Sunday, February 12, 2012


A better title for this post might be "the post in which I vent about people who mean well." I have just 10 weeks of maternity leave planned, so this venting session is set against the backdrop of knowing that I have just a limited amount of time home with my new baby and to transition my toddler to new family dynamics.

My mother is very excited about the baby and desperate to play with Miss M (she hasn't seen Miss M in person since September, although we Skype often). I think she waited about 5 minutes after we announced Numero Dos before she booked her plane tickets to come visit. She's due to arrive a week after my due date, and she's coming with my aunt. They're staying for a week. I am completely fine with this, because they will actually play with Miss M to exhaustion and generally be helpful. Plus, if they are bugging me, I can totally tell them, and they will get it and not be offended. My mom is generally not one of those intrusive people who foists her opinion on other people, for the most part, which makes her pretty easy to deal with. My aunt doesn't really do that either (and doesn't have kids, so she doesn't push her experiences on anyone as the be-all, end-all parenting advice). I'm excited that they are coming to visit, and totally fine with the timing of their visit. (Plus, I think this baby is coming early, and their visit is scheduled for a week after my due date.)

My MIL also wants to come visit, but she has plans until mid-April. She is physically quite limited (overweight; bad knees; limited movement), and won't really be helpful in the days and weeks post-birth, so this plan is preferable to her coming shortly after the birth. It will be more work to have her here than to not have her here, if you know what I mean. Plus, she IS one of those people who foists her opinions on other people. When T. went home this summer, it was an endless stream of parenting tips, which kind of bugged me. He'd been a parent for a year an a half at that point, all by himself in Europe with only me for support, and doing a great job. Really, he didn't need meddling, however well-intentioned it might have been. Not to totally get distracted by a rant, but she also says unfortunate things ALL THE TIME. She means well, but things just come out of her mouth. . .like the other day when she told me that she believes that Numero Dos is going to be a "fat" baby. What's up with that? You don't tell a woman who's about to give birth that she's about to have a "fat" baby. You don't tell a parent that her baby is "fat." But anyway. . .MIL wants to come later this spring. She suggested at some point that she not come until after I go back to work from my maternity leave. I took this to mean she'd rather come when I won't be around, but whatever. The only dates that really work are late May, as I don't want her here as we first transition from me being at home to me going back to work. I think that will be a rough period for both T and Miss M to get used to, and we don't need anything added to that equation. So late May. . .but I'm still trying to weigh whether it will be too much work for T to manage a new baby, a toddler, AND taking care of his mother (she will expect to be waited on, as that is what he always has done for her--which was fine until we had kids). But still, we can make this work if I put my foot down and say she has to come in late May, as opposed to any other time.

We have friends who live in Africa, and due to a medical issue, they will be coming through Europe in early April. They have a toddler that is Miss M's age and the two of them are great pals. Our house is a natural stopover point for them when they come and go from Africa, and we offered for them to stay with us a long time ago. We are more than happy to have them, they are no trouble whatsoever (indeed, having an in-house playmate for Miss M is worth gold), and we can't wait to see them. Plus, they get it.

So, if you are playing along so far, my due date is March 9, I have guests arriving a week later and staying until almost the end of March, then I have guests in early April, and then in late May.

My stepsister is living with us right now. We offered to let her live with us for free so she could study in Europe. We are delighted to have her with us, and Miss M loves her. She occasionally babysits for us, but I try not to use her too much, because I really want her time here to be about getting out and enjoying life and expanding her horizons. (Contrast this to a work colleague of mine who has her brother living with her for free, in exchange for him nannying three days a week for her!). I truly enjoy the girl, but she is often utterly oblivious. She grew up in a very laid back household, so I don't think that it even occurs to her sometimes that her behavior might bother us. Like, I just went into her bathroom (which she will have to share with my houseguests in a few weeks), and it's FILTHY. Like, teenage boy filthy. I won't even describe the grossness, but it is super gross. Someone is going to have to scrub it before my mother comes, and I kind of think it should be her, and not T, but that's not really a conversation I relish. At Christmastime, she wanted a friend from home to stay with us, which we consented to. However, we didn't think to ask how long the friend was staying (every guest we have had since she's been here has stayed no longer than a week), and learned just before the friend arrived that she was staying TWO WEEKS! It never occurred to me that she would think that such a long visit was just okay, without specifically asking. Who invites someone to someone else's house for TWO WEEKS without specifically mentioning it? So anyway, she has just asked if another friend can come visit. . .during the last two weeks of my maternity leave. We are thinking about trying to take the kids somewhere warm during that timeframe, and if we do that, it's less of an issue. But if we are here, I don't want a stranger in my house for the last two weeks of my maternity leave. I just don't. That's my time with my family, and it may be selfish of me, but I don't want anyone here. We are clearly going to have to have another conversation that I also do not relish.

