Wednesday, June 21, 2006


As if I needed any more. But you know, to prevent future drama, hubby and I decided to nip a situation in the bud.

The situation is that I have been watching my neighbor's daughter's baby (my neighbor's granddaughter, yes) a couple of days a week to help out the mother. This has been going on for about a month, maybe 6 weeks. The baby is adorable and easy to take care of...I mean I've had 3 of my own! She has loved my children and our cousin who I've been watching a few hours a day while school is out. And my children love her! There's no problem there. There's no problem with the mother

There IS a problem with the mother's mother-in-law, however. She occasionally comes over to pick up her granddaughter after she is done with her own work. That wasn't a problem. But the first indication we had that this was going to be a problem was when the mother said in passing to my husband something to the effect of "I heard Miss Karla was a little aggravated because Gabby was only taking catnaps." What I had said the day before to Miss MIL who came to pick the baby up the day before was an innocent comment that she had only taken catnaps that day. My point being that she might be tired and sleep for grandma. A totally innocent and casual comment and she tells her DIL that I was "aggravated"??? Where did THAT come from?

Then yesterday when Gabby's mom left her with me, she asked if I'd change Gabby more often because she had a rash and the only time she really lets her soak a diaper is at night when she's sleeping. She lets her sleep through the night and her diaper will get soaked then. I told her of course and offered my sympathies that she had a rash because "she didn't have one yesterday when I changed her". But the way she said the entire thing was a little curious. This is why.

The day before (Monday) I was in the process of changing Gabby's diaper when MIL showed up to pick her up. I'd only had Gabby for two hours. When I saw that the MIL was here, I had this odd thought..."I wonder if she'll make something of the fact that I'm changing Gabby's diaper when she arrives." And you know, I feel like she must have because of the way the baby's mother asked me to change the baby's diaper "more often". My first thought was "how does either of them know how "often" I change the baby?" I've changed the baby from 1 to 3 times on any given day.

Maybe my readers might think I'm misunderstanding, but my husband who was sitting out on the front porch, who could hear the mother's voice because she was talking excitedly and loud, got a bad feeling, too. It was just the way she said it. I don't know how else to explain. And to be honest, it was as if I was being blamed for the baby's diaper rash. And yet, she didn't have a rash on Monday when I changed her. She DID have a rash last week when I got her several days and I treated it each time I changed her! She did NOT have a rash Monday when I had her. So I don't know how or what MIL said, but something was said and in a manner that did not shed good light, but more of a negative light on me or us.

Let me just say, that after the baby's mother left, Tommy came to me and told me that I needed to just tell the mother that we wouldn't be able to watch the baby anymore. That we'd watch her until the mother found someone else, but we needed to break it off. So if HE came to ME and told me we needed to do this, it wasn't just my imagination that I read something into what she said.

After we made this decision yesterday, we went across the street to our neighbor Cindi to let her know our intentions. We went to her first out of respect for her and her daughter. We care about our friendship with her and her husband and with her daughter too much to let a 3rd person come in and throw a wedge into it, MIL or no MIL. When we first sat down to talk to Cindi, my husband said "Now you know we care a lot about ya'll as friends, right?" And she looks a little uncomfortable, wondering what's up I'm sure, and says "Yes. What? Are you moving?!" To which we laughingly said "no". Tommy basically told her that MIL's mouth and attitude is a problem and that we couldn't watch the grandbaby anymore. Cindi understood where we were coming from and what we were talking about. So this confirmed it wasn't our imagination that MIL has a mouth and is a trouble-maker. I call the MIL and people like her "Fire Starters". She says something inflammatory, tiny as it may seem, just a "spark", and before you know it, a full-blown fire is raging and friends are angry with each other and noone knows why. I saw this happen in Tommy's family with his SIL being the "mouth" and we're still feeling the effects of it today. She started a fire, kept it fanned behind the scenes, until one day it blew up in all our faces and we were left wondering what in the world happened. And still do to this day!

So we're familiar with people such as this MIL. And before it got out of hand in our situation with this baby, we were going to sever it now.

