My mother let my 12mo fall down the deck stairs! He’s totally fine – we got so lucky. But now it’s total chaos in my family. I need some advice from impartial minds about how to handle this challenge. Please help!
Here’s what happened – My mom watches the baby 2 or 3 days a week while I’m at work, trading off with DP’s mom. She absolutely loves him, is very caring to him, but honestly she’s neglectful at times. She’ll fall asleep in her chair while he’s toddling around our family room. Not a problem, since it’s reasonably well baby-proofed, but sometimes she’ll fall asleep with the dog door to the deck open and the gate to the next room open. She doesn’t always hear him when he cries. Her health isn’t great, and she’s slow, sometimes has a hard time carrying him, and compared to DP’s mom (who is younger, fitter, and generally more together) my mom is much less capable.
She had the baby out on the deck to play, and didn’t close the gate at the top of the stairs. (It’s left open so the dog can get down to the yard. We only close it when we’re out there with the babe.) The baby wandered over, and fell down half the staircase. She was sitting in her chair smoking (that’s a whole other issue) and wasn’t right near him. Mind you, the kid is lightning fast. I can’t stay right near him all the time either. But she didn’t see him getting close to the stairs until he was already down them. VERY luckily, he had bumps and bruises only, and within minutes of falling was smiling and laughing, so I knew he was totally OK. (I was working from home so I was able to run right out.) All of the other possible outcomes flashed before my eyes, ambulance, hospital, or worse, and it was really scary. Truly, he could have been badly injured or killed. The bottom of the steps is hard concrete. Shudder!!!
Up until this happened, even though I know my mom isn’t perfect, I have trusted her with the baby. Fundamentally I believed that he would be OK in her care. Now I know that this isn’t the case, and she won’t be watching him any more.
My DP is beyond furious. He’s saying things like “She will NEVER EVER see him again. She is dead to me.”
This is so upsetting to me.
My mom made a mistake. A terrible, totally preventable, mistake. It was not an accident. It should not have happened.
She loves this baby. He loves her. They have grand times together. My mom is old, and slow because of health issues. The only joy I have seen in her in years is because of this child. Her love for him is true and deep. If he is kept from her, her heart will break. I have been on the phone with her many times over the day since this happened, and she has been sobbing. I love her, she’s my mom, even if she made a mistake.
It’s not fair to keep him from her, and it’s not fair to keep her from him. He is a lucky boy to have all four of his grandparents living and nearby and in his daily life. The more love in his life the better. And he was not harmed. Yes, he could have been harmed, but he wasn't.
DP says no way, never. He is toxic talking about her. He is treating this as if she took a bat and struck the baby, or threw him off the deck with her own hands. Mind you, they have never liked each other or gotten along. But now, it’s horrible. He wished her dead.
Thanksgiving is coming, Christmas is coming, and I have to navigate this, and I’m just beside myself.
So what now? Do I let him cool off for a while? Do I sneak the baby out to see my mom on the sly? Do I put my foot down and tell him that part of our job as parents is to teach consequences, but also to teach forgiveness. My mom’s consequence is that she can no longer be alone with him, but we should forgive her enough to allow her to see him. Right?
Thank you to anyone who read all this. I guess I’m just looking for advice on how to navigate this world. Have any of you had a grandparent harm your child, how did you handle it?