MIL giving a bath and playing dress-up - Mothering Forums

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Old 04-07-2009, 01:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm hoping some other mamas can give me some perspective. I was really angry about this last night but have calmed down now and need to figure out what to say this evening.

Background: my dad normally watches DS (6 months) a few days a week while I'm working and DH has rotating shift work schedule. My MIL has off work this week for Easter and requested that she be able to watch DS. She has watched him once or twice before for a few hours.

I dropped DS off yesterday morning. She was kind enough to snap a photo and email to me while I'm at work. DH picked up DS and I got home a few hours after that. When I get home, DS is wearing different clothes. I asked DH why he is wearing different clothes, did he have a leaky diaper, etc.

DH responds that he didn't know why DS had different clothes on, but that he played in the water today. I was really confused, and he explained that MIL had DS in the tub today because she wanted to see how he played in the water. DH didn't care and didn't see the big deal.

I am really peeved. It just seems like she crossed a boundary. She didn't ask permission first. I don't know if she used any soaps or other bath products or lotions, and that peeves me. I don't know what safety precautions were taken. I'm sure she took tons of pictures and that seems like a violation of DS's privacy. And she treated him like a baby doll and played dress up with him. That really irks me. All while I'm stuck at the office.

So am I way out of line here? Making mountain out of a mole-hill? She is a self-proclaimed selfish granny, and I'm constantly having to bat down outstretched "give me the baby" arms every time we visit. I'm just getting tired of dealing with it. DH doesn't get it.

DH will be dropping DS off with MIL in a few hours and I'm picking DS up tonight. I made it clear to DH that if he doesn't say something to MIL, I will. The question is, what do I say? I don't want to open the floor for debate.

Thanks in advance, my stomach is churning over this. I'm really close to leaving work early to just avoid dropping DS off over there altogether (but that's not really practical and avoiding the situation probably isn't the best course of action?)

DS September 2008 and DD September 2010
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Old 04-07-2009, 01:53 PM
 
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I'd take a step back and imagine yourself in her shoes. Its her grandson.

Having said that, I would probably ask that she didn't give him any baths, but I never trusted my kids being bathed by anybody but me or dh. Just one of my little things.
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Old 04-07-2009, 01:56 PM
 
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How old is your DS? Is this something that you made clear to her before dropping him off? If not, then I wouldn't get so worked up over it...Just let her know that from now on that you are not comfortable with her giving your DS a bath. I understand the safety issue, but she may have been doing everything right, you know?
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Old 04-07-2009, 01:56 PM
 
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I'm really sorry that you're stressed about this... I guess I don't really have advice because I personally don't think I would be upset by it--I would probably just mention that my child only uses certain soaps, or no soaps at all. I mean, if my child was with grandma and threw up or got milk/food/something else in her hair, I'd hope that my child's grandma would give a bath. And I personally don't see changing an outfit as "playing dressup"--our children always get a fresh clean outfit after a bath.

The only thing I would have asked (besides not using soaps) is that your MIL destroys the pictures that were taken because you don't want nude pictures of your children in the wrong hands. But other than that I know that *I personally* would not stress out about this because I trust that any sitter I chose for my infant would know basic safety precautions in the water, and other than that, it would not be a really big deal to me. No different than if it were summer and she put him in some water to cool him off...

: I hope you don't take offense to what I wrote...I don't mean for it to be offensive. I just wanted to give a little perspective so you didn't stay so stressed out about it. :

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Old 04-07-2009, 02:00 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Alyantavid View Post
I'd take a step back and imagine yourself in her shoes. Its her grandson.
:

Honestly, I wouldn't be so upset, but that's just me personally. Everyone is different. If it upsets you, than you should talk to her. I don't think I'd be that angry, though, if you haven't told her either way on things like that. Like Alyantavid said, it *is* her grandson. Now, on the other hand, if you've told her you want things done a certain way "I don't want DS to play in water." "DS can't have sugar." What have you, and she did, I would be upset. But if she wasn't aware it was something you were uncomfortable with, it's not really fair to be that upset, IMHO.

