November 3, 2011

Mixed Bag

Everything I've said about Mom K being here is true, but... I think I have a two-week limit. She's the best house guest ever: I came downstairs today and she was mopping the downstairs. Jrex finally had time to take her to Hmart on Saturday and we've been eating well ever since. She's wonderful at chattering to the baby and loving him, delighting in him, and nurturing him.

What's not to like?

The sad truth is, I don't think it's her, it's me. I like to think I'm a generous, go-with-the-flow extrovert (don't snort your drink when you laugh, Jrex, it's rude) who is happy to have people visit. There's some truth to that, but after two weeks, I'm feeling territorial and grumpy.

Today we went downtown and visited the Asian Art Museum and grabbed food from a Korean Taco Truck (Mom liked it, and she's now planning to do a better version next weekend. YUM.) Throughout her visit she's mentioned that she could live in Dallas. I just smile and don't say anything each time. As we walked around the clean arts district under a cloudless blue sky with a brisk, yet pleasant breeze, she said again that she could live here. Nod and smile. Inside though, it puts up my walls. Maybe if she lived her, she'd be less HERE than when she's visiting, or maybe she'd take over everything.

During our time together, she also said the following,

"When Jrex and YJ were young, I put them in lots of classes. I wanted them to find out what they liked to do. Better they have exposure to many things so they can socialize with anyone. YJ was very good at ballet, her teacher said she should do ballet, but I don't want her to be a ballet person, so I took her out of the class. Instead, I had her do ice skating. She broke her ankle doing a jump, I feel so bad to her for that.

"Jrex, I put him in Tae Kwan Do in 4th grade. He loved it, but he did it too much. At night I'd find him in the backyard doing it. He lost too much weight, so I made him stop in 7th grade.

"I told you he was so good at music. His clarinet teacher begged me to let him continue lessons, but I don't want him to be a musician, so I made him stop. He begged to try out for the school for the arts, but I don't want him to have a hard life. Being a musician is too hard. If he's good, too much travel. Hard to have a family. Hard to make a living."

She told me all this in a soft, loving voice. Truly feeling that she was doing her best to steer her children to happy, prosperous futures, she sees nothing wrong in her actions. I knew most of those stories already (she likes to tell them), but inside, my version of a tiger mom was rising up. Do NOT go near my child's future. If God designed him to be an artist, then that's what he'll be. Our role is to prayerfully lead him to fulfill what he's meant to do, not steer him to what we think is best. I realized that a big reason I have so many walls up where she's concerned is the control factor. True, it's not just hers, it's my control streak as well, but I do not want to let her mess with my son's head.

Another thing that's irritating me is that she keeps making me take pictures when she's holding him and she gets him to a point where he looks totally peaceful. "He's so pretty, he's such a gentleman, so peaceful." I get the feeling that she only wants to remember and talk about that version of him. To me, the implications that only one state of being is acceptable is NOT ok. He's a whole person: happy, irritable, mellow, intense. I don't want to pick and choose one aspect of his character and inflate that to be the whole picture. (I KNOW that I'm blowing it totally out of proportion, which is why I'm realizing I've hit my two-week limit).

The past two days I've found myself needing to be on the opposite floor to wherever she is with Brex. She's profoundly loving with him, but we've transitioned from having a happy, self-soothing baby to one who can't fall asleep easily unless he's held and walked. His night feedings have gone from 40-minutes of me half-asleep to two-and-a-half hour ordeals of me walking, soothing, rocking, soothing. If I let him cry too much, she asks me in the morning what happened. "YOU. You happened," is what I'm thinking, but I just shrug.

We've asked Mom to put Brex down when he's happy, mellow and heading toward sleep and let him put himself to sleep, but she can't handle the little squawks he makes as he settles into a nap. Instead she walks him and holds him until he's in a deep sleep. As much as we've asked her, she can't let him self-soothe (I think she barely agrees with a pacifier, much less having him fuss at all). Rather than hover and micromanage her, I've just been walking away. It's two more weeks. He'll then be seven-weeks old and we can work on setting up his schedule and figuring out his rhythm once she's gone. She's investing love and that doesn't hurt. I don't want her to think I'm trying to keep her away from the baby, but it's driving me crazy.

The good news is that I'm getting lots of stuff in the house organized!

7 comments:

Aimee said...

I can relate. Can't tell you how many times I've heard, "What you ought to do is.... " And ditto with the holding of the baby all. day. long.

Bright side? It will be over in 2 weeks.

I don't mean to sound snarky about that, but we all need to find our own way, *especially* when it comes to parenting our own children. I'm sure she's happy to be needed, but in all honesty, at some point, you, Jrex and Brex all need to find your way as your own little family. It's a good thing and the way God designed it (remember, leave and cleave!).

If you need to feel better about feeling cranky, read my little toddler rant. You'll totally feel better about yourself. lol

mariellenromer said...

Oh my. I dassent say what I want to say. I don't have clidren of my own, but still want to say it.

In the meantime, hang in there.

Rachel said...

Four weeks is a long time. It sounds so stressful. I remember how hard it was to deal with my MIL's unsolicited advice when my daughter was a baby. Maybe you and JRex can take advantage of the free childcare and go out for dinner one night? Hang in there.

Mizasiwa said...

I know this is all super irritating at the moment - the good thing is that although it will be hard when she is gone to change his routine - it can be changed if you want it to change. My favourite photos of my dad are the ones were he is holding my son and daughter in there most peaceful moments. For us they were always good in his arms he was just that 'solid' kind of person. He was the same as your MIL though and hated when either of them made any kind of 'unhappy' sound even if it was just settling down or whatever. It was horrible that if I left one of them for a moment and they made a noise or I was irritated and yelled or something he would get so upset with me!! But now I know that he only wanted all of us to be happy and that was his way ... Walking away and getting other stuff done is the best way. When she is gone you can do it all your way and your house will be organised and ready for that transition! Good luck

Lil'Sis said...

Oh OTRgirl, anyone with a baby and a MIL or Mom for that matter has been there, I think that you've lasted 2 weeks is HUGE in and of itself, pat yourself on the back, grin and bear it 2 more weeks to go, the cooking sounds yummy and time to organize and recharge is a perk that most don't get and you will be perfectly alright settling in to the schedule you all choose and Brex chooses. I get territorial about my kids, my space, all of it, but it's usually after 2 days!! God loves your patience:) and I'm super jealous of it*smile*

Lil'Sis said...

Oh OTRgirl, anyone with a baby and a MIL or Mom for that matter has been there, I think that you've lasted 2 weeks is HUGE in and of itself, pat yourself on the back, grin and bear it 2 more weeks to go, the cooking sounds yummy and time to organize and recharge is a perk that most don't get and you will be perfectly alright settling in to the schedule you all choose and Brex chooses. I get territorial about my kids, my space, all of it, but it's usually after 2 days!! God loves your patience:) and I'm super jealous of it*smile*

Mama Nabi said...

Korean grandparents (esp. grandmothers) think of it as their duty, obligation, to impart with "wisdom". I've learned that not all of them actually think of this as "advice-giving" but some kind of "rite-of-passage" required of them. Only if we could somehow let them know that they really really don't have to do this...

Hang in there - you could always insist on your method by invoking the word "Pediatrician". I used to tell my mom that the pediatrician actually suggested that I do this and that... and she usually allowed it.