My daughter, the mother of three children, started to take an aerobics class. When she mentioned it to her mother-in-law, she asked, “What happens when you’re in Florida (for mid-winter break)? Won’t you miss a class?”
When she mentioned it to me, my first response was, “Don’t you lose your urine when you do that?”
Although I am careful even with my daughters when I give an opinion, I did feel compelled to say (only) to my daughter-in-law, “You know when I mention something, feel free to ignore me.” She answered, “Oh I know!” Lovingly. She said it lovingly. I’m pretty sure.
As much as we love our daughters-in-law (and I do love both of mine), we are different with our daughters. We should be. We’ve known each other all their lives. They are products of our bodies. If we did things pretty well as moms, we know their essences. We can tell from a glance, from a “hello” on the phone, how things are going in their lives. So I am less inhibited with them. After all, we have a history of conflict, and conflict resolution.
I’ve been very lucky. My grandchildren live near me and I babysit on a regular basis. This gives me an opportunity to be part of my children’s lives close up. It gives me a chance to observe things I would not get to see otherwise. To worry more. To approve or disapprove on a regular basis. Oy.
I try not to worry. I try to keep my disapproval to myself. It’s really none of my business. I know it. I recognize their independence. I have no right to approve or disapprove. They do things their own way. It’s their life.
I am sounding defensive. Even I’m hearing it.
I try to apply this rule: I will only say something if I believe that what the kids are doing is physically or emotionally dangerous. I shouldn’t have said anything about starting on fruit instead of cereal and veggies. But kids do like applesauce. They hate peas. Okay, it’s not dangerous exactly. But the baby definitely would have liked eating solids better. Sorry.
I worry more about my grandchildren’s fevers and sniffles more than I did about my own children’s. My friend told me she does too, that it’s because we really don’t trust our children to take care of our grandchildren. So, yeah, maybe I did say—I really think that kid needs antibiotics! Even after they saw the pediatrician.
I try to be useful when I’m at their homes. I wash the dishes in the sink, do the laundry. Not sure why they don’t use bleach–it would make the whites look so much brighter. That sippy cup–they should get a new one, this one looks like it’s been through a war. Why, pray tell, do they keep toys that are missing pieces? (And why am I forbidden from going through the stuff and throwing out? That’s helpful!) It’s impossible to find a matching top and bottom in those drawers–can’t they put them in pairs? (I fold but I’m not supposed to put things away.) And, really, the place looks like Toys-R-Us- no one needs that much stuff.
My kids are all doing a great job. I’m proud of them. I tell them that often.
I’ll keep quiet.
I promise. I’ll really try.