I haven’t written in awhile, mainly because my mother-in-law was visiting for a few weeks but also because I’ve been binge-watching the latest season of Homeland on Netflix. If there’s any hope of making this fucked up world we live in better, Mandy Patinkin is it. One day he and I will sit down in a small cafe, sipping coffee, and discuss the human condition. It’s a bucket-list thing.
As I said, my mother-in-law came and stayed with us and it was outstanding, as always. No mother-in-law jokes here. Brad and I are incredibly fortunate to have two loving, devoted, supportive sets of parents. We consider ourselves among the lucky few, as we have heard multiple stories from friends over the years who do not have positive relationships with their folks. My in-laws are farmers to the core; hard-working and determined. They are great influences on our kids so anytime they come to visit, I look forward to our time together. Even though we Facetime with them frequently, there’s nothing quite like seeing our kids’ faces light up when they wake up one morning and magically, grandma is here. They visit a handful of times each year. But it’s never enough.
This visit I thought, “maybe I should take advantage of having another adult around and catch up with some of my friends” but you know what, I didn’t. Not because I didn’t think I could. I know my MIL would have no issue with me leaving her with the TV remote and a cup of tea while I take some time for myself. In fact, she encourages me to do just that. The thing is, I like spending time with her. And I don’t get to do that as often as I’d like so when she’s here and the kids have gone to bed, I enjoy our conversations. We have many similar interests. I love the nights we sit around discussing our favourite TV shows or what DIY project we’re working on next. Surprisingly we didn’t paint anything this trip. We almost always paint something. My MIL is wildly helpful and extremely easy to love. She can easily chum around with you and your girlfriends over a bottle of wine. When my friend Hannah suggested her and I get day-drunk since my MIL was here to watch the kids, she replied “you’re not getting day-drunk without me“. She’s good-shit. My kids are super lucky to have her as a grandma.
But then she went home. I always dread that day, not just because it means I’m back to being outnumbered again, but because having access to an easy, adult connection is refreshing. It rejuvenates me. So when she left, I decided I wanted that feeling to continue. I called my own mom, whom I also love to pieces, and asked her to come over the next day. Again, because I like spending time with my mom, I usually don’t take advantage of having an extra set of hands around. My mom and I will sit on the back deck while the kids play and chat about the interests we share because I like spending time with her. But on this day I forced myself to use the kid-free time she provided to get some long-overdue items checked off my to-do list. While she played in the yard with the kids, I vacuumed the entire house. And I mean really vacuumed. I used every attachment tool that came with that thing. I cleaned the shit out of our house, probably quite literally. Although my mom didn’t get to spend much quality time with me that day, I think she left feeling like she had helped, really helped.
There are two things that I am not good at accepting; money and help. I’m working on it. But knowing that, by helping me, my mom left that day feeling better about herself, albeit, probably more tired, made me realize that maybe that’s an experience of which I’ve been depriving the grandparents. Not because I don’t want their help or I don’t think they’re capable, but because I don’t think I should need it. In fact, I don’t need it but it’s a gift they’re willing to give. When we first found out we were having twins, the most unsolicited piece of advice we received was “you’re going to need a lot of help” and the less-helpful, “you can’t do it on your own”. Well frankly, that’s bullshit. We could do it on our own, every new parent can, whether they have one or two or more kids. Parents are capable of overcoming the most unthinkable odds. But if you don’t have to do it on your own, why not accept the help that’s offered? It’s not a reflection on your abilities (although I still tend to think this way from time to time). Help is generally offered out of a place of love. And to deny that help may actually be robbing someone else of a positive experience.
I want my kids to know that they have two outstanding grandmas who are more than just play-mates. They are teachers and care-givers, story-tellers and law-makers. The only way my kids will be able to see who their grandmas really are is if I get the hell out of the way. And while I’m standing on the sideline, I might as well get a pedicure.Tags: grand-parents, grandmas, help, kindness, Parenthood, twins