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Unsure what to do

(23 Posts)
Calalilly Thu 02-Sep-21 12:49:03

Hi All
I am new on this community.
Myself and husband are step grandparents to 3 children , aged 10 ,8 & 7.
They have been in our lives for 5 years, we have all bonded really well & we have enjoyed every second of it.
The children have no contact with their real father & that side of the family including the grandparents.
Our sons girlfriend has now had baby no 4 , our granddaughter , 10 months ago.
We have been totally overjoyed with this.
However grandparenthood hasnt quite turned out how we expected it to be with our new granddaughter.

Our son works really hard building up his new business that he set up two years ago hence he works very long hours 7 days a week. His girlfriend is full time mom , stays at home & takes care of the children & the home & equally works just his hard.

Unfortunately after her fourth child she suffers with postnatal depression and coupled with that is still breastfeeding & therefore extremely tired.
She didnt get on with expressing milk & prefers to breastfeed as this is her first time.
During lockdown we were in their bubble and we were very hands-on looking after the three older children and not the baby. We did at times feel that she was quite possessive with the new baby but felt we couldn’t say anything given the circumstances and therefore allowed a lot of space and continued to help out in other ways
i.e. taking the older children out of the house for weekends away at our house. day trips out all that sort of thing.
Generally we have been very hands on as we possibly could and always been very mindful not to show the new baby any more attention than the other grandchildren.

During lockdown we decided to relocate & move out from the city to the country ( 50 min drive ) so that our son and his family could come to stay weekends and have a much needed breaks.
We took out a mortgage and bought a bigger house to accommodate us all and so during lockdown that worked really well. Our youngest son also came home during that time too for 9 months with his dog.
Our granddaughter is now 10 months old, our son has told us they may separate as they are finding it hard to get along.
His girlfriend is fed up with his drinking and our son is fed up of her squandering money , now not cleaning the house, no longer cooking and generally not speaking to him.
His girlfriend has thrown him out on two occasions in the last 2 months and he has come back home to stay. They have only agreed to be together during the school hols so not interrupt the children’s summer activities & days out.

We have tried to remain so neutral while all this is going & not to offer any form of advice because there’s so many factors involved here.

However I am angry & devastated to find out that our son checked her mobile phone and read some of her private messages which in itself is awful behaviour.
In these private messages between herself & friends she had been criticising me quite unfairly and also talked amongst her friends about ‘fleecing ‘ our son.
It wasn’t my son who told me about this, she text and told me herself & explained the reason why he is now at your house it’s because he checked my phone.

She said she was deeply sorry for the things that she said about me which were totally unjustified and uncalled for and that he had every right to be furious about this.
We chatted face-to-face the next day as I called her and asked if we could talk in person. She said that over the years we have been fantastic grandparents to her three children.
His girlfriend is very unhappy that our son is so sociable with his family ( we are a huge family) and his girlfriend is very much an introvert and happy staying at home most nights most weekends.
She did say to me that she knows she is going to find it very difficult financially if they separate.
She did say that she would not stop us from seeing the children and I replied that I would hope that we could really just try and get along regardless of what’s going happen as the children are very important to us and we all love them ALL.

However I am devastated and very hurt as already I feel that she is making it quite difficult in terms of seeing the children.
I.e. each time I say that we are going to pop over or would it be okay to pop in ,
she replies , we’re out or doing something.
She seems to be quite happy for us to take out the older 3 children but having the baby not so.
We have not even had baby over on a sleepover or on our own for more an hour.
I can honestly say we have bonded more with three children than our new grandchildren.

We feel rather helpless to be honest and really don’t know what to do or say at the moment.
Our son seems to be bending over backwards trying to split his time between work and taking the children out & doing lots of activities with them.

I feel annoyed at myself for not being more forthcoming about having contact with the new baby. But I know that she will not allow the other grandparents see her 3 children. ( they do send cards & monetary gifts to the children)
I am terrified the same will happen with us should they spilt.

I’d really appreciate any advice given from the grandparents on here on how we should move forward?
Or do we just keep a step back like we have been ?

Soozikinzi Thu 02-Sep-21 14:40:53

I don’t have any answers but felt I should comment as a grandparent and a step parent myself. You have obviously done everything for the GSC that’s you could and accepted them into your family. I don’t think you could have done anymore . The only thing I can suggest is some counselling. Just hope you can keep contact with all four GC . For their sake as well as yours .

