Where’s the free daycare, Mom?

I’m expecting my first child and asked my mom to look after her while I’m at work. She said no! Was I wrong to expect her to help?

Our elder has a fresh perspective: Granny Camp, yes; Daycare, no.

Dear EWC

I’m 29 years old and I’m expecting my first child. The father is not in the picture so I will be a single mother. Recently, I asked my mother if she would be willing to watch my daughter two days a week while I’m at work to save on daycare costs. This would help me out tremendously. Now, my mother has lived with her mother since I was born and my mother has not held a job since 2008. My grandmother supports her financially, not because there is something physically wrong with her or anything. Anyway, her response to me asking was a flat out no. I’m extremely upset about this because she has no clear explanation besides. “I don’t want to watch anyone’s kids”. I have helped my mother out financially as well, and feel as though she should be able to do this one favor. Am I asking too much? Especially when I know that mother will need to lean on me should something happen to my grandmother.

Granny-Nora replies

First, congratulations on your pregnancy. I hope you have a very happy, healthy baby.

Let me start with a personal story. I was married two days after my 22nd birthday to a man who was 34, so there is 12 years difference in our ages. Since we both wanted children, we did not wait to have them. As a matter of fact, I got pregnant on my honeymoon. We ended up having four wonderful children, in addition to my stepson. I would not trade a minute of that. However, there came a point when all our children were grown, my husband had been retired for seven years, and I had very recently retired. I had plans to finally have time with my husband alone — just the two of us — which is something we had never had in our entire marriage.

Our second daughter and son-in-law came to us telling us they were going to have a baby. We were thrilled at the prospect of more grandchildren. However, the idea of another grandchild had barely sunk in when they asked me to provide daycare. Uh, no. They should have thought about that prior to deciding to have a child. My time with my husband is now. My daughter took the news fairly well, but my son-in-law was out of sorts for a while because that meant that he became a stay-at-home dad. They had five children, so he was a stay-at-home dad for quite a while. As a matter of fact, just this year he went to work part-time as the librarian in the school their children attend. He has been a wonderful stay-at-home dad, but this was not his original plan. It was the only one that made sense, however, because my daughter had a very good job with great benefits, while her husband was still working on his college degree (now completed).

My answer to my daughter and son-in-law was essentially, “I don’t want to watch anyone else’s kids.” I had plans for my own life. I want to grow old with my husband in peace. I love all 12 of my grandchildren (who range in age from 32 to 1½), but I don’t want to provide daycare. One of my grandsons (who is not married) now has a child of his own, and I do not provide daycare. Two more of my granddaughters are pregnant (neither are married, but one will be before the baby is born), and I will not be providing daycare.

Does this mean I don’t love my grandchildren? Of course not! As a matter of fact, each summer we hold “Granny Camp,” where all the children come and play with me for a week — even those who live an eight-hour drive away. We do crafts, games, water play, field trips, and always one night for a backyard barbecue and camp out. Granny is now too old to sleep on the ground, so I haul my recliner to the backyard and sleep in my chair. We tell family history stories, makeup skits, and many other things. We have had lessons on computer safety. Granny Camp wears me out! It takes months to prepare and weeks afterward to recover. I do it because I love them. I also do it because it has been good for my adult children and their spouses. While they have their differences, they have learned to “play nice in the sandbox” for the sake of their children. Our family has grown closer together — by leaps and bounds — since the onset of Granny Camp.

My point is that just because your mother has chosen not to help you raise your child, doesn’t mean that she won’t be a good grandmother. She just wants to choose how she lives her life. While her choice of living with her mother and having her mother support her would not be my choice, it is not my choice to make; nor yours. However, you have your own life choices to make.

We all have the right to make decisions about how we live our life. Your mother has made hers. You also have the right to make decisions about how you live your life. For instance, it is your decision whether or not to support your mother after your grandmother passes, just as it was your grandmother’s decision whether or not to support your mother while she is living. Your mother has no claim on you (or her mother) for her livelihood, just as you have no claim on your mother (or grandmother) for daycare for your child.

Letter #: 438860
Category: Family

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