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Old 04-07-2009, 02:01 PM
 
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I honestly think you're over reacting a bit.

She gave your ds a bath and changed his clothes. She didn't hurt him. If you'd prefer she not bathe him just politely request that she not. Tell her you really enjoy giving him his bath and don't want to dry his baby skin with too much bathing.

Unless there are underlying issues with MIL stepping in and trying to take over your roll as mom, I doubt she had any malicious intent. She was most likely just trying to do something fun with her grandson.

Honestly if it were me, I'd tell her not to use any soap and take her some of dd's moisturizer. My dd loves the water and I think MIL would get a kick out of playing with her.

Kristy, wife to Josh proud mama to Katie: since 3/08 and Emma since 8/12.

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Old 04-07-2009, 02:07 PM
 
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I totally get why you didn't like this.

And maybe that's just because my MIL is the type that tries to "play mommy" and overstep boundaries all the time. I'm also VERY particular about privacy. Since DS was a baby, I preferred only DH and I to change his diapers, bathe him, etc. It really creeped me out when MIL would ask if she could take him to use the potty when she is over here...

Of course her intent is almost certainly innocent, and I do not suspect she is a child molester, but for me personally - it makes me uncomfortable. And in my opinion, I'm the mom and if I get a bad vibe about something - that's a good enough reason for me. Even if I can't articulate exactly why.

So no, I don't think you're being unreasonable at all. I think your partner should be the one to say something, since it's his mom & that usually goes off better. Good luck.

Amanda , mama to my two boys: N (10/06) and : A (7/09)
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Old 04-07-2009, 02:08 PM
 
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I wouldn't be upset over this. I think you may hurt some feelings if you don't take a step back and think before you say something. I can empathize with how you feel though...my MIL TOOK a bath with DD when she was about 7 or 8 months. I was very upset but I knew that she loved DD soooooo much....I didn't want to stir something up because in all reality there was no harm done at all.

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Old 04-07-2009, 02:09 PM
 
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I completely understand where you are coming from, as my mother-in-law is the same way. When my daughter was that age, or even younger, she wanted to drive her all over town and show my DD off to her friends, while I was at work. I didn't feel comfortable having her go places that I wasn't familiar with and I wasn't comfortable with not having the car seat safety checked etc. I told her this and then she went and got her own car seat (a used one) and said she had it checked. She did it anyway, even though I told her I was not comfortable with the situation. Also, when I picked up my daughter, she was wearing clothes I had not seen before and a disposable diaper instead of her cloth ones. I felt like she was being manipulative and controlling by doing these things without talking to me. I don't hardly let her watch DD now. Anyway, I can completely understand how it would make you feel. Like she doesn't have any regard for your feelings or the way you normally do things. Definately tell her that you would like her to communicate it with you ahead of time if she plans on doing something like that again, or maybe give her a schedule. Just so she has something to stick to (even if you don't normally do one), or don't have her watch him again.
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Old 04-07-2009, 02:11 PM
 
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I don't get it either.
She likes to hold the baby. She likes spending time interacting with him while giving him a bath. Likes to take pictures? These seem like reasonable interactions between a grandson and grandmother. They sound wonderfully normal.

Honestly, it sounds a bit like you are a bit jealous of the time they are spending together. When I was WOH I felt this way too (but not to this extent). I think you need to sort out safety issues from your feelings about not being with the baby during the day. Then have a conversation with MIL about your expectations of care.

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Old 04-07-2009, 02:12 PM
 
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I don't see what the big deal is either. You should be greatful that she's taking such a loving interest in your son. Some grandparents are very much hand's off.

If you really feel the need to address anything, you could ask to make sure she knows to never, EVER turn her back on the baby in the tub. I'm sure she does, but it will releave some of your worries that you at least addressed it. I can understand why you are uncomfortable with her bathing him though. If its really important to you, just tell her. I'd rather if you didn't bath the baby. I like to do that at night (or whenever).

