Why Moms Are Here

Posted by on Jan 15, 2013 · 83 Comments

People like to say, “I bet your mom is so excited to be a grandmother. What did she do when she found out you were having a baby?”

“Oh. She immediately put her house on the market.”

And they laugh. They laugh and laugh. “That would be so funny,” they chuckle.

I don’t say anything. I don’t have to. You can see it in my face, my tired eyes, my worried hair.

Their laughter fades away. They whisper, “Oh, you weren’t kidding.”

“No.”

“Your mom…”

“Sold her house.”

“WHEN?”

“Recently.”

“And she’s moving…”

“Here.”

“WHEN?”

“Soon.”

“And you…?”

“I’m trying not to freak out about it.”

“Will she be… HERE-here?”

“No, she’ll be just over there. But pretty close to here. Here-adjacent. Here enough.”

Then it’s quiet for a little while, until that person says, “At least you have your next sitcom.”

So for those of you worried this was going to turn into a Mommy Blog, you can find some kind of comfort that the Mommy in discussion will most likely be mine. Because she’s coming. Here. My mother has sold her house and is currently filling her gas tank to drive across the country to my living room to hold my baby because GRANDMOTHERS CANNOT BE STOPPED.

She didn’t send a onesie. She didn’t stop by for a week to cook and do laundry. She

SOLD
HER
HOUSE.

The baby hadn’t even been born yet when she said — and even though you are going to read these quotation marks I still feel compelled to add the words and I quote here — “I will be there whenever you have to work because I don’t want my baby in some daycare.”

“…Your baby?”

“You know what I mean.”

“Yeah, Mom. I’m afraid I do.”

A sidenote here about the baby’s name. We were often asked what the baby’s name was going to be. Some people would turn angry when we told them we weren’t sure. We had a list. For those who needed something to call the baby, we gave them “Qwerty.” It’s cute, it sounded like we might mean it, and for just a second — if you don’t see it written down — it sounds like a real name. This baby has been called Qwerty by lots of friends and loved ones long before it was born, so that’s the name I’m going to use here on pamie.com, on Twitter and Facebook, etc. I haven’t shared the sex of the baby yet, and I suppose the longer I write about having a baby, the harder it will be to write in a way that sounds natural without using proper pronouns, but for now it’s just a baby named Qwerty, who is having a nap, unaware that with every passing minute GRAMMA GROWS CLOSER.

I haven’t spent this much time with my mother since I was a little girl. Mom worked night shift when I was in high school. I moved out for college and never came back. I never finished the Mother on the Orient Express stories, but what you don’t know is that after ten uninterrupted days together, my mother and I didn’t speak for three weeks. Paris broke us. And yes, now we look back on that trip as nothing but good times, but we had some moments there where one of us was going to kill the other one. And hide the body in the Catacombs.

For almost twenty years my mother’s always been somewhere between 140 and 3000 miles away and now she’s going to be just… over there. And by that I mean on the other couch. Holding my/her baby.

I am sure this news comes as a complete delight to the bulk of you and I’m relieved the things that happen to me continue to amuse countless strangers. I’ll do my best to keep you entertained as I slowly but surely lose control of every remaining minute of my life.

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83 Comments

  1. Annika
    January 15, 2013

    Half of me is HORRIFIED and the other half really wishes my mom would do that so I could take a goddamn nap.

    Reply
    • amanda
      January 15, 2013

      Yes!

      (I am currently on an extended sojourn to my mom’s house with my toddler. I thought my mom would be more helpful. Nope! So, it’s probably best that she’s not usually right over there.)

      Reply
    • Tammy
      January 16, 2013

      Yeah, agreed. After almost two decades of living on the other side of the country from my family, I’m now actively lobbying my recently retired mom to move to my city. Because eight years of parenting two kids without family nearby to help has kind of broken me.

      (Also: I do love my mom. And as my boys get older, I can tell that they wish they have more family members close by. Family is important. Everyone always says that, but it took having kids to make me really realize it.)

      Reply
    • Annalisa
      January 19, 2013

      Yeah.

      Totally.

      It’s not like they notice you even exist once they get to see the grandchild, Pamie.

      It’s more of a “Awww, look at its widdle-iddle hands/feet/mouth/nose!!!! Who needs a grandma hug???”, only giving it back to you when it needs changing or feeding.

