Commiseration/Support

It's Christmas Eve and that can be a complicated time for families. Especially when you have young children to deal with. So if you need to vent, or ask for help, or want to offer support or funny stories, please post here. (People not having problems, please check in to help people with issues.) I'll be back with a regular topic on December 26.

I'll start with an *extremely* minor quibble: My mom is determined that we're all going to go to the carols service at her church, which kicks off with a bell choir concert. I hate bell choirs (apologies to any readers involved in bell choirs, but they're nails on a chalkboard to me) and really can't do that. Nor can my brother or future SIL. So now we have to figure out how to negotiate that.

Your turn.

105 thoughts on “Commiseration/Support”

  1. Any chance she’d go for something like Handel’s Messiah instead? Shame you’re not in NYC where there’s something Christmassy happening on every block.So we had an evening planned with the grandparents moving abroad (we eat takeout and play poker on Xmas eve), but my little one has the flu and my MIL cancelled before I could even finish telling her. Later on she offered to take my daughter to brunch tomorrow (nice idea), but I had to have my husband call her back and say that my daughter would probably like to spend time with *both* of the grandparents who are moving. Sigh. We are really going to have to spell this out for them–they are not seeing the forest for the trees.

  2. Why didn’t you guys TELL ME last-minute Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve with a 2-year-old and an infant in a driving rainstorm would not end well?!?Instead, we are all soaked, one gift was purchased and the 2y/o has eaten half an apple core she found in the PARKING LOT! IN THE PARKING LOT!!!! I tried to whirl around to get her to put it down (because, of course, she would not hold my hand without screaming and collapsing into a heap on the (wet, wet) ground). But I was holding a 10-lb bag of QuikCrete (OMG don’t even ask why I’m giving someone concrete for Christmas) and the ginormous infant “travel system” seat and so not so fast on the apple core takedown. I grabbed her arm to shake it out of her hand (I was hoping not to have to touch the thing) and she immediately began to howl and collapsed in the middle of the parking lot, in a LITERAL puddle. I had to drag her, LITERALLY kicking and screaming, the last 15 feet to the car, during which time her BOOTS CAME OFF. CARS HAD TO DETOUR AROUND US. Yes, I am the dripping, grim-faced mother you saw in the parking lot with the drenched infant and the wailing toddler WHO HAD NO SHOES ON in the pouring rain (35 deg. F) on Christmas Eve.
    Merry Christmas from the Mother of the Year.

  3. Nothing to add here, just wanted to say to MrsHaley that I hope things improve soon! Maybe the driving rain washed off the apple core? We can hope, anyway.Just try to think of how fun that story will be to tell her future significant others!

  4. Oh MrsHaley, all apple cores in parking lots are completely sterile in December. It is one of the many miracles of the season. Now you have to tell us why you are giving someone concrete.Moxie, you could fake the Norwalk virus?
    I got nothing, just waiting for some stock to cook down.

  5. I just dumped 5 lb of flour all over the kitchen floor, had to substitute cranberry sauce for whole cranberries in my pie, the shell of which cracked so now I’m calling it a crumble, and part of my kitchen faucet just broke off.Yesterday we noticed a yellow/green stain in the snow under my husband’s car. No clue what it is.
    When can I start drinking?

  6. Oh MrsHaley – I totally hear you and may be in contention for mother of the year. My son (almost 2) also won’t hold my hand, but has developed an unfortunate habit of running off in the parking lot. Not cool. Last time we were at Barnes and Noble (also in the driving rain) I had to scoop him up, drop my coat, my purse, and my purchases in a puddle in th parking lot, and haul his screaming, flailing little body to the car. He got in nicely when I offered him a bit of chocolate as a bribe, but then I had to go back to the scene of the crime and collect my bedraggled, formerly white down jacket and soggy gifts. Sigh.My husband decided that we needed to rearrange the furniture this morning, two hours before guests came. Before I’d had a chance to mop the floor. And the furniture he wanted moved was the couch that I *knew* had all the toys/petrified cheesesticks/cat vomit under it (I’d been avoiding looking). Sure enough. It did. Cleaned it up, moved around the living room. Then he said we should move it back.
    Once the guests arrived, they brought out their gifts. Which included make-up. For my daughter. Who if FOUR years old. GAH! OF course, we thanked them nicely and I’ve been spending the afternoon telling my daughter why mommy doesn’t approve of 4 year olds wearing makeup (and trying to not bring sex into it. yee gads)
    Anyway. We’re getting the kids dressed for a Santa party (Santa will arrive and bring candy canes and then read ‘Twas the night Before Christmas or some other Christmas book). Di I mention my children have been petrified of every Santa they’ve ever met? Not sure why I accepted this invitation.
    Later tonight, I get to wrap all the Christmas presents.
    The ridiculous thing is, my husband and I are both agnostic. We are categorically nonreligious. Why then are we playing this game? (the answer is powerful family and social pressure)

  7. @Moxie: I second the ipod idea (Amy). Or the Norwalk Virus?I’m having house-related issues, or I should say house-envy issues. We bought a house this summer and it’s lovely (hardwood floors etc) but very small. So small that I got all anal about the tree and requested that we keep it (decorated with bulbs and lights) on the front porch (semi-enclosed). Bump — offspring — is just over two so he doesn’t quite realize what he’s missing. But it has made me sad to think that for now Christmas is all about trying to bring less, not more, into our tiny (<800sf) house. Also, husband and I aren't getting along right now and that makes me very sad, more sad than the house does.
    Marriage is not easy when a two-year-old, a small house, and a wimpy bank account are in the bag.
    To Mrs. Haley: do not worry about the apple and, i agree, before you know it you'll be laughing about the "Christmas Eve Parking Lot Incident."
    Hugs and happy cheer to all (thanks, Moxie!!)

  8. Oh, Mrs Haley, what a flair you have for storytelling. I am DYING to know who you are giving 10 pounds of concrete, and why. Bless you.We are at home alone as a nuclear family, so all stress is of our own making. But mr. flea appears to have bought me a present this morning, so I won’t have to face only one present for me, which I’ve wrapped myself (from my in-laws). Man can’t plan his way out of a paper bag, which is hilarious, given he’s an engineer.

  9. Poor Mrs. Haley!I fear my MIL showing up tomorrow with sweets for Mio again – he has discovered he likes this one particular kind which he had once at a party at daycare and she has jumped on that. I don’t mind him having candy occasionally, especially when it’s at a place other than home. But I do mind him associating his grandma with getting candy (at our home!), and I definitely did not enjoy hearing ‘More candy please?’ coming from my 2,5 year old boy last time she visited (the ‘please’ notwithstanding – liked that!) Sigh. Better read Hedra’s posts on grandparenting again…

  10. And MrsHaley, the learning curve of being out and about with toddler and baby in bad weather (or anytime?) is enormous. For me it got better at about age 1 and almost 3; so fine for about a month and then we started in with the potty.I recommend an endless supply of raisins and whole wheat crackers.

  11. Currenty ducking out with a beer in computer room under the premise of wrapping gifts. Our water is shut off due to water main break up the street. We’re hosting dinner. Three small children involved. Door bell just rang now I really do have to start wrapping!!!

  12. Oh, thank God, a place to vent. Where to start?Goat Daddy is taking a nap (AGAIN) (YES, AS IN 2ND NAP TODAY.) *I* on the other hand, was up and out of the house at 8:00 this morning since an ice storm canceled all of my last-minute pickups yesterday. I got back at noon and made lunch for the goats (while nap #1 got underway) and then got the kitchen cleaned up so we could bake cookies. Got the cookie mess cleaned up just as nap #1 ended. Then a package arrived while I was folding laundry, so the goats decided to open it without consulting me. So much for that big surprise for tomorrow morning. Then I started cleaning up the kids’ rooms because ohmyGOD the mess and what the hell, they’re going to have more toys tomorrow? Then I had to give Goat #1 his antibiotics for strep throat, and hold down Goat #2 to put the pink eye drops in her eyes (YES. Sick kids for Christmas. Yea me.) Then I had to separate the goats because they were trying to kill each other. Then I went back into the kitchen to find a mess because someone had decided to make lunch for himself. You know, between naps. Got the kitchen cleaned up again. Separated goats again, sending #1 to his room to start picking up while I got started on #2’s room. Apparently, cleaning up one’s own room/mess on Christmas Eve at the tender age of 6 is akin to waterboarding. Eventually told #1 that if he didn’t stop screaming, I was calling Santa and if Santa had already left and I couldn’t reach him, then he could open the gifts and look at them tomorrow and then trundle them off to the homeless shelter because the meanest.mother.in.the.world. wasn’t going to let him keep them. Screaming started anew. Mother of the Year walked away (sorry, Mrs. Haley, but I’ve got it locked up) and ran into Father of the Year (aka He Who Really Ought To Fucking Know Better) in the hallway, and HWROTFKB said “Can’t you keep him quiet, I’m trying to sleep.” He went downstairs for some reason and I muttered some very unChristmasy things under my breath as I headed back into #2’s room. Five minutes later, #2 is thirsty so downstairs we go, to find 1/2 the plate of cookies gone. The cookies I told the kids they couldn’t have because we were saving them for Santa. Muttered more unChristmasy things under my breath. Have decided that it does not matter if the rooms are clean. Am now contemplating a bottle of Bailey’s and a bottle of tequila, and trying to figure out which one I want and how soon I can put the kids in bed. Could use tips on how much cold medicine is enough to get them to sleep (the 6 year old weighs 51 pounds and the 3 year old weighs 36 pounds.) Yeah, I’m bitter and grumpy and would love 10 minutes to myself to take a shower. Also starting to ponder if anyone has ever run away on Christmas Eve.
    But my secrets are safe here, right?