Playing 'dress up' with a baby isn't going to hurt him in any way. So what if he was wearing different clothes, really.

I know how it is to feel jealous and possessive of other people in your child's life. With my first, especially, I hated any time that I had to spend away from him. Even putting him in the church nursery was a nightmare for me because I just would've rather held him and spent that time with him. Its normal, but that doesn't mean you should give in to it. You need to work through it though.

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Old 04-07-2009, 02:16 PM
 
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I do not see it as a huge boundary issue. I know my mother LOVES to give the kids baths and they get a change of clothes afterwords. She has much pickier standards of cleanliness though. I'm OK with some drool on a shirt or a cheerio smudge on pants. Mom will change clothes and often say "let's take a quick bath". She also LOVES to change diapers. I think for her it's just a fun time to have some one on one interaction. Plus baby skin feels so good. FWIW bath time is often play time in our house, play time that has the fringe benefit of getting everyone clean.

If you do have a problem with MIL doing so much then tell her. I completely understand why someone would be uncomfortable with anyone besides themselves and the other parent bathing their child. I do not think it is unreasonable to set this limit at all. You might want to giver her an OK alternative if your baby should have a blow out or have a pretty good sized spit up. Maybe keep a few washcloths in the diaper bag for any sponge bath situations.

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Old 04-07-2009, 02:18 PM
 
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I remember that overwhelming protective, almost territorial feeling I had about DS when he was tiny, so I can understand where you're coming from, but now I wouldn't see this as something to be upset over. Somehow I made peace with that feeling by the time DS was 2 or so, and I haven't felt the same way at all with my DD.

In fact, just this past weekend DH and I went out and left the kids home with my MIL, and when we got home she had just bathed DS and was starting to bathe DD, and my only thought was, "Cool, I don't have to do baths tonight!"

One question: Does your dad bathe your DS, and if so, do you have these same feelings when he does it, or is this just a MIL issue?

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Old 04-07-2009, 02:19 PM
 
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Well I don't let anyone other then DH or me give baths because I am totally paranoid. But, it is an expectation I would set up front-not react to after the fact.

That said, grandmas LOVE giving baths-it is fun and most little ones love it as well so I understand her wanting to do so.

Perhaps in the future it is something you could do together, or do what we do and send DH as well.
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Old 04-07-2009, 02:22 PM
 
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not to be dismissive of your feelings at all, but I PROMISE when your DS turns about 2...you will say "OMG thank goodness I don't have to worry about a bath tonight!!" These mama bear "I will kill anyone who even thinks about endangering my child" will settle....it'll make things like this easier I promise.

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Old 04-07-2009, 02:24 PM
 
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Honestly, that wouldn't bother me in the least.
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Old 04-07-2009, 02:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow, you mamas are quick! Thanks for all of the replys!

I think some of it is my own issues with not being with DS during the day (no choice). The other part is that if she had asked if it was OK first (she had instant access to me via email and phone), I could have addressed the soap/lotion/safety/photo issues and felt like she was respecting me as the mama. Again, I guess this is my issue. I feel like I am the subject of subtle dismissals from her very often, but need to figure out if those are my issues coming to the surface or if she is being manipulative.

It honestly NEVER crossed my mind to go over baths with her because never in a million years is that something my dad or mom would do when watching DS. If he had a blow out or something, I know my parents would call me asking about bath protocol. I am very particular about the products we use and everyone knows it.

As far as the clothing goes, the last time she watched him for a few hours, she put on pjs and 'got him ready for bed'. It was not yet his bedtime and I told my DH to convey that getting ready for bed is my special time with DS after being away all day and it's not OK for her to do this, and that he should come home in the clothes he was wearing unless they are soiled. He said he would tell MIL. I guess I need to find out if he conveyed this.

Overall, you're right, this isn't the end of the world and she's only watching him for a few days. And it's not worth getting stressed out over. Sometimes I just feel like DH's family treats me like an incubator/milk factory and that's it. Need to think about it some more.

