Ramblings About Parenting Decisions and (Un)supportive Grandparents

Getting ready for Belly Monster, there are parenting decisions that Teddy & I have already had to make.  To breastfeed (to the very best of my ability, and hopefully we’ll be successful), to cloth diaper, to not push gender normative on our daughter.  These right now are the big ones.  Others will come later – to raise her vegetarian initially (to change based on her own informed choice when she’s older), to encourage her to learn a musical instrument, to encourage her to participate in activities, whether they are theater, sports, or something else, to play outside and get some “dirt in the skirt.”  We want the best for her, and we want her to have a happy childhood.

My in-laws are very hands-off in the sense that they believe that we are the ones that should make these decisions.  In their opinion, it’s not their place to second guess us, to tell us we’re making the wrong decisions, or to flat out state they will not follow our decisions.

My mother, on the other hand, has second-guessed every decision Teddy & I have made.  She’s expressed the opinion that “what happens at grandmas, stays at grandmas.”  Which I guess is fine in small amounts, but when she states we shouldn’t cloth diaper, that there’s no reason to breastfeed, and more recently, to reject our aversion to gender normative colors and clothing, it feels like I’m fighting a battle for the right to raise our daughter the way we want.

And honestly, I’m getting sick of it.

Teddy & I have not banned the color pink from Belly Monster’s life.  We’re not ridiculous.  And if it turns out our little girl is totally in love with pink and sparkles and Disney princesses, we’ll both have to take a deep breath and give in, because our intention is not to deny her or make her miserable.  BUT, we both feel it isn’t necessary to surround her with these things.  And we’ve been very clear and upfront about this decision from the get-go.  It was the main motivation behind the gender reveal – we didn’t want our friends and family buying a nursery full of pink clothes and toys, so we didn’t tell anyone we were expecting a girl.

So I was so heartbroken when my mom sent 3 – THREE – boxes of pink clothes.  All pink.  Sparkles.  Glitter.  And most distressing to me, but one outfit that was just age-inappropriate to my eyes.  I tried to unpack it, I tried to put it away, but seeing those clothes hanging in the closet just broke my heart.  They represented exactly what I didn’t want to model for my little girl.  Teddy & I then decided to return/exchange the clothes, but my mom had not given a single receipt and had removed the store tags, so there was no way to know where any of it came from.  The message I took, for right or wrong, was “this is what I want for my granddaughter, and you have to accept it.”

I refused.

Teddy & I picked through the clothes and found a few things we thought were acceptable.  Everything else was taken to the shipping store, packed into one big box, and sent back to mom.  When I talked to her about it, she said she “forgot” we had made this decision, but I know my mom, and she didn’t forget, she just doesn’t agree and doesn’t respect our decision.

I worry about what things are going to be like, how I will manage these issues, since they will come up again, I have no doubt.  Before the gender reveal, my mom *repeatedly* stated she hoped Belly Monster was a girl, because she didn’t want a boy.  My response every time  was “I don’t care, I just want a happy and healthy baby.”  She even tried pushing it a few times, stating I *must* have a preference.  Nope, “I just want a happy and healthy baby.”  At my shower, she looked around at the other people at our table (about 10 of us were seated there) and said “so what does everyone think?  Boy or girl?  I’m hoping for a girl, I only want a granddaughter.”  A friend of mine (who recently had her first baby) stated “I think the most important thing is the baby is healthy.”  Teddy’s aunt jumped in and said the same thing.

But my mom only wanted a girl.  And she’s going to try to princess the hell out of this little girl, regardless of what we say.  And Teddy and I are going to have to stand interference.

I wonder how other parents deal with this.  I’ve been reading up, and I’ve found some interesting tips and opinions, but I think it’s just something that Teddy and I need to feel out.

Random aside: there are other issues at work here that I will probably post about at some point, but things are too unresolved, both between myself and my family and in my own head, and I don’t really feel prepared to discuss the full extent.  I’ll get there.

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