  13. @MrsHaley, if it makes you feel any better, when I was about 7, I very clearly recall eating an egg salad sandwich that I found on the playground. Tasted great, and I’m now very healthy & a good eater, too!My 14-mo-old DS’s nose & eyes are still too bruised from the brawl he got into with the kitchen floor last week. Nothing was broken, thank heavens, though he looks like an abused child. So we don’t wish to take him out in public, where we are sure to get many, many icy stares.
    I’m hidden away like Shannon right now in the computer room, supposedly wrapping crap For like Everyone, From Everyone, including things I actually bought for myself — because both my mom & DH say they didn’t get me “enough” according to them, and they’ve each asked me to help them not look like jerks when we all open presents tomorrow. (BTW, DH is definitely not a jerk, and that’s not why my mom’s a jerk….) Good times, pass the Bailey’s please.

  14. My holiday 2008 vent is that I’m sick. I’m weak as a kitten. And have been for days. So the presents aren’t wrapped, the house is a mess, the kid is going crazy from not being outside enough and watching too much TV, and the DH feels put upon because he’s had to do *everything*.Plus my mom is just as sick as I am (from the same virus – we were at her house two weekends ago and we both got sick simultaneously a few days after!) and we’re supposed to be trekking up to her place. My dad is chronically ill and so there will be no one with any energy to do any of the things we normally do on a holiday.
    Poor little dd, she’s so excited about Christmas and everyone is sick. Except DH and he is crabby as all hell. Sigh.

  15. Eh, nothing truly exceptional here–I did just burn about 1/3 of my right palm while cleaning up after a quick quesadilla lunch, stepping over Mouse who was making a maze out of cupcake frills on the kitchen floor and I’m out of energy to redirect her because I’ve been with her 24/7 since Saturday, including at the office the last 2 days, and she’s been very good, but she IS 4 so I am mentally fried…but I’m pretty sure it’s first degree.And my mom has called about 15 times in the last 2 days (we’re flying to her tomorrow after doing stockings here) with very minor updates on The Weather Forecast!! and Where She Might Park At The Airport!! and What The Side Dishes Will Be!! and Who Can Sit Where In The Car!! and I know she’s just really excited but her being amped up is a big anxiety trigger for me, so I am trying to hold it together but wondering why I decided to save $ by staying at her house for a couple nights, where there is no escape.
    Humbug. Thank you Moxie, this is a great idea!
    MrsHaley, you are awesome. Thank you for sharing that story.

  16. There are some doozies on here!I spent some quality time with my steam cleaner this merry Christmas eve.
    Hubby woke up with the Christmas spirit in his heart, determined not to let anything get him grumpy on christmas eve. (Sometimes he has a bad temper.) So, the lobster tails (I know, poor us!) leaked all over the fridge, so he had to clean that up, and then the fancy tree stand that has a tank attached for giving water to the tree magically sprung a leak overnight and dumped 2 gallons of water all over my carpet. And V gives us H-E-double-hockey-sticks if the tree lights aren’t on, so we were totally in trouble with an 18-month-old for the tree being out! of! place!
    I got blackberry stains on the first white shirt I have worn since our 18-month-old was born, I swear.
    I’ve done six loads of wash today instead of the planned two.
    I discovered that the orange-chocolate mousse cake that was supposed to be dessert needs 3 hours at room temp, and 8 hours chilling in the fridge. We had *exactly* enough sugar in the house to make the banana muffins I needed to make with the bananas that were one second away from rotting, plus our Xmas morning french toast (best recipe ever for Xmas morning, let me know if you want it), plus the cake I had planned to make. This limited my options for replacements, but I think I can pull off espresso-molten chocolate cakes (minus the espresso for V) for dessert.
    I spent quite a lot of today using the steam cleaner to both get up the water from the tree incident as well as the stinky, smelly carpet in the dining room where our flashing is ruined, and we have been waiting like 10 weeks for the damn contractor to get to fixing it already! Home-owners’ insurance, here we come!
    Also, hubby swears up, down, left and right that he absolutely didn’t have any free time at all whatsoever to wrap my presents until 5pm today (when I was busy spending V’s cranky time trapped on the couch underneath her) despite the fact that he was up at 8am playing StarCraft this morning!
    But!! The best news is that dinner is on track, and we have commenced the drinking!! (okay, not much for me as I’m a lightweight) But a Toasted Almond does wonders for your mood.
    Good luck to all of us! (and thank FSM that the in-laws are coming to us, and not vice versa!)

  17. I have cancer (well, technically in remission) and just had chemo one week ago. I’m still feeling extremely, um, vomitous (I know! not a word! but it so perfectly describes my volatile stomach) and exhausted.I have a 2 year old. (nuff said, right?) She’s delightful, most of the time, but I’m still nervous to put her in a party dress and expect her to be on her best behavior for lunch today…and dinner tonight….and dinner tomorrow (see below for why: short answer is many extended family obligations).
    My parents are in the middle of getting a divorce after 35 years of marriage. It’s not completely, how shall I say?, amicable. My in-laws are also divorced so we have basically four sets of parents to visit in the next two days.
    Did I mention that I just had a round of chemo?
    Wish me luck. Heh heh. Good thing I still have my sense of humor and a stellar husband.

  18. It’s just the three of us: me, husband and 18 month old son. We took a strong stance and decided to spend holidays without extended families. Fake smiles and disfunctional conversations with my divorced parents and his estranged ones were not how we wanted to spend our time.So now it’s just us. With no visitors, no pressure to decorate, cook, etc. Which of course means no decorations or special cooking. So basically, it’s like any other day of the week. Since we’re not religious and don’t like to buy into a commercial xmas, no santa. Only one present for the son (I like this part).
    While I like not having the family stress, I have to admit it’s awfully lonely. I actually get jealous listening to others describe their crazy families. I don’t know if my marriage is strong enough to handle just the three of us all. the. time. Crazy families at least break up the monotony. What does this say about my marriage?

  19. No one in our families will deal with my food allergic kid or my adhd wonder. (my friends tell me that our families suck regularly) My husband found out Monday that what he thought was a minor heart condition is much worse. We had one visitor today because our childfree friends thought we were too complicated to visit after 13 years on Christmas eve.Instead I got a recipe for cupcakes made with cake mix and 7-up so my food allergic kid had a treat. We just got done dancing to my old band on you tube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jw-okxvMBy0 while my kids yelled there is Mommy, there is Daddy and assorted other bands.
    It is us against the world folks and tonight after a vodka drink I feel ready to take it on.
    To everyone from @Lucky Jen to Mrs Haley I hope the holiday gets better.
    3.5 years ago on Christmas eve when I was pregnant with my younger son, my older son was 18 months old at the time. I spent the night on the phone with poison control because he drank bleach. I always win the good Mom award.

  20. I just feel so bad, lots of angst, so much heart-pain because so much for our idealistic, non-commercial “small” Christmas. I had such grand plans in my head for how my 6 year old was going to learn about giving, make donations, do something other than just get a bunch of stuff. But we had a baby this year and all that stuff got pushed aside in the sleep deprived delirium. We didn’t go nuts with his presents but when you add in the stuff for him from grandparents etc. it looks like a ton.It was important, still is and I feel like we really messed up/missed an opportunity here. And of course a local business just sent out an email about the orphanages they helped this year in the Ukraine. The little kids in the photo look just like mine. I am just in pain thinking about how lame we are. Again. I want to go back and make it right.

  21. Things are very quiet here – it’s me, DH and the 2 girls. The monkey is at his mom’s house until next Tuesday – he’s been a part of my Christmases since he was 4 (and he turned 15 yesterday). Usually my folks and/or my sister (and family) are around and they’re not this year – each at their own respective houses. As grouchy as I am with the commotion (there is no place to get a time-out), it’s really strange for it to be us 4. A nice break, but feels like something’s off. I hope the monkey is doing OK, but don’t want to over-call and disrupt his time with his mom. His birthday was yesterday – my mom and sister both asked for his cell number so they could call and sing to him. We called and left a Happy Birthday rendition on his voice mail. He called back in the afternoon – he was babysitting his three other sisters on his birthday. Didn’t know of any dinner/cake plans. El (the 1 year old) said his name when she was on the phone with him and she’s been checking his room for him every now and then.@the other Mothers of the Year, if this is the worst thing that happens, then that’s not so bad.
    @Kris – I would be not surprised if the yellow/green car discharge is coolant.
    Is it wrong that I enjoyed going to Target today (by myself) in the hustle and bustle? I sort of wanted to hit another store after I was done.

  22. The cat is going senile. So, after a freezing cold Midwest day I was looking forward to having a cup of tea and putting my little tootsies in my warm, cozy slippers. Although, when I slid my foot into that anticipated cushy bed of goodness it felt like I had stepped instead onto a bed of rocks. What were the rocks, you ask? A big…dry…pile…of…senile…cat…poop!Happy Hanukkah to me, from Mr. Cat.

  23. so we always host a christmas brunch for our friends but this year i was just not in the mood so when a well meaning friend offered her home i jumped on it like a 2 year old on a trampoline.(Christmas present for the mini). being me of course I felt guilty so offered to bring appetizers and cookies and the kids’ dish. Its almost 10pm. i have not started yet. %^#@!

  24. I am surprised at quite how much physical dread I have about the big family Christmas tomorrow. We always gather with my mom’s family on Xmas day. As a result, Santa has us on a special list to come a day or 2 early every year (if you’re feeling mean, do this to your kids–they’ll believe for far too long because it takes some of the impossibility out of the trip if he can spread it out over say a week. I think I was 10~) (Alternately, do this and it is sweet because your kids will believe longer :)My mom’s family is 2 hours away so we stay over at my grandparents’ house. The “party,” this year at an aunt’s, isn’t crazy. It isn’t funny. It isn’t joyous. Everyone comes (5 kids, spouses, 14 grandkids and 9 great-grands) so I know my cousins, superficially. Because we all come to Xmas and to Easter as well, there is no “long time no see, what do you do now?” casual conversation that generally lets me small talk in a room of acquaintances.
    I’ve tried games, family photos, forced small talk. Alcohol works, but I am breastfeeding so I can’t get really toasted or anything.
    I raised the specter to my mom of not going (she dreads it too) and she is too afraid that my grandparents will die. They are both 80+ and quite healthy, but, still, we’re not talking about more than 10 more years of this, I think. And I do relate to that. Precious time and regrets and yadda yadda.
    It is only 5-6 hours of my life, 2-3 times a year. I can make it.
    On the plus side, I get to go to a Chanukah celebration on Saturday with someone I am glad is in my life and whose company I enjoy.

