I do not want my mum to baby-sit
I was seven my mother, now 55, became dependent on alcohol and antidepressants. My father died when I was four and mum struggled to cope with two children. She went to rehab and sorted herself out but I’m still haunted by memories of finding her unconscious at the bottom of the stairs and having to call an ambulance.
Now I am 34, married with a good job and pregnant with my first child. Mum, now a successful business woman, has offered to cut down her hours so she can look after my baby when I return to work to avoid paying childcare. The problem is I don’t feel comfortable leaving my child with my mother. I just don’t trust her and I have feelings about my own childhood I don’t want to confront.
My husband is aware of my mother’s past but thinks leaving our baby with mum will be best. I know I should be grateful but I would rather pay a nursery. Are my fears just the result of being pregnant and emotional? Should I lay them aside and be thankful? PREGNANCY brings many anxieties, especially when there are going to be work and childcare issues but I find your letter a strange one. When you were a child she was suffering from depression and developed an alcohol dependency. You know your mother. I do not but that was a quarter of a century ago and from what you say it is far behind her now and her life is in order.
When you look at her do you see any trace of her former troubles? Is there the slightest reason to suppose she couldn’t or shouldn’t be looking after your child? That is the question you have to ask yourself. Your mother clearly had to fight hard to get over her problems and she appears to have succeeded long ago. Why would you want to punish her, your child and yourself now? Dwelling on your own childhood trauma is sheer self-indulgence.
You do not suggest there is any coldness or distance in your relationship with your mother these days. You don’t pretend you can envisage what the problem would be if your mother looked after your baby, yet you want to deprive her of a grandchild, deprive your child of a grandmother and deprive yourself of a willing and muchneeded helper. What matters is that you sort out your childcare in a way that is satisfactory for your child and compatible with you earning a living.
You are extremely fortunate in having a mother who is willing and able to help. You would have to be mad to turn her down and you would be being unkind to yourself.
I think you must simply be suffering from pre-natal anxieties. You half know that yourself. Your husband doesn’t understand your anxieties, you say. Or at least he doesn’t share them. Why should he? Clearly he has never seen anything in your mother that worries him.
Goodness, your mother was a young widow alone with two children. No wonder she was stressed and depressed. Now you want to impose a sort of life sentence on her for her temporary and understandable problems long ago.
It is understandable that you should feel resentful about what you had to put up with in your own childhood but you would be well advised not to allow it to become a practical problem for you now. Take your husband’s advice, be grateful for your good fortune and enjoy the happy days to come in your three-generation family. THIS really is an issue that you must confront head on. It is not simply a matter of leaving your new baby when you go back to work. Your baby will become a toddler, then a child and will spend time with his or her grandmother on many occasions.
If you are too nervous to leave your baby alone with your mother then this is going to cause you permanent anxiety for years. It will blight your relationship and that precious bond between grandparent and child. I know it will be difficult but you must speak to your mother and share your fears.
After all she hasn’t forgotten what happened all those years ago any more than you have. Yet she has achieved a great deal since those days and deserves some credit for that.