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Grandparenting

still not the mom he was expecting

(41 Posts)
mothercat Fri 28-Jan-22 02:12:53

It's been 2 years since I last posted and I am still befuddled by what my son expects from me.
He has finished school 6 hours away where they have been living, and has accepted a job in our hometown. He and his wife have asked us to watch their 2 y/o son 2-3 days a week while they both work in the same office. The child is our first and only grandchild.
We agreed, but now I am having second thoughts.
They stayed with us for a week during the summer and again over the holidays. During the summer I was criticized for spending too much time in the garden. I grow fruits and vegetables to sell at a farmers market as I have for the past 6 years. There were also a lot of other criticisms about how I spend time with the grandchild.
The holidays were a repeat of various greivances, but I came down with a nasty cold Christmas Eve and explained that I would not be participating as much as usual, trying to prevent others getting sick. Turns out the son felt that I should be cooking and helping more because he felt the visit was meant to be a vacation from their usual life and they were looking for places to stay when they moved back, plus catching up with friends, etc.
But, this week may portend how things will be when they move back next weekend. Son asked me to pick up keys for their new home (paperwork already signed), but wait until he had notified them that night. No word from him for a couple of days and while driving past the building a couple of times on the same day doing errands decided to pop in thinking he just forgotten to send me the okay. The agency hadn't heard from him and called him for permission. All seemed fine. I sent him a text later saying I had everything, but no reply.
I finally called him today about another matter, and he said he was upset that I had "disregarded" what he asked me to do. He didn't give me a reason why he didn't do what he said he would, or why what I did was wrong, just that I hadn't followed directions.
I'm now concerned that I will be in for a lot of criticism for how I care for his son. My husband understands my concerns and has agreed to be the designated person to communicate with our son.
I was getting excited about the time I would have with our grandson, but now worry that I won't be able to do any of the things I was planning (pool, park, library, etc). Not to mention the still very tenuous relationship with our son.
No idea how to approach him to explain how hurt I am with his perception of me as a parent and grandparent. Conversations with him are exhausting as I am always so guarded and careful to say just the right thing.

Any advice?

Oopsadaisy1 Fri 28-Jan-22 08:28:54

Send your son and his wife an email, telling him how thrilled you are at the thought of looking after your Grandchild and that you are looking forward to taking him to the pool, library etc. also that you want him to be able to help you in your garden as it’s very important to you and should be fun for a child.
Then wait for his reply.
If he then tells you that your expectations aren’t what he wants for his Grandchild, then you can tell him that, in that case, you will have to rethink your offer of childcare.
IMO it will be best for you to look after your GC at your home rather than your sons. Let them do all the running to and from house to house. You can have more fun at yours than at their house by the sound of it.

BlueBelle Fri 28-Jan-22 08:39:53

I think it’s very difficult I don’t really see why you should list out all your minute by minute activities either they trust you if they don’t A 2 year old will love pottering in the garden with you helping carry things and pulling up weeds etc and going shopping with Nan putting things in the basket helping you find things on the shelves and as he gets older pricing things The same with the library carrying a book helping you find what you want going to the kids section and choosing his own It all sounds delightful and if you’re having him only 2/3 days a week plenty of time to go to the pool for an adult swim or out with your husband and doing the hard graft on your garden

As for all the criticism I d let it roll off like water off a ducks back with an ok we ll try that next time DONT get defensive and DONT feel you have to explain every minute in detail do it all with a smile and above all stay calm

LadyGracie Fri 28-Jan-22 08:53:32

I agree with Oopsadaisy1, put the ball back in their court.
At that age children love to potter, it was a joy looking after our GD 2 or 3 days a week till she went to full time school.
My SIL used to tell our GD what happens at Nanny's stays at Nanny's, we don't necessarily do it at home.

Bibbity Fri 28-Jan-22 08:58:11

When people discuss familial childcare arrangements they often focus on the parents boundaries and rules, which is obviously very important.

But you also have to create the same. You have to decide what you are willing and not willing to allow happen. You are given them a truly amazing gift. The money alone they will save!
Have you discussed your holiday time? Or what happens if you are unwell?

Gwyneth Fri 28-Jan-22 08:58:45

I really feel that you and your husband need to sit down and talk to your son and daughter in law before you start looking after your grand child on a permanent basis. I can’t see this working out while your son does not communicate with you. It’s also not fair to your grand child. You are helping them out and also have your own business of selling fruit and vegetables. If he is going to criticise everything you do this does not bode well for anybody. Maybe you could suggest that your child care will be on a trial basis only to see how things go. Also start with one day a week. Two to three days sounds like a big commitment to me when you also have a business.

silverlining48 Fri 28-Jan-22 09:05:36

Hello 👋 I would say that 2/3 days a week is a lot to take on. I don’t know how old you are but we did one very long day a week for many years and as we got into our 70s with GC still at primary school found the early starts and Late nights too much as when often happens another child is born there is the expectation of care of that child as well,
Its always easier to increase days if you want rather than to have to decrease after you start.
It seems your son expects a lot from you and hope that it works out ( I agree about having the child at your house so that you can get on with things ) but a toddler has to be watched every minute,

Discuss how it’s to be managed say that you will let them know when you are on holiday and of course they tell you their holiday plans so you can make plans for yourself in that time. you will definitely need. a regular break ,
Hope it works out , it is lovely but it will eat into your free time.