  25. It’s just the two of us, me and a 5 year old in the house. I’m feeling a bit glad of that because it is more relaxed, less pressure, but I’m feeling incredibly lonely and left out. My extended family is having a big family dinner tomorrow, my closest friends are having multiple meals/parties with their families, and we are, well, I’m *not* thinking pathetic and unloved…My biggest gripe though is about P’s father who took her to KB Toys today, on CHRISTMAS EVE, and bought her everything she pointed to. Seriously, it wouldn’t all fit in my car and I was so mean I didn’t let us bring it all home with us, and while I didn’t say this to her, there’s no way we’re keeping all that crap.
    Needless to say she was completely overstimulated and tantrumy for the rest of the day, which made me pretty overstimulated and tantrumy too. She told me it was all my fault. I yelled at her.
    Definitely in contention for Mother of the Year here.
    Ironically, I got her too much stuff too (though mine is at least of decent quality and age appropriate). I’m trying to make up for my own feelings of deprivation, trying to recreate my grandmother’s extravagance, and worst of all trying to compete at least a little with his overindulgence. You know, so maybe it won’t ALL BE MY FAULT.
    Theoretically I believe in a small, reasonable Christmas, but the truth is I like the choosing, the shopping, the giving. I love filling stockings. So once again I spent too much money and am probably going to have an overwhelmed child tomorrow morning. Who will probably still be mad at me, not play with anything I got her, and whine all day about not having the crappy sh*t he got her today.
    Not that I’m bitter. I don’t have a bad attitude, really.

  26. This year it’s just the three of us (DH, DD and me) and the first year I haven’t been with my parents on Christmas. Kind of nice just to be our nuclear family here together. But we’re not off the hook for family time. We get on a plane Friday morning to go see the extended family, including my brothers who have been in South Korea for a year and a half.DH’s family always does Chinese takeout on Christmas Eve, which I always look forward to, so we continued that tradition tonight. Lovely food, and no pressure–highly recommend it. Tomorrow we’re sharing a late lunch/early dinner with another couple who lives in our town, so I have some things to bake for that.
    We let DD open her presents from one grandparent tonight, and she had a ball playing with them. I’m concerned we’ve gotten her too many things this year and that she’ll be totally overwhelmed when she starts opening gifts tomorrow morning. This is only her second Christmas, so I should have done a better job of reigning things in. But she’s going to LOVE her play kitchen.
    Thanks to all the PPs for sharing their stories, especially MrsHaley. I was laughing so hard, DH wondered what was going on.

  27. And I thought I was the only one who felt completely out of whack for the holiday. We used the “but we have the baby” card to get out of flying across the country and doing the schtick with our families (ringing bells, midnight mass, obnoxiously stinky pork products in the oven at 5 am) – I’m glad for it (hurray for starting our own traditions with our new family) but at the same time feel a bit lonely and like it’s a bit of a cop-out. Other things I copped out of: taking dd to see Santa, buying presents for anyone that isn’t a close blood relative or been sleeping with for double digit years, or any sort of truly special meal. However, I did pick up a can of Batter Blaster in the store the other day, so that will beat the pants off of cold cereal for breakfast tomorrow.And, to Mrs.Haley: thanks for the laugh, and think of it this way – your toddler is voluntarily eating fruit…

  28. the winter uglies have hit us hard this year and to make it even better, little one has the worst case of diaper rash i’ve ever seen. i’ve let her air out most of the day, naked play rules she discovered. am not looking forward to all day at the in-laws tomorrow, but i’m am very grateful for the mellowness of their christmas (no gift exchanges! just brunch and a lengthy hike in the afternoon).

  29. First time mother. First xmas party with dd, 10.5 mo. First time poster.This is the story of No Boundaries (I think… it’s 1am, I’m still reeling from this so it may not be a boundary issue at all. Read on).
    I got into a ‘fight’ with my FiL because I wouldn’t let him hold dd when he wanted to. It was the beginning of the evening, too late for dd really, new and loud pp, new location. She was petrified.
    I actually had to defend, repeatedly, that I was the mommy and should make decisions on my dd’s happiness (she’s not 3+ and can reason this out, ya know?). He told me it wasn’t about my dd, it was about me. I just about kicked his teeth in. My dh finally jumped in.
    I was expecting to defend my feeding choices, diapering choices, sleeping location choices with a confident and cheery, “Well, this works for our family!” I had been practicing in a mirror and with different inflections. But this one. What to do.
    By the end of the evening, it appeared that my dh had fixed it and my FiL hugged me and apologized for our miscommunication. But WTF? I had been reading about this kind of craziness but I was hoping/praying that it wouldn’t happen to me.
    Even moxie’s past post that ended with mantras that included, eff you, you effing effers, didn’t make me laugh at the time.
    Venting, in need of support, talk me down from the ledge, make me laugh, give me ammo for next time… Thanks for letting me vent.

  30. My DH just lost the key bit to make DD’s one big gift. ! hour later and he/we can’t find it. Present won’t work without it. Grr. GRRRRR.

  31. My heart goes out to all of you. The mother of my charges went nuts today, trying to make X-Mas special for the two. I felt bad for her, because she works 10-12 hour days. So, I started her decorating, which she was grateful for.@Cecily T- please make sure that you check things out before getting the home owner’s insurance involved. Here in California it isn’t a good thing when a house has water damage and it gets onto the record. The client that I talked about earlier reported her water damage and is now paying a heavy price for it. $500.- inspections every 3 months to make sure there is no mold. AND – it shows in the reports, which makes it very difficult for prospective buyers to get funding.

  32. @ Chris: The good news is if you protect her boundaries now, she’ll protect them herself sooner than you could believe.Case in point: I foolhardily brought my 2-year-old to work today. The Noodle mowed down my loud, loving, handsy, borderless co-workers like Rambo with an M60. As each one moved in with a “Sooo cute!” “Hug?” “Cootchy-coo!” “Hug?” she ran the gauntlet with an ever-more emphatic, “No. *No.* NO!!” Seriously, I know it is just because they care for me and her, but they haven’t seen her since she was an infant. What makes them think she’s going to handle this onslaught of strange environment, strange people, strange week with open arms?
    Poor thing. Even my co-worker’s 6-year-old and 10-year-old who were there too are both in their own stages of wanting to love on “babies” and could not stop trying to get in her face/ carry her/ “help” her as she shrieked louder with every advance. And to top it off, as she was staring, blissed out, at the major holiday bling in one nook of the office, another co-worker started to entertain her with all the random crap on her desk including… a fake alien body preserved in a jar? WTF? She said, “Uh-oh, I think I scared her,” and slunk off. A few minutes later, after looking at the holiday lights some more, Noodle asked tremulously, “What in da bottle?” I predict nightmares tonight.
    But it was almost all worth it when we got to the end of the seemingly endless hallway to the gruffest, most sarcastic guy in the office who, of course, did not attempt to hug her. But he did size her up and say, in a voice that suddenly went all froggy, “She really is just sooo cute.”
    All I can say, Chris, is I never had the chance to enforce her boundaries because she beat me to it, loudly and forcefully. Although I am still kicking myself for not seeing that alien thing coming.
    And @ Charisse–I am utterly fried from 4 hours of having my kid at work, much less 2 days!

  33. @ LuckyJen: That sucks! Goodness, if you have cancer your family should at least have the good sense to come to you, play nicely with one another, and to bring a nice dinner with them so you don’t have to deal.@Jo-Ann: I am with you on the food allergies. My 2 year old is severely allergic to eggs, sesame, garlic, pepper, and a few fruits. And the extended family relatives just don’t get it. (Thankfully, the grandmothers do get it). Is your son allergic to eggs (the 7-up cake rang a bell with me)? I have developed a lot of egg free baking recipes (cake, brownies, cookies, pretzels). If you need any, email me. Most can be made dairy-free too.
    My vent for the day is that I was feeling great and on top of things this morning when I dared to eat breakfast. I am 24 weeks pregnant and *still* throwing up on a regular basis. On top of that I started having pre-term contractions at 22 weeks. I didn’t get halfway through my breakfast this morning before I lost it all and trigged a fresh round of contractions. Enough already.

