Tuesday 25 January 2011

Out Laws

I've asked for topics for my blog, and it was suggested that I blog about in-laws. Now on the in-law front I have been very lucky, and I have lovely in-laws, who my son love to bits, as can be evidenced in the pictures above.

However, of course, life isn't all a bowl of smarties, and we've had one or two differences over the last year or so. And to be fair, the majority of which were down to me, I wouldn't go as far as to say they were my fault, but more the product of my traumatised adult brain.

So rather than focus on me, lets look at why in laws sometimes drive us nuts. I've found that the biggest problems usually occur with the new mum and the mother in law and occasionally father in law, so here is what I think the big issues are.

1. Often, the only thing we have in common with our in laws is our love for the son/husband/partner.

2. We come from different family backgrounds with different experiences of child rearing.

3. Accompanied with these inherent differences, ideas and practices about child rearing change all the time. Our mothers in law might have weaned at 12 weeks, or might have given rusks as first foods, or be happy to give chocolates at a young age. They might have left their babies outside to sleep in all weathers.

4. Often, particularly if we don't live near our in-laws, the times spent together are very cloistered and very intense, for example in our case, we have to stay in each other's houses, which is usually fine, but sometimes, if there is a bit of steam that needs letting off, there is no where to do it.

5. When we are new mums we can be like lionesses, very protective of our young, and loathe to let them wander into the extended pride.

6. Some in laws (and gladly not mine) just have no clue and are not prepared to listen. Some older people find it very hard to accept new family members, and find our ideas quite difficult, or even repulsive.

I am very lucky in that our perspectives on raising children are very similar. I found it difficult at the beginning, because everything seemed so different for us. In my husband's family, breastfeeding is the norm, and I was unable to do this, and I felt I'd let not only my baby down, but the whole family, which is an enormous pressure. One day my dear son did a huge enormous projectile vomit all over the kitchen of my mother in laws house. Father in law bellowed that that wouldn't have happened if Joseph had been breast fed. Fortunately my mother in law is a midwife, and all three of us glared at him!

When I first had Joseph I was in the delivery suite on monitoring and could not see him, my in laws happened to be in the country (they live in Germany most of the year) and came to see me, they fetched all the things a new mum needs, fresh pyjamas, toiletries etc, but my mother in law did the kindest thing, and said they wouldn't go to see Joseph in special care, as I had not met him yet, and for that I am forever grateful. I found it so hard to overcome that period when I was apart from Joseph, and I'd had to share him for so long with nurses that I didn't want anyone else to do anything with him.

I think, though, that at times, in my first year as a mum, I forgot that they (and even my own parents) would want a deep, loving relationship with Joseph. Like that lioness, I felt very protective, and jealous. I didn't want Joseph to love anyone but me. It seems so alien to me now, and somewhat ridiculous, as I had a very close relationship with my grandmother.

I am very grateful to my in laws, who love Joseph, and me, and spend a lot of time thinking of us, and buying thoughtful gifts, and we are together, finding cool things to do!

But I am aware that I am one of the lucky ones, and look forward to hearing your in-law stories, good and bad!

1 comment:

  1. I'm pretty lucky with my inlaws, though likewise not always a bowl of smarties (love that expression!)

    MIL is great and not one to keep tightening the apron strings to her son. She's not mumsy at all and therefore hasn't always got an opinion on what I should or shouldn't be doing with little one. Relationship with FIL is a little tougher and he does seem to revel in winding me up, but they're both really supportive when it comes down to it. And very generous, bless them.

    They brought my partner up very rigidly, but they don't try to enforce those beliefs on me. They know though they know that I'm Miss independent who will dig her heels in and deliberately do the opposite of what someone tells me to do - so they don't even try!!! :)

    Also, I know exactly how you felt concerning wanting to always be with little one because of the initial separation. I still haven't let the inlaws babysit (my folks live away) for anything other than her being too ill for nursery. Think I'm almost ready though! x