The scene is set. It’s Olivia’s 4th birthday and Olivia’s mom Renee is very excited about hosting her daughter’s annual birthday party. She’s made all the necessary preparations; the perfect cake, check; the perfect decorations, check; the perfect dress, check; and a special visit from all the Disney Princesses, check. The problem…Olivia’s grandmother has her own ideas for her birthday and has bought a separate cake and a second dress despite her mother’s wishes and expressed disapproval. She feels after all, it’s her right as a grandmother to do for, and buy her granddaughter whatever she wants, whenever she wishes. So each year, Olivia has two birthday cakes and two dresses because of one reason, she has an overbearing grandmother that doesn’t understand the concept of our blog title, “It’s Not Your Time”.
In general, I think people have a hard time understanding when it’s not about them, but this really comes to pass during big celebrations like weddings, showers and birthdays. Because the concepts of “It’s Not About You”, and It’s Not Your Time” are lost and overtaken by a sense of entitlement, a need for control, and at times a feeling of jealously. Olivia has two cakes and two dresses at her birthday parties simply because her grandmother doesn’t know her place, and doesn’t realize that it’s not her time. And more importantly, that she had her time with her children. So the question arises, “Does this mean I can’t be a grandmother to my grandchild?” And the answer is “Of course not.” I’m not suggesting that a grandparent can’t or shouldn’t be a part of those special memories and new traditions, and spoil their grandchildren rotten. But it does mean giving the parents the space to embrace their time as parents, and respecting their choices, decisions and boundaries.
I have a girlfriend whose mother-in-law constantly tells her granddaughter to call her “mom”. My friend has spoken to her mother-in-law and expressed her disapproval, but her MIL still tells her granddaughter to call her mom despite her daughter-in-law’s feelings and concern. What would make a grandmother want to take the time of being a mom, and the experience of being called “mom” away from anyone? To want to be called mom instead of grandma.
It’s every mother’s right to have their time as a mom. That is, to be able to make your own choices and decisions as it relates to your children, and to have those decisions respected. To create your own unique traditions and relish in the lasting memories you’ve created. I would also argue that saying “no”, or standing your ground when there is something you as a mother want to do should not translate into spitefulness or beg the title “horrible DIL”. But rather someone that is embracing their precious time as a mom that won’t last long. For their will come a time when every mother will have to go through their own “Rite of Passage”. That is, allowing the next generation to have “their time” once they enter into adulthood and have children of their own. It’s the natural progression of life.
The ironic part about the dysfunctional dynamic most often created by mother-in-laws, is that it should be a joy for all grandparents to witness, not take over, this very special time in their adult children’s lives. But because of the inability to recognize the importance of not only letting go and respecting boundaries, but also embracing the very person that would allow them to be part of that next chapter in their life, mother-in-laws end up realizing their fear of isolation become reality, and blaming everyone but themselves for their predicament.
It makes me want to ask, why would you risk missing out on this very special time? And, would someone else overstepping their bounds with your child, and not having your choices, decisions and marriage respected, have been what you would have wanted while experiencing motherhood for the first time?