  34. Ugh, going to see the In Laws, thankfully it will be brief. MIL made a big breach of trust not too long ago (going back to abusive husband, oh yay, and after he actually messed with me. No apology) and really hurt the hubs (and me too, I really did/do love her) and now apparently we’re supposed to suck up and be calling her all the time like nothing ever happened.That’s the really fun part, because while she and HIM were seperated everything was open, talking about past badness etc, and now it’s all under the rug again. We’re being the “Bad Kids” and not falling into line and making nicey nice. We’re not openly mean or rude or anything, we just don’t go out of our way for them.
    So we’ve had all this passive aggressive BS from her, hearing from other siblings how she wants hubs to call her, boohoo, but I’ve gently (as I could) prodded her numerous times now trying to get her to CALL HIM. But no, she’s too busy, etc etc. She feels guilty as sin in my book and I wish she’d just own her shit.
    Yeah, it’ll be sooooo fun. *headdesk*

  35. Wow, so many in need of sympathy.First:
    @Koshercow, 7 is a better year for understanding the giving to others. You have years and years and layers and layers of seasons to bring that stuff in. You only missed one small space for it. It comes again in tides (and at 6, my kids are So Not Into Giving – at 7, they think about what others want, love being of service, and are totally disorganized about it, but at 7, their social brain is starting to develop faster than the logical brain. Next year will be easier.) I promise you didn’t so much miss out on a great opportunity, but on a small one that might have been a sore disappointment if you’d gone ahead with your plans.
    @Gina, nausea SUCKS. I’m sure you’ve tried a zillion solutions. I ended up swearing by preggie pops (especially the raspberry and tangerine flavors) and whole lemon chopped up in cool water (skin required – the lemon oil helps, inhale as you get ready to drink), different pregnancies. And also (!!) those snore-stopping nose things. HUGE difference after three days with those, though I’d still forget to use them. On my blog, there’s a link to my preggie journal for the twins, and I go down a list of anti-nausea methods I used. Maybe one might be new.
    @Chris, you ran smack into the grandparent love, hard. I have a post on that topic on my blog (a few back, actually two or three or four) that talks about how to give them a Real Job so they don’t try to do YOUR job for you (or tell you you’re doing it wrong, etc.). It has to be something you don’t really care about details-wise (teach them to love gardening is okay, but teach them about the outdoors might have issues if they’re hunters and you’re Not). But also something you can be happy they’re doing (like ‘teach them about history’ or ‘help them explore the arts’ – even if they skew it, it will be educational). Picking something they have a passion for – not just the specifics of the hobby but the process or bigger picture – gives them a place to put all that love. A sit-down discussion that says, “hey, I’m the mom, but you’re also the grandparents. You’re important, and you love him, and I’d love for you to have a place to put that love without worrying too much about whether you’re slipping toward acting like the parent, instead of the grandparent… I’d love it if you took on something I won’t be able to do completely from my role, since there’s so much to what I need to do as Mom… would you be willing to (insert Big Grandparent Job here)?” Just do not pick a smaller part of a task that You Own As Mom (diet, attire, deportment/discipline, values/religion, schooling). … And as for enforcing boundaries, thank you from someone who remembers being MADE TO KISS EVIL STRANGE RELATIVES. :shudder: You’re teaching your child that they have a right to control who touches them, when, and how. Baseline, that’s the goal, yes? I didn’t get that lesson, I got the ‘if your relative says they want to touch you, you must let them or face shame and ridicule’ – and hence I was raped by my great uncle when I was seven. I didn’t have the slightest idea how to say No, or even when I should. That’s worst case scenario, obviously, but it’s real, too. You rock. If you need more reasons to back you up than that, try reading Protecting The Gift. It’s real clear that you need to understand all the lessons you’re teaching under those conditions.
    There are others I’d love to respond to, but I’m finally feeling tired (stayed up making *most* of the remaining presents that haven’t been made, had too much coffee, couldn’t sleep, and we have three different Christmases tomorrow… aaaahhhhhh!), and so should go to bed for the 2 hours or so before the alarm goes off.
    First, though, my main gripe is that ep doesn’t do well being unemployed not-by-choice, and so there’s a great deal more grouchiness around, and I’m not in good moods entirely, either – the job is turning into a permanent position (woot!) but that also means who-knows-what for the books I was writing (serious issue, they are eating me from the inside out). The job is going to be really interesting (already is, will be more so), and perfectly aligned with many of my strengths and interests… and still isn’t the books. I feel torn in two.
    Or three. Because the job is also longer hours, so I’m less available for the kids. I’ve never (NEVER) missed a parent-teacher conference, until this job. They’ve always had that priority. And now, since they’re not getting it in the hours, I’m getting 90% of the time someone wants to be carried or have extra-special treatment from me, every blessed second of the day. I can’t cram the amount of attention they used to get into the available time, and having Daddy at home doesn’t make the difference to them. I’ve been extra super grouchy for Christmas as a result. Yeah, that was me yelling, “NO, for the last time I will NOT give you Uppies!” to one of the 4-year olds, who very quietly then said, ‘I just wanted a hug’ and walked away with her head down.
    Bleah.

  36. Normally, I read everyone’s posts then comment etc., but I really need to vent fast.My brother is being an ass.
    And my mother is defending him.
    And I’ve been chastised for being “mean” and bascially told that I am not allowed to have an opinion about being treated like crap by my brother, at least while I’m in my mother’s company. She has always maintained a very pollyannish and naive position when it comes to my bro – he can do no wrong (despite the very long list of transgressions, including defrauding the government) while her other children get ignored.
    Long story short — brother has excommunicated me for transgressions committed 4 years ago and cannot, WILL not, let go of the past. Every time we have attempted a convo, he dredges up the hurt and tries to rub my face in it. The hard part is that most of his angst is paranoia — that I ruined his career by purposely spreading rumours about him, that I deliberately said and did things to wreck his life, etc. I have, on several occasions, apologised and explained that I am human, I got angry, and I said some stuff I regret. He doesn’t buy this, however, and continues to tow the rope that I am evil incarnate. He is slowly poisoning my parent’s beliefs about me too, feeding them stories about how I manipulate and mindf**k people to my advantage because I’m a psychologist.
    This excommunication also extends to his nephew, who he hasn’t seen since 4 months (he’s now almost 15 months). Nice.
    Recently, there was dialogue about us meeting to discuss “issues” but this was promptly followed by radio silence once I extended an invitation, and now, facebook defriending and blocking. That’s right. The other facebook junkies on the list will know what I mean – he set his privacy settings to that neither my husband nor I can see his profile, basically an e-excommunication. *sigh*
    The amusing/ironic/sad part about this is that this means of coping (through avoidance, excommunication and stubbornness) is endemic in my family: maternal grandfather did it to my mother; paternal aunt to paternal grandmother; paternal aunt to father; maternal uncle to mother. It’s ridiculous. No one has ever been able to resolve an interpersonal issue on both sides of my family.
    I have tried to put an end to the trend, but apparently apologies are just not enough. My brother will not stop until he has extracted his pound of flesh.
    I am trying to ignore all this BS and enjoy the day.
    *sigh*
    THanks for the vent, Moxie. I needed that.
    Merry Christmas!

  37. Just wanted to send positive thoughts to all who need it! I almost feel guilty for having, what I would describe as the funnest Christmas ever! Almost, because we are far from most of our friends and families for the first time (I think some would argue that this is a good thing, and in some instances, I would agree! Heck we all have that unpleasant black sheep that dampers our spirits)… Actually, had we been home, we would have been part of the mini extended family Christmas dinner at my aunt’s. Both my cousins have recently had babies, and the youngest cousin has announced that no one is to touch the baby unless we’ve washed hands and face! So, I have to say, having two wee ones of my own, I am extremely happy not to have to be part of that and refrain from making any comments…Worst, is that they (my cousin and his wife) are both doctors and should know better!However we did not have to deal with that, we were blessed with the company of a couple of good friends wanting to discover a Scandinavian Christmas with us! So apart from a very nasty case of stomach flu, of which we all fell victim to, in the countdown to Christmas and now a case of pink eye that seems to have gotten the better of my 9 month old and husband, we’ve managed to have a truly wonderful time…Dancing like retarded spiders on DDR and eating a mix of Canadian and Scandinavian delicacies!
    All I wish for Christmas is that everyone has a good time too! Hang in there, at the very least, phase one is on it’s way to being complete and hopefully you’ll have a quieter New Year’s!

  38. If I was santa claus each one of you would walk into your own homes to find warm cinnamon rolls and mimosas just waiting for you.Merry Christmas, and good luck to us all.

  39. Warm cinnamon rolls please!@Mrs. Haley, thanks so much for your story. Keep it in a file.
    We’re having a very happy birthday for granddaughter C-A, born four years ago on a very sunny, cold morning in NYC. She now knows about cake and presents and loves them all. They are off to a movie and then here for rock cornish hens for grownups and mac and cheese for all of us, since we’re kids at heart. Happy holidays all.

  40. I’m sick and very sad that I’m not with family today so I hope this all makes sense. Mrs. Haley, great story. And to the others whose two year olds won’t hold hands, what about giving them the option to hold onto your clothes. It’s hand or clothes or I pick you up and take you to the car. What about the baby you say? Well, this is a ProActive idea. You’ll need to take a trip to the store without baby. I know that’s hard but it’s going to be worth it, and it will teach the two year old that he/she is never allowed to walk without touching you in a parking lot! This requires a practice session without baby so the two year old knows you mean business. All you do is leave the car and offer your hand. If the child balks you offer the belt loop on your pants or something like that. If the child balks, you silently pick the sweet one up and walk back to the car. Put the sweet one in the car seat and lovingly wait until the child stops crying and inform he/she that from now on the choice is my hand or my belt loop, let’s try this again. And you do this as many times as is needed to teach the lesson. It should take about 5 minutes, and it’s over. Now the two year old has it down and you can more easily bring baby.I also want to address another issue mentioned here, carrying the car seat. How much can a parent carry? Why is everyone picking up the car seat and the child? Is your child sleeping 100% of the time, is that why you pick up the car seat too? Several years ago I read an article from Mothering Magazine that made me really rethink the carrying of an infant. Read the article and it may change your mind, help your back and help you deal with the amount of things you have to take with you everywhere you go? http://www.mothering.com/articles/growing_child/child_health/car-seats.html
    Chris, here’s an Idea for the FIL. Instead of taking the heat for protecting your daughter, which in my opinion is perfect and is the true definition of mom—defender of the innocent even if you have to protect her against those you are related to, LOL!
    Try this instead, if you are game. Why not let your daughter speak for herself. I know she can’t speak but her body language and her crying or hesitancy should do the trick. I would switch your words around. Instead of saying or using your body language to send the message of “here, let me take her, she seems uncomfortable.”
    Try, “Dad that look on her face and her trying to push you away (I’m filling her behavior based on what my kids did at that age) I’ve come to recognize is her way of telling us that she isn’t a happy baby right now, maybe we can both make her more comfortable together. Let’s try allowing me to hold her while you engage her and make friends. She’s just going through a developmental phase where she’s slow to warm up, let’s work together to make her fall in love with you! Switch the words to fit any family.
    I’m very lonely today; it’s the first year with no sons or family around, so today sucks. Moxie thanks for this post and to the moms who needed to grip, I needed to try and make someone feel better, cause I can’t seem to make myself feel better today. Anyone know of any jobs in SF, time to get out of here.
    Merry Christmas.

