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Mum looking after DD when I return to work - how to not feel jealous?!

(16 Posts)
Pawsandclaws Sun 09-Aug-09 20:45:01

I am returning to work in a few months time. My DD (8mo) will be in nursery PT and then my mum and dad will be looking after her a couple of days in the week.

My mum is a lovely grandma but she is pretty smothering in her attention to DD, almost too enthusiastic. eg she wants to be the one who rocks her to sleep, dresses her, changes her nappy, gets her in and out of the pram etc - all during the course of a normal day out together. I feel like I have to compete a bit or I won't get a look-in, which is ridiculous as it's my own DD.

Don't get me wrong, I know I am lucky to have such a loving grandma for my DD but I fear that I will have trouble setting boundaries when Mum is looking after her when I return to work. Mum and I have a history in that she is quite a force of nature whereas I am gentler and meeker and Mum is used to getting her own way/laying down the law.

I don't quite know what I am worried about. I suppose it's that Mum always wants to get there first, such as with new books and toys, is a bit put out when I say DH & I have done something new with DD such as take her swimming or to the zoo as she wants to be the one taking DD to experience these things. When Mum and I are out shopping together she's a bit put out if I spot something nice for DD first as she wants to be the one to get the nice things. I know I know I know that most would give their right arm for this but the trade-off is that I am left feeling not in control and somehow like a child again, and I fear this will only get worse when Mum has DD to herself.

An essential bit of info is that I was adopted aged 3, so Mum missed out on the baby years. It sometimes feels a little bit like she wants to live them through DGD. eg if DD is crying, Mum wants to be the one to comfort her and pouts if I ask for her to be handed over to me for comforting.

What can I tell myself to make me feel better about this?

Portofino Sun 09-Aug-09 20:52:14

On one hand I think you need to be firm with her and explain that it is important you get to be there with some firsts, especially as you are going back to work and will inevitably miss some of them. She sounds like a lovely grandma and you are lucky to have this, but i know how you feel.

On the other hand, you will be drinking coffee and going to the toilet in peace, whilst she is changing nappies/dealing with tantrums/food all over the place. So don't be TOO jealous wink. Hey, we used to go to the pub on Friday lunchtime - twas fab!

wonderingwondering Sun 09-Aug-09 20:52:59

It is hard, especially while they are young and you are still getting established as a parent.

Remind yourself how lucky you are that DD is being looked after by someone who loves her just as much as you do. It is natural to feel threatened, but as she gets older, you'll see that no matter how smothering the grandparents are, they always know their mum! And if your mum does things you don't like, just come out and say it: no good bottling it up, and if she's going to be looking after your DD, you need to be able to be frank with her. You'll probably find that by setting some boundaries, she'll see you as a mum, rather than her daughter, too.

luckylady74 Sun 09-Aug-09 20:56:10

I think a lot of Grandmas work through their own personal issues with their grandchildren and it is very hard on you as the actual mum.

On the other hand your dd is very lucky to have someone who loves her so much looking after her 2 days a week.

If I were you (not saying it's right-just what I'd do) I would say as little as possible to your mum about what you do with your dd - you will be safe in the knowledge that you are doing lots of nice things with her and totally leave your mum to get on with it when she has her - make no comment and just take her home.

If going shopping or anything else upsets you then don't do it with her. My mum attempts to buy me everything in the shops very time we go shopping as she compensates for a deprived childhood- I just don't go shopping with her anymore as it's tedious- we just have coffee instead and I insist on paying.

I think you need some space from your mum so let her enjoy her days with dd but leave the rest for your family of 3 as much as possible.

stings Sun 09-Aug-09 20:58:34

Awh, I agree it sounds like your mum is living through the baby years through your dd.

You may find she backs off a bit and lets you take control when you're there as she has had your dd to herself for a while.

I totally let my mum take over and she's pretty similar but it was because she lived abroad for the early years and hardly got to see ds. I felt I kind of had to let her. Now she sees him all the time because of moving home, she has relinquished the control to me.

I would just talk to your mum. Tell her how much you're going to miss your dd. Set groundrules. For instance with me it was not rocking ds to sleep as I wanted him to learn how to sleep on his own. Things like that so she isn't spoiling her or disturbing the routine you have for her.