Grandmabatty Thu 02-Sep-21 15:23:40

While I don't doubt you love your family and are devastated by what was said, I feel you have expectations which a new mother might have found suffocating. You say she is 'possessive' of the baby. Well of course she is. It is her baby, not yours. Why should you have her for a sleepover? You bought a bigger house and moved on the assumption everyone would be happy to spend time there. That was a very big assumption! You are angry at your Dil but it is your son who broke her trust and then told you what she had said about you. That was unnecessary and cruel. She has apologised and spoken directly to you. I think your anger is misplaced. Your son could bring the youngest child to see you and the other children too. I'm sorry you feel so sad, but I think you need to take a step back, let the heat die down and expect less.

Grammaretto Thu 02-Sep-21 15:24:32

This is all so rough on you DGP.
It sounds as though you are being as fair as you possibly can and will just have to let the storm ride out.
4 DC is a handful I know, I had 4 and topped off with a young baby whose needs are so different to those of the 10yr old.
Keep the welcoming doors open but don't push. Get on with your lives.
Does this mean you now have your son back home with you?
It's not ideal but nothing stays the same forever.
I hope it works out for those DGC .

Newatthis Thu 02-Sep-21 15:42:56

Firstly can I say that you still have the communication channels open which is good in itself. If she has got post natal depression then she will need treatment. There are many unseen symptoms of this, unlike having a broken arm which might invite sympathy, PND is unseen and doesn't. Post natal depression DOES NOT get better on its own. It is like any other depression, it doesn't go away and this might the reason for her not being 'housewife of the year' If your son is accusing her of spending money, then how much is he spending on alcohol? Quite a bit I would think as alcohol is very expensive whether bought in a pub or a supermarket. If he is indeed drinking a lot then perhaps his judgement of her is impaired. She is most likely feeling very insecure and unsure of her future with him and wants to make sure that she is not left 'financially' stranded, especially with a new baby. She has apologised for what she said to you which was probably said out of anger towards your son. She no doubt thinks that, as you always take in your son whenever they have had a argument then you are perhaps supporting his behaviour. It is very difficult living with an a person who drinks a lot, even more so when a new baby is on the scene and the new mum with PND. Perhaps your son should drink less and give her more support and get her the medical help she needs. If I were you I would just continue to be the good Granny that you seem to be and hope that she sees this.

Lolo81 Thu 02-Sep-21 16:01:50

In your shoes I’d keep doing what you have been doing. Keep supporting without judgement and show your DIL what unconditional family support is (as you have been). As a wee side note, the drinking with 4 kids in the house isn’t ideal and I think most people would struggle with that being a regular occurrence. Also, with baby being breastfed and with COVID still rife that may explain why the baby is still in a wee bubble.
I’d have given my right arm for a MIL like you, patient, is respectful of time and boundaries and kind.

ElaineI Thu 02-Sep-21 16:15:52

It sounds very difficult but you are doing your best. Regarding the baby - she is far too young at 10 months and breast feeding to be away from her Mum so having her longer than an hour or so would not be good for either of them. My DDs both breast fed and the babies fed throughout the day even after weaning. Also if she has had PND then she may feel extra protective of her daughter. I wonder if she has contact with the mental health team. This will affect her confidence, make her tired (already tired with feeding a baby) so she is unable to bother about cleaning and cooking. Has your son offered to do this as he is also responsible for the house and children. You sound really caring and it seems like she really needs help from you all. Having PND may mean that her feelings are altered and not the best time for major decision making. It was unforgivable of your son to check her phone and invade her privacy and I hope you told him that.

welbeck Thu 02-Sep-21 16:22:42

how can a mother be too possessive of her baby; she can't.
and 10 months is far too young to be staying away from home.
and you say that you have a close bond with the older ones, yet you didn't meet them until the youngest was already 2; so don't worry about getting to know your GD.
all in good time.
continue being a support to her mother, and don't be too partisan towards your son. excess drinking is a no-no.

TrendyNannie6 Thu 02-Sep-21 16:50:34

It’s great that you are supportive of your step grandchildren, but I do think you are being a bit silly when you say your sons girlfriend is too possessive of her baby! That’s quite shocking too think that way, it’s her baby, she’s got pnd, ten months is far too young to be staying away from her home she’s very young, you say your sons girlfriend is fed up of your sons drinking, maybe she doesn’t feel supported ! He’s fed up with her not cleaning the house or cooking, it’s not easy suffering from pnd, I think your sons girlfriend has her hands full with trying to manage 4 children with depression! I think you should continue to be a support to the mother she sounds as if she needs it, and hopefully as time goes on things will change

Redhead56 Thu 02-Sep-21 17:45:15

I agree with Grandmabatty you need to step back. Your son is hard working but no angel his partner is possessive with her baby. This is normal behaviour but sending text messages to friends criticising you is not nice at all. However you did say she has postnatal depression so she might feel out of sorts.
It’s best that you ask your son if you can see the children or send her a text. Just to ask how she is and offer to take the children out for a day.
You have done a lot for them but they can only sort themselves out without interference. It will be difficult for you that’s understandable but it’s for the best.