  41. Our Christmas is over, but I’ll share the good stuff: the Prince was an angel pretty much all day, and didn’t even scream when he saw the uncle that he usually is terrified of. Instead there were smiles and high fives. Admittedly he didn’t let said uncle out of his sight for a second (just in case he instantaneously transformed into the boogeyman?!), but no screaming or crying. Yay! Prince was also not too overwhelmed with gifts, so that was nice. Also, my usually distant and generally unthoughtful mother actually bought some great gifts for the prince and for me. I’m actually stunned.Bad stuff: I have terrible heartburn, even though I didn’t eat too much or drink too much. Am therefore mystified. Also, I was sad that this year Christmas seems to have passed me by completely – normally I’m really into it, but our house does not boast a single Christmas ornament and we haven’t even put up the cards (happily the prince is too young to know the difference – next year I will do better, I promise!). Also, the peanut and I are barely speaking to each other (our relationship collapsed some months back and we have so far been unable to work out the details of moving apart), so my Christmas evening is spent reading all your stories, when what I’d really like to be doing is curling up on the sofa with a man I love, toasting each other for a wonderful day planned and spent with the prince. Instead, I am in one room and the peanut is in the other doing his thing, whatever that is. And finally, I had a chance at something which may have been the perfect love, but due to circumstances which are way too complicated to go into here, we have had to make the agonising decision to remain friends and live our separate lives. I am in a state of numb, heartbroken shock. And therefore incredibly resentful of the peanut for essentially putting a stop to something which may have had a chance at success (basically he’s refusing to let me relocate with our son, which I can understand, but I’m still gutted – new person is unable to make the move due to elderly and sick parents). Basically, all the events of this year have wiped me out, totally, and I seem unable to muster any sense of joy. I am numb. And terrified of how I’ll be when the numbness wears off.
    Sorry to be such a moaning minnie. I hope you’re all having a wonderful holiday season, nutty families notwithstanding. I shall raise a glass to you all.

  42. I worried that I was somehow breaking some kind of Christmas rule because I did not get my daughter (4.5) a single thing she specifically asked for, but it was all for naught. She loves the things that her grandmas and I thought she would love and she even likes the baby toys we got for the 3 month old. And the one thing she wanted desperately and got from a grandma isn’t even unpacked from the grandma’s-house bounty. Instead, she’s been playing happily with a popping ball baby toy I got for her brother (3 months). Bonus: it’s a loud-ish toy and for now she prefers to play with it turned off rather than on. How’s that for a Christmas miracle?

  43. I have no idea who that grumpy impostor was, posting under my name yesterday. Oh, wait. That was me, doing my best impression of Mother and Wife of the Year. (Oddly, even with sick kids, it simply did not occur to me that Goat Daddy was under the weather, because I was too busy feeling put upon. Whoops.) I’m SO sorry for that; I really do know better than to just think about myself, especially during the holidays. That wasn’t very Christmasy of me, especially considering how very NOT bad I have it.My apologies, also, to those of you who clicked on my link and found your way to the rambling incoherence I call a blog.
    I hope everyone had a lovely holiday. I certainly did (you know, once I got over myself.)

  44. We drove four hours today, so that we could spend Christmas Day with both sets of grandparents. We were supposed to just be at my parent’s house, but my MIL got very upset that we were going to come on Saturday and not on the REAL day, even though we went to her house for Thanksgiving. It’s like she won’t let my family exist. Whole different rant. Anywho.So, breakfast/brunch at my parent’s, then a drive across state to MIL’s. We’re in communication the whole time – calling when we past certain places, we’re almost there, etc.
    We pull up. The cousins are loading their cars. They had just opened the gifts.
    Fifteen minutes before we arrived.
    Fifteen minutes.
    They didn’t wait for lunch, which we understood (again: had brunch at my folk’s). But the gifts? WTFF?
    I will not do this again. My three-year-old is overstimulated and exhausted, and I’m treated like I don’t matter. It won’t happen again.

  45. @waltz:go easy on yourself. when we’re caught up in the crazy and bustle of the holiday, it’s easy to miss those subtle indicators that something is amiss.
    case in point: my 4.5 yo has been having pee accidents again latly. my husband and i have been watching her carefully and preemptively sending her to the potty to minimize accidents. last night, she completely peed herself while playing in her new princess tent. of course it went through to the carpet, as well. argh! we missed all the pee pee dance signals right when we needed to be extra vigilant. so frustrating!

  46. @Sharon — thanks for the link! Excellent points, all. I will have to give ‘parking lot training’ a try. I can tell you know already I am loathe to leave the house without the baby, but getting squashed in the street for not holding hands is a good reason for DD and I to extricate ourselves for a ‘lot lesson.’ This was not the first time we’ve had a run-in about it.I try not to lug the carseat with me — we typically wear him, but yesterday I thought he would stay drier because of the retractable canopy on the seat and the waterproof winter bundler. The coat under which he fits when I wear him is not waterproof, which was my main concern.
    Of course, he was soaked to the bone anyway. We all were.
    And might I recommend giving concrete for Christmas? It goes over well and produces many fascinating (if incorrect) gift guesses before being unwrapped!
    FWIW, it was part of a “kit,” sort of. I got molds and mosaic tiles and gave each separately-wrapped element to my parents (Concrete first. You should have seen their faces: “Wooow. Cement! Thaaaanks.”) for them to make stepping stones with DD. Their Grandparent Job (TM Hedra) is “The Arts” so I facilitated a little.

  47. We went to our church for the Christmas Eve service yesterday. DFD, who is three weeks old & has a ton of dark brown hair, was wearing an ivory dress w/ sparkles on it. The service is a candlelight one, where they turn off the lights at the end and everyone holds a lighted candle. DFD was laying in my arms & the candle light cast her in an absolutely angelic light. Everyone spontaneously started singing Silent Night & she fell asleep in my arms. My beautiful little lamb, warmed in holy light, sung to sleep by the entire congregation. Truly, truly, we are blessed.

  48. Mrs. Haley I hope you know I wasn’t criticizing your choice to carry the baby in a car seat in the rain, I would have lost my mind in that situation but you did an amazing job and a great job telling the story!I just wanted to let all the moms who are reading know about the link so they could make up their minds about carrying a car seat everywhere.

  49. @Julia – 15 minutes before you arrived?! What a slap in the face! So sorry to hear about that. FWIW, I know folks who’ve cut ILs out of their lives over a LOT less than the crap your ILs just pulled. I hope your DH is adept at boundary work!@Ashramama – I find your story so compelling & dramatic. It doesn’t always have to be like this, you know? I wish you healing & peace in your home in ’09.

  50. After the p*ssing and moaning I allowed myself to do in my comment last night, we had a lovely Christmas, P and I. She slept til 7:30, was gratifyingly excited and happy with perfect reactions to really all of her presents, including the childsize MOP and she MOPPED the kitchen floor!We decided at the last minute to go to dinner with relatives about 2 hours away. Most of these are people I haven’t seen for 6 or 7 years, who have never even met P – there is very active Family Tension with some of them.
    However we had really a lovely, convivial time, everybody participated in games that were appropriate for a 5 year old, everybody was tolerant of P’s meltdown towards the end of the night, so much so that she actually recovered and we were able to part on quite a happy note.
    I’m not deluding myself that all is rosy with these people now, or that we will suddenly have warm and rich relationships, but it was a good experience to put in the memory banks, and I feel a little better about myself and them.
    Thanks everyone!

  51. @Chris: My second daughter is not fond of being held by people she doesn’t know well, so I completely identify with what happened with your father in law. My mother in law wanted to hold her after her baptism and I should’ve said no, but didn’t (they live nearby but don’t see the kids often, another issue altogether), and the baby ended up screaming her head off, so you definitely did the right thing, even if it was rough on you.For everybody who’s having a rough time this holiday, my heart goes out to you. We’re busy, but happy and I feel lucky to be able to say that.

  52. *I* managed to find a replacement bit to cobble together the one big present. Whew. After 2 hours of searching, and poking around in the snow outside. We never did find it. At least DD got her present, which she loves, loves, loves.

  53. No specific stories to tell. Only that I will never again spend any holiday in the company of my in-laws. Never. Now that I have a kid, I want his holiday memories to be happy, or at least pleasant. Not wrecked by his brain-damaged, alcoholic, abusive grandmother. We don’t have much extended family, so next year I think we’ll spend the holidays in an entirely different country, and f**k any consequent family guilt.

