Contact Me

Any time - drop me an email
miriamhendeles@gmail.com
1-323-243-7116

Contact Me

Any time - drop me an email
miriamhendeles@gmail.com
1-323-243-7116

[breadcrumbs]

A Humble Confession by an Ex-Non-MIL

You know those annoying non-moms who think they know everything about motherhood? For sure you do; everyone does. We’ve all come across them in our most insecure and shameful moments as parents. Just when we need the most encouragement — because one of our kids is having a tantrum, or talking back to us, or being unruly, or making a scene at a public place like a zoo or park — these know-it-all non-moms vow out loud to never be the kind of mom we are.

And then when these NM’s become moms, guess what happens?

Actually I don’t know what happens because I’ve never done a longitudinal study following  non-moms into their eventual mom-hood. But I’m willing to bet that if we tracked those woman and interviewed them years later, we’d find some pretty overwhelmed and possibly not-so-sure-of-herself types. Just my guess. Nothing scientific here…just some good-ol’ deductive thinking.

Well, I was a know-it-all and high-horse type of person but not about motherhood. I was that way about MIL (mother-in-law)-hood. When my kids were little and I’d see  MIL’s say or do things to their DIL’s, I’d wonder how they could ever be so insensitive. For example, when a MIL gave her adult children (gasp) advice, I’d think she was being intrusive and completely out of bounds.

When a MIL worried about her adult married kids’ financial situation, I thought to myself how it’s really none of her business.

And when a MIL called too often, I thought to myself that when I become a MIL to my sons’ wives, I will be really careful not to do any of those things.

And you know what? In the beginning of my MIL-hood, I was pretty careful. In fact, I became a pretty caring MIL. I probably did refrain from much of the behaviors that my own MIL and other normal people do when they become MIL’s.

And then something happened to me.

I grew up.

I grew into MIL-hood and relaxed my inhibitions. Maybe it was due to old(er) age or just plain lack of energy but my attitude became, what the heck? I’m the mother (and yes, mother-in-law) and I’m going to say what the heck I want to because I already wrote the book on being a mother-in-law and….

I relaxed my standards because I’m human. And I goof sometimes.  As my adult children grow into more mature adults….and to parents of not just babies or toddlers but of pre-school and elementary school children, I find that I’m becoming slightly more involved.

More outspoken. Entitled. Opinionated. Yup. All the horrible things I vowed I’d never say or do, I find myself saying and doing.

I mean – hello! We have opinions too. Right? Maybe that’s it – as we get older, we fear becoming invisible and so we assert ourselves and our opinions more.

When the grandkids were babies, it was easy to hold back from expressing the opinion of how to burp the baby, or whether the baby should be bottle-fed or nursed…or whatever the monumental decision was. I mean – who cared about that?

As the grandkids got older, (and we got older) we feel the need to compare and contrast how they do things with how we did things.

And sometimes we see things in different ways than we saw them when we were the parents. Maybe it’s that we kind of sort of “forget” what it was like being a new mom? Could it be that? Is it the old(ER) age factor? Like having those senior moments (I talk about them in my book) where we selectively forget how it was to be a young and busy mom and we just shoot our opinions from the hip.

In our old(ER) age, we say something, rather than put ourselves in their inexperienced shoes and just let them figure things out themselves.

Sometimes I have discussions with my husband about stuff and one of us says to the other “Nah, don’t make an issue. It’s none of our business.”

To which the other one promptly goes and makes an issue. Big time. Just because.

See? It’s hard. It’s tough. So never say never. You just never know when you’ll be in the exact situation as someone else and maybe – just maybe – you will react as they did or do.

So-  now I’m here to express that I  have sympathy for all those MIL’s – including my own — in how she raised me.

Yes – you read that right.

I know this is huge that I’m writing this after writing a book  all about my insights on being the perfect grandmother and mother-in-law.

I know this may even ruin my credibility as an author because, hey, how can I basically take back all I said about being conscientious and just change my mind with the click of a publish button on a bubby blog?

Well, bubbies and Omi’s, I’m doing it. I’m here to tell you that I now do all those annoying things I vowed never to do.

I ask too many questions.

I hate noise. I get upset when they play ball in the house.

I sometimes contradict the parents in front of their kids.

I tell them to bundle up the kids. I comment on their or their kids’ clothing (not always favorably).

I worry if I hear them arguing.

I post every last letter and drawing on my kitchen wall and Facebook page (even my own MIL didn’t do that last one! Yay her!).

All of it some of the time. And some of it all of the time.

Bottom line is I (and all my MIL friends) try our best. We really do and that’s what counts.

So – my message to all the future moms out there –

Never say never.

You just never know what kind of mother you will be. Don’t make promises about how you’ll be because even when you become that role, and follow your vows to the Tee, you will evolve over time into another role. Another stage. Another season.  And just what you thought worked for the previous stage, just doesn’t work anymore.