      Seriously. I’d kill to have my mom take up some of the slack of the hugging alone, because girlfriend (i.e. tiny terror, i.e. the kid) has done nothing but want to be held for 2 years now, and boy are my arms tired (because she now weighs over 30 lbs but still wants her “mama sits” time).

      Reply
  2. Brett N
    January 15, 2013

    “I never finished the Mother on the Orient Express stories…”

    Dammit, I shoulda trademarked that before suggesting.

    Dammit dammit dammit.

    Maybe I’ll just show up and spell Gramma on watch duty. Kinda like Syndrome.

    Reply
    • Pamie
      January 15, 2013

      Here’s all your royalty payments:

      …………

      Don’t spend all those dots in one place, Brett.

      Reply
  3. Mels
    January 15, 2013

    Oh. Oh god. Note to self: definitely never procreate, just in case your mom moves closer to the baby.

    I would die, Pamie. Like, literally drop dead of a rage-fueled heart attack of fear and anxiety and fat issues.

    Reply
  4. Tamara
    January 15, 2013

    I will admit I’m a little excited for your next book, “Why Grandmother’s are Weird.” Gleeful really.

    Reply
    • Jennifer
      January 15, 2013

      Me too.

      Hell, my mom has made comments about moving to follow me if I ever move…but she’s a hoarder, so maybe I’ll get lucky on that score?

      Reply
      • Pamie
        January 15, 2013

        Mom had three generations of hoarder stuff in her house. Two words: storage pods.

        Reply
  5. Lisa
    January 15, 2013

    My mom did the same thing. She now lives next door. It’s fairly early in the whole thing, but so far, it’s worked out well.

    I had worried, a lot, about us falling back into the same ruts we had when I was 17, i.e. the last time I lived anywhere within a 300-mile radius of my parents. But time and distance have been awesome, and we are both being super-conscious of boundaries.

    I hope it works out as well for your family and your mom too.

    Reply
    • Pamie
      January 15, 2013

      Virtual hug for Lisa. Thank you.

      Reply
      • amanda
        January 28, 2013

        It’s so, so different when you have the kid to focus on. Whenever topics get weird with my mom, I just bring her back around to the grandchild.

        Reply
  6. Omar G.
    January 15, 2013

    My in-laws moved 5 minutes away after a few years of making long trips to see the kids. It’s actually been great. My parents live 20 minutes away and I honestly don’t know how people do it who don’t have grandparental/family help nearby. (I guess babysitters/nannys, which we’re lucky enough to not have ever had to employ).

    Of course, I know this is a whole different situation, but it could be a huge help later on when you just want to get the hell out of the house to see a movie in an actual theater once a year.

    I would avoid train trips, though.

    Reply
  7. asdf
    January 15, 2013

    Couldn’t you just say “no”?

    Reply
    • Pamie
      January 15, 2013

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

      Reply
      • Robyn Jamison
        January 15, 2013

        Omg that would SO not go over!! Lmao!!!

        Reply
  8. Tarable
    January 15, 2013

    Grandmothers (especially first-timers) get shitass crazy. It happened to my mom also. But thank god, she didn’t move.

    On the bright side, free childcare?

    Reply
  9. Jas
    January 15, 2013

    I have never been so happy to have remained child-free in my whole life. It would have been my wife’s mother who moved here to be closer to the grandkid, and there’s a reason we live 1000 miles away from each parental grouping, in between them.

    I hope you are writing your “I appreciate your help but get the hell out of my house!” speech. You’re going to need it sooner than later.

    Reply
  10. Lizzie
    January 15, 2013

    I’m not ashamed to say that I think I fell in love with you just a little bit more.

    Here’s the way it went for my sweetheart when he & his then wife were having a child. Both of his parents (divorced for many years) moved away. One to Florida, the other to Washington, from San Diego. So I’m not sure which is worse.

    But then they never referred to his daughter as ‘theirs.’

    Count me as one of the strangers you’ll continue to amuse. :)

    Reply
  11. Alli
    January 15, 2013

    I like the name QWERTY and hope it sticks for a long time. I’m kind of jealous that your mom will be over-there-adjacent, since all our family lives 4 hours or more away. Close enough for a weekend visit, but not close enough to watch the kids while you go to the doctor by yourself (and sneak in a stop at Starbucks without someone demanding a goddamn cookie). But then I remember I am married and the idea of my husband and my mother living over-there-adjacent is enough for me to be grateful of the 6 hour drive to her house. Also, my mom also called my first born “her” baby and it always grated on my nerves. She doesn’t do it now, since it is 8 years later and she now has 8 grandchildren ranging from 22 to 1.