My father and his wife (my stepsister's mother) were also talking about coming to visit. My father was on the fence about visiting, so I knew he might not come, and my stepmother talked about coming with various other people, including a friend of hers that we know well. We were fine with that. However, she's waffled on dates for months. She finally told us (without checking first) that she'd taken off a week at the end of April and planned to come then. I told her it was fine, but it also fell during the time we may travel, so she agreed to change her dates. This weekend, without checking with me, I got an email from her saying that she'd changed her dates again and booked her tickets. . .without talking with us first. She's now arriving the day after my mother leaves. Also, my father isn't coming, and she's bringing a friend with her, which I only learned from a meme that the friend happened to send around which noted she was going to Europe! She's staying for a little over a week. I'm happy to have her come visit, and I know the point of her visit is really to see her daughter and not my children. I have to say, though, that I thought it was pretty rude that she'd book tickets without talking to use first. I know she didn't mean to be rude (she's not a rude person. . .like her daughter, she's just super laid back, and it simply doesn't occur to her to do things that the rest of the world would do to be polite).

If you have bothered to read this far and have at all been able to follow the story, you will recognize that this means that I will have guests essentially from a week after my baby is born (if she arrives near her due date) until she is about a month old. Then I will have a week or two without guests, and then have guests again for a few weeks. Unless I put my foot down, which I am obviously going to have to do. Thank goodness European airfares tend to spike in the summer. June-August will be blissfully quiet on the visitor front!

I know people mean well. I know they love us, and they want to see the kids. But I think everyone has also forgotten that this is our family time, too, and it's feeling a little overwhelming. I'm sure it will all work out, once I push back on my MIL and my stepsister's friend. But I really needed to vent about it, because right now, as I try to wrap up work projects and wash baby clothes and transition my toddler to a big girl bed and order the remaining things that I need for this baby and apply to preschool and schedule our move for next fall and buy a new car, it's all feeling like a bit much.


Rebeccah said...

Good grief! You're feeling like it's a bit much because it IS a bit much. Definitely do whatever it takes to make sure that you have the postpartum time that you want and need. If people will really be helpful, great. But if not? It's so so SO not worth trying to make the effort just to be polite or avoid hurting someone's feelings. (Wishing I'd followed my own advice, obviously ...) It does sound like it may be time to draw some boundaries or change the house rules for your stepsister, even just temporarily during your leave. Is that possible?

I wish you weren't having to deal with all this stress and potentially stressful conversations at the end of your pregnancy. As I look back at the end of my pregnancy, I realize that I didn't demand enough help when I needed it. I was sure I could handle things and ... well, I did ... but it sure could have been different if I'd set a few more boundaries, both at work and at home. Hoping things work out for the best!

Jamie said...

Oh goodness! It makes my head spin just to think about it.

It will be a blessing in a lot of ways to have the extra company/playmates for Miss M. I think it will help her adjust to the transition of having to share her parents' attention. So that's a positive. But I remember when Skeeter was born, while I appreciated everyone's care and help, I really wanted to be alone with my baby and not have to worry about, well . . . anything. What I looked like, if I was dressed, if my pajamas matched, if Skeeter's pajamas matched, being able to whip out a boob and feed and not care about who was around.

Even though they mean well, I totally understand the stress surrounding your 2+ months (gulp!) of visitors.

Manda said...

I didn't let anyone buy my mom visit for the first two weeks after Emerson was born. I just couldn't deal with it, didn't want the "help," and honestly couldn't stand the thought of other people holding my baby. It was literally two whole weeks before someone other than me, James, or my mom really had much to do with Em. Put your foot down. Your comfort is all that is important.