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#1 of 18 Old 06-29-2014, 05:18 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Burnt Out from Non-Childproofed House

We're staying with my MIL for 3 months. Before we came, she swore she'd have the house baby-proofed. We came and found out that her version of baby-proofing is "I can just watch him 24/7!". MIL is an elderly, seriously disabled woman. She does not have the dexterity, stamina, or reflexes to respond properly. Yesterday, we left the baby alone with her for a few hours after repeated insistance that she could handle him- he crawled under the foot-stool of her recliner, and she was unable to get him out or get off the chair, because she can't get out it without putting the foot stool down. She couldn't even reach her phone. If he'd seriously hurt himself or gotten stuck- it'd have been a disaster. (I've grown to loathe recliners- any advice on how to make them toddler-safe?) Even when she's around, we have to always be on because she just isn't able to handle all the problems that can come up.

I never totally appreciated the way our apartment was set up. We did our best to child-proof in a way that gave kiddo as much freedom as possible. I miss being able to let him choose what to do and giving him free reign to decide if he wants to play on his own or ask me to join in. He didn't have access to anything that could hurt him, so he had a lot of freedom within those boundaries. Now, self-directed play is him trying to drink fish tank chemicals because he can get ahold of them. The kitchen counters are at least locked, but the way they are- he can pull them open and reach in and grab bottles out. I found him with a can of Raid one day and couldn't figure out how he'd gotten ahold of it until I saw him pulling open and digging through a cabinet.

I am just so, incredibly burnt out of having to constantly be on and worried about my baby's safety. It's exhausting, it isn't fair to him because it means constantly having to say "no" and pull him away from things, I hate being alone with him because it means being solely responsible for keeping him out of harm's way. This isn't how I want to interact with my child, this isn't the environment I want him in. I'm not enjoying spending time with him because he's so curious and adventurous that he always gets into things that could hurt him and I always have to try and stop him.

ILs live in the UK and for some reason gates are horribly expensive here. We aren't working and our savings are already being drained because MIL lied about what expenses she was able to cover (she tried to convince me to leave the cloth diapers at home because she'd pay for disposables- we get here, she won't, good thing I didn't listen!). We need food (another thing MIL said she would cover) more than we need the safety gates, and everything is just so much more expensive here. On top of that, it's just laid out very badly for it. I don't even know how we could arrange it to be able to string gates across to block out problem areas. We can't leave because FIL is dying and this may be the last chance my partner has to spend time with him. I desperately want to go home, but I'm not selfish enough to take that from my partner. I don't know if it would be a good idea for baby and me to just come home and to leave my partner- it would be horrible for my baby to be away from a parent like that, and I'm not comfortable with it for a few other reasons.

We've been here for a month... We've got two left and I just can't stand it. I am so emotionally drained and I just don't know how I'm going to get through two more months of this.

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#2 of 18 Old 06-29-2014, 07:44 AM
 
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Oh my god. I am so sorry you are dealing with this. You're trying to support your partner in this very emotional time, and instead, you're chasing the toddler around being terrified. (I would also be terrified.) That story about the recliner is horrifying.

In the immediate short term, I would find a playground and take your kiddo there. I'd also look for public libraries with children's rooms. Librarians know everything, they can point you at safe places to take your kid, that you can get to by foot or by bus. That will give you and your kiddo some breathing space.

Have you talked to your partner about what you want to do? What does he want? In the medium-term, I would, personally, go home and leave my partner for the rest of the summer (assuming he wants to stay to be with his dad). Three months isn't a visit. It's a living situation. You were invited into this living situation on false pretenses. You were told that the situation would be made safe for your child, and it isn't. You were told that food would be covered and, again, it isn't. You're exhausted, finances are an issue, and the environment can't be managed to be safe for your toddler. Two months is a long time for a toddler to be away from either parent, but it's also far too long to spend in a place where he gets in dangerous trouble every ten seconds.
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#3 of 18 Old 06-29-2014, 08:36 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for the reply and the suggestions! There is a park in walking distance that we're trying to go to more often. I'll look into the library and how often it's around, I don't think we can get to it easily, though. MIL lives in a very small town that doesn't seem to have buses (at least, we haven't found a stop in walking distance). There's a train station in walking distance, but, again, cost is a concern. MIL promised that she'd rent a car for us for a month, which would have made it a LOT easier to go places and get our bearings and find good places to be, we get here and she says she can't afford it... It'd be one thing if a huge expense came up that she couldn't have expected, but honestly it really feels like she just lied to us at this point.

