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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Who's in Charge Here? Mark your Territory

My kids are being awful. It's a problem. It's doubly a problem because my mother is visiting and I want them to be good. Every time she comes or we go to visit her, I think, well, they've been such good girls for so long now, surely they'll be good in front of her, too, and she'll finally see what a good mom I am.


It's like whenever they see her, they release the fire of a million tantrums. Anything and everything is a reason to cry, scream and slam doors. I'm so embarrassed. And I started wondering why. And, as usual, it's mostly my fault.

First of all, my mom was a great mom. She knows what she's doing. She also has a very strong presence. But, being the great mom she is, she understates herself incredibly when she's here. So that she'll make a soft, small, totally reasonable suggestion, and I'll immediately think, well, that makes sense. I'm doing it wrong. Completely forgetting that there is good reason why we do it my way, or even if there isn't a good reason, that my girls are used to one set thing and another change on top of visitors will put them over the edge. This happens every ten minutes or so and always ends in tears.

Because of this, my girls begin to sense that I'm not really in charge and I've been fooling them all these years. And it's kind of true. When my mom is here, I don't feel like I'm in charge. I still feel like her kid. She's a better mom than I am in my opinion, and I want to do things her way. But it doesn't work. And with my kids thinking that maybe what I say isn't set in stone after all, and no one really knows who is in charge, well, being three, they decide that they are in charge. Disaster.

So now I've got my mom trying to help me, offering suggestions, not because she thinks I'm doing it wrong, but because she's an extra set of hands and could help if we just changed certain things just slightly. Then I've got my kids ordering me around and being total jerks, just to see if it works and if I'm going to put them in their place. And my entire homelife is falling down around my ears, right in front of my mother in a poignant display of the exact opposite thing I wanted to happen.

My girls need routine and structure like people need air to breathe. It's actually a fault, although most times it makes my life easier. The smallest things...Nana cut someone's grape in half instead of giving them the whole one, Nana sat on the bed to read the story when usually we sit on the floor, Nana put a towel on someone's lap while they ate a grapefruit slice when Mommy doesn't do that. Each of these things ended in tears.

And my mom is trying to help me, she's not forcing these things. Who would ever guess that cutting a grape would be the-end-of-the-world big deal? She just didn't know.

And I don't help, since I'm stressed out over making the trip a good experience for them (which is laughable). The trip is good for them because they get to see the kids, hellions or not, so I'm lucky in that way. But I still snap and strain, and God why can't I even flip pancakes right when my mom is here?

Someday I will get this grandparent-visit thing right. Today was not that day.


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  1. I (and my husband) pretty much overrule any other authority figure (from grandparents to doctors) when it comes to the way things are done.

    We've been able to establish this coup from day one with firm and repeated utterances of "things are different with twins."

    Which is sort of easy for us, right? I mean, how many people know what it's like to try to simultaneously parent two (or more) babies of the exact same age every single minute?

    Eventually I grew to learn that it wouldn't matter if there were one baby, two, or a half dozen. They're all mine, they're all individuals with differing needs/wants, and *we* are the ones that have to live with the consequences of our parenting decisions.

    I'm not going to run myself ragged trying to parent my kids in a method that works for someone else with different children. That's simply cutting against the grain.

    Like you say, be yourself. It's what you're best at, after all, right?

  2. I second the "things are different with twins" argument.

    I don't have this problem with my mom, but I do with my MIL. But on top of that, my attitude towards the grand-parental visit is always, "Here- YOU take a turn being in charge today, I'm going to take a nap."

    They seem to really like it. And then the little monsters turn into... well... little monsters. And I come in and lay down the law. And then they go back to being themselves. And the grandparents are SOOOOOOOOO impressed.

    So my advice really is, ask her if she WANTS to be in charge for a day, and then use it as an excuse to do something out of the house. Then, when you get back remember that you are in charge and that you rock. And she'll see pretty quick that you're the awesome one. :)



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