  54. I am lucky. really. I know this. I do have all my needs and many of my wants. I married a partner who grew up with Christmas as a family holiday but I did not. I adjusted and we embrace Christmas and Santa and presents.Good peacemaker that I am, I bought many Christmas presents for in-law family this year, including, literally, the turkey, many thoughtful gifts (some higher priced, some not, but all thoughtful).
    My gifts? In total = A $5 makeup brush from a drug store and single-serve instant coffee boxes. Yes, I needed a new blush brush and yes, I do use the instant coffee for my 5:30am cup. But… seriously? No other thoughts? Absolutely nothing else you know about me? A book, perhaps? A magazine even? In-law family has known me for more than ten years. Not worth getting annoyed over but I do shake my head.
    Oh, and my side of the family’s party = filled with plastic trains. After we’d been gently talking for years about how we buy wood or hand-me-down and how we want to be the ones to pick out a great heirloom train set when son is out of toddler-hood. The clothes that were size 2T, (when he is 5T size), were also interesting.
    I will not sink into the trap of not being thoughtful for them next year, though. I resolve to stick to doing what I know to do. I will work to keep lowering my expectations in terms of gifts = showing they know me. {sigh}

  55. Since Xmas has passed and I no longer really need to vent about all my crazy family crap, I will vent about my front-yard neighbor. It looks like Chistmas got drunk and puked in her yard. She is one of *those* people that has accumulated a lifetime of plastic holiday crap and insists on covering every inch of her yard with said plastic crap and lighting it to the hilt. It’s tough to sleep in our room if she hasn’t turned off her yard. Sheesh.Since everyone is running for Mother of the Year, I nominate my DH for Father of the Year. He was one step behind our 17 month old as he rolled down an entire flight of metal-lined concrete stairs at the ski resort on Christmas Eve. In his defense, our ds is fearless and spirited, and my poor, poor dh was almost in tears when I came in from the arctic almost-too-cold-to-ski slopes and still rehashes the event because he just can’t get over it.
    @Hedra – how do I find your blog? Need. to. subscribe.

  56. Christmas ended up going well (at least part 1, part 2 is today, at my dad’s).Actually much better than usual. The huge huge blowup a couple years back with the IL family ended up setting off a family therapy session that cleared a LOT of old pain, and set us up to start actually talking about who we are and what we want. For the first time in 16 years, I had a conversation with one BIL that was about more than surface stuff or professional life. We stayed in the kitchen and chatted for over two hours, about family, and our histories, and how we were raised, and the ups and downs of that. And he’d also been very VERY opposed to ‘group parenting’ in the sense of ‘we’re all good parents here with similar approaches to our parenting even if the details aren’t perfect, tell me your stories, I’ll tell you mine, we’ll talk about what we’ve done on X or Y, and if I see your child jumping on the sofa, I’ll tell them to stop because we don’t do that here, and you do the same for mine.’ It was ‘if you need to say something to my child you tell me and I’ll do it and I would never DREAM of commenting on your parenting that’s not my JOB, and I’ll neither approve nor disapprove of anything you do (it will just show in the sour expression on my face)’ AAAHHHHHH! The other two families are very much on the ‘ooh, hey, I like how your kids are behaving on that, how did you teach that?’ and ‘X, get off the sofa back, you know the house rules’. And this year? THIS year, he shifted totally to ‘hey, your kids are great, I like how independent M and R are being, and oh, yeah, that thing they’re doing – totally normal, not a problem, they’ll outgrow it.’ Yeah, all things I knew, but he was communicating about it, which was GRAND. WOO! We’ve been working on seeing them outside of family gatherings, which has helped a lot, I think.
    It was also rather an uncomfortable Christmas in some senses, because two of the grandkids are enlisted – one will be going in as an officer, so she’s finishing school (and they’re asking her to do grad school as well), so she has a delay before service (no idea how that is structured), and the other is about to go off to jump school for Army Airborne training. Seriously scary. But that’s what he’s wanted to do for a while, and he is finding it suits him, and he’s thriving… I’m not opposed to the service, I just worry about him (since he’s likely to end up SMACK in harms way). So that was kind of raw feeling. Good, but raw.
    Other events went well, though there was a lot of grumping at my mom’s due to the kids trying to race through their gifts – and there aren’t many gifts given there. Trying to slow them down wasn’t easy. Good conversations again, though, and easy family interactions except around the actual paper-shredding frantic zone.
    Not perfect, but all in all, really solid and good.

  57. @Chris- Good for you for standing up for yourself! I didn’t do enough of that with my MIL when my son was little and we’re still having these passive-aggressive fights now that he’s a toddler. Over Thanksgiving he had a mysterious high fever (turned out to be Roseola), and my MIL was really pushing me to go out to dinner with the rest of the family and leave him at home with her. I thanked her for the offer, and said that I would definitely have taken her up on it if he were feeling better, but that he was clearly sick (and overtired and in a strange house) and I felt like I should to stay with him. She pulled out the same “So it’s really about you, not him” comment, and I had to seriously bite my tongue. This after I had to convince her that no, we couldn’t bring him out to dinner when he has a fever of 103.Christmas was lovely, just the three of us, no stress from well-meaning but overbearing ILs. I highly recommend it.

  58. I’ll try this again, just lost my first attempt.My mother, who is only grandma to my almost 4 year old, is driving me nuts. Generally a fantastic grandma, and has even been very supportive to me, though was not as a mother to me. I do believe I received my first compliments from her ever, in the last 4 years and I am certain I have overheard her tell my son she loves him (in response only), more than she ever told me, which is never.
    Anyway, all that said, I am pretty happy with their whole relationship. What is driving me insane is her disciplining or instructing him in my presence. I give her more latitude in her house or if she has been babysitting him and I arrive to pick him up, that type of thing. But she doesn’t even seem to make an effort to back off in my presence. Truth be told, and the really annoying part is I think she is trying to demonstrate “how it’s done”. Frankly, while I don’t mind if that is her choice, I don’t seek to learn her whiny style of negotiation with him. Further It bugs me that she doesn’t seem to ‘get’ that the reason I get the most challenges with him is because I am his mother, not because I am less effective than she.
    Also she has referred to herself as his mother more than once in my presence. Granted, she does it in a absent-minded automatic sort of way, but she does not catch or correct herself. She is of perfectly sound mind and though she cares for him most Fridays, she certainly is not anything close to his primary caretaker.
    The final, final straw was last night leaving a restaurant where first she did not shut the heck up when he stepped off the curb and I was correcting him and later she misunderstood his reaching for her hand to go into the parking lot as a request to go home with her…? It would be fine if he had made such a request, wouldn’t hurt my feelings a bit; it was her narcisstic presumption that makes me crazy and the following whiny discussion about how she would see him soon, blah, blah, blah…
    In the midst of my holiday meltdown, for which she supplied the final straws, I kept coming to the same question; why oh why am I clearly afraid to address these things with her? I am pretty certain that she would respond appropriatly, though she might not think my complaint valid. That may be the key, if I confront someone, I really want them to see the error of their ways! Ha! Not too realistic I suppose. I am more and more aware of my discomfort with a true disagreement, maybe that is more the issue than the confrontation itself…I believe I need to address the situation because I am feeling like I want to withhold my son from her lately. Not good.
    Thanks for the space.
    steph

  59. One of our better Christmases… my mom came down 2 days before Christmas and brought her dog (really her third child). Good on the most part because it is good for the boys to learn how to behave around the dog and also because they really like her too.That said, we’ve recently split the boys into 2 rooms (we only have a 3 bedroom home so that means no real guest room – the guest room bed is in S’s room) and have been trying really hard to get them to think of it as their own space. We figured my mom would sleep in the guest bed (with the dog) and the other son while S slept in his crib so they could all be in the same room. Well when it came time to go to bed, S freaked out and said he didn’t want Grandma to sleep in his room (find out after talking to him it is because he doesn’t want the dog in there cause the dog moves around while S tries to sleep) – we tried to talk him into letting Gma sleep there and he really pushed back and was crying and saying it was his choice because it was his room (which I tend to agree with), etc. So we told him fine and we got the air mattress out to put in N’s room. After lots of noise with N and S, we finally separated them and put N back in his room (meanwhile it is well past 9 and we are having a horrible bedtime with the boys). My mom was really bent out of shape that she wasn’t going to be able to go in and read with the light on since N was in his room (which was now her room too). She really thought she’d be able to go in there while N was awake, turn the light on and read and that N would just go to sleep. I feel bad that we don’t have more space for my mom and can’t give her her own room but sadly that’s where we are right now. It’s hard also because bedtime is one of those hot topics between her and I and while she was here we had some doozy bedtimes.
    She wound up leaving earlier than she had originally told me but claimed it was to avoid traffic. I really hope it was that cause I’m feeling really sad about the visit and that I handled everything wrong. Not sure what I should have done – put her needs over the boys because of the respect they (and I) should be showing her?
    Otherwise, actual Christmas day was amazing. The boys are 3 1/2 and we didn’t open stockings until a good 45 minutes after they woke up. We then had a nice breakfast and then started openning the presents under the tree. They would play with their new toy for quite awhile before we moved on to the next thing. We didn’t finish all the gifts under the tree (and there really weren’t that many) until close to lunch time! Made me happy to see that it wasn’t quite the normal frenzy.
    ILs came over today and I think overall the visit went really well. Tried to slow things down when they first came in as they wanted the boys to open everything immediately but once we slowed things down, it went really well.

  60. Am starting to regret Santa’s gift to my 2 and 4 year olds. Thought it was so inspired to get them a set of 130 pieces of fruit/veg/other food and a 130 piece set of plastic kitchenware to go with the wooden kitchen Mummy and Daddy bought. So that’s 260 pieces of plastic that I invariably end up putting away after the kids have played with them for 2 seconds ( of course they do ‘help’, but you can’t expect much of a 2 year old). Am I the only parent who flips out every time they so much as look at the box containing all those plastic bits?