There are good reasons not to want to go home alone with kiddo. The timing was just really bad in a lot of ways, if MIL had been honest then it wouldn't matter, but there's a reason I feel so stuck.

We just graduated from college without jobs, and couldn't afford to stay at our apartment. My mom has an apartment and she didn't have renters, so she's letting us rent it for utilities & property tax, so we moved into there not long before coming here. Because we were leaving so soon, we didn't have time to get things properly sorted out or settled in. The apartment is barely unpacked, so I'd have to handle unpacking and arranging it on my own (there's still a sizeable area that I can make safe for him just by throwing the boxes into a room, though). We don't know anyone in the area, no family nearby, so I'd have zero support system and I don't even want to know what kiddo would be like being away from my partner. He's a bit high needs to begin with. I'd have to deal with social services to get us health insurance and on food stamps, finding a pediatrician, unpacking/re-arranging the apartment, taking care of kiddo, finding places to get healthy food that we can actually afford, trying to figure out a job that will work as a single parent- it would be incredibly stressful and, at least at first, I don't know if I'd even be able to afford a babysitter or not. My partner would also still have to pay his way, and if anything goes wrong with DSS again we'll be just as financially bad off. And, although it's in a different state, my experience with DSS is that they have a habit of "losing" paperwork and dragging their feet for months.

I'm actually really afraid about how DSS will respond to my partner being unemployed in another country, and whether or not they'll try to refuse us benefits for that. Anyone have any idea how they handle that?

I also struggle with depression and fibromyalgia (which, of course, flares up when I'm stressed- because THAT'S useful) that makes it harder. Especially if DSS drags their feet on insuring me, meaning I'll have no access to medical care if either gets bad. I'm honestly not sure if it would be less emotionally draining to go home with kiddo than to stay here given the situation. I'm terrified of facing all of that alone.

My partner really doesn't want to leave, and I don't know what it would do to our relationship for me to try and push it. He's really close to his dad, his dad is probably the single thing he missed most about England, and because his dad can't afford internet he doesn't have a very reliable way to contact him. I don't really know what it'll do to him to have to leave since this is his last chance to really get quality time with his dad, possibly ever. Before we found out about his dad, we agreed to cut it short- we were debating whether to cut it down to a month or 6 weeks (so we were planning on leaving very soon).

(Actually- I just had the thought of suggesting that we just buy a year-long internet plan, or whatever, for FIL so my partner can be in touch with him more. It'll likely be cheaper than staying here, even with the $300/each cost to change the tickets. :|)

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#4 of 18 Old 06-29-2014, 09:53 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I talked to my partner about the internet idea, and it may work. There's a lot of reasons that it honestly may be a lot better for my partner and FIL than my partner staying here, even beyond kiddo. My ILs have been divorced since my partner was very young, they don't live together and FIL can't let us stay more than a few days at a time due to his lease, so my partner isn't getting to spend as much time with him as he likes anyways. This is part of why it's so frustrating- we're staying so my partner can spend time with his dad, and he can't spend enough time with his dad.

Staying with FIL is actually what made me realize just how badly this wasn't working. His apartment isn't intentionally child-proofed aside from a gate across the kitchen, but it's more sparsely furnished and just better laid out so any problems were fairly easily handled. It was so much calmer, I barely had to raise my voice to him or even really tell him off, he got to just explore and play. We got back, and because it took two trips to get all of our things, I was left alone with kiddo for an hour and within that time he was getting into enough trouble and I realized that I just didn't want to do it anymore. This is not what parenting is supposed to be.