    Reply
  12. Tamara
    January 15, 2013

    Oh, I’ll also say I’m very jealous that my sister had my mom close by so that her kids knew their grandma. And now that she’s gone I often think about how much she would have loved living in LA after the initial shock wore off.

    Reply
  13. Jen
    January 15, 2013

    Make rules. Stuff like IF YOU TALK TO ME OR USE HAND MOTIONS INSTEAD OF SPEAKING OR EVEN LOOK DIRECTLY AT ME BEFORE 10am, I GET TO KILL YOU. Get it in writing. I speak from experience. (And congratulations! I’ve avoided emailing you because I immediately started giving advice you don’t need. So… Congratulations. Really. And read Anne Lamott’s “Operating Instructions.” It saved me the first year.)

    Reply
    • Dani
      January 23, 2013

      This is a fantastic idea. She won’t listen to “NOOOOO DO NOT MOVE HERE NO. SERIOUSLY, *NO*,” but she might listen to one of those smaller “NO”s.

      Also please try setting up Beatles Rock Band in, like, an entertainment cabinet somewhere, maybe with a remote control that can open the cabinet (you can just leave the Rock Band running forever I think) and using it to magically distract her when she’s overstepping boundaries?

      I think it would work and it would entertain the hell out of me. And I’m PRETTY sure that is the purpose of your blog?

      Reply
  14. Michael
    January 15, 2013

    I don’t know if you recall but you mentioned Qwerty’s sex at your Austin book reading in the late summer. Guess that is an extra benefit for those of us who came out to support you.

    Reply
    • Pamie
      January 15, 2013

      Real life people get bonus footage!

      Reply
    • meadowgirl
      January 15, 2013

      i know! WHOO HOO FOR AUSTIN! HOLLA!

      Reply
  15. Susan
    January 15, 2013

    I couldn’t get through your Orient Express stories because I took that same trip with my mom and she had just passed away when you began posting them. We too almost killed each other towards the end and then thought of the trip fondly ever after as well. I still can’t even type about it without getting teary. Looking forward to your mom stories. You make her sound a little nutty but also kind of fun.

    Reply
    • Pamie
      January 15, 2013

      Susan, what a remarkable trip to have shared with your mom. I’m sorry for your loss, and I feel you on how you can be on the vacation of a lifetime and still want to throttle your beloved travel partner.

      Reply
      • Deidre Carpenter
        January 18, 2013

        My mom bought a motor home, and we went driving all over the country. We also took five cats and a German shepherd. Woo! We managed it, despite some memorable spats.

        Reply
  16. Emily
    January 15, 2013

    Oh my. Start lurking here and get some tips on how to set up boundaries ahead of time, because that whole good fences make good neighbors shit goes 1000x for family!

    http://community.babycenter.com/groups/a4725/dealing_with_the_inlaws_and_foo_family_of_origin

    Reply
  17. Wendy
    January 15, 2013

    You might be pleasantly surprised at how awesome it is to have your mom here-adjacent. My kids have an amazing relationship with my parents, who live on the East Coast (I’m in Colorado), and I would love for them to move here. We’d all be able to see each other more often, and it would be so great to have the grandparents close by to provide babysitting and the occasional sleepover. I don’t necessarily want them on my couch (though I’m assuming that’s temporary for you), but having them a mile away would be incredible for all involved.

    Reply
  18. Lee
    January 15, 2013

    My mom and I spent a week together in Florida. Slept in the same hotel room at night. I still can’t erase the sight of her in her granny panties and bra from my eyes. She is lucky to still be alive! Oh yeah, I discovered the hard way that she has sleep apnea.

    I’m due in September and moving across the country from her in May. Right now, I’m ecstatic about it! Who knows how I’ll feel once the baby comes.

    Reply
  19. slices
    January 15, 2013

    After my son was born, it changed my relationship with my parents, which had ranged from so-so to downright lousy over the past 20 years, in so many ways I can’t count. It brought my mom and I so much closer than I ever thought possible (and it made my dad and I able to not just tolerate each other, but actually get along, for real!). Having them nearby has been wonderful – yes from a convenience standpoint, it’s nice to have the backup plan child care always at the ready. But it’s also been so amazing to watch them with my little guy and how much he has grown to adore them. And he is just their world. It’s nuts how much joy they get from him. We actually just moved, largely to be a little CLOSER to them – instead of an hour away we’re now a half hour. Ask me a few years ago if I would have dreamed that sequence of events, and not so much. Life is funny. You will be really glad your babe and your mom can form a real relationship, even though you will surely have moments of “No. Please don’t go in to get him/her yet. No, he/she is not awake, I’m telling you. That’s just stirring. Please. I think he/she is going back to sleep. Ok, well now he/she is definitely up since YOU’VE OPENED THE DOOR.”