  61. Well, just got back from visiting my parents for Xmas. And it was, probably for the first time in my life, a disappointment.It was our first Xmas with the wee one (6 months) and I was looking forward to holiday memories I could look back on with fondness. But, shortly after arriving at my parents, caught my dad smoking in the kitchen with the stove fan on (he smokes outside when we are there as I don’t want the little guy exposed to 2nd hand smoke). So, quickly things escalated with my Dad getting really defensive (long story…he’s been sick for years and is less and less in control of the things in his life, hence, much more defensive than pre-sickness). It basically ends with my Dad telling me to ‘Get the fuck out of his house’. I should point out that my Dad has never sworn at me EVER or told me to get out of his house EVER. I lost it. Hurt, angry, tired from no sleep the last 6 months, tired from the somewhat stressful drive to see my parents -weather wasn’t great, annoyed from trying to treat the dog’s infection in her paws without enough light (what I was doing before the big fight). I ended up screeching at my father that I couldn’t believe he told me to get the fuck out of his house, and if that’s what he wanted, fine, we were leaving with the baby.
    And the worst part, this all happened in front of the little guy. And my mother & DH (who I’m pretty sure was standing there with his jaw agape). BIG. PARENTING. FAIL. He apparently cried a bit (little guy, not DH). I was so livid with my father I barely noticed. Ran downstairs & called my brother, sobbing, asking if we could possibly stay at their house. I think I scared my brother. I probably sounded like someone died. Of course, I’m kind of coming to my senses thinking it’s too much work to load up the car and shuffle the already tired little guy around…perhaps I would give my father one more chance not to smoke inside. Meanwhile, I can hear my mother asking my father what he was doing upstairs and telling him she said he could smoke in the kitchen BEFORE we arrived, not while we were there. DH had escaped downstairs and gave me a much needed hug. Come back upstairs to tell my father it was up to him – we could stay if he did not smoke even once or we would go stay at my brothers and see them for dinner on xmas day. We almost went to blows again when I tried to explain that 2nd hand smoke increases the risk of SIDS. Grumble grumble…He apologized and said he would not smoke.
    This little event pretty much ruined xmas for me.
    Then I got my period for the first time since DS was born (still BFing so, um, not fair!…but kinda explained my lower back pain).
    Xmas day was OK, but we waited around for my bro & sis in law to arrive to open gifts at 3pm. Thought it might be a bit late, but hey, the little guy is only 6 mos – what does he know?! Well, as we did this late in the day, the already small living room was divided in 1/2 (dinner table set up), so we were crammed into 1/2 of the living room, elbow to elbow opening gifts. For some reason it was like speed gift opening – things were flying fast & furious. My dad was holding the little guy while I was opening his and my gifts. My Mum kept handing them over so quickly (there was no space to put them around me) I actually had to tell her to please stop giving me gifts. The noise was steadily growing and the little guy finally lost it and had a meltdown. Hell, I was practically having a meltdown – too much commotion. So off I go to put him to bed. Took a while as he was upset & tired & overstimulated. I come back upstairs – gift giving was over – wasn’t even sure if I had opened my gifts. My dad asks me to help my mom in the kitchen. Exhausted I replied that I really needed to take a break & I would help after. Realised at the end we got no pictures of the little one during the gift opening. By then I was in a rotten mood again and had a headache (as did 3 other of the 6 adults in the house). Oh, and the dog ate the baby’s spoon. That about covers it. Xmas experience was a mess (usually, I really like Xmas at my parents). But this year, it was just all too much. The crowded house, the blow up with my dad, the hustle and bustle. We’re staying home next year. Maybe in 2 years, we’ll go back and try everything differently. The worst part is I just finished talking to my Mum and I can just tell that she feels like me having a bad xmas was all her fault. And it wasn’t. None of it. Yucky.
    Glad to be back home now, but sad that things didn’t turn out better this year. Hope one day I’ll be able to look back on this and not feel sad.
    Thanks for letting me rant. (If parts don’t make sense, please forgive me…too tired, and too sad maybe, to re-read this).

  62. The madness is over, but I spent my holidaze defending my co-sleeping, breast feeding, and basically myself at the in-laws. SIL is a childcare worker and a teacher (who has no kids) and had a solution for everything and everybody. The same SIL who told me to dip pacifier’s in honey for my one week old baby. Then that she should cry it out and was manipulating us and being too spoiled.I hope her kids get botulism.
    Then my step mother bought baby a little fugly outfit for summer, which she will fit into NOW. It’s -30 outside right now.
    Oh, and the gift was written as being from my step sister, her husband, and my dad, but not from her.
    Yesterday my dad told us how sick step-mother is and how she only has months left to live, yet she hosted an elaborate celebration with millionaires attending her supper and she can’t afford her cancer medication. My dad works 24 hour days to pay the bills and pay for her lifestyle and her medication. Sorry, if I couldn’t afford my medication I think I’d downsize my new SUV’s and house renovations.
    Uh, sorry, but my dying wish and legacy WON’T be $100 G in house renovations and new vehicles.
    It wasn’t much of a holiday for us. I hadn’t seen my dad for a year, and we ended up meeting at my grandmothers house because my step mother was playing hostess to a bunch of people I don’t know. How do I tell my dad on Christmas that their two gifts from last year (a microwave and a food processor) never did work.
    I know we all have family issues, but I think ours would take up a week of Dr. Phil episodes!

  63. Sorry for the negativity, gals… I’m not Catholic, but I went to mass on Christmas Eve with dh and I prayed for my step mom to live to see her unborn grandchild (step sister is pg) and then I found out she hosted this whole event on Christmas day and we weren’t invited. Earlier this week we were told she was dying (even more than she has for the past ten years) and I felt really bad for thinking evil thoughts. I won’t re-cant my prayer, but I don’t think it’s right to tell people you’re dying any day now and then host huge elaborate meals for “friends” and certain family.Step mom also recently asked my oldest dd in the middle of a shopping mall why *I* never phone her house. Honestly, an eight year old isn’t going to know the answer to that question. The last few times I’ve called to talk to my dad, they tell me he’s not home and don’t give him the message. We called to tell him about the birth of our baby and my dad was pissed that he didn’t get the message. GRRRRR.
    Thanks for the vent.

  64. OK, I used to celebrate a non-religious Christmas with my family but several years ago converted to Judaism. But Christmas still makes me a little bit sad – and my born-Jewish hubby doesn’t really understand that at all. And not celebrating Christmas in a non-Jewish community means that we’re stuck at home with no where to go and nothing to do – plus a freak winter storm kept us housebound this year for a while. UGH.Plus, what’s up with our non-Jewish friends? We invite them to our Hanukkah celebrations (they look forward to latkes for months), our son’s bris, Rosh Hashanna dinners, etc. But none of them bother to invite us to their holiday gatherings. We’re not busy and would love the company. Just ’cause we don’t celebrate the holiday doesn’t mean we don’t like good food and fun!

  65. @paola: We have a lot of toys like that (legos, Magna-tiles, kitchen toys)–sometimes the kids are willing to race each other or (rarely) will pick up before dinner with minimal begging.I have to do a lot of the “games”–pick up 6 green pieces, 5 yellow, etc. Which can be as mentally exhausting as just doing it myself, but I can do it from on high (i.e., parked on the couch).
    I have a fair tolerance for clutter, but there are some days when I want to torch the whole house and start over!

  66. I need to vent about our 3 year old’s sleep. What is up with the 3 year olds and the waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to go back to sleep? WTF people? And we are not the only ones struggling with this issue – many of his friends are pulling this crap too. I am 34 weeks pregnant and I’m sorry, I’m about to lose my shit with ONE child up between 1:30 and 4 AM (with an eventual 6 AM wake up for the day, HOORAH)…..I don’t even know what I’m going to do when I’m bopping between TWO kids. My husband tries to help, but what to do when ONLY mommy is wanted in the dark hours of the night??? And I don’t anticipate him cooperating and saying, “Oh, Mommy is busy feeding the baby right now and can’t come cuddle with me? NO PROBLEM! I’ll just sit here and wait my turn.”ya, right.

  67. We’re in the middle of the four-month sleep regression and I’m a total zombie….yet we had 12 friends over last night WAY past the baby’s bedtime for a potluck dinner, of which I scarfed a few bites before passing out cause I haven’t slept for more than 4 continuous hours all week….so I basically got to stress and cook and clean and bake and stress some more ALL FUCKING DAY LONG only to eat a few bites, say “hello” to people, and then retreat to bed with earplugs cause I’m TOTALLY EXHAUSTED yet I SURVIVED and the family/friend obligations are OVER and I could not be happier. NEVER AGAIN.(I kept thinking, “When these people have four month old babies, I’m inviting 12 of my closest friends over to THEIR house at 9:30 pm for beer and enchiladas, two fucking days after Christmas.”)

  68. I just had to explain to a family friend that my BIL was not coming in to see him and his kids at a playdate they had arranged two days ago. FF had driven an hour in the snow to get there. Next year we are going away on our own, I’ve effing had it. In fact, I might cancel Xmas altogheter.

  69. Seriously, I’ve had enough. I just had to explain to a family friend that my BIL was not coming in to a playdate. They made the plans two days ago in my presence. FF had driven an hour in the snow to get there. Next year we’re going away. FAR AWAY.

  70. The in-laws are here for “2nd Christmas”, and my MIL made dinner last night. It was chicken, and it was NOT cooked. We all sat there and ate it anyway. I swallowed tiny pieces whole, because I couldn’t stand chewing raw chicken flesh. I get the shivers just thinking of it.

  71. There are some seriously horrible stories on here, but my vote for worst story yet is for BeBe and her raw chicken dinner…and I’m the wife of the guy who rolled his kid down the stairs.I mean, I’m still not over it. Seriously?…raw chicken. Even if it didn’t make me sick, I’d puke anyways from the thought of it. You’re are a good DIL, BeBe…a good DIL indeed!

  72. @newjew – I understand (converted myself) – Christmas is hard for me as I miss all the decorating. Even the decorating I do for Chanukkah doesn’t make up for the lights of Christmas. I like to think about all the other holidays that I gain 🙂 BUT you should hint at your friends how nice it would be to have something to do on the holidays. I know I did this when we lost DH’s side of the family (dispute) and had no place to go for the Jewish holidays. It’s amazing how many friends now invite us to join them!My rant? I’m 13 weeks pregnant and still can’t eat. I’m very grateful to be pregnant (and not bleeding anymore) – but the hyperemesis is getting old. I’m still down 15 lbs and tied to tubes that makes it hard to sleep at night (getting IV TPN/fluids 14 hours a day). Everything I attempt to eat after noon just comes up – and everything I eat before noon makes me more nauseous. And my oldest (5) told me that she doesn’t want to have kids because she doesn’t want to be sick all the time.
    But I’m very lucky that my husband is amazing – that my daughters are healthy and happy. With the weight loss, I’m actually able to feel some movement from this little mouse.
    And that this, too, will eventually pass. Can we just make it soon??? I miss food.

