Two months ago my fiancé and I had our first child - we couldn’t be happier.
She took the full year’s maternity leave, and I’ve used some holidays to have time with him. The Grandparents are wonderful: one set takes him one day weekly so my fiancé catches up on sleep, the other takes him one weekend night to give us a night out.
I’d originally offered to get up for feedings throughout weekend nights. One week prior to his birth, a series of projects I’d developed for months all came together, so my two weeks off was only a few days.
I also have to work ten to twelve hour days, plus I’m getting called at home at night and on weekends.
It’s like this every summer – major work that can only be done on planned deadlines, the timing of which are beyond my control. Yet I still offered to get up with the baby.
I’m exhausted by week’s end, and it’s difficult to get up with him even just one night. I’ll have much more time/energy next month.
Am I a jerk if I ask her to get up with him that one weekend night until I’m back working 50-60 hours? I feel we’re in parenting together and I should be pitching in.
Sleepless and Sorry
You’re not a jerk, just tired and overwhelmed, and she is too. That’s the reality of a new baby, and hopefully it settles within six months, or you both find ways to adjust better.
It requires both looking at other realities – work schedules, personal energies, and baby’s unique needs, etc.
Listen to her reactions to the change, and express yours, especially the fact that this is a particularly demanding time.
Then, together, figure out solutions, for now. Perhaps your budget allows for her to have an afternoon babysitter one or two days, to allow for some personal time and/or naps if needed. Or she and the baby can visit her parents when you’re working on the weekend, and she can snooze awhile then.
Learn early to negotiate parenting responsibilities in a realistic and equitable way, and you’ll be a great team!
My mother-in-law and I have a long history of not getting along. She’s never liked me and I’ve occasionally reacted to her outbursts and contempt, perpetuating the cycle.
She’s now announced that she and her husband will never set foot in our house again, they never want to see me again. How can this work? We have two small children and we live an hour away.
They expect to see their grandchildren regularly. My husband’s expected to drive them over for frequent visits. My baby’s still breastfed and can’t be away from me. And we get such little time as a family, I’m bitter at the thought of my husband devoting “our” time to satisfy their demands.
He just wants to keep the peace. He’s very close with his parents. What do we do next?
Get to counselling together, you need help sorting out how much your own contribution caused this, how much was unavoidable, and what grandparent input you want for your children, and how to achieve it.
A “close” son should be telling his parents they can’t divide you two, and also helping them see what their own part has been. He should encourage them to get counseling, too. The “solution” they’ve offered won’t work long-term… it’ll put strain on your marriage and allow them to show your children a negative attitude towards you.
FEEDBACK Regarding the writer whose friend ended contact because she’d missed the other woman’s grandfather’s funeral (July 12):
Reader - “Deeply Sorry” tried to explain/apologize, at the time. Now it’s time to let it go.
“She should grieve the loss of the friendship and move on. If they re-connect later it must be the other woman’s choice, since she called for space. Sending cards, etc. is likely to frustrate the other woman – she clearly stated what she wanted, whether “Deeply Sorry” agrees or understands or not, the friendship’s over.
“She shouldn’t “second-guess” that other woman “didn’t mean it” or wouldn’t know how to reconnect.
“If someone says clearly they don’t want to hear from you, take them at their word. They know how to get in touch if they want to.”
The many people who write me expressing regrets at not relenting on such statements, convinces me that occasional non-intrusive outreach is worth trying.
Tip of the day:
Adjusting equitably to a first baby is an important part of learning to parent together.