I say “friends” because I feel a certain kinship with you, my readers. So many people come here looking for information about “SAHM Burnout,” “SAHM Depression,” and so on. I really empathize with your struggles, every single one of you. Being a mom brings with it some very tough days, weeks, months, even years! I definitely don’t have all the answers, but I want you to know that you are not alone, and if you are tired of feeling like the “only one” who’s not sailing through this mom/SAHM thing, then you’ve come to the right place.
This week we are approaching my younger son Mark’s second birthday. This is an exciting and happy time for me, and I’m looking forward to having friends and family over for birthday cake on Saturday. However, this is also a stressful time because my MIL, who moved halfway across the country a few months ago, is coming to visit [NOT stay with us].
The last few years of our relationship with her have been volatile and full of change. To make a long story short, over the last 1-2 years, Hubby and I decided that despite all of MIL’s wonderful qualities, we needed to create some more boundaries between her and our family. (We have gotten help from a family therapist in navigating this trickiness, thank God.) MIL interpreted our actions and decisions as hurtful and as “pushing her away,” and she decided to move to a different state.
She told Hubby that her reason for the move was – me! Yours truly. I guess this Honest Mommy was a little too honest for MIL’s liking.
Over the last year, MIL has done some quite hurtful and passive-aggressive things, such as sending a change-of-address card to every member of our family except me. Such as neglecting to send a card for our 10-year wedding anniversary, though she did wish Hubby a happy anniversary on the phone. So classy.
I don’t think I feel too hurt by these sorts of things, BUT…. now that MIL is coming to town for a visit, I feel a little lost about how to interact with her. She will probably see the children’s artwork collecting on our walls and wonder why we (I) haven’t sent her more pieces for her artwork frame that we got her a few Christmases ago. But, why would I bother to do that sort of thing for her very often, when she so clearly dislikes me?
In any case, I have been doing a few things to prepare the house for her eyes. I took down some quotes that I had posted above the kitchen sink; it feels too personal to let her see those. I tucked away my journal so no one is likely to just “come across it.” I edited our framed photos to prevent her from gaining ammunition about how we favor certain parts of the family. And so on.
After she moved away a few months ago, it was a relief to me to let my home be as I wished it to be. I am thankful that I need to MIL-proof my home only a few times per year now. It’s not that she is snoopy (that I know of), but it’s that there are certain expressions of who I am that I do not feel comfortable sharing with her.
Another interesting issue will be the disciplinary process which we are taking Jakob through right now. We have a system where, if he wets his pants at home, preschool, church, etc., then he loses most of his privileges until he keeps himself dry for ten days in a row. The wetting is due to his reluctance (or whatever) to use the toilet when he would rather “hold it,” and we believe that he is very aware of what he is doing and what the result will be.
(For a while, he would secretly [so he thought] “hold it” while he was at home, to the point of wetting himself before he finally darted to the bathroom, then later he would hide his wet underwear under his dresser and put on clean underwear. This kid is smart, and getting more sneaky by the day. I just can’t accept that a kid who can pull of this kind of plan doesn’t “get” that he needs to go potty.)
So anyway, John Rosemond calls this approach “kicking out of the Garden of Eden” and it is designed to a get a child’s attention by removing many of the things that a child enjoys on a daily basis. We remove pretty much everything of interest from Adam’s bedroom so he is left with furniture, bedding, and so on; anything that’s left he is not allowed to play with (for example, the board games that are high up on shelves).
Adam attends preschool, church, errands, and some other necessary activities. He eats meals and snacks with the family. And obviously, he bathes and uses the toilet as usual. Other than that, he is expected to stay in his room and, while he’s there, to conduct himself in a manner that is not overly disruptive to the rest of the family. All the while, whether at home or away, he is expected to take responsibility for going to the toilet in a timely fashion, and we check periodically to make sure he is dry.
At the end of each day, if he has stayed dry, he puts a smiley face on the calendar. Ten smiley faces in a row earns him his privileges back. If he has eight dry days and then slips up, the ten days start over again.
Hubby and I *hate* that we have to do this, but darling Adam is so stubborn and has wet himself so many times (for no good reason) that we see no other options. At this time, we are willing to go through the inconvenience and heartache of kicking Adam “out of the garden” with the hope that he will learn valuable lessons about personal responsibility.
We see this issue not as a potty training issue or even a toileting issue, but rather as an issue of stubbornness and defiance. We have even done a hands-on demonstration using water, cups,bowls, and so on, to try to help him understand that his bladder can only hold so much and that it’s always getting filled up, little by little, by his body, therefore “waiting too long” can only have one result — wet underwear.
So anyway, when MIL comes to our house, she is going to see that Adam’s room is pretty bare, and she will figure out what is going on, either by asking or figuring it out on her own (she is aware that we have used this disciplinary technique). And I am pretty sure that she will flip out, even if she tries to hide that fact. One time, she told Hubby that she thought that Child Services would be “interested” to hear about some of the things we do. Really!
It goes without saying that Hubby and I completely disagree, but that doesn’t change her opinion on the matter. She also has a hard time seeing all aspects of Adam’s personality. Everything that’s wonderful is, well, wonderful, and everything else either doesn’t exist (in her eyes) or has a good excuse behind it, or is simply Mom and Dad’s fault. As a result, I doubt she would ever truly grasp the situation with Adam’s “holding and wetting,” and she certainly wouldn’t understand why we kick Adam out of the garden.
This week looks like it will be interesting. I will keep you updated!