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Am I a bad Mother?/what would you do? Advice please

(30 Posts)
MandK Thu 22-Jul-21 05:52:19

DD and SiL are very happy new parents. DD is taking 12 months maternity leave before returning to work full time. We have discussed child care and I happily agreed to look after Baby 2 days a week. I had assumed that I would help out 2 days per week from the beginning, but in the early months I settled into a routine of going round one day per week and I was very happy with this routine. I am not great with very young babies so tended to help with chores , cook a meal and generally keep DD company. DD adores Baby, spends all her time feeding and playing with him.and he doesn't seem to sleep much. A few weeks ago, I was quite surprised when DD suggested that I don't come over regularly every week anymore but just see them "whenever". However I was happy to hear that she was planning to get out more, go to mother and baby things and meet up with friends.
Over the past year I have been building up a very small home based sewing business. I was planning to do this alongside the childcare duties. However, business has been building up nicely and since DD didn't seem to need me as much right now, I have taken on lots of sewing work and I now have a full diary with enough work to fill all my time.
Three days ago, I got a message from SiL telling me that DD has hurt her back and asking if I was able to go over and help. I felt very bad saying that I couldn't as I had clients booked in that morning and had a medical appointment in the afternoon. I offered to go round after my appointment but they did not answer. I worried all night about DD but was relieved to get a message in the morning saying that DDs back seemed a bit better. The following afternoon (which was yesterday) I received messages from DD and SiL asking if I could go and help as DD was in a lot of pain and was struggling. She said she has been told by the doctor to avoid all lifting, twisting etc. I told them I was happy to go over and help, but would have to take sewing machine and do some sewing whilst there. I got on with rescheduling two clients who had appointments for the day. I then received a message from SiL asking if I had lots of work planned. I explained that I am fully booked for the next few weeks but after that I would be more free. SiL replied that they would probably have to pay to get someone in to help DD until she returns to work in 7 months, but maybe if I came to help they could give me some money as they "don't want you to worry about money" . To be honest the sewing business isn't all about money, it doesn't pay well, but I enjoy the work and I feel it is my own little project. I have spent over a year building a client base and a reputation and I don't want to throw it away. I also feel very unsuited to 100% child care. I would be embarrassed to take money from them and anyway SiL is very scatty and would probably forget.
I recognise that this is an emergency, but I currently have 3 bags of school uniform waiting to be labelled, a jacket to alter and a bridesmaid waiting for a bespoke dress.
I really don't know what to do. I am utterly torn between DD who needs me to do something I don't feel very capable of doing and my clients to whom I have made promises and taken on work.
Am I a bad Mother?
What would you do?

BlueBelle Thu 22-Jul-21 06:32:46

Well you re definitely not a bad mother you are trying to juggle a difficult situation
Although you are now saying you don’t feel capable to do childcare the only mistake you made was lulling them into believing you were there for them from day one I m not blaming you I think we d probably all do that, but you can understand why they now in a pickle feel a bit let down when they are desperate
I can see both sides of this story
I think it’s great you have built up your little business and obviously enjoying it
Can you juggle the two for a short time and spend a few weeks working all hours (taking your sewing with you and doing it evenings at home) and when the baby is sleeping etc I wouldn’t be able to let my daughter down when she needed me, so that’s what I would do I would find a way to do both then when your daughter is better make it very clear what hours you are prepared to do so this doesn’t happen again

nanna8 Thu 22-Jul-21 06:38:12

I’d think juggling sounds the best idea,too. It is a short time that they are babies after all. I agree with BlueBelle.

NotSpaghetti Thu 22-Jul-21 06:44:49

Can you explain to the non-urgent clients about your daughter and ask if they would be prepared to wait an extra (say) week? This would thin the load a little and push things back a bit. That way, by juggling and working more hours you could probably do both? Tough I know. You are not a bad mum.

Gwyneth Thu 22-Jul-21 06:51:50

I don’t think you are a bad mother either. I would try to help until your daughter recovers but I wouldn’t put your business at risk especially as you enjoy it so much. I would also think very carefully at how much child care you really want to commit to and make sure your daughter is clear on this. I think that child care should be the responsibility of parents not grand parents. I know some grand parents enjoying looking after babies and young children regularly but I wouldn’t want to do this.

