Today I had an epiphany. One that frees me from some of the guilt I feel when I get annoyed with my in-laws. I finally put my finger on the quality in them that drives me so crazy. They encourage dependence instead of independence. They do as much as they can to ensure that we rely on them in some way. Some might label that 'generosity.' But I think that this is more about control. They want to do everything for us instead of letting us figure things out for ourselves. They do things, presumably to help us out, before we even have a chance to think about it. I don't even think they realize that they're doing things backwards. Their child is an adult with a child of his own, but they still want to do everything for him. Which is a nice idea, I guess. But it goes totally against the notion that your job as a parent is to foster independence and raise a child who can take care of himself.
In an ideal world, our parents would let us know that they're there for us if we need them. They would offer support in whatever way they thought appropriate but let us decide if we needed help. They would not step in and take over as much as possible when they don't actually live in the same town.
I feel like I am in a constant struggle for control over my own life and my child. They're already planning a future trip to Disney World so that my father in law can have the same experience there with Max that he had with Chad when he was little. They don't stop to think that by doing things like that, they're robbing us of the chance to have those experiences.
I don't even know where I'm going with this. Maybe nowhere. I just know that there are a zillion little things that are adding up to my wanting to avoid the hell out of my in-laws, and I don't want to feel that way. I am aware of the fact that I can be incredibly controlling, but I stand by the idea that when it comes to my kid I should be in control. Even if that means that I do things a little differently than someone else thinks I should. Even if that means that my mother in law doesn't get to buy a complete wardrobe for Max (between Christmas and his birthday, she bought him ten complete outfits, all the same size) and decide what he's going to wear for every holiday. She's already bought him two sets of Christmas pajamas for next year. I think she's annoyed that I didn't consult her before I bought his Christmas pajamas this year. And he only needs one set of Christmas pajamas. Geez. I hate wastefulness. So she knows that if she buys something I can't return easily, he'll end up wearing it. Like the Halloween costume that she brought over. In September. Did I tell you about that? I was not happy about it. I did plan on buying him one. Then she beat me to the punch. Didn't say one word about it. Just showed up with it one day.
Talking does me no good. I get a smile and nod and "I don't want to do anything to upset you" and more of the same. When Max wakes up at night and doesn't want to go back to sleep when she babysits (because she always spends the night, you know), she always volunteers to stay up with him when we're trying to get him to go back to sleep. Stay up with him meaning stay up and play, of course. Which is so not ok. And is what happened Friday night. When we got home, Max was in the guest room with MIL. I heard him wake up at 3:15, and I heard them go in Max's room. I also heard something about wet pajamas, so I figured she'd change him and go back to bed. At 3:40 I could still hear them in Max's room, talking and playing. Very loudly. At 3:40 a.m. It does not take 25 minutes to change a diaper and wet pajamas. And it should not involve lots of loud talking and giggling. 3:30 in the morning is a time for whispers and shushing and calming and encouraging sleep. I went in and asked what they were still doing up. I was told she was changing him. I'm sure I grumbled a lot. It was the middle of the freaking night, and no attempt was being made to get the baby back to sleep. When I came in the room, Max latched onto me, and I sat in the rocking chair with him (over his many protests and shouts of OUT!) until he got sleepy again. There was lots of shh-ing and very little talking. Because guess what? When you talk and play with a toddler in the middle of the night he will never go back to sleep.
Boy did that ever get off track. Sorry. The point: my in-laws want us to depend on them for as many things as possible. I am incredibly independent and hate to ask people for help. We're like oil and water. And I'm going crazy.
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