I really hope it works out because ohmigosh this isn't working.

My partner and MIL were both working in the kitchen, they put kiddo in the highchair, there was a giant ruckus and I get called in in a panic- they turned around for a moment and kiddo was hanging off the edge of it!

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#5 of 18 Old 06-29-2014, 07:06 PM
 
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In the mean time can you get your hands on a play yard to contain him in the house to one area? I don't know how tall they make the "human pens" but if you are really desperate the dog x-pens can go pretty tall, and if it keeps him away from the raid and other things in the home.... Judge all ya want, I've totally used my dog's X pen to contain DD in the front yard when she was small and I needed to get things done outside
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#6 of 18 Old 06-29-2014, 08:46 PM
 
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The financial issues sound really rough. I don't know what to recommend there. You seem painted in on all sides, but hopefully the internet suggestion will help some.

The only thing I have to add is - the train station is probably also a bus stop. And depending on your age and how recently out of school you are, you may be able to get a Young Person's Rail card, which gets you a decent discount on train fares. If you're staying, definitely investigate these possibilities.
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#7 of 18 Old 06-30-2014, 12:23 AM
 
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Wow, can I relate! I'm staying at my mum's right now and although the house is nicer for me, it's a minefield of hazards for my 14 month-old. I live in the UK too. One thing - do you know about Freecycle? If you're in a rural area maybe it's a long shot, but you could ask on there for some baby gates. It's a network of online groups where people advertise stuff they want to give away for free, and where you can ask if anybody has X Y or Z to give away. Look on freecycle.org.

Other than that, I can only commiserate. It's hard, and it must be so hard for you with your MIL being unable to watch your son. Where exactly are you staying? What's your nearest proper town? There may be Surestart baby groups there, which are free and safe for your kiddo to go nuts in. It could provide you with a break if nothing else. Whatever you decide to do I hope it gets much better for you!
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#8 of 18 Old 07-01-2014, 02:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I didn't know they had freecycle in the UK, I'll look into that. The puppy gates also look like they're more reasonably price and hopefully roughly the same thing. We'll look into the other things as well. We're in Ormskirk, so I don't really know. My partner grew up in Liver pool so is used to having a lot more freedom to travel and options nearby, and we haven't had any idea where to start looking.

On top of the house being so bad, MIL also has decided that my partner is an incompetent parent and keeps pushing all the responsibility onto me. She refuses to see any times that my partner is being a good parent, and will even get in the way. Whenever my partner tries to stop kiddo from doing something, even if it's something that could hurt him, she tells my partner off for it. Every time my partner has gotten kiddo to calm down and sitting with him, she'll come in and tell him to do something- getting kiddo upset again. She puts all the responsibility of making decisions on me, etc. Not only is it infuriating to see her constantly undermining and putting down my partner, it's also not fair to put all of it on me.

MIL has also gotten into the lovely habit of opening the oven door with kiddo right there. One time, our baby was actually reaching into the oven when my partner came in and was luckily able to grab him away. There are two other adults in the house, there is NO need for this. And I do NOT care if her freaking food burns to a crisp, making sure the child is safe is more important! So we've gone from living with someone who just can't keep kiddo safe to one who actually puts him in danger.

Even though it seemed like the trying to get FIL internet and leave early was something we could agree on, my partner is now really against leaving again and keeps complaining that I'm so negative. I don't know what to do. I really, really, really don't want to go home on my own. I'm not sure how my partner would feel if I did take the baby and went back- he'd be really upset that FIL couldn't spend time with his grandson, and the rest of his family is a nightmare that'll get really antagonistic towards him if we did. My partner's actually straight up said that he relies on me to be a buffer for the negativity the rest of his family pours on him- because they'll be polite to me. At the same time, I'm pretty horrified that my partner's willing to keep our baby in such a dangerous space.