Shelflife Thu 22-Jul-21 07:17:18

Not a bad mother! I have always given one day a week child care for both daughters. I love being with children - but one day a week is enough for me ! It's a huge responsibility . It is very difficult for parents as they all work - no staying at home for first five years any more! I felt fortunate to be able to be at home in the pre school years. Do what is comfortable for you, when you see your daughter you will be able to assess her injury. Is it possible she is feeling the responsibility of motherhood overwhelming and needs her Mum? Just a thought.
You have a business to run and are entitled to do that - of course you are. Before daughter returns to work think carefully about what is right for you. Two days a week is a big commitment and takes a huge chunk out of your week . We all want to help out children but ultimately children are the responsibility of parents not grandparents. Been honest with yourself and your daughter and SIL .
Good luck.

eazybee Thu 22-Jul-21 08:04:09

You are definitely not a bad mother, you are a responsible one, and you are a responsible business woman too. Do not demean your 'little sewing business'; people who can sew, alter, dressmake are increasingly rare, and to be valued.
What has happened to your daughter is an emergency, although it seems as though her bad back will last until she returns to work. I would make every effort to juggle your immediate work for the next few weeks whilst helping your daughter as much as possible, then have a serious discussion about how to manage the next few months.
They suggested paying you so that you 'don't have to worry about money' (bit patronising but hey). Suggest they use that money to employ someone to help for one, two days a week so that you would have at least one clear day to use for your business. Alternatively, could the baby go to nursery for a day or two a week, although I appreciate it is difficult to get places at short notice?
And make sure you don't get called in to cover so that the husband can have time off, as happened to a grandma I know; she was taking on extra childcare for her daughter
to enable her to gain extra qualifications whilst working, only to discover her son in law regularly going off for days out because 'I need time to myself'.
The best of luck.

CafeAuLait Thu 22-Jul-21 08:05:55

You are not a bad mother. You are doing your best to help. You have other responsibilities as well and are working. You are allowed to have your own life. Suggesting you come and help but bring your sewing with you was a good compromise.

I would use this as an opportunity to decide on what you really want for the future. Do you want to do childcare? You aren't obligated to and it's not your responsibility. If you do it, do it because you want to. If you do childcare, how much? What days? What happens if you are sick or the child is sick?

If you want to be more available to your daughter, think about how your business and other needs and wants fit in. Is there a limit to how many clients you want to take on in future? Will you regret possibly cutting back if your DD decides they are busier in future and can't fit you in as much as they used to?

This seems like a good prompt to make decisions about what you want your life to look like going forward.

MandK Thu 22-Jul-21 08:15:13

Thanks so much for your advice.
Just to clarify, I am not worried about the 1 or 2 days per week I promised when Baby is a year old, I am just having a bit of a wobble over being asked to take over from DD while she has a bad back. I will talk it over with her today. Thanks so much

CafeAuLait Thu 22-Jul-21 08:18:43

Is there a reason SIL cannot take a day off work and help her? Or work at home to help her? Are there any siblings, MIL, aunts, friends, who can help out? Are you the only option? If necessary, they can get paid home help for a short time. I understand you wanting to help out but what would they do if you weren't there?

MandK Thu 22-Jul-21 08:19:56

Thanks for this helpful r eply, it's really good to hear how others manage all of this. I will do as you suggest. Thank you

MandK Thu 22-Jul-21 08:22:17

Yes this rankles with me a bit, I would have thought SiL could help, or even his Mum, but this doesn't seem to be an option. I will see how things look when I get there later. Thanks for your input

Lucca Thu 22-Jul-21 08:25:49

The first thing that strikes me is all the “messaging”
Clearly they don’t live far away. Why not go round and have a proper discussion with them about what is really needed and what you can realistically manage.?

Lucca Thu 22-Jul-21 08:26:40

Oh and well done to you for setting up a business!

CafeAuLait Thu 22-Jul-21 10:57:33


Yes this rankles with me a bit, I would have thought SiL could help, or even his Mum, but this doesn't seem to be an option. I will see how things look when I get there later. Thanks for your input

When I was sick I either found a way or my DH took off work. My mother, like you, worked full time. Of course she'd have come in a real emergency.

