50 as well 😂

prettywhiteguitar Wed 07-Jun-17 11:45:25

I have to say that if she thinks it's funny perhaps you need to be really serious with her and direct.

JaneEyre70 Wed 07-Jun-17 11:48:50

I had 3 kids under 5, was permanently exhausted and my eldest had ADHD so it was unbelievably hard going. My mum would breeze in once a week for about 45 minutes, then breeze back out again. What hurt most was she was seeing this awful man and looking after his kids.... completely neglecting not only me but my DC too. I was so so hurt over the years that I vowed to do everything in my power to help my eldest DD out with her 3 little ones, and I do. I have one of them most days, so she gets some one to one or time to herself around playgroup and whenever she's ill or one of the kids are, I wade right in. I'm baby sitting tonight after having the baby most of the day, because that's what grandparents do. I'm so sorry your parents don't help more, it is really shit but it's also something you can't make them be IYSWIM. Your mum is turning a blind eye to your struggling. I had to lower all my expectations with my I've done my whole life really sad. She puts herself first and in a way always has done.

ImperialBlether Wed 07-Jun-17 12:05:54

I think ssd is spot on with her observations. Those who've received a lot of help themselves have become selfish.

I think I'd go down the route of "Remember when Granny used to come and help you every day" and "Remember when you went on holiday and we stayed with Granny" etc.

I couldn't imagine treating my children like that.

P1nkP0ppy Wed 07-Jun-17 12:12:12

My DM told me even before dc1 was born to 'never expect me to help out with your children' and, apart from when I was blue lighted into hospital with a late mc, she never did. However, she had both my sisters' children day and night from the beginning 'because they deserve some help' 😟
Wtf was that about? I still wonder 38 years later.
As a MIL I very happily help out whenever I can, it wouldn't cross my mind not to.

P1nkP0ppy Wed 07-Jun-17 12:14:00

And despite living only 12 miles away she only visited us 4 times in 22 years and has never been to this house unless we collected her (twice in 20 years).

Loopytiles Wed 07-Jun-17 12:15:06

Could one issue be that they are fearful of caring for DC2 given the health/food issues?

What about the ILs, might they help?

Is DH as exhausted as you are? If not, perhaps he could do more?

Or paid childcare, perhaps in the daytime at weekends.

Pinkknickers Wed 07-Jun-17 12:16:49

Some grandparents feel like they can't offer help in case it offends. Have you tried outright asking for some help? She might be waiting for you to ask? Xx

FurryGiraffe Wed 07-Jun-17 12:52:46

I was specific! I thought she was coming over- not to help at night or anything, just during the day to look after the kids for a bit so I could have a nap. But no- other things were more important.

I agree overnight would be far far too much and I'd never ask or expect it. An evening would be nice. Or a couple of hours in the day occasionally.

Thanks for the practical suggestions everyone. DH and I have split the nights down the middle since I went back to work, so he's doing absolutely as much as he can. ILs too far away to help and don't visit. Paid childcare is an option now DS2 is settled at nursery and knows his keyworker fairly well and we will pursue that. But it's only partly about the practical issues, IYSWIM- mainly I'm just hurt that she doesn't want to help. And especially that she's willing to help other people but not me. Trying to be objective about it, I really don't think she's selfish generally: she's quite willing to help out other people. I seem to be the exception. Maybe she doesn't think we need it/thinks other people need it more. I just don't understand why I'm so low down her list of priorities.

Wolfiefan Wed 07-Jun-17 12:58:53

I love my kids to bits. But I am sorry. I won't be dropping everything to look after their kids (if they have any!) That probably sounds really harsh. Happy to babysit or help in an emergency but I have raised my own children and I won't be sad to see the end of the early years. It's hard work! I don't fancy doing it all again when I'm older.
Can you afford any nursery sessions to give you a break? Or can you be honest and ask for one specific thing to help?

SometimesMaybe Wed 07-Jun-17 12:59:37

You are absolutely not wrong, I couldn't imagine letting my child just get on with it. But you are where you are.
Could you afford for the key worker to come over one night a week/fortnight and get to know both kids and then you and DH get at some sleep between 9-12midnight? Perhaps with a view to her doing an overnight at some stage?
It's going to cost but unfortunately if your parents won't help then I would try and buy help in if in any way possible.

FurryGiraffe Wed 07-Jun-17 13:39:47

Serious question: would you really regard being asked to come over and look after the DC (by which I just mean keep an eye on them- no need to feed them/get them to sleep/take them out etc) for a couple of hours as a one off as 'dropping everything'? I'm trying to understand my DM's perspective. Maybe she thinks I'm being really demanding.

Wolfiefan Wed 07-Jun-17 14:38:12

They live 15 miles away. So a thirty mile drive.
They no longer have small children so have built their life round other things. They would have to leave these things. Hobbies, friends, routines, etc to come to you.
A couple of hours. Plus the drive. That's not a flying visit.
And at 4 and 1 you can't just "keep an eye" on children. They will want her undivided attention.
You say since DC2 she hasn't offered. Maybe she feels she could cope with one but not two.
I'm sorry if I sound like a complete cow! But I have spent years looking after my own kids. I'm looking forward to maybe one day having a holiday without them or spending a chill out day with my husband or not having to rush back for school pick up. I would like some time just for me!

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