Bibbity Thu 02-Sep-21 17:51:55

What is your son doing to facilitate the contact?
The baby is under 1 and she is a stay at home mum so there is no reason for them to be separated.

How heavy is his drinking?

OneOfThoseDIL Thu 02-Sep-21 18:26:23

I have to say, if I had a baby (at ten months of age) they wouldn’t be staying over at anyone’s house, or being left with them for an hour or two; especially if I was breastfeeding.

This is regardless of how close I was to someone, or how close they were to my older children.

My eldest child hasn’t stayed at anyone’s house yet and I don’t expect to them start doing it soon.

Hithere Thu 02-Sep-21 18:36:12

There is too much going here.
Issues between the couple:
1. He works 7 days a week leaving girlfriend all by herself all day
2. She has concerns about his drinking

Issues with you:
1. Buying a bigger home to accommodate them for visits
2. Thinking the mother is possessive of her own child
3. Hoping grandparenthood with 10 month old baby to fulfill your expectations
4. Expecting her to facilitate as much contact as you want with her kids

Step back. You are too involved in their lives.
Let the couple address their differences.
Coordinate with your son when you can see the kids.

Hithere Thu 02-Sep-21 18:37:51

And why is how she chooses to feed her child even mentioned?
I dont see the relevance here

Pumping milk is way harder than breastfeeding

OneOfThoseDIL Thu 02-Sep-21 20:09:56


And why is how she chooses to feed her child even mentioned?
I dont see the relevance here

Pumping milk is way harder than breastfeeding

Sadly, I do know of some grandparents who push an expressing or bottle feeding agenda, because they, the grandparents, want to be able to feed the baby themselves and they don’t like the symbiotic relationship of breastfeeding.

Hithere Thu 02-Sep-21 20:44:48

Oneofthosedil - bingo

CafeAuLait Thu 02-Sep-21 23:37:44

My young babies, also breastfed, never left me. That's something I always saw as more appropriate to start gradually, with much older children, if at all. I don't think your DIL is at all unreasonable about keeping the baby with her. You might just need to be patient.

You need to tread carefully. Try to stay neutral but be a listening ear. Your son's drinking probably needs some looking at if your DIL can't deal with it. You don't say how much but it's obviously a problem in the relationship. If it's a lot, that could contribute to her PPD. Is her PPD being well managed? Maybe some outside support is needed for them to work through all those issues?

Madgran77 Fri 03-Sep-21 07:38:38

Cafeaulait gives measured and very wise advice above *Calalilly

love0c Fri 03-Sep-21 08:53:39

Don not do anything. stay pretty neutral. Carry on as you ae doing. Helping with the children, taking them out etc. compliment your son's partner on how well she looks after the baby and how well the baby is thriving. Make her feel good about herself. Hopefully she will come to realise that is is far better having you in her life than not. With regards to your son and their relationship, be very wary of becoming involved. They are adults and need to work it out for themselves.

Grandmabatty Fri 03-Sep-21 17:41:16

And another thread where the original poster doesn't come back. Lots of questions asked, the answers which might make things clearer. It's too bad that people give advice in good faith and nothing from the op

Oopsadaisy1 Fri 03-Sep-21 18:52:19

I think you have to separate the things on your list.

You buying a larger house has nothing to do with your son and his girlfriend.
Your son has now separated from his girlfriend and you still have a good relationship with the step grandchildren, which is great.
The baby is only 10 months old and is with its mother, end of story, if or when she allows you to have time with it at yours, she will let you know.
Think yourself lucky that you have a good relationship with her and don’t rock the boat for no other reason than ‘it’s what I want’

Calalilly Fri 03-Sep-21 22:01:15

Thank you to everyone who has taken their time to read and respond to my post. I am truly very grateful for the advice given x

Neen Tue 21-Sep-21 15:57:48

What a lucky lucky lady to have you.
Have you thought to say when you drop the older ones home or pick them up, your worried your bond with baby will be different and she what she says, maybe an afternoon invite with mum as well where she can see you with baby in your environment. Could she be worried baby will be in a custody battle or something.
But a huge well done on being a wonderful nanny and grandad.