I was having lunch with my dance teacher, Sherry and empathizing with her dilemma. She is expecting her first baby in September and her parents, who live on the East Coast, want to come out for three months after the baby is born. Sherry and her husband live in a tiny space and want time alone to bond with their baby. Sherry’s mom is crushed. That’s not the way she did it when she became a new mom. Her whole family came over to help and offer suggestions.
That’s just what Sherry fears—too much interference from her mother in this brand new phase of Sherry’s life. Sherry and her husband are a quiet, reflective couple who are planning a home birth. They want to “hunker down” after the delivery and bond with their newborn without all the intrusion and hovering she fears her mother will bring.
And thus begins the new dance between mother and daughter when a grandchild is added to the mix. Adair Lara, author of The Granny Diaries describes the Mother/Daughter relationship as the “most fraught relationship in the world.” You can be certain that any pre-existing issues between mother and daughter are going to intensify with the arrival of a grandchild.
My heart goes out to the soon-to-be grandma. I know she has the best of intentions, but she must respect her daughter’s wishes and learn to be patient until her daughter feels ready to include her in the “inner circle.” This experience will be the first of many for the new grandma when she can’t get what she wants. And the more she grasps, the more her daughter will push her away.
Both of these women are anxious about the unknown and the feelings their new roles will bring. Sherry has no idea how she’s going to feel after giving birth and her mother’s pressure to be present is probably intensifying her anxiety. The new grandma is so afraid she’s going to miss out and be excluded from her grandchild’s life that she’s grasping even harder.
I suspect that after a few days of “nesting with their newborn,” Sherry and her husband will welcome her parents. They’ll want their son to know his grandparents and will feel proud to show him off to them.