At least you know at the end of day, your dd will looked after with the utmost care and love.

Pawsandclaws Sun 09-Aug-09 21:14:15

Thanks all

portofino yes, the thought of drinking coffee and wearing heels and dresses instead of dealing with an exploding poo is quite a nice one! Also, as DD gets older, of course she will be delightful but equally, probably more demanding than she is now so Mum will have work cut out!

wonderingwondering you are definitely right about setting boundaries.

luckylady74 it is interesting what you said about getting bought everything in the shops as compensation. My mum was loving but pretty tough on me as a child, and didn't do much in the way of treats or luxuries even though as a family we could have well afforded it. She wasn't very indulgent even on small or silly things that wouldn't cost anything like getting pink soap in instead of green once in a while, just to please me. A part of me thinks she really enjoyed saying no or not indulging me now and again.

Nowadays she couldn't be more generous and is always trying to buy me things.

I completely agree that I shouldn't tell her too much about what we do with DD but I can't help it, because it's "news" and also if I'm being honest, because I want her to know we have already done it so she can't claim it as a "I took DGD to her very first trip to the zoo/swimming pool/swings in the park/theatre show". Then I feel both awful and pathetic for even thinking about things like that.

When I said I had been swimming with DD, she said "Where did you take her? I might go swimming with DGD when you're back at work". I swear she says it to wind me up. She hates swimming.

mrsboogie Sun 09-Aug-09 21:21:52

I understand how you feel as when my DS was 5 months I had to go back to work full time leaving him in a nursery 3 days and with his lovely grandma 2 days a week. His gran would be very aware of not being seen to be trying to take over and would do whatever we asked (or, sensibly, keep quiet about it if she didn't) but I did feel like other people were raising my child and felt jealous or maybe somehow cheated.

In the end though, the most important thing is that your child is happy; you will always be her mum and you are the one who is there every day and night, when she is sick and when she needs comforting. Your baby is lucky and so are you that she has such a loving gran and that you have someone who loves her so much to look after her while you are at work.

If you have any special rules like no rocking to sleep or whatever, just explain them to your mum - be upfront and don't let any resentments fester.

Pawsandclaws Sun 09-Aug-09 21:25:55

Thanks stings. I do remind myself of the fact that DD won't want for anything and that at the very least my Mum will make every effort to make her feel loved, happy and engaged in things.

I actually thought the other day that I really don't want to hear or see what Mum and DD get up to in the day when I'm not there, at least not at first.

Mainly because my mum thinks she's got universal appeal to all children under the age of 15 and grossly underestimates how sophisticated even 10 year olds are these days. That said, little ones under the age of around 6 think she's the best thing ever. Anyway, Mum loves nothing more than having an audience whilst she is charming admiring children. At least it won't be me because I'll be at work. I'm sure she'll make a big fuss of how much DD and her are going to miss each other when DD is dropped back with me, but I'll just have to grit my teeth hey!

Pawsandclaws Sun 09-Aug-09 21:27:35

(DD won't want for attention, it should have read)

stings Sun 09-Aug-09 21:33:38

Imo it's natural to feel jealous of anyone who will be spending time with your dc while you're at work. It's a huge wrench at first.

But as portofino says think of the freedom you will have.

Believe me, as your dd starts to turn 2 sometimes you're glad to drop them off and let someone else have to deal with the current tantrum.

Pawsandclaws Sun 09-Aug-09 22:03:38

Thanks mrsboogie. I fear I will have difficulty bringing up issues with Mum but I'll just have to get over that. The trouble is the things that bother me are so intangible that I can't put them into words adequately.

For example. The other day Mum was over and was holding DD, who was not far off bath and bedtime and starting to get a bit grizzly. Mum let DD cry for a little longer than I thought was necessary, trying to soothe DD herself rather than passing over to me.

I said "Mum, isn't DD's dummy there, can you give it to her please? We are trying not to let her get wound up before bed at the moment as she hasn't settled very well the last few days". Basically Mum was enjoying comforting DD too much to hurry giving her her dummy, or handing her over to me, with the result that DD grizzled for longer than was necessary IMO.

