I got a phone call from a Mommy friend of mine the other day asking if I wanted to meet up for lunch. I hadn’t seen her since I started working again, so I jumped at the chance to catch up with her (and maybe some idle gossip…), but the minute I saw her in the restaurant, I knew that wasn’t going to happen.
Ms. M is normally one very happy, bouncy individual (when I see her I think of Melody from ‘Josie and the Pussycats‘ – everything is glitter and puppies and unicorns). But that day, she looked like an extra from the ‘Walking Dead‘.
I asked her what was going on and then the Nigara Falls of tears started and it took me a good couple of minutes to get her to the point where she could talk and I could actually understand her.
‘My MIL says I’m a Bad Mother!!’
Um, say what?
Turns out, that MIL has been staying with them for the past two weeks. They invited her down to spend some time with their girls for their birthday’s and for Easter, since she lives on the East Coast. But since she has been there, she has critized every single thing that Ms. M does for her girls (they are 2 and 4).
‘They shouldn’t be wearing that, it’s too cold / hot / windy.’
‘They really shouldn’t be eating that twice in one week.’
‘You aren’t doing the alphabet with them properly.’
And so on.
Now, I could understand her MIL’s concern if these girls were dirty, unhappy and under fed kids. But they aren’t. They are smart, funny, out going little girls who are well-fed and well loved. I of course, immediately got angry about the situation, and had to hold myself back from picking up her phone and calling her MIL to give her a piece of my mind (cause, you know, that’s just how I roll).
Instead, I suggested that maybe, if Ms. M sat her MIL down and told her how much her critizing her hurt her, and that if that was all she was going to do, instead of actually enjoying spending time with her granddaughters, then maybe she should simply go back home. Ms. M kind of baulked at that idea, especially since Hubby hadn’t been any help at all (he’s ‘not taking sides’ – what a crock).
After a couple of glasses of wine and some more encouragement from me, she decided that she needed to ‘lay down the law’. It was her house, and they were her kids, so if her MIL didn’t like how she was raising them, she could go stick it (yay! You go girl).
I got a call from her over the weekend, and my happy, bouncy friend was back. She had made Hubby watch the girls for a couple of hours and had taken her MIL out for coffee and told her what was what. At the start, her MIL went all red and puffy (‘like she was about to blow a fuse’), but by the end of it, she just looked sad. Apparently, she had been paying just a little too much attention to her ‘bingo buddies’ who had filled her mind with all the horrible things that the girls could get up to living in Las Vegas. Again, they are 2 and 4 – not quite sure what they thought they could be getting up to. Hence the critizism. Even when she realized that they were happy, well loved kids, she couldn’t stop.
Needless to say, after much crying and promises to talk more often via Skype, MIL and Ms. M are now the bestest of buds and things in the house are much more relaxed and fun.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, don’t judge how other people parent. It’s the whole ‘those in glass houses’ deal.
Till next time – don’t get your panties in a wad over someone’s opinion of you. Just ain’t worth it.