Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Road Trip: I'm Not Raising My Kids, I'm Raising My Parents' Grandchildren

If I had known how happy having kids would make my parents I would have had them years ago. Of course had I known how much my mother would drive me crazy with her helpful advice I might not have had them at all. Actually it's not so much the advice that makes me insane; it's the assumption that my mom knows how to raise my children better than I do.

There is nothing more annoying than being told that your child would be perfect except for the fact that you are doing every thing wrong. Actually there is something more annoying, having that told to you as you try to administer to your tantruming child. Sometimes I feel like screaming at her "It's amazing how I manage to take care of them every day yet somehow you know better than I do." Okay, I actually have screamed this at her before.

But I thought I had moved past all that. I had come to peace with my mother's warped view of my children as perfect little dolls. I had gotten over her befuddlement when they act out. Her little comments were just tuned out as I thought about how I wouldn't have to get up with the "perfect angels" in the morning. Little did I know that my zen like state would be destroyed by Doorknobgate 2010.

You see, we lock our kids in their room. It sounds awful but it's really for their own health. Not only does it keep them from wandering about in the middle of the night it also keeps me from killing Calamity Jane since she is no longer scaling down from the crib and
waking me up at 5:30 in the morning. Sleep is important: to me, to them, to our family harmony. And if a doorknob lock means they spend five minutes playing then falling asleep together rather than an hour of us replacing them in their room and beds, so be it.

But according to my mom, I am damaging their emotional health and should just have the patience to walk them gently back to sleep. We argued about it for almost an hour. My sister came over to discuss it and agreed with my mom and then switched her position when she realized that her five month year old would eventually be able to move about on her own. My dad just said he agreed with whatever I was doing while my mom shot death rays at him. Finally I whined "well it's MY kids and I am going to do it MY way" like I was 12 because being home turns me into a petulant teenager.

However like the mature woman I am I didn't even gloat the next day when Calamity Jane went into full on rage mode because she didn't have doorknob enforced quiet time. I just smiled victoriously when my mom said "maybe you were right". Four sweetest words in the English language. I savored them for almost a full moment before my mom told me I should be ironing the girls' clothes.

It's going to be a long week.


  1. Oh my. My mother's argument to me, when I do things differently than she did, is "but all of YOU turned out fine!" I'm all, well, we're ALIVE and functioning members of society, if that's what you mean by fine. She asks me in her weekly phone calls if I'm still nursing, if the baby is still sleeping in our room, etc. Anything I've done differently (nursing, keeping the baby in our room) she sees as an indictment on her parenting. I'm like "Things have changed since you had your last baby (me) 41 years ago! Calm down!" So I feel your pain.

  2. My husband is British, and ironing is what the British people do.

    I'm of the mind that if someone thinks my kids' clothes should be ironed, that someone should go right to it.

  3. I hear you on the parents knowing best. My step mom used to critize everything I did from food to clothing but since I had more kids then her she has backed off. Thankfully. Our tounges get used to being bitten around our parents.

  4. Hi, I'm Megan, and I lock my children in their room too. If I didn't, there wouldn't be any gently walking them back to bed because I would instead be living in a mental institution. So it's all for the good of the family, in the long run.

  5. I wondered how I was going to keep D in his room when he moves from his crib. Locking him in never occurred to me (maybe one of those childproof doorknob covers in the room would work). Thanks!

  6. Well, I'm a smartass, and I'd have no compunction against telling my mom that if *she'd* done such a great job as a mother, *I* wouldn't have to lock my kids in the bedroom.

    Of course, that doesn't do anything healthy for anyone, except make me giggle.

    I'm expecting my first in about 8 weeks--I can't wait for the "well-intentioned advice" to begin to flow. Blech.

  7. Hello, thanks for stopping by my blog. I totally lol'ed at this post. Grandparents operate under the assumption that, whatever the condition of the child, something must be wrong, and no matter how capable I, the mother of the child, may be, the only person that can fix the problem is the grandparent. I turn into a 12 year old when I'm home, too. Good luck with the rest of your visit! Relief is in sight...

  8. "Actually it's not so much the advice that makes me insane; it's the assumption that my mom knows how to raise my children better than I do."

    This! I love my mother and I think I turned out pretty ok but to hear her tell it I am apparently incapable of taking care of my son. It's a wonder how he's managed to be still alive after 8 months of living with me. /snark

  9. Grandparents can be a major asset and or a major pain in the ass.

  10. As I read this something horrific occurred to me. What if we turn into them? You smack me, and I'll smack you if we do this. K?