DiscoDancer1975 Thu 22-Jul-21 11:10:02

No, you’re not a bad mother. You’re’ mothering’ days are over. You are a step removed as a grandmother. You are not obliged to take on this responsibility. Your daughter and SIL have to sort this out between themselves.

When we had our young family, we had no one to ask. My husband would have to take time off work. If needed, we would have employed a carer for a few days, but we didn’t ever need to luckily.

You’ve built this business up, and risk losing it all if you let people down. Where are the other grandparents? Family? How old is your grandson by the way? If he’s immobile at the moment, She should be able to manage, if it’s just a muscular injury.

If they’re close geographically, maybe you could pop in and out, but it’s not life threatening stuff. You are not dutifully bound.

CafeAuLait Thu 22-Jul-21 11:22:27

Like DiscoDancer said, your client base might be at risk if you become unreliable. Most people do understand if something significant happens but I know that I wouldn't return to a business that proved unreliable. OK, if there was a family emergency or personal emergency, sure. That happens.

Smileless2012 Thu 22-Jul-21 11:26:35

You sound like a wonderful mum, mum in law and GM.

You've set up your own business, doing something that you really enjoy and as has already been said, your days of looking after little ones are behind you, and as a GM you have a life to live that doesn't necessarily revolve around your D and her family.

I don't agree that you have "lulled" your D into believing you were prepared to offer more than you actually are. You're still happy to look after your GC one or two days a week when s/he's a year old and your D returns to work.

It's unfortunate that she's having problems with her back but as we all know, even the best laid plans can not go as we'd hoped and it's up to your D and her husband to find ways of managing this problem without being fully reliable on you.

It wont be the last they'll have to deal with now they have a child of their own.

JenniferEccles Thu 22-Jul-21 12:02:37

I agree with Lucca when she says it’s better to go round and speak to your daughter and her husband face to face.
Text messages certainly have their place but in a situation like this, a face to face discussion is vital.

It’s so easy for text messages to be misinterpreted isn’t it?
Your daughter is probably feeling quite overwhelmed with a young baby to care for along with a painful back, and it’s understandable she wants her mum!

That’s not to say your sewing business doesn’t matter- far from it as you have obviously done so well to have built it up, but good communication is the key here so everyone knows what to expect.

Hithere Thu 22-Jul-21 14:18:46

Congrats on the success of the business?

I see both sides, however your daughter and sil are unrealistic in thinking you can drop anything anytime and jump to their rescue.

Cant sil help his wife? Get a day off?
As adults, they need to build a bigger support system instead of relying on you

Hithere Thu 22-Jul-21 14:19:25

Of your business!
Apologies for the ?, it is a typo

Madgran77 Thu 22-Jul-21 14:25:32

Congrats on the success of the business?

I see both sides, however your daughter and sil are unrealistic in thinking you can drop anything anytime and jump to their rescue.

Cant SIL help his wife? Get a day off?
As adults, they need to build a bigger support system instead of relying on you

I agree with all of the above!

GagaJo Thu 22-Jul-21 14:31:46

I would do as much as I could. As others have said, explain you can't renege on some of the work (bridesmaid's dress for example) but that you won't take on any new work until your daughter is better.

These things happen in life. Imagine if she'd had a car accident or god forbid, cancer. You'd want to help out. The fact that she was drawing away a bit until this happened shows that it IS a real emergency.

Sit down and talk with them and work out a way you can support and still hopefully have a couple of days at home, doing your work too.

JaneJudge Thu 22-Jul-21 14:32:49

Nothing you have wrote in your original posts or subsequent ones suggest you are a bad Mother. I think you need to stop messaging and just be honest with them.

trisher Thu 22-Jul-21 15:01:24

As others have said you are certainly not a bad mother. Good mothers don't have to be at their children's beck and call, they do their best to help but they keep their own interests. It sounds as if you need to have a big family meeting and discuss everything. Your DD's bad back may heal faster than they think, but you need to know what she has been advised to do. Your SIL needs to look at his work and discover if he could change his working hours to help out, perhaps he has some holidays due. Are the other GPs around to help? You have taken on all the child care, but it should be split between many people.
Well done with your little business. I hope it continues to grow!