Smileless2012 Fri 28-Jan-22 09:57:32

Excellent suggestion from Oopsadaisy.

You need to protect yourself from all this criticism mothercat and you need to feel confident when looking after your GC and enjoy it.

You'll be unable to do either if you're constantly worrying about every little thing in case your son criticises you.

mothercat Fri 28-Jan-22 13:22:47

You ladies are all so lovely to take the time to reply with suggestions and helpful advice. I will read through them more carefully a little later today, but a couple of clarifications.
For now we have agreed to Monday and Friday, 8:30-6. Husband will be home for those days until mid April, then I'll be on my own on Mondays.
Husband will also be having surgery mid February and will require my care for at least a couple of weeks, maybe 3 due to his restrictions which means I won't be able to watch GS at all.
We had already planned that all GS's care will be provided at our home. It's a half mile from their home to ours, and then a mile to work for them.
Thank you again for all the replies.

M0nica Fri 28-Jan-22 15:14:21

Hang on, this whole story sounds like a classic case of elder abuse.

What sort of mutually loving and caring parent and child relationship is based on a grown man with a family dictating to his mother what she shall and shall not do for him, piling her up with caring responsibilities and expecting her to work more hours than he would ever consider acceptable to work himself.

Your son is demanding you work 10.5 hours a day 5 days a week, 52.5 hours a week, without coffee breaks, lunch breaks and complains when you fail to pull your weight when you are ill, although he will grant you a couple of weeks off when your husband is in hospital. How very kind and considerate of him!!

OP your story is not one of a mother and child relationship based on love and mutual respect, it is one based on intimidation and fear. His making unreasonable and abusive demands on you and you to scared to stand up to him or even speak to him.

You need to seek counselling before his demands make you prematurely ill, both physically and mentally. Like so many abused people, especially women, you see yourself as having some kind of duty to your abuser and believe that his demands and your acquiescence are signs of the love between you. They aren't. They are the abuse.

mumofmadboys Fri 28-Jan-22 15:25:59

Monday and Friday Monica not Monday to Friday!

mumofmadboys Fri 28-Jan-22 15:29:39

Perhaps your son is stressed with moving house.
I would say little now but if he is sharp or rude say something like'Gosh I'm sure you don't intend to be rude but that is how it come over' and smile sweetly at him.
I hope it all works out. Coukd you liaise more with your DIL?

M0nica Fri 28-Jan-22 15:36:45

Sorryabout that mistake, but I still think this parent and child relationship is unbalanced and needs a reset. No parent should feel unable to talk totheir child and arrange things and need to do it via their husband.

DiscoDancer1975 Fri 28-Jan-22 15:37:06

I looked after my first grandchild for three days a week, until she was about 2 1/2. I followed mums itinerary to the letter, and if I wanted to do something, I ran it past her first.

My DIL was so grateful I could have my granddaughter, and I loved it, but wouldn’t have done in your situation, where you sound frightened to say or do anything. If you’re tense/ on edge...that’s most likely when things can go wrong.

I was 52 when I did this, and it was still hard physically. We did a lot of walks, pushing buggy’s up and down hills. I had to move one of my swims to the evening, when I’d had her that day. If you do three days, it’s surprising how much that takes out of the rest of your week, and it’s not as simple as having enough time left over to do what you want. You may not have the energy.

Make sure you know exactly what you’re doing before you take this on, especially as your relationship with your son is already fragile. You could look after your grandson for a short time, and then not see him at all otherwise.

All the best.

eazybee Fri 28-Jan-22 15:52:40

You are doing nine and a half hours twice a week, with three days and the weekend to separate the days. I would try it and simply see how it goes; focus on the time you will have with your grandson and see how you cope and how much you enjoy it.
To put it bluntly, your son is behaving like a prat and seems extremely entitled. He can be what he likes but you don't have to deliver what he says he wants; remind yourself you are the ones doing him a favour, a very big one.
You said he had finished school; is this university and is this his first job? Expecting you to cook for him and look after him so he can have a break; really? If he behaves like this at work he is in for a big shock.
I hope you get to look after your grandson and have a good time together.

JaneJudge Fri 28-Jan-22 15:58:04

I think it sounds a very controlling arrangement. I can't see how/why they would stop you gardening with your grandson, surely the fresh air will be good for him and it's doing something nice?!

highlanddreams Fri 28-Jan-22 16:00:44

You need to agree on what they want and what you want / can manage before you start. There will inevitably be compromises to make on both sides until you can find a happy medium that works for you all including your grandchild, but don't walk on eggshells to please your son, you are doing them a huge favour & your life is not theirs to dictate! You are parents and grandparents not their servants, they need to show you some love, respect & appreciation!