    Reply
    • Amy
      January 16, 2013

      Oh my god that exact conversation happened in my house not a week ago. After my mom stopped up the stairs (in my creaky old house in heels of course). Her response? “He was babbling, I just looked in!”. Of course two hours later when the baby is cranky because he’s now tired I get the ‘oh, he just needs to rest, let him cry for a minute”. Arrrrgh.
      Ahem. Boundaries, set them now. And don’t feel bad about yelling at your mom when she refers to herself as the baby’s mom. I’ve had to do it more times than I can count. I appreciate the help but man, back off mom!

      Reply
      • Dani
        January 23, 2013

        Amen.

        I keep reading all the great stories of how maybe this will all turn out to be a huge blessing. And maybe it will. In some way it definitely will. But I cannot help but think “Sure, it worked out for YOU GUYS, YOU had moms with enough boundaries not to sell their houses and move halfway across the country to be with you without even asking first!”

        Seriously, I love every story about Pamie’s mom and I know their love will build mountains that outlast the universe, but also, that is definitely the kind of love that needs some distance.

        I think let’s stitch “Boundaries, set them now” on a sampler.

        This is not meant to be negative… it is probably an amazing opportunity for boundaries and growth and little baby dandelions frolicking in a field (i am very tired right now, what) – I’ve just been in similar relationships with family and friends, and I want to acknowledge the sheer terror and magnitude of it when something like this first gets going!

        YOU CAN DO IT PAMIE WE ARE HERE FOR YOU

        Reply
  20. Maureen
    January 15, 2013

    Oh Pam, I don’t know what to say. It will be ok? Does that sound convincing? Good luck, I am always rooting for you.

    Reply
  21. Annie G. S.
    January 15, 2013

    Oh, Pamie! I am so very excited for us and very terrified for you! How very Pamie’s Mom of your mom!

    Reply
  22. JennyA
    January 15, 2013

    Bless your heart. And hers.

    Reply
  23. B
    January 15, 2013

    This is actually my plan for when we have kids. Instead of paying for daycare, my MIL will do it and use the money we give her for a condo. I might be less crazy about the idea if it were my own mother though…

    Reply
  24. Anonymous
    January 15, 2013

    I have lived on opposite coast from my mother since 2000 for very good reasons. But you know what? My husband and I really want to see Lincoln. Normally, ~$30. But that’s a long damn movie. Add in $15/hour x 4 hours for a babysitter (drive time to/from the theater in LA traffic), and suddenly a $30 movie is a $90 movie. (Add in more time & money if we also want to have dinner out.) For the sake of ever being able to afford to see a movie again, it would be nice to have my mother a little bit closer. I can count on one hand the number of movies we have seen in the theater since our kid was born 21 months ago (and all but one coincided with parents visiting).

    Set ground rules e.g., you must call before you come over. But I can’t wait to read all about it.

    Reply
    • Dani
      January 23, 2013

      ooh, I like this. Start keeping track of how much money your mom saves you, Pamie! I think it will be entertaining and ease the pain.

      I like doing this with crazy coworkers. When they get on my nerves, I just think, “I’m being PAID $x/hour to listen to this!”

      Until I can walk away, and get paid $x/hour to NOT listen to it, it helps :)

      Reply
  25. Charlie C
    January 15, 2013

    Is there an emoji for “i am having splash-damage anxiety attacks for you”?

    Reply
  26. Melissa
    January 15, 2013

    We are childless by choice an one of the reasons might be that my mom mentioned (threatened/demanded) that if I ever have a baby she stay with us for SEVERAL MONTHS.

    I am not religious, but I will pray for you Pam.

    Reply
  27. Paige
    January 15, 2013

    I bought this book for my stepmom to read to my niece and nephews for Christmas. Now it has a slightly more sinister tone….

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0805076662/ref=oh_details_o00_s01_i00

    (It’s worth noting that she did think it was cute, so it might also just be a good book to read to the kiddo.)

    Reply
    • Pamie
      January 15, 2013

      PURCHASED. Thank you for this.