Mum replied that she was taking DD (still crying) to the kitchen as the dummy had fallen onto the floor and needed rinsing. I said pass DD to me or give me the dummy to rinse. Anyway, in the end I took DD, Mum rinsed the dummy, that was that.

DH then made DD giggle and Mum said "Ooh be careful, you're not allowed to let DD get giddy before bedtime are you, I've been told off already!" hmm Making DD giggle once isn't the same as keeping her grizzling in my book, but Mum turned it into that and also put DH in an uncomfortable position to as well.

How the heck do I navigate this sort of meaningless yet complex situation?

luckylady74 Mon 10-Aug-09 08:59:20

That sounds like the sort of thing my mil comes out with and because she's not my mum I bite my tongue and think 'silly twit' in my head.
However, if my mum says that sort of thing I just say 'Don't be ridiculous I wasn't telling you off' and that's the end of it- she backs off then.I suppose I know my mum having seen me through the teenage years can cope with me being a bit stroppy!
What would happen if you said 'I wasn't telling you off and you're great at making her laugh, but I try to not let her cry before bed.'
You're naturally angsty because you're going back to work, you're babyis still young and your hormones are at play too. I think when you go back to work, get some distance, get into a routine and so on then I think you'll be able to brush that kind of silly comment off - because it's just her being childish really isn't it?

Pawsandclaws Mon 10-Aug-09 21:42:04

That would have been good to say luckylady74, I'm just rubbish at assertiveness especially when it comes to my mum.

She is being childish when she says that sort of thing though and it does get to me. My sister has got so cheesed off with Mum's foibles she has distanced herself quite successfully from the family, as spending too much time with Mum winds her up. My sister thinks I'm mad for making an agreement for Mum to look after DD, because of Mum's meddling and point-scoring ways. However the main fact is that Mum will be a wonderful caregiver to DD and that's what's important. Otherwise DD would have solid weeks in nursery and although that's not bad, it's not as good as getting some one-to-one care from family who love her.

Some of it is that "Sunday night" feeling - waiting to start work is playing on my mind quite a lot at the moment and I am subconsciously counting down the weeks left with DD sad. I hope when I'm in the swing of things I'll feel better but it's hard when DD isn't even crawling yet, to picture her spending days and days with other people. But lots of other families do fine with mums going back to work.

deste Mon 10-Aug-09 22:20:28

"However the main fact is that Mum will be a wonderful caregiver to DD and that's what's important." I think you have hit the nail on the head there. You will be able to relax when your mum has her.

luckylady74 Mon 10-Aug-09 22:34:10

I absolutely agree with you that having some one on one caring as well as nursery is for the best if possible. Tbh I see a huge amount of my inlaws because it's so important to me that they have a relationship with my kids-the kids love them and I do believe 'it takes a village to raise a child'They can offer time, focus,unconditional love and a different perspective.
However, if I had no kids I'd see them a lot lot less!
I'm assuming full time work is a financial necessity and there's no other way.. (because you don't seem keen}- lots of mums on here do work full time so you'll get lots of support if you post about your apprehension.

Pawsandclaws Tue 11-Aug-09 20:07:23

Well, I'm not keen as such but my job is do-able, mid-level, not a terrible commute, and it seems foolish to pass up on guaranteed income in these changing times as if DH's job suddenly went we'd really struggle. We could survive on DH's wages alone but it's putting eggs in one basket.

Also I think that if I don't go back now I never will and then it becomes a lost trail of career which will only get harder to pick up again the longer I leave it.

When chatting to DH last night about it I came to the realisation that this is not only my first baby, it's Mum's first baby too. Most grandmas have actually had the baby/babies and move on to enjoying their DGC whereas Mum is behaving like it's her first born, because in effect it is the closest she's ever got to having a baby of her own.

I sympathise with that but at the same time it upsets me in a primal kind of way because I don't want to feel like I am competing with my mum for the role of Mum - I am Mum and she is Grandma but it feels like she's going for the Mum role instead sometimes.

Mum has started calling DD by the nickname I use for her, for example, and it's not a variation or shortening of her name type of nickname, it's a very specific word. Things like that do bother me.

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