My son and daughter-in-law are expecting twins, their first children together — she has older children. My husband and I have enjoyed a warm and happy relationship with them and live nearby.
My son is a twin so I am fully aware of the need for extra help. I have helped with other grandchildren and assumed the same help would be welcomed with these babies, but my son announced they do not want any visitors for the first week or so, not even at the hospital.
My daughter-in-law had said earlier she didn’t want her family to come help as she’s always had a rather “interesting” relationship with her mom.
I was stunned and upset. It is so unlike my son and we’ve always been close. My daughter-in-law stayed silent while we had this discussion, and my husband interjected with some light humor.
After some debate I dropped the subject and nothing has been said about it since, though we see them often and it’s always warm and pleasant.
My daughter-in-law just learned she needs a C-section, and her oldest just had surgery. He will be fine, but now he’s home and needing extra help. We now don’t know how to respond if the call for help should come, which I have a feeling it will. My husband says an apology is needed first. How do you suggest we handle this?
— Not Invited
You might as well have typed, “My husband says we need to shoot ourselves in the feet first.”
No, no, no! Please. Don’t demand anything, and don’t take this personally, not unless you have way more evidence to support that than you’ve given.
Here’s what I see:
Your daughter-in-law (“D”) has had the newborn experience before. D also has a relationship with her mother that she needs euphemisms to describe.
1 + 1 (equal sign) she has learned her lesson: No mom visits to “help” with babies.
So far this is not about you; it’s strictly D’s side of the family.
Now, she’s keeping her mom behind the police tape. But what about you two? Those pleasant visits say she does like you, but that puts her in a tough spot. Say D invites you to come help: I think we can all hear the screams from her mom and other family, right, from our various points across the globe? “Oh, they can come help you, but we can’t?!” So she keeps you out, too.
And you scream. Terrible spot.
Yes, I’m speculating, several times over, but having seen some “interesting” maternal relationships, I don’t see this as a stretch.
So, she’s taking the less complicated path — with her husband’s support, appropriately — and keeping you all behind the tape for a week-ish. She’s not a rookie parent, so it probably made sense to her. And it is reasonable even for new parents without “interesting” family issues to take time to bond.
As a twin veteran, you see the flaw in her logic, and as a loving, un-“interesting” mom figure, you feel the hurt.
But let’s say for argument’s sake you were invited second, after her family. Still: Respect it, move on.
Because your chances of remaining close absolutely spike if you just respect choices (and predicaments) and help without grudges when called. Apply liberally, please.
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