      Reply
  28. Mike
    January 15, 2013

    Gah! Good luck, I can understand how stressful, yet fun for us, that will be.

    Oh, we didn’t have a name for our son until we saw him. We narrowed it down to two names per gender a few days before then picked one when he was born. It worked out but we had some long, serious talks about the name leading up to that week. We laugh now, though.

    Reply
  29. Heidi
    January 15, 2013

    Are you getting the bundle grandma/aunt combo or just grandma? (Is it wrong that I’m impressed she unloaded her house so quickly?)

    Best of luck to all of you as you adapt/evolve/seek counseling.

    Reply
  30. Alyssa
    January 15, 2013

    Nothing in my life has as big a negative impact on my relationship with my parents as getting pregnant did. And that was something I could never have anticipated so it was doubly hurtful.

    Everyone tried to tell me how great it was that my in-laws lived nearby when I got pregnant with my first child. They tried to tell me how it would change my relationship with them for the better. Everyone was wrong. Horribly, horribly wrong.

    I had a pretty solid relationship with my parents, but my husband’s parents have boundary issues and they grate on me. Now though.. my relationship with my Mom in particular is very tense and I downrght cannot stand my in-laws anymore. :( So I fear for you, a deep fear. And I wish my siblings and siblings-in-law would have some damn kids so our parents stop hovering over my children all the damn time and showering us with countless unwanted gifts and being SO HURT when I don’t want yet another toy or article of clothing or I just want there to be no one in my house because their “help” is often so draining for me to accept. Sigh.

    Reply
  31. Angela
    January 15, 2013

    So happy to hear someone else say their mother (in my case MIL) referred to a grandchild as their child. I stood in stunned silence the first time my MIL told us we couldn’t do something (live in a high-rise apartment building) with “her child.”

    What do you even say? Well, if I’d been thinking (and had already picked my jaw up off the floor) I’d have said “You mean your GRANDchild? Big difference.”

    We’ll see how it works out – this is a new road for us too. In my magical world, all relatives would be required to take a class in healthy boundaries and behavior.

    Reply
    • Amy
      January 16, 2013

      My mother has referred to herself as my son’s mom on multiple occasions. In front of me. Um, yeah, no. There have been many, many stern talks about how grandma does not = mom.

      Reply
  32. J.C.
    January 15, 2013

    Oh, Pamie, I am so terrified and thrilled for y’all!!!! But…I have to say I’m looking forward to the stories! sorry.

    Oh, and I applaud the fact that your baby has a pen name! QWERTY is famous–prior to birth, how cool!

    Reply
  33. Stace
    January 15, 2013

    Oh big squishy hugs to you! My MIL used to go on about how “her baby” was going to be raised when we were still dating. When kids eventually weren’t in the cards for us, I can honestly say there was a part of me relieved.

    Reply
  34. Robyn Jamison
    January 15, 2013

    I can’t wait to see how long your game face lasts. Good luck to you and mom. Love y’all!!

    Reply
  35. Kevin N
    January 15, 2013

    Maybe mom can get your skates polished and greased up for ya!

    Reply
  36. meadowgirl
    January 15, 2013

    i feel like i know you, your mom and all the funny yet touching stories about your mom. i always crack up at them because your mom really reminds me of my mom.

    i know you’re freaked out but i’m so HAPPY that you have a mom who is literally moving mountains to be there for you & your new family. i can’t wait to read the great and entertaining stories…and also be touched by the sweet things that your mom will say. :)

    deep breaths. lots of deep breaths.

    Reply
  37. Alexandra
    January 15, 2013

    You are going TO LOVE IT.

    What a mother.

    Give her a BIG grateful kiss from me.

    My mother saved my life that first year of new motherhood.

    SAVED MY LIFE.

    xo

    Reply
  38. Kristina
    January 16, 2013

    So, my brother and his wife live about 10 minutes from my parents’ house, and I think my SIL had different expectations than my parents about how much they would be involved, and so that was a minor sore point. My parents have motorcycles and go traveling a lot, so they can be pretty selfish with their time, but they’ve stepped up and babysit when my brother and SIL need to get out; and my mom insists on them having a date night at least once a month. Other than that, I have no real advice, other than: there are classes that some hospitals offer for grandparents, in terms of how much has changed since they were raising kids (makes me think of Patton Oswalt talking about how his parents feel like they have to defend how they raised him) – maybe there are some boundary-guidance lessons in there as well. But maybe suggest taking one of those classes to your mom?

