“What worked well and what didn’t work as well as you might have hoped?”
I introduced you to Genny back in Help – When Much Needed …. Appreciated https://milsanddils.wordpress.com/2013/09/14/help-when-much-needed-appreciated/?preview=true&preview_id=331&preview_nonce=e155b67893&post_format=standard. If you haven’t already met Genny, or you want a refresher on the background of this visit, follow that link.
So, here we are back in Genevieve’s home – one they recently moved into and renovated at the same time. (Yikes!) It’s warm and bright, not only outside, but inside, also. Genny has three children under 5 years old. Two were taking afternoon naps and one was cradled in her arms. And if you guessed that perhaps I did get a chance to enjoy holding the baby until I needed to pass her back in order to take notes … well, you’d be right!
Genny is sharing the experience of having her MIL come visit and stay for a week right after the birth of their youngest. She cocks her head, smiling, thoughtfully considering. Genny smiles a lot. It’s just her nature – which explains, to a large degree, the sunny interior of their home.
“Well, I was fine with letting someone else clean.” she replies. And I was fine with letting someone else cook.”
I wonder if this had been the case at the birth of the first child. Now, that’s a whole different ballgame. New Mom; new Dad; lots of insecurities about roles and standards and access and judgements and traditions and advice and …. I smile, imagining Genny’s MIL feeling so comfortable and accepted, helping out in such tangible ways while enjoying the simple joys of her grandchildren’s daily routine. And the fact that Genny wanted “hands-on” support from her husband’s mother. There comes a delightful feeling when one is woven into the fabric of a family as an in-law, don’t you think? Embraced in the ordinary as well as the very special moments of life.
“The main thing was that she was super helpful. Oh, my gosh! The first morning she was here, she heard my daughter, Allison, wake up. She got Allison out of her crib, made breakfast and by the time I got out of bed, the kids were being fed and my MIL had started the coffee.
Good coffee to start the day. This is one way to Genny’s heart! Her MIL must have paid attention to this. This observation makes me think that I should take more notice of those little things my DILs enjoy – chocolate bars, for instance. And organic anything.
Then, Genny shares something that seems like a great bit of insight for MILs.
“When we get together with my in-laws, I kind of let the kids’ routine go. I kind of just let my MIL take over. I do. She’s good at asking what the kids like. And there are definitely certain things that my kids need to keep the visit pleasant – like naps and going to bed at a certain time in the evening. I let her know what our routine is.”
Genny talks about how she would “let things go” if the deviation from routine was simply a preference of her MIL’s. “It’s for a short time. It helps me to relax and it probably helps here relax, too!”
“Sounds like you’ve realized that sometimes you “roll with the punches”. That’s wisdom!
Genny smiles again. “Sometimes I wonder if she thinks that we’re really lenient. I don’t know if she understands that when she is here, things are definitely different. We’re way more relaxed.” I don’t know if that comes across the wrong way. Those kind of things I leave up to my husband to try to communicate with his mom. They have a really good relationship. They speak the same language.”
“Well, he’s got a lot of history with his mom and I’m sure he loves you both very much. So, he cares about how things are with both of you” I suggest.
As a “grandmother-to-be” – a newbie! – I’m hanging on every one of Genny’s words. And I’m picking up on a few ideas.
Firstly, I shouldn’t expect to show up and be waited upon hand-and-foot. Of course, my DIL may not want me to dive in and cook, clean, shop. On the other hand, she may welcome it. Being a great MIL is determining when one approach will work better than the other. How to best do this? Let’s hear from you!
Secondly, realize that what I see when I visit – for an hour, a day, a weekend – don’t need to be and may not be the way things are when I’m not around. This could be a valuable recognition to both MIL and DIL. As Genny’s approach suggests, rules & regulations may be relaxed a bit when guests come to visit.
Genny’s 3-year-old interrupts our conversation to try to convince his mother that it’s okay for him to watch a video. This little boy is one smart cookie!. Already he knows just how to word things, how to approach his parents so that a desirable outcome results! He explains that he didn’t understand his mother’s earlier instructions to take the iPad over to the table to use, but that now, he does.
“No, not Batman” she answers.
“Okay. But, I see one that’s not very long” he offers, hoping that this will change her mind.
“Okay, but not that one either” his mom responds firmly.
No, the routine will not be “let go” today just because any old visitor is here. I guess it needs to be the grandparents, Eddie. After all, they are very special!
Thanks, Gennie, for making time in your very busy day for this visit and for sharing your experience with one who needs to learn so much – me!