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Old 04-07-2009, 02:32 PM
 
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I think you are being a little to controlling.

I can see setting boundries about naked photoes. I wouldn't give up on that one. But other photoes are not really a big deal unless she was taking them while he cried. You aren't sure if she did or not.

I would let her know what type of soap/lotion to use. Actually you should have that stuff avialable for anyone that takes care of your child he could have a leaky diaper or something.

As for safety procautions......that is you being to worried and controlling.

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The hand me the baby stuff I get is annoying and disrespectful but that is a seperate issue. I do wonder though if you are being overly judgemental because she doesn't do things your way.

I would ask your dh to make sure she didn't take naked photoes and delete any that she did take. Remember her generation grew up with this being ok and done with out second thought. Times have changed.
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Old 04-07-2009, 02:33 PM
 
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i dont know...maybe im looking at it differently b/c i have an 18 year old and the idea of grand kids in my life is probably going to be sooner rather than later (no idea)...but i would love to bathe my grandson/daughter. and dress them up and everything. i like doing that with my 6 month old.

are you upset b/c she gave him a bath or are you upset b/c she was with him and you couldnt be.

i agree about the bath soaps, etc. etc. I would simply ask her to use nothing (thats what we do for babies).
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Old 04-07-2009, 02:34 PM
 
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It wouldn't bother me but that is b/c of my relationship w/ my MIL.

So you have to decide how you feel about your MIL and take it from there. This is your child and you have a right to lay down those boundaries.

I recognize what you are feeling though. My brother took a bajillion pictures on St. Patricks day at the zoo. Totally normal photos, really cute. But then he posted them all over his facebook. It really bothered the heck out of me. The only time I make my photos public is to post a few times on this board. The rest of the time they are private or specific friends only. It felt very strange to see photos of my baby for other people to look at....out of my control KWIM? On top of that he is a teen so he wouldn't even think to take precautionary steps and TBH I still haven't dealt w/ it b/c I don't want to tell him why those photos would be a problem.

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Old 04-07-2009, 02:35 PM
 
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I am another who isn't quite sure what the big deal is. Is it because she's you MIL? So she was enjoying giving your son a bath, she probably has the common sense enough to know not to leave a 6 month old in the bath. I mean your DH is here.

FWIW-my DD is 2.5, but when she goes to my dad and stepmom's it's protocol she gets a bath, eats pancakes, and watches Frosty the Snowman. Oh and many times she has come home wearing a new outfit, whatever. They have played "dress-up" many times with her, I just don't care....They are watching her and having fun with her, isn't that what grandparents are for?

It's ok, I think you are over-reacting a bit, but that's just me. For me I am fine with selfish grandma wanting to hold the baby all the time, for me it's my only break, but I am a SAHM, so it may be a bit different.

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Old 04-07-2009, 02:38 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kryztuh View Post
As far as the clothing goes, the last time she watched him for a few hours, she put on pjs and 'got him ready for bed'. It was not yet his bedtime and I told my DH to convey that getting ready for bed is my special time with DS after being away all day and it's not OK for her to do this, and that he should come home in the clothes he was wearing unless they are soiled. He said he would tell MIL. I guess I need to find out if he conveyed this.
Even if she doe change his clothes/put him in PJ's there is nothing stopping you from having your special getting ready for bed time.

Honestly, I wouldn't make a big issue over this - it could only end with hurt feelings and sometimes keeping the peace is just easier!
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Old 04-07-2009, 02:39 PM
 
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A big : to most of the posts above. You're overreacting.

She's a "self-proclaimed selfish grandma" who wants to hold the baby when she sees him? She gave him a bath so he could play in the water? She wanted to spend some of her week off with her grandson? Every grandchild should be so lucky. Children who are lucky enough to have grandparents who love them and want to spend time with them are blessed.