    Reply
  39. Rhonda
    January 16, 2013

    I think it will be gift to have your mom closer to you. It gives Qwerty and your mom a chance to form a much deeper relationship than if your mom was across the country. It is a huge comfort to know that my daughter (9) loves and trusts her grandmother so much. Heaven forbid something happen to me, I feel so much better knowing she will have that relationship to get her through life.

    The relationship between grandparent and grandchild can be a source of such joy for both of them, a joy that you will no doubt feel as well. I experience frustration at times (because now my mother is living with me – take a moment to consider that, haha) but the comfort and joy it brings far outweigh the irritations. The days may be long, but the years are short.

    Reply
  40. Tracy
    January 16, 2013

    It kinda makes me sad to hear so many people talk about how they have to move so far away from their parents to be happy. I mean, these parents raised you people and probably did the best they could. Think how you would feel if someday QWERTY was talking about how much s/he would hate living close to you.

    Reply
    • ace
      February 22, 2013

      Oh look, a guilt trip. Is that you, mom?

      Reply
  41. Hannah
    January 16, 2013

    I spent about 12 years living at opposite ends of the country relative to my parents because of grad school/job stuff. We had discussed for a while that it might be nice for them to live closer, so they put their house on the market thinking it would probably take a year to sell it. They had a full-price offer in EIGHT DAYS. So needless to say, they got sooner than anticipated, and now they live in the next subdivision (<1 mile away).

    It really has gone smoothly, and my then-boyfriend was even still willing to marry me, knowing that his in-laws were going to be that nearby. But I think it only works because of one cardinal rule: NO DROPPING BY. That rule goes in both directions.

    Reply
    • Dani
      January 23, 2013

      I love this rule. When I first looked at colleges, lo these many years ago, that was my first rule of thumb: no place close enough that my parents might take it into their heads to just drop by. 75 miles away was just perfect: close enough to visit, but not close enough to do it often. (I knew I couldn’t just tell them to not drop by… my dad in particular has a congenital inability to understand, or possibly even hear the existence of, boundaries.)

      Reply
  42. Jen
    January 17, 2013

    I think I would have a nervous breakdown. But, this may keep you in writing comedy and paying the mortgage well past retirement. That’s probably little consolation.

    Reply
  43. Melissa
    January 17, 2013

    It will be fine. I parented my daughter for the first couple of years without any family nearby and it was really hard. There are babysitters, but mostly you don’t want to leave an actual baby with people you don’t know extremely well, so I rarely got out. When I became pregnant with my son, my mom moved to town, and a few years later my in-laws moved here too. There are certain tensions here and there, but mostly it’s awesome. It’s like having a safety net. If the kid gets sick (or even worse, if you get sick), or if you feel like you’ll lose your mind if you don’t get a few uninterrupted hours of sleep, or if you just have to get out of the house, there are people nearby to help.

    Also, I found that becoming a mother gave me a whole new perspective on my own mother. She still annoys me, but I understand her better. The grandmother role is much easier for her than the mother role was, and it’s gratifying to see how good she is with my kids and how much she loves them.

    P.S. I am not afraid to set boundaries and tell my mom to back off if she’s interfering with the way we parent our kids, or if she does something I really don’t approve of.

    P.P.S. My mom used to say the “my baby” thing too. I told her it bugged me and that really hurt her feelings, so now I wish I’d shut up about it.

    Reply
  44. Jen
    January 17, 2013

    Oddly enough having a baby IMPROVED my relationship with my mom and I am SO GREATFUL that she’s close by. 3 words BUILT IN BABYSITTING. My friends have spent a fortune on nannies, sitters- we just call up Grandma and she is salivating with happiness- even when my kid isn’t. I was terrified of the idea of what would come with my mother being close and her ‘advice’- and she has been very respectful about not interfering.

    Prior to baby- my mother and I could only spend 1 day together, and I’d need to disappear into a bottle of wine to get through it. Now… it’s much easier- she can focus all that smother/love on junior and I can bask in an hour or three to myself. The day she called me up- 4 weeks after my kiddo was born and was like “would you like a nap”- I said YES… and got off the phone and cried with relief. Moms close by offer a lot of bonuses that mom’s far away can’t. (I have both my mom and MIL close- I’m insanely fortunate.)

