The Mother-in-Law who keeps on coming
So I just had a baby, and my MIL has been coming over all the time to “help.” I’ve asked her to check with me before coming over, but she just shows up whenever she wants, saying something like, “Oh I forgot to tell you I was on my way.” As much as I love my MIL, I want some space to enjoy being a new mom. I’ve asked my husband to talk to her, and he just tells me it would hurt her feelings if we made a big deal about it. I’m sleep deprived and hormonal, and if something doesn’t change soon, I’m worried I’ll freak out on her. Help! -New Mommy
Dear New Mommy,
I am so sorry you have to deal with this right now. Having any unwelcome visitors with a newborn can be incredibly taxing and frustrating. It’s even harder when they’re family. Since you have already tried to address this with your MIL, I wonder if it would be best to impress upon your husband how important it is for him to support you. Once he understands the severity of the situation from your perspective, he might be more amenable to having a conversation with his mother, even if he doesn’t fully agree. Hopefully, he can find a way to discuss the situation in a way she’ll understand or at least respect. If your husband completes refuses, I would explore this and (depending on how much it bothers you) consider discussing it in couple’s counseling. My husband and I talk to our families for each other all of the time. When you’re having a disagreement over a sensitive topic, nuances are important, and we know our families best. Navigating family dynamics is a HUGE part of marriage, and it just becomes more important with children. I hope you find some peace and quiet with your new baby.
A Division of household labor
My husband works full-time, and I’m at home with the kids. I have one kid in kindergarten, and two little ones at home. Even though he doesn’t say anything, I can tell my husband gets upset when he comes home and the house is messy or the laundry isn’t done or I haven’t prepared dinner well enough. Am I crazy to think he should be helping me with some of these things? I mean, I get it. He’s at work all day, but I’m not exactly at the spa either. How do most people split up the responsibilities? -SAHM
I think the answer to this question differs within each household. But first, have you spoken to your husband about it? Maybe he will have some insight into why he comes home upset? It is very possible he could be upset with you, but maybe he’s upset with himself that he isn’t able to help more. Whenever I look or feel overwhelmed, my husband will often be disappointed in himself for not being able to provide additional resources to help me. But to be honest, even with all of the resources in the world, parenting is still hard and overwhelming at times. If you decide to have a conversation to glean more information about his emotional state when he arrives at home, I think it’s important to establish expectations. What are realistic expectations for the state of the house with several young children around? What is the division or labor between adults and children? Each family will decide who is in charge of which responsibilities. Yev and I divide and conquer based on strengths, which means he’ll often clean the dinner dishes, while I pay the bills. You just have to find what works for you. Each family is different.
My Bossy Sister
Look, I love my sister, but whenever she comes to town, she spends most of her time telling me how to parent differently. Just because she’s older doesn’t mean she can just boss me around anymore. I mean, we’re in our 30’s! I’m not 7 years old. I’ve asked her multiple times to please leave me alone, but she continues to offer unwanted advice. What the heck am I supposed to do? -Fed Up Felicia
Hi Fed Up Felicia,
Unsolicited advice can be extremely frustrating. Sometimes I feel like we are inundated with it as moms. So you can try talking to her about it again and set some really firm boundaries. I’ve found that when people don’t understand how much something bothers you or are too distracted to notice, setting really firm boundaries changes that very quickly. It can also make them think you’re “being ridiculous” or “making something out of nothing,” but only you can decide if the stress from enforcing a boundary is greater or less than the stress endured by her comments. If you decide to set a boundary, reach out to her and let her know how much you want to enjoy spending time with her when she comes, but that her comments really upset you. She may say something like, “Well, I can’t change how you take my advice. I’m just trying to tell you what worked for me. I’m just trying to help.” You can respond with something like, “I appreciate the sentiment, but I won’t be able to spend as much time with you (if any) if you aren’t able to let me experience parenting in my own way. I know you mean well, but it’s putting a strain on our relationship. I hope we can come to a compromise because I love you.” Your sister may simply not realize how much she’s hurting you. I hope you are able to find some common ground with her. Sisterhood is a special bond.