I'm really worrying that our relationship isn't going to survive this trip no matter what we do. We barely have any time to actually communicate, if I leave it's going to be even harder, every option is going to end with serious hurt feelings and when we both end up back in the US we'll still have a lot of responsibilities and stresses that'll make it hard to just sort it out.

It's not fair. This was supposed to be a really calm, relaxing break where my partner could reconnect with his family and our baby could meet everyone. We spent months talking to MIL to make sure this wouldn't happen. And now we're stuck in a stressful nightmare.

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#9 of 18 Old 07-01-2014, 06:54 PM
 
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That's pretty shitty that he flat out admits that he is using you to buffer the negative comments from HIS family. You need to have a serious sit down convo with him because that is not cool and he needs to man up to these people. Honestly, if they are that negative and nasty why does he even want to expose his child to that? It might suck to go home without him, but can you really put up with the stress of being there? Stress is unhealthy as it is but when you add in all the nasty comments and bad attitudes and child endangerment issues......that's a lot to handle for anyone. Sorry you have to deal with all that, but find the time, drag him aside and hash it out. Tell him exactly how you feel about being his buffer and ask how he would feel in your shoes and ask him if that's the kid of influence he wants to have in his child's life.
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#10 of 18 Old 07-02-2014, 12:59 AM - Thread Starter
 
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The only family he gets along with well is his dad. Do I really need to rehash how bad a situation this is for him? The only family he gets along with is dying, he lives an ocean away from him with no hope of moving closer, and he's currently reliant on his mom to stay in contact with his dad so pissing her off means risking losing all contact.

Abusive family isn't as easy as "manning up", especially in a time like this. It's fortunate you've never had to deal with this situation, but you should have a lot more sympathy.

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#11 of 18 Old 07-02-2014, 01:27 AM
 
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I think being separated for a few months will probably be better for your marriage and his relationship with his child than staying and continuing to resent him or his family and the circumstances while your child witnesses him being constantly undermined as a parent. I see it as similar to what the duration of separation for bootcamp would be if he was in the military. Food stamps and finding childcare suck but so does being a negativity buffer and burnt out mom. I've done both and prefer the first choice. I think you should try writing a pros and cons list for going back versus not going back.

If you aren't going to go back is it possible for one of you to get work there temporarily? That would ease the financial burden and give you money to rent a car or get a sitter occasionally. It's not why you guys are there but if he isn't seeing his dad all the time it may make sense. I think you also need to consider the possibility that he won't want to leave if his dad seems very near dying on two months.
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#12 of 18 Old 07-02-2014, 02:14 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I can't, I'm not a citizen, my partner's been looking but they haven't had any luck.

I'm also not overly convinced that being stressed and burnt out apart is better than together.

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#13 of 18 Old 07-02-2014, 10:04 AM
 
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Wow you took that way in the wrong direction than was intended! BTW you have no idea what I have or have not been through because I've not brought my personal life into this discussion. You said he wasn't talking about it, I simply said it needs to be talked about. No sense destroying your relationship over this when you have the option to be apart and and at least have the benefit of getting away from being in the middle of it all. In spite of your reading all that non-sympathy into it, I actually had nothing but good intentions in my comments and was trying to let you see that it's not ok to be dragged into his issues and you do have a choice here. If you choose to also read something into that, well then I don't know what else to say, you asked for opinions, you got them.
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#14 of 18 Old 07-02-2014, 12:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We're discussing when to move the tickets to. Unfortunately there's an almost 2 week period when it's either way too expensive to change the tickets or there's too many stops for either of us to want to deal with it. My partner's pushing for the 28th, I really want to leave the 16th. If there were a decent date around the 20th, my partner would be happy with that, and I could handle that, but they really think the 16th isn't enough time (even though it'd be about perfect for me- we spend 5 days at FIL's next week, then packing) and the 28th is just too freaking much.

I could try taking kiddo home on the 16th and my partner joining us... but, ugh, that trip will be murder. I'm really afraid that I won't be able to survive it. I'm not exaggerating when I'm saying it could physically and emotionally destroy me, and then I'd be left alone to deal with kiddo for almost two weeks while in no fit state to do so and with him in desperate need for more support and reassurance than normal. If I had any idea that I may be faced with making it alone, nothing would have convinced me to go.