    Reply
    • MEP
      January 18, 2013

      My mother has never referred to my daughter as hers, but the baby is ten years old now, and my mom still treats me like I’m the baby’s mean older sister. She corrects me when I correct my daughter, and I am ALWAYS way too harsh, way too strict. I feel like secretly, she only gave birth to me to get the grandchild she always wanted. But the free daycare is outstanding, and the power balance shifted between myself and my parents once I gave them their preciiiouussss…

      Reply
  45. Mariel
    January 17, 2013

    *HUGS* to you and your husband. (Icantwaittoreadalltheentriesaboutyourmom.)

    Reply
  46. dk
    January 17, 2013

    Did you read that Dear Margo (or Dear Abby or Dear Someone) letter about the woman who woke up in the night to find her MIL NURSING HER CHILD? Apparently the baby was hungry and you know, MIL just wanted to help out.

    Just thought I’d throw that out there.

    WAIT DON’T GO my mom lives 7 minutes from me and my 5mo bundle of joy, and our relationship has totally improved, and free childcare, and it really is pretty awesome. So there’s also that.

    Reply
    • Dani
      January 23, 2013

      AAAAA!!!!!!!!!

      I cannot unsee that mental image!

      Reply
  47. Becki
    January 18, 2013

    In most cases, the benefits outweigh the costs. Grandma is totally better than daycare, especially when the child is an infant. The peace of mind about your child’s safety and the fact that your child is NUMBER ONE to Grandma caregiver is absolutely bleepin priceless. TOTALLY worth the needles of pain in the assness you will be getting once in awhile. . .. If you can laugh about it, you will manage. Can’t wait to hear more about Qwerty. And what’s with all you famous people lately?????? You went all Adele on us . lol. (Keep the name private, but in view of the tales of your memoirs it WOULD be fun to know gender. But not our business either BUT COME ON, lol)

    Reply
  48. Sarah Wynde
    January 18, 2013

    I chose to parent differently than my parents did–really, really differently–and I think if they had been nearby during the first couple of years when I was trying to learn how to be the kind of parent I wanted to be, it would have been rough. It’s tough to figure out how to set the boundaries when you’re just learning them yourself. You might want to put some thought into basic ground rules to establish right away, things like “Don’t criticize my parenting in front of my child, ever, if you want to comment on something I’m doing take it up with me privately” and “My rules win, if you can’t follow my rules you’re teaching my child to disobey me and that’s not okay.”

    That said, when my son was eight, I moved from CA to FL to be closer to my parents and I don’t even have words to convey how terrifically relaxing it was to have family backup so close by. Example: the difference between calling a friend or your mom to say, “hey, I’m on my way to the emergency room with the kid, can you stop by my house and walk the dog?” is that the friend walks the dog, but mom walks the dog, then comes to the emergency room, brings you food and coffee, sits and keeps you company for hours, goes home and picks up clean clothes for everyone when needed, etc. (Not that my friend wouldn’t have done all that if I’d asked, but it wouldn’t have occurred to me to ask.)

    I guess I’ll just add this, too — my mom went to the 24-hour clinic with the stomach flu two years ago and died of pancreatic cancer five weeks later. She was 67. You don’t always know how much time you’ll have and sometimes it’s less than you think.

    Reply
  49. Jennifer
    January 19, 2013

    I’m going to offer a different perspective. I’m 27 and been reading you since I was in high school. Long-time lurker, first time commentator.

    My mom had me at 17, we lived with her parents until I was 7 and she married my dad. My folks bought their house and they moved twenty minutes away. My parents between working two jobs each for years having a backup was invaluable. My mother says we wouldn’t have the life we do, if my grandparents hadn’t been so understanding.

    When I was in high school my mom’s parents moved an hour away, and we still see them monthly or so. At this point my Dad’s parents moved in with us because my folks remolded the house into a mother-daughter setup. Then my mom was pregnant again. She had a 15 year old, a 5 year old and my father was working and in grad school.

    Having my dad’s parent’s live with us, saved us so much money for babysitters and daycare for my brothers. Then when the boys were grown and Grandpa wasn’t doing well anymore, my Grandparent’s had back-up in taking care of him.

    Yes its been crazy at times, but speaking as someone who in 27 years lived with grandparents for 20 of them. It was the best experience possible. I had a whole network of people that love and support me unconditionally. If my mother had moved out when I was little, our lives would have been so much harder. I wouldn’t have grown up in a nice town with a good school system. There’s a very good chance I wouldn’t have gotten my Bachelor’s. And statistically speaking I had a much higher chance of becoming a teen mother myself.

