Anonymous Mom is a weekly column of motherhood confessions, indiscretions, and parental shortcomings selected by Mommyish editors. Under this unanimous byline, readers can share their own stories, secrets, and moments of weakness with complete anonymity.
I’m 45 and childless. I have a stepson and daughter-in-law who have two sons under the age of four. Even though I’m childless I have had much more childcare experience as the eldest of four children than my stepson and daughter-in-law who are both only children.
At the age of 12 I was responsible for my two younger siblings, both in diapers at the same time. I changed diapers, fed them, did laundry, cleaned the house, played with them, and could still find the time to read a book if they were napping.
I understand that in being a first-time parent you will be in awe of every single thing the child does, but my daughter-in-law is over the top and to be around her parenting style is exhausting.
We all went on vacation together to Cabo San Lucas when the first child was six months old. He was so cute, lovable, and precious. But it soon became apparent that everything Jack did was intended to be a showstopper. It trumped watching the evening news, having an adult conversation, etc. If Jack fell asleep in the car on our way somewhere, our daugher-in-law would instruct us to roll all the windows down, not shut our car doors all the way, and slip away quietly while she would stay with the baby in the heat. One of us was expected to go fetch a bottle of water for her and not “explore too far” in case the baby woke up and she wanted to join us.
One day we packed up and headed for the beach. All of us trudged across the hot sand and selected a spot. As we settled into our chairs, I was enjoying my grandson’s reaction to seeing the surf and listening to it crash for his very first time. He was mesmerized, peaceful, cooing and drooling contentedly. But daughter-in-law was dismayed that his favorite toy had not made it to the beach. Even though there were plenty of other toys in her monstrous sized pack and even though the baby was perfectly content.
She insisted on interrupting daddy who is on vacation, reading a book, and works 12-hour days while she stays home. She was relentless until daddy trudged all the way back to the vacation condo to retrieve a favorite toy that the child was not even missing.
Then, in the evenings when it seemed impossible that anymore attention could be bestowed upon this precious child, she would purposely lay a blanket in front of the TV and play loud goo goo gaa gaa, peek-a-boo games with Jack who again was perfectly content to look up at the ceiling fan and coo and drool.
We were constantly interrupted by “Look, look what he’s doing now. Look at this, look at that”. After full days of doing nothing but looking at and coddling the baby all day, daughter-in-law allowed no one any down time. Not even for herself. She couldn’t even make it through a diaper change without needing something. She and the baby required our full-time attention at all times. She was constantly in this baby’s face stimulating him, imagining needs and wants that he didn’t have.
I fear that this is making him think that he needs constant attention. He’s two now and I know that toddlers require a lot of attention so they don’t hurt themselves. But he seems very demanding and like he always needs to be stimulated. I think it’s because she’s had his face three inches from her own every waking minute since his birth.
Does this sound over the top to anyone else out there? Don’t children need a little down time too? If they’re not crying isn’t it okay if they drool and stare into space for a few minutes? Does every waking second have to be an opportunity for enrichment?
Being around her now that there are two of them is mentally draining and I love these two little adorable boys. But I worry about them being over indulged and what the effects may be.
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(photo: Claudia Deza)