This fifty million dollar question arose the other night while at a nanny hiring seminar. The inquiring mom was seriously considering, once the baby arrived, having her mother come and live with her family. Full-time. With no particular end date. A.K.A. possibly forever.
The mom welcomed everyone’s feedback, not just the instructor’s. Most of the class consisted of new moms or moms with one child. An audible sigh of envy came from a few women, while the rest seemed to moan with cautious warning. And a stifled nervous giggle came from the lone dad among us.
Personally, with my own random commitment issues and a tendency to shy away from extremes, the sound of this nearly made me breakout in hives.
Some parents were encouraging of the mom’s situation, others wary. I understood both sides. But my first response to this particular mom-to-be, was to be very mindful of the personal relationships at hand and how those dynamics would realistically play out once her baby arrives.
Is it the maternal grandmother or the paternal grandmother? These two dynamics alone make a huge difference. A mom-to-be or new mom might get along far better with one over the other. How is the grandmother’s relationship with the husband or partner? Does the grandmother respect the parents’ marriage and relationship? Are there boundaries? Is the grandmother an alpha? Is she going to want to take over the entire house? Or is she going to be able to follow the new parents’ leads? Grandmothers have been the authorities for a handful of decades. So, though they have their own life experience to share, will they be able to flip that switch and also be a student again?
These questions are a good starting point. If parents-to-be or new parents are seriously considering going the Granny Poppins route, it’s good to consider all of the above, then also sit down and ask all parties involved what are their true and realistic expectations of the potentially new arrangement.
Personally, I’ve only known a few mom friends whose mothers or mothers-in-law come in with a genuine desire to help in any capacity. They’re truly a calming and helpful presence during a very intense time, and they ask for next to nothing in return. They’re just happy to be there. Even if they’re stuck doing the majority of cooking, cleaning and laundry.
So, if it’s a Yes! for Granny Poppins, it’s important for everyone to be a team or at least try to have a team mentality. It’s also vital for everyone to be flexible. Or at least remind themselves to be flexible even when they think it’s completely impossible to do so.
If all else fails, try to regroup and see what direction is next best.
If not, I think I’ve heard something like a spoonful of sugar might be helpful. Especially, in song.