I used to love being looked after by my granny and grandad, they both gardened, baked, painted, sewed, knitted etc .We went for walks or went swimming, had picnics together it was wonderful. I either pottered around with them joining in where I could or found something else to do. Happy days!

Madgran77 Fri 28-Jan-22 16:36:36

To put it bluntly, your son is behaving like a prat and seems extremely entitled. He can be what he likes but you don't have to deliver what he says he wants; remind yourself you are the ones doing him a favour, a very big one.

I am afraid I agree with this! I do think you need to think very very carefully about what you are able to do, what your plans are etc ...and as Oopsadaisy says ...email them in advance, saying that you are looking forward to it and how you plan to organise things!

I'm now concerned that I will be in for a lot of criticism for how I care for his son

You need to prepare in advance for this scenario!! Sticking to their rules on key things is very important but that does not mean having no autonomy atall during the time you are providing child care for them (saving them pots of money!!)

You are parents and grandparents not their servants, they need to show you some love, respect & appreciation!

Remember that!!! And EXPECT it too!

But ofcourse your next worry will be not seeing your grandchildren if things don't work out or if you don't "fit" their expectations! Only you can decide what your red line is over which you wont cross!

Good luck flowers

Allsorts Fri 28-Jan-22 16:46:23

You know how to look after your grandchild, if it isn’t up to his expectations perhaps they should get paid child care. However, I’m sure it will work out very well, you seem to have lots planned, they have to trust you with your gs. I wouldn’t be sending any e mails giving him details of your plans or take his rudeness, you know what you’re doing. Have faith in yourself, you seem nervous of your son, if he had moaned about me at Christmas for being unwell, I would have retorted I didn’t plan it, it wasn’t a picnic for me. He is probably stressed with the move but he needs to calm down it’s not your fault.

JenniferEccles Fri 28-Jan-22 17:23:27

Given what you have said about your son’s attitude and lack of respect towards you, this has the potential to be very tricky.

I fully understand that you love the opportunity to spend time with your little grandson, but you must not let your son get away with enforcing unreasonable demands on how you spend your time with the little one.

Yes of course they are entitled to express their wishes about, for instance what he eats, how much if any tv they would want him to watch, but other than that they should be well aware that you are doing them a massive favour, and some gratitude wouldn’t go amiss, would it?

Another thing, there should be a contingency plan in place in case you are unwell. You shouldn’t be put in a situation where you feel obliged to have your grandson if that happened.

Your rough plans for how the days might pan out sound wonderful to me.
The little boy could learn so much from you pottering in your garden and may develop a love of gardening himself which he will always attribute to you when he grows up.

I hope it all works out well!
Just don’t allow your son to be rude or disrespectful.

Chewbacca Fri 28-Jan-22 17:25:23

To put it bluntly, your son is behaving like a prat and seems extremely entitled. He can be what he likes but you don't have to deliver what he says he wants; remind yourself you are the ones doing him a favour, a very big one.

Your son seems to have lost sight of just how much of a favour you're doing him. If he feels it necessary to dictate precisely what your GS, and its carer, will be doing every minute of the day, (and he has every right to do that) he should pay for professional paid child minders who will be obliged to fulfil his every command. He sounds like an arse.

tickingbird Fri 28-Jan-22 17:34:03

These types of familial relationships baffle me. I just wouldn’t put up with it. I love my sons, they love me. One in particular can be difficult and demanding; always has been but, my goodness, dictating what I can and can’t do? Criticising me for spending too much time in my garden? Sorry he’d be put right pretty sharpish.

luluaugust Fri 28-Jan-22 17:52:17

Yes I agree tickingbird, I haven't had this problem but if anything goes anywhere near it I laugh and say I managed to drag them up somehow! You are helping your son out a lot mothercat, lets hope the relationship is a little smoother after the worry of the move is over.

Madgran77 Fri 28-Jan-22 18:05:13

they have to trust you with your gs.

I agree Allsorts, they should. And the plans sound great!

The trouble is mothercats son doesn't seem to , in fact he appears to think she is there to serve his needs! On that basis I think emailing an out line of plans in advance is a way of clarifying anything that might cause problems, identifying whether the arrangement is actually going to work and therefore the OP being able to make a decision on whether she wants to go ahead.

Lets hope it can be worked out to everyone's satisfaction.

Oldbat1 Fri 28-Jan-22 18:18:27

Well it would be a definite no from me! I think the son is expecting far far too much. I wouldn’t want to be in such a commitment but our grandchildren live 400miles away anyway so t wouldn’t occur. Our friends committed to look after their grandchildren 5 days a week for their daughter’s children and also their son’s children. They have no life quite honestly. They can’t book a holiday without clearing it with them nor go out for a day trip. Just be very very careful. It is one thing to help out but when it becomes a full time job that is another matter.