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#15 of 18 Old 07-03-2014, 12:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm going to see about whether or not I can get a ticket that we'll get in on late Friday or Saturday, and see if mom can drive up and pick us up from the airport. That would help alleviate a lot of the stress about traveling alone, including hopefully giving me a chance to recover from the trip. My mom can be very difficult to handle, but she's been a lot better lately and she works so she couldn't stay for more than the weekend. I'll have to decide in a week, though, and if I think things are getting better enough and they get worse I'll basically be stuck for over 2 weeks. I think that if my partner hasn't agreed to leave early in a week, that I'll just say "I'm done" and book the tickets rather than take the risk. I just cannot imagine staying here for basically an entire month.

I'm having a bit of trouble figuring out how to only change two tickets, though, which is making me nervous. (It's on Air France if anyone has experience with them) If I can't change only two, then either I'll be stuck here until my partner finally agrees or we'll have to pay full price for my partner's ticket (~$1500) AND the cost to change things. If I can't change all three, I may have to put my foot down... I really don't want to do that, I don't need the resentment.

I really hope that this is a case where the doctor's say you have a year to live and manage to survive many years- but FIL doesn't take good care of his health and I think he's refusing treatment that'd prolong his life...

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#16 of 18 Old 07-07-2014, 02:39 PM
 
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Originally Posted by sillysapling View Post
We're staying with my MIL for 3 months. Before we came, she swore she'd have the house baby-proofed. We came and found out that her version of baby-proofing is "I can just watch him 24/7!". MIL is an elderly, seriously disabled woman. She does not have the dexterity, stamina, or reflexes to respond properly. Yesterday, we left the baby alone with her for a few hours after repeated insistance that she could handle him- he crawled under the foot-stool of her recliner, and she was unable to get him out or get off the chair, because she can't get out it without putting the foot stool down. She couldn't even reach her phone. If he'd seriously hurt himself or gotten stuck- it'd have been a disaster. (I've grown to loathe recliners- any advice on how to make them toddler-safe?) Even when she's around, we have to always be on because she just isn't able to handle all the problems that can come up.

I never totally appreciated the way our apartment was set up. We did our best to child-proof in a way that gave kiddo as much freedom as possible. I miss being able to let him choose what to do and giving him free reign to decide if he wants to play on his own or ask me to join in. He didn't have access to anything that could hurt him, so he had a lot of freedom within those boundaries. Now, self-directed play is him trying to drink fish tank chemicals because he can get ahold of them. The kitchen counters are at least locked, but the way they are- he can pull them open and reach in and grab bottles out. I found him with a can of Raid one day and couldn't figure out how he'd gotten ahold of it until I saw him pulling open and digging through a cabinet.

I am just so, incredibly burnt out of having to constantly be on and worried about my baby's safety. It's exhausting, it isn't fair to him because it means constantly having to say "no" and pull him away from things, I hate being alone with him because it means being solely responsible for keeping him out of harm's way. This isn't how I want to interact with my child, this isn't the environment I want him in. I'm not enjoying spending time with him because he's so curious and adventurous that he always gets into things that could hurt him and I always have to try and stop him.

ILs live in the UK and for some reason gates are horribly expensive here. We aren't working and our savings are already being drained because MIL lied about what expenses she was able to cover (she tried to convince me to leave the cloth diapers at home because she'd pay for disposables- we get here, she won't, good thing I didn't listen!). We need food (another thing MIL said she would cover) more than we need the safety gates, and everything is just so much more expensive here. On top of that, it's just laid out very badly for it. I don't even know how we could arrange it to be able to string gates across to block out problem areas. We can't leave because FIL is dying and this may be the last chance my partner has to spend time with him. I desperately want to go home, but I'm not selfish enough to take that from my partner. I don't know if it would be a good idea for baby and me to just come home and to leave my partner- it would be horrible for my baby to be away from a parent like that, and I'm not comfortable with it for a few other reasons.

