What a difference seventeen months make.
My Partner and I made the decision to have a baby (despite my insistence throughout my 20s and early 30s that I didn’t want children) back in 2011. I knew he was more enthusiastic than me; I worried that I’d be the least maternal person ever, that Id be indifferent to a demanding, needy baby. But then (after a year of trying and a dose of Clomid) Joe came along. And I fell in love.
Now I know I am indeed maternal. And protective. The problem is, I’ve recently been accused of being over protective. Am I?
Lets go back a while, to when Joe was little. Very little – his buggy still comprised of a car seat clipped onto a base. My mother-in-law suggest a trip out so off we went, to Sefton Park in Liverpool, and she insisted on wrestling the pram from me and pushing. I let her – after all, I got to spend each and every day with my baby and she was the proud first-time grandparent.
Presently I noticed a smell coming from the pram. Dirty nappy smell. Really very, very dirty nappy. I suggested we go and change Joe in the toilets. Her response was to “just ignore it” as we were out in the fresh air and the smell would go away. At this point I firmly told her we’d go and change him. Good job we did – a diaper disaster awaited us which required an entire outfit change. She looked suitably sheepish. I didn’t say “I told you so” (just thought it instead) so off we set, her in charge of the pram again, and headed for the main road. It was busy with traffic and I instinctively put my hand out to tell her to wait (a large white van was speeding in our direction). Unfortunately my mother-in-law kept going, pushing Joe into the path of the approaching vehicle. I shouted at her to stop, that the van was coming. She replied dismissively “It’ll just have to stop for us, wont it?” and kept going.
It didn’t stop. It swerved around her and the pram and she kept walking across the road as though along an empty pavement. I was left horribly shaken.
Ever since then I’ve been wary of her taking care of Joe. Now he’s a toddler (16 months and into everything) you need eyes int he back of your head. There have been several other instances of scary behaviour from my mother-in-law (handing him fruit on the end of a carving knife, anyone?) and I just don’t feel safe leaving him along with her. He goes to his other grandparents house for hours at a time and they’re super-vigilant, but my guy feeling is I just don’t feel safe leaving him with certain people. Others I have absolutely no problem with. Thank goodness, or we’d never get an evening out alone together.
Over-protective or just sensible?
You see, Joe stays home with me. I took voluntary redundancy from a great job, then temped before he came along so had nothing work-wise to return to. More to the point, I found I didn’t want to go back to work. I still don’t. Not just yet. I’m a stay at home mum for the time being. I don’t cost anyone anything. We’re careful with our finances and its our choice. Joe goes to play group, sees friends and family regularly and is a happy, secure little boy.
Sadly, certain family members – trading on the fact that I don’t let him go to my mother-in-laws alone are saying im over-protective. That Joe should have been put into nursery from a young age, that he’ll end up socially inept or even depressed. Yes, really. I found that last comment particularly hurtful. Because looking after a small child is hard work. Hard, but rewarding. Every decision I make is based on Joe’s best interests. Our choices are our business. I don’t know when, or why it became acceptable to criticise someone elses parenting decisions. Particularly when the main critic in this case has no children of his own – in fact, he’s never even babysat. Doesn’t want kids. Wouldn’t fit in with the lifestyle.
I must remember to buy his parenting manual when it comes out…
The bottom line is this; I’m a mother. That’s my job. I take care of my son, and yes, I protect him because that’s what comes naturally to me. That isn’t for anyone to question. He isn’t wrapped up in cotton wool but he is kept away from situations I think could compromise his safety.
That’s not being over-protective. That’s being a parent.
Thanks again Sarah for sharing with us what its like to be labelled an “over-protective” parent. If you’re reading and can relate to this then I’d love to hear your experiences and thoughts on labelling or being labelled as an over-protective parent.
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