    I understand for you ladies who had your kids as grown women with jobs, after you’ve moved out the need for help isn’t so dire. However I talk to my friends that don’t know their grandparents well or at all, and they admit that they feel like they got gypped.

    Reply
  50. Annalisa
    January 19, 2013

    My mom never referred to my kid as hers. But apparently the kid looked like me as a newborn, so she kept calling her by my name. It was cute the first few times, but a week in I was having serious problems not feeling replaced (and well, that was exacerbated by PPD, but that’s a corollary issue). I was more than glad she went back home a few days after that… until I realized that there would be no one but us to take care of the baby. Who never used to sleep.

    Take the help. You’ll be glad you’ve got it, warts and all.

    Reply
  51. April G.
    January 19, 2013

    Oh dear. I’m 23 weeks pregnant and living about 3,000 miles from my mother. She is already talking about moving out here. I’ll be reading you for tips!

    Reply
  52. Kat
    January 20, 2013

    So normally, when people tell me their mom or mother-in-law is going to take care of the baby so they don’t have to do childcare I caution them to get a backup plan. Grandmas, I’ve noticed, romanticize those newborn years, and forget that it takes a lot of motivation to care for a tiny baby when a) it’s not yours and b) you’re not getting paid. And often Grandmas have full lives that they’re not willing to abandon completely and the childcare just becomes another hobby, meaning not something the actual working mom–YOU–can depend on.

    But in your case…this sounds different. You probably will appreciate the help. Let’s just go with that for now and hope for the best.

    Reply
  53. Erin
    January 20, 2013

    A friend of mine had almost this exact thing happen to her, only she kept her old house and bought a SECOND home in her daughter’s neighborhood so she could come down and take care of the baby. I just . . . no. I think it actually made things more difficult for them, especially since mom was there for months, they got accustomed to it, and now she’s back home and they have to just now deal with everything on their own.

    Being 4 weeks from my due date, I just cannot even imagine. I’m stressed enough as it is. I wish you luck!

    Reply
  54. Melissa
    January 20, 2013

    My mother announced (not asked, announced!) that my baby shower gift was her selling her condo and moving to my city to help take care of the baby.
    My relationship with my mother wasn’t the closest one, as she has some boundary issues and everything, but I can honestly say that I can’t count the times that she has saved my ass since the birth of our son, almost two years ago…
    Sure, it comes with certain expectations (she HAS to see him every week), but it is TOTALLY worth it!

    Good luck!

    Reply
  55. Sean
    January 20, 2013

    So not to make this all about me or anything — really, Pamie, I feel ya and wish you best of luck — but my wife and I are expecting our first in April and just moved 1,000 miles away from both sets of parents to an area of the country where I have a little bit of family but not a ton. All the comments here about parents SAVING ME during the first year of childhood kind of make me want to cry. (Yes, dammit, I’m having sympathy mood swings, what of it? We moved, we live in a cramped apartment, I work from home and we’re having a baby. IT’S A LOT TO DEAL WITH.)

    Reply
  56. Kristen
    January 21, 2013

    I have 2 kids, 9 and 5. It never occurred to my mother to be close to me for more than a week following their births. (Oh and also, she comes at Christmas.) This past holiday visit, she stated that if my younger sister were to ever have a baby, she’d pack up and move and be the baby’s caregiver. My sister works, after all. My sister, with a hypothetical pregnancy, compared to my 2 actual ones (complete with children) and my mom is talking about home improvements so that she can list the house when it’s time.

    Parents do hurtful things whether they’re in your backyard or not. Ironically you forgive so much more as you become a parent yourself and realize how hard it truly is.

    I hope you really love having your mother nearby! And congratulations on your new baby :)

    Reply
  57. Sam
    January 22, 2013

    My mother was here the first two weeks of my child’s life. 4 days after he was born she adamantly suggested I return to her home as my husband was leaving on deployment. It sparked an all out panic attack on my part. She also suggested keeping the baby up so he would “learn night and day” at 6 days old. Needless to say I wasn’t sad to see her leave. Now she is suggesting she move 900 miles to be closer to us. So we are moving another 150 miles away to retain our bubble. I love her but I do not want her in my back yard.

    Reply
  58. Judi
    February 5, 2013

    What an amazing thing for her to do, especially since your mother sounds much awesomer to live with than MamaKim :) I’m sure you’re going to rock this out of the park. Lucky baby, getting you as a mom and your mom as a grandma!

    Reply

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