I told Gabby's mother this morning, when she had a minute before leaving for work, that Tommy and I had decided that this needed to be the last week that we watched Gabby. I told her there were too many hands stirring the pot. I told her that she is Gabby's mother and she should be the one to decide who watches her child and who doesn't, and we've enjoyed watching her, but the MIL was getting in the way. She said "Ok" and was talking fast so I knew it had hurt her feelings. However, I've heard that she feels frustrated with her MIL and her ways, too, so this can't be news to her that Tommy and I don't care for the MIL. Tommy's attitude is to let the MIL put her money where her mouth is. She has a comment about something each time she picks Gabby up, then let her find a sitter and pay for it.

After I told Gabby's mother that we needed this to be the last week, and we spoke a little and she defended her MIL, she said "OK" and proceeded to pick up Gabby to leave. I quickly told her that she could leave Gabby here, that we'd watch her until she was able to find another sitter, and she said it was alright, she'd take her. When I asked about her job, she said she'd just call in and tell them she couldn't come in to work today. To which I told her, "No, you need to go to work. This isn't about Gabby. She's a pleasant child and we can watch her today." Then she said she'd get her MIL to watch her, etc. etc. etc. and I could tell that what I didn't want to happen had happened. Her feelings were hurt. And so she left.

A few minutes later her mom called from work. Her daughter had called her crying and upset and saying she was going to have to quit her job and then is mad at her mom for knowing about this and not telling her that we were going to quit watching the baby! Oh my how the blame got shifted to poor momma! Cindi told me that she didn't know that we were going to tell her so soon and that we were going to even mention to her daughter that we had seen her first and told her. So now I'm feeling the blame is getting shifted back to us? See what I mean? A firestarter!

I really hate that this has happened, but Tommy reminds me "What choice did we have". If we didn't do this now, if something more serious happens to the baby beyond a diaper rash, she gets a broken arm or just anything, who is it going to be more easy to blame, family or friends? Different family members watch this baby occasionally, too. And that's part of the "too many hands stirring the pot" idea. I know he's right, but I hate having people upset with me and especially over nothing. I told the mother this morning that her MIL is her MIL and she has to have a relationship with her. We don't want to come in between that, either. Even though she has expressed her own issues with MIL's mouth and ways, it's still her MIL and she can't avoid that relationship. It's best to have as best a relationship as she can have with MIL. But she's not our MIL and we don't have to have a relationship with her. But if we're watching her grandchild, then there's a relationship, wanted or not. So it's better that we break it off now before Tommy says something to MIL not so nice. I think this woman reminds him too much of his SIL.

He says that while there are hurt feelings today, after a few days it should calm down. Us saying anything else at this moment while the wound is still fresh will just fuel the fire. I can see his point, but I can't help but want to say something more to soothe the hurt feelings. I tried to get across to the mother that there is no problem with her baby, no problem with her, and that we've enjoyed watching the baby. But from the first time MIL said something about me to the baby's mother, painted a picture about me that cast me in a negative light, had no substance and wasn't true, was our first indication that we had a troublemaker on our hands. I hate to put the mother in a bind for childcare, she doesn't make much money at her job anyway, and can't afford much, but I know Tommy is right about nipping this before it really does get in the way of our friendships. And like Tommy said, we have enough drama going on in our lives without having someone create more drama based on nothing.


Netter said...

Oh goodness, what a mess. I think you did the right thing and nipped it in the bud. You did handle it in the correct way. I would have dont the same thing.

Jennifer said...

wow girl, that is a lot! yea i agree i definitley think u did the right thing. who knows what would have happend if you continued to watch the baby.

amysue said...

Boy did you and your husband make the right call on that one-I'm sorry it was so difficult.

I commend you both for your honesty and caring.

Tina said...

What a mess! I would have a REALLY hard time keeping my mouth closed with that mother-in-law. I'm sorry for the sticky situation it put you in, but I think you did the right thing, too. Like you said, what if something worse was to happen and she would blame you for it...

Rebecca said...

ick - a difficult situation, but you definitely made the best call.