We've been here for a month... We've got two left and I just can't stand it. I am so emotionally drained and I just don't know how I'm going to get through two more months of this.
Well, obviously don't leave the baby alone with her. I'd clear the counters, remove the most used products, and duct tape or tie the handles of the others shut. Clear the floor. Shut the doors. Go to the park twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening before bed. Start rambling and get to know the countryside, have the toddler walk and/or sling it. Just be GONE as much as you can, no matter the weather.
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#17 of 18 Old 07-14-2014, 12:55 AM
 
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Any updates? Have you managed to get back home yet?

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#18 of 18 Old 07-14-2014, 04:30 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We couldn't split up the tickets, so it would be financially very, very hard for us to not go together. Until this weekend, my partner wanted to go back on the 28th. They finally agreed it was better to go back on the 16th. When we looked into changing the tickets, the price for the 28th had doubled- so it seems like fate was going to intervene either way. I'm glad my partner came to the conclusion to go the 16th without that, though, because it would've been really rough if they were still set on the 28th and the price doubled like that.

We've got tickets to go back the 16th, leaving first thing in the morning, and I'm just hanging on. Two more days. Tomorrow we're spending the day out with FIL. We told them that my mom is going in for heart surgery (true- we just fudged the dates) to avoid any problems. His mom still takes any upset personally. While she was out yesterday, my partner and I had a fight and I took a walk to cool off. She came back while I was still out, and flipped out about how horrible I was for being upset with her without talking to her about it, comparing me to her hated DIL. She wasn't even around and still assumed I got upset at her. I'm frustrated that it took my partner so long to leave, but we spent a few more days at FIL's and were able to make plans for (hopefully) just him to visit over the winter, so that's good.

I really hate how long we've been here. MIL has gotten progressively worse. We tried child-proofing the place a little more, and just putting up a sheet of cardboard to block off the fireplace (it's never lit, kiddo just was picking coals out of it) caused her to throw this major temper tantrum and she instead moved it to block the door outside to justify letting him into the (very unsafe) kitchen- he can move it easily from there. Yeah. That's how child-proofing has gone. We've pretty much refused to leave kiddo alone with her, although that makes it really hard for us to actually talk. On the upside, this trip's helped my partner realize just how many toxic messages they got growing up and hopefully that'll help them.

Ohmigosh I cannot express enough how incredibly grateful I am that we had our first in the US. We'd always talked about trying to immigrate to the UK, it's still possibly on the table in the future (although it looks unlikely), and it would have been a nightmare if we had. MIL would not have left us alone,a nd in the early post-partum days we probably would have appreciated the help,a nd she would have ruined everything. She constantly insults my partner and dismisses them, especially wrt kiddo. Kiddo's almost 15 months old, we've been equal co-partners, my partner's been a great parent, and being here has still started making them doubt their abilities. If we were around this when kiddo was first born, it would have destroyed everything.

It's really an emotional roller coaster. Because we're leaving, I get periods where I'm calm and happy, more content than I've felt in years. We've consistently been in really stressful situations the last few years, we're finally in a point where we have a good deal of control over our life and live in a place we like, it's scary not having a job lined up, but we did a good job saving up and are great at budgeting so I'm not as worried about it as I thought. I'm really hoping that once we get home and settled, things will really look up. But just being in MIL's house is incredibly stressful, even when she's not there we fight horribly. We've started taking kiddo for a walk more often and just leaving the house is enough for us to calm down and have an open conversation. So it's good that it's pretty likely that we're going to be okay once we get back, but I hate being in a place that's so miserable.

And now we have to convince my mom not to be there when we get back and hope she hasn't #@$#@ed with the apartment while we were gone.

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Proud Formula Feeder, I support how ALL parents feed their babies. Breast or bottle, formula or breastmilk, and any combination thereof.

Happily married since 4/30/2009  Our first was born 4/23/2013


Last edited by sillysapling; 07-14-2014 at 05:01 AM.
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