And then one day you may find yourself doing all the behaviors that you vowed never to do. And that will be pretty embarrassing.

Because all your ranting and raving about how you’ll never do or be this way or that way got turned on its head.

And aside from the embarrassment here’s the biggest problem: you may just have to confess on your blog or write a whole new book that contradicts your first book. Nope. Not worth it.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

 

 


The Art of Giving Space to New Parents

geekynewborns

The news of our son’s new baby, a firstborn son for him,  came late Wednesday night.  My husband called  from an errand  and told me the exciting news that he had just heard from the new father.

“Mazel Tov! It’s a boy!” shouted my husband, in his characteristic sharing-good-news voice.

“What? Oh wow! Mazel Tov!” I answered in my semi-sleep state.

I called my son and daughter-in-law, wished them mazel tov and got all the details – like baby’s weight, the labor and the fun birth-story tidbits that all of us new and older moms enjoy sharing.

Soon, my daughter-in-law sent me a few photos of the baby. I couldn’t believe this. Already they were snapping and sharing pictures? How cool is that?

Times are a-changing. Couples nowadays are very savvy at  getting right into things. Immediately.

Next came an adorable video of my dil talking to her 15 minute old son and his responses via tongue wagging, eyes blinking and body stretching. Another insight into first-time Mommy-hood –  lots and lots of early stimulation.

My husband and I have already gone through the experience of  birth arrival  phone calls from parents. We’ve had the gamut of  feelings: euphoria, pride, gratitude and the overwhelming desire to just go. Do. Help. Support. Advise. Counsel.

But each time we become grandparents to another little boy (only boychiks so far in this family!) we learn about ourselves vis a vis today’s generation. We learn that times are changing. We realize that kids know what to do and are pretty definite about how they are going to parent.

And we learn that it’s best to keep our mouths shut regarding unsolicited advice. In some ways it’s not new, because we wanted the same space when we were new parents. But now we’re on the other side and it’s our job to be supportive and understanding, rather than didactic.

By now I get that  first time moms –and even second and third time moms –have pondered, researched and analyzed the pros and cons of all decisions for 9 months. And whether or not we agree or understand or recall doing things that way,  they want to do things their own way. In their own time.

So back to our new baby grandson’s arrival:

I called, texted and emailed my friends and family about the good news. Then,  I thought of posting some of the pictures onto Facebook.

But I stopped myself. Through a  WhatsApp, I asked,  “Is it okay to post a pic of the baby?”

Her swift response was , “Sure. No problem. Thanks for asking.”

The next day, I had a lot of things to do work-wise, and my head was swirling with tasks to get done in time for Shabbos.

I could have acted on autopilot. After all, I’ve done this many times before. The boy thing. The celebrations.  The gifting. The bris or brit milah (circumcision). The tumult surrounding all the phone calls. The decisions.

Still with all that I reminded myself that  this is not only my simcha. This is not my time to make firm decisions without consulting the new parents.  I had my time when I birthed and raised my own children. Now it was their time.

Within a few hours, the phone calls came in and the decisions were worked out.

They asked us if it’s okay if we  would host the sholom zochor for the baby.  the party after dinner on Friday night.

Great. We would be happy to do it.

I delegated the job of picking up the food and setting up the tables and chairs to them to my other son and daughter-in-law who were more than happy to help out.

And I then I got busy. My first stop would be the hospital. Yes, I would take off from work and go running to the hospital. I would even bring my dil a delicious meal from one of the local take outs that she likes.

But wait: Does she want visitors? Probably. Thinking back to when I was a new mom, I remembered that visitors were fun. But did I want unexpected visitors to come? Did I want surprises in the form of my mother-in-law?

No, I did not and neither does any new mom (hormones notwithstanding). So I did the right MIL-appropriate thing and I called my son and made sure they were up to visitors.

And when I went to buy the gift I asked the store owner for a gift receipt.  I didn’t want to impose my taste on her. While we relish those warm and fuzzy velour stretchies with cute blue and grey or turquoise and green stripes, these may not be the “in thing” for the young couples.

Last night my husband and I visited the new parents and their adorable baby. We oohed and ahhed and took lots of pictures of each of us holding the baby. We sat and chatted for awhile. And then we left.

This morning I got a phone call from my daughter-in-law. “Mommy, I just love those stretchies! That’s so nice of you….

I was happy to know that she enjoyed the new outfits. But more than that, I was glad that I had given her the space to decide for herself whether to “like” the gift. After all, none of us (not even the most veteran grandmas or bubbies) likes to be told what to like and how to be.

How do you navigate relationships with new moms and dads?

 

 


Subscribe to Blog!

Would you like to be notified of new posts? ENTER YOUR EMAIL HERE please and then look out for an email to CONFIRM your subscription.

Proud Member of Midlife Boulevard

Proud Member of Midlife Boulevard

Community

View Past Posts

WP-Backgrounds Lite by InoPlugs Web Design and Juwelier Schönmann 1010 Wien