Unless there's an awful lot you haven't said, it doesn't sound like she's out of line. You said yourself that she's only watched him a couple of times while your dad watches him regularly. It sounds to me that for some reason you're jealous of any time she does get to spend with your ds. Why not try to see it as the gift it is to have a grandparent who loves him and wants to see him? The quickest way to destroy that wonderful relationship is to be the DIL who is constantly picking and criticizing everything your MIL does. Of course sometimes you have to say something, but for your ds's sake, I'd really suggest saving those for the things that are really safety issues - don't leave ds unattended in the bath, put him to sleep on his back, no solids before you give the ok, and so on.
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Old 04-07-2009, 02:43 PM
 
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Well, I can see why giving a 6-mo-old a bath could be worrisome. My MIL watched my son at that age, and I'm fairly certain we told her that she could skip the bath then. OTOH, at 13 months when we were going out and she was settling him to bed, we told her that a bath was part of his nighttime routine, and please do.

Some questions to consider, I do not need answers:
1) How much do you trust your MIL?
2) Is this discomfort due to anything she's done, or might it have to do with your own experiences with other people?
3) Were the clothes anything unusual / new, or just another outfit that you had at home? My MIL shows us the clothes she's bought for DS when she gives them to us. I think if dressing him up was the way of showing he had new clothes, I'd be a little offput.

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Old 04-07-2009, 02:43 PM
 
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Even if she doe change his clothes/put him in PJ's there is nothing stopping you from having your special getting ready for bed time.

Honestly, I wouldn't make a big issue over this - it could only end with hurt feelings and sometimes keeping the peace is just easier!
I agree-honestly this sounds more like a jealousy issue with MIL. Personally I like to not rock the boat with many things that would jeopardize my options for baby-sitting.

I'm taking my DD to MIL's for her first time baby-sitting in a couple days. I do have a legitimate concern, but it is about soda, they all drink it, my niece gives it to her DD that is 2. I don't agree with that and will make it clear that it's not ok with me. I've already told all of them before, but will have to again.

I would just be careful to not hurt feelings and burn any bridges.

Me Wife to T (14 years)Mama to Princess(4) and Monster Boy(my 1 year old ):
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Old 04-07-2009, 02:44 PM
 
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I totally don't get it. I personally wouldn't be bothered by this at all. I absolutely don't understand what the problem is here. Grandma's LOVE giving baths, at least all the grandma's we have around here. They love their grandchildren and Im sure they take all the proper precautions to make sure they won't get hurt. He obviously wasn't hurt. If it's a matter of soaps and lotions, just let her know what you don't want put on him. And putting clean clothes on a baby is hardly dress-up imo. My mom loved to change the girls outfits and put bows in their hair when she watched them. She still loves to do that. She loves to put them in the bath, get them all dressed up and pretty. I think its sweet. And honestly some of my favorite photographs of me as a baby are those in the bathtub. I've taken pictures of my kids in the bath, not close ups of their particular body parts, just cute pictures of them splashing in the tub. And you don't even know for sure if she took photos, you are only assuming.

Sorry if I'm sounding snarky. It just sort of seems like you are overreacting to me, but we are all different and we all have different boundaries.

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Old 04-07-2009, 02:45 PM
 
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Wow, you mamas are quick! Thanks for all of the replys!

I think some of it is my own issues with not being with DS during the day (no choice). The other part is that if she had asked if it was OK first (she had instant access to me via email and phone), I could have addressed the soap/lotion/safety/photo issues and felt like she was respecting me as the mama. Again, I guess this is my issue. I feel like I am the subject of subtle dismissals from her very often, but need to figure out if those are my issues coming to the surface or if she is being manipulative.

It honestly NEVER crossed my mind to go over baths with her because never in a million years is that something my dad or mom would do when watching DS. If he had a blow out or something, I know my parents would call me asking about bath protocol. I am very particular about the products we use and everyone knows it.

As far as the clothing goes, the last time she watched him for a few hours, she put on pjs and 'got him ready for bed'. It was not yet his bedtime and I told my DH to convey that getting ready for bed is my special time with DS after being away all day and it's not OK for her to do this, and that he should come home in the clothes he was wearing unless they are soiled. He said he would tell MIL. I guess I need to find out if he conveyed this.

