I do not want my mum to baby-sit

Daily Express - - BE HAPPY -

QWHEN

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.

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