Overall, you're right, this isn't the end of the world and she's only watching him for a few days. And it's not worth getting stressed out over. Sometimes I just feel like DH's family treats me like an incubator/milk factory and that's it. Need to think about it some more.
Just wanted to let you know that i totally can see where you are coming from and can sympathize. As you said, a lot of it probably does stem back from your issues with your MIL, especially if you feel she isn't someone you can TRUST. If she isn't someone you feel like you can fully trust, and you've felt manipulated in the past, then it isn't really about jammies, or baths, or pictures, or whatever. Then it's about THAT person being with your child doesn't sit well with you. It can make it even harder when that person is a grandparent and expects to have that one on one time with your child.
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Old 04-07-2009, 02:46 PM
 
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I'm sorry it upsets you. I honestly don't see it as a boundary issue, though. I don't think I know anybody who would hesitate to give a baby/young child in their care a bath. IMO, it's not something that most people would think needed explicit permission, or a discussion of protocols.

I, personally, don't like bathing kids that much. Most people seem to find it fun, but I usually find it stressful. However, I've noticed that many, many people find bathtime to be a lot of fun, so I wouldn't be at all surprised if a childcare provider gave my child a bath.

I hope you can find a reasonable resolution to this. Oh - and I would ask about whether she took photos, and make sure they're deleted, if she did. That's not something that worries me overmuch, but I definitely understand why people do worry about it.

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Old 04-07-2009, 02:47 PM
 
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Originally Posted by jeliphish View Post
not to be dismissive of your feelings at all, but I PROMISE when your DS turns about 2...you will say "OMG thank goodness I don't have to worry about a bath tonight!!" These mama bear "I will kill anyone who even thinks about endangering my child" will settle....it'll make things like this easier I promise.

:

i was very "mama bear/lion" up until a few months ago. dd will be 2 on the 24th. i understand the feeling of overwhelm/irked-ness about the situation though. if anyone other than dh or i batherd her before now, i'd have probably freaked. i hardly let anyone touch her for the first six months. i think it may be a 1st time mom thing, although i haven't given birth 2 the second baby yet, so i can't say for sure i think your feelings are normal, and i think grandma's desires to bathe and "dress up" are also normal. i think stating what you are ok with grandma doing and not doing is in order. it is your son, and your comfort level. it doesn't matter her capabilities; if you are uncomfortable about what she does with your son while she's caring for him, you have a right to line out the boundaries.
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Old 04-07-2009, 02:48 PM
 
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Well, I guess I'll be the one to go against the grain here and say, given your second post in this thread, that maybe you aren't overreacting. On the surface it seems like you could be, but you mention that you feel she undermines you in other, more subtle ways. And if that's the case, and your gut is telling you that this is not a precedent you're comfortable setting with her, then you need to have your DH say something.

And I mean your DH should say something, not you. People generally take friendly advice and requests a lot more seriously when they're coming from their own blood children. Maybe it shouldn't be that way, but it's reality IMHO.

If your MIL's behavior made you uncomfortable because it is part of a larger, ongoing pattern, then you should address it. But please, please be sure that you're not just overreacting for whatever reason. I see nothing wrong with her giving your DS a bath and changing his clothes, but only you can know whether she shouldn't have done it or not.

Most people would see nothing wrong with my son's grandmother (my bio mother) taking a picture of my baby when he was three weeks old; however, I have enough experience with her to know that when she used the flash repeatedly, only a few inches from his eyes, even after he started crying, and even after I politely asked her to turn the flash off, she did it on purpose to get a reaction out of me. Toxic people often act out in very subtle, deniable ways.*

Listen to your gut but be sure before you say something. And if you do need to say something, think about having DH be the one to say it.


*I'm not saying your MIL is toxic! Just pointing out that it's not always so clear-cut as "She just gave him a bath--what's the big deal?"

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When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty. --George Bernard Shaw

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