  73. Chris,Uh, let me try this without swearing a bunch. It’ll be hard.
    At the end of the day, screw your FIL. Seriously. He’s a grown man, and if he doesn’t understand that babies get scared and have stranger anxiety and need Mommy when they cry, he can take a long walk, etc.
    Wait, does “screw” count as swearing? Hell.
    Here’s how we deal in our house:
    When one or both of the girls get uncomfortable around someone or wants to get out of someone’s lap, I walk over and say “Oh, hey, baby, how are you doing? That good, huh? You want to come sit with me for a few minutes? Yeah? Okay. Come here, baby.”
    Pick up baby, do not make eye contact with jackass saying “No, no, she’s fine, she can stay with me, bla bla bla.” Do not engage them. Ignore their protests. Pretend that you are so wrapped up in conversing with your child (even if she is preverbal) that you can’t even hear anybody else’s voice. TOTALLY IGNORE THE JACKASS. This is key.
    Move three feet away/across the table/into the next county, whatever it takes to make the baby comfortable.
    After that, I generally say one of the following:
    “Oh, you know how kids are at this age. What are you gonna do, huh?”
    “Feeling better, Baby? Yeah? That’s your (grandma/aunt/hamster) over there. She sure does love you. Did you know that your (grandma/aunt/hamster) once [insert amusing/sweet story here]? Isn’t that neat? Oh, look, she’s smiling at you!”
    “Boy, how about those Mariners? Do they suck, or what?”
    I just don’t debate this stuff anymore, because…uh, I don’t care. Not that I don’t care about my kids. I do. I just don’t care what other people think about how I’m raising them, so it’s kind of a nonstarter.
    My fall back is always “Hey, this is how kids are,” trying to make the other person feel engaged while respecting my child’s boundaries and wow, the Mariners suck.

  74. Oh, and I learned this the hard way.The “I did not listen to my instincts and failed to force others to respect my baby’s boundaries/temperament and ended up hiding in the CAR with a screaming baby for TWO HOURS while she calmed down. TWO HOURS, PEOPLE” way.
    So. Never doing THAT again.

  75. @anonforthis, next year is 18 months, and after that, you’re facing the half-year disregulation stage EVERY CHRISTMAS until about 10 years old (when it stops being quite so calendar-driven). Plan accordingly. Make visits in the summer so they can see the grandkid at best function, too. One of the things the disregulation stage does is utterly wipe out parental patience (especially mommy), mental function, etc (likely through disrupted sleep), so plan for your comfort and capacity, too.One of the things we’ve done to help with the structure of the events is to state goals out loud before the event (often on the way). Saying them can help expose a lot of what we’re hoping for that wasn’t said before, and that would be potentially catastrophic if we were working that angle unconsciously at the same time as the conscious goal. Most of the time the goal is, “the kids have fun, we feed them before they are really hungry, and we help them solve problems before they escalate” – which means that I interrupt my mom’s conversation to go snack the kids, etc. BUT, I can do it without being reactive or grouchy myself IF I’m working that goal. If I’m not working that goal, I do it anyway, but I’m unhappy about it, and that leaks to the kids and then the kids get unhappy at each other and… even with one kid (over six months anyway), it transfers. Not that it would have helped your situation this year – it’s advice for next time, really.
    You’re still in the transitional stage of the family, by the way – your parents are trying to transition to being grandparents, and you to a parent with parents. In labor, transition is marked by confusion and doubt, with belief that you can’t succeed at this, you want to stop, go home, try another day, quit, whatever. Sound familiar? Because emotionally, ALL transitions work that way. So your reaction is spot-on normal. Things DO mangle at these stages. Nothing flows right, everything is out of kilter, and if you’re lucky, the transition is short and can be shrugged off as just an odd few moments. Most people don’t end up with just an odd few moments of transition, though.
    Read something sustaining, and regroup, and try again for something else. While you’re at it, you can try seeing if you can get to the meta-message-out-loud stage with your parents. Your dad likely was in the midst of feeling guilty and blamed for hurting his grandchild, you were maybe in the midst of feeling your parent-role was being ignored in favor of someone else’s conveniencce, sometimes just saying those parts out loud can clear the underlying ‘I don’t feel like you understand’ stuff. Sometimes, anyway.
    Not like you want to go walk into the mess again, I’m sure. Consider holidays a work in progress. At least this one won’t likely be a standing memory for your boyo, and you learned a lot of important things – like pacing is important for the gift opening (this happens with us on a regular basis – one or another family will have one of the speed-opening-over-stimulated-wrapping-paper-flying mad scrambles, and we at least now know to say something sooner rather than later, since we know how it will turn out if we don’t say something ASAP. Still *starts* that way every couple of years, somewhere, but … we know it can be tweaked even mid-scramble).
    Good luck for next time. There’s a lot to be said for not being in transition the next time you do it, too.

  76. My sympathies go out to all who suffered through a less than joyful holiday!Overall, I will remember this Christmas as a really good one. Some yucky things happened, no communication from my mom or brother or sister and that made me really sad since I reached out to them and they didn’t respond. But the bean got to see my 83 year old grandmother and my 63 year old aunt with cerebral palsy (who was released from the hospital Christmas Eve morning) and the visit with them went very well. The bean was so adorable (no tantrums and lots of smiles for everyone) and I know it really brightened their day. I only see my dad twice a year and he came over and spent all day Saturday with us and it was so good to see him.
    The best part of all of it – Bean said Mama for the first time on Christmas Day. Seriously, on Christmas Day the kid looked at me and said Mama! The next day he pointed to a yellow ducky said duck and saw a fish made the sign for fish and did a fish face at the same time. Fish face on a 15 month old – quite possibly the most adorable thing ever! So, yeah, it was a good Christmas – even though the best parts weren’t all that Christmasy. And too bad for the members of my family that missed it.

  77. What Hedra said. My kids go through the half-year disregulation in the beginning of the winter, just when the weather goes really cold & it gets dark soon after school (so outdoor time to run around is more limited). It’s been reflected in my daughter’s parent-teacher conferences, and I’ve tried to explain that it will be better in the spring…but I’m told a whole season a long time to a kid (true), but at the same time some of the things that I know would make it better are not available (we live in NY, not in Florida).Anyway, anonforthis, don’t feel like you have to apologize for putting your baby first.

  78. Oh, Christmas.We had to travel 5 hours to the BiL’s house. MiL and FiL were there too. We were supposed to travel on Christmas Eve but couldn’t due to a giant storm, so we made the drive on Christmas day. The in-laws were pissy about that, but we weren’t going to risk getting stranded or in an accident with two one-year olds.
    After an exhausting drive and a questionable lunch in a filthy Burger King (the only thing open on the road on Christmas day), we arrived at BiL’s in the afternoon. They spent about an hour with us, and then they LEFT to go to SiL’s parents’ house for dinner. They hadn’t informed us of this plan ahead of time, it was a total surprise. We had two babies to feed and put to bed, so we couldn’t go, so they just left us. We ended up eating Christmas dinner alone at my BiL’s house after the babies went to sleep. Dinner was leftovers that I’d packed in the cooler for our car trip, since there was nothing in the house prepared for us for dinner. The in-laws didn’t return that night until after we’d already went to bed.
    Oh, and they’d opened presents without us before we arrived that day. Merry Christmas.
    MiL then proceeded to complain about how she doesn’t see the babies enough (hint — maybe if we drive 5 hours to visit with you, you shouldn’t then take off for the entire afternoon/evening). The presents were, of course, inappropriate and explicitly counter to what we’ve communicated we’re comfortable with for the kids. The guilt trips were frequent. And on our drive home, our son projectile vomited all over himself, me, and the carpeted floor in the family restaurant we stopped in for lunch.
    It’s good to be home, and next year we will not be seeing the in-laws for the holidays.

  79. We had a pretty good Christmas all told, but I want to send out my sympathies to those whose holidays weren’t so great. I read through all of the comments here and a lot of them made me wince. I hope you guys all have better holidays next year, whatever you decide to do. This time of year is hard enough logistically; it shouldn’t be hard emotionally too (even though it so often is).

  80. @Hedra and Kate,YOu mention half-year disregulation which, yeah, I have identified in my 4 year old, but I have also noticed disregulation around birthday time too. 2 year old in a week is pretty all over the place with sleep at the moment (who’d have thought the second year could be worse than the first) and 4 year old in 3 weeks is stuttering heaps, finicky at meal times, and more tantrumy than usual. Am I correct in presuming this will be a regular occurence every December/January????

  81. @albe – that sounds like the worst Christmas ever! Your ILs sound like they’ve got absolutely no imagination!Our “no presents” Christmas with my dad’s extended family went really well, turns out that the “no presents” doesn’t extend to kids, so everyone went overboard getting stuff for E (2yo), but opening presents wasn’t a focus. I remember every Christmas growing up being overwhelming, so I’m glad we’re finally moving away from it, although I think my grandmother managed to guilt everyone into secretly giving her presents (I’m supposed to bake her cookies now because I’m the only one who didn’t…but I think that getting presents is her way of feeling loved, and being loving…and she’s always been generous with us).
    The miserable part came the next day which we were going to spend with my mom’s family, but E woke up with either flu or food poisoning, and when a 2yo asks to be put back in her crib and spends most of the day sleeping…you sort of want to just go with that. It turned what would have been a hectic day into a very relaxing one, except for the fact that I had a very sick kid on my hands.
    It’s funny, but I can tell which of my aunts & uncles have been over to visit and which haven’t. The ones who have seen our tiny apartment buy clothes and small toys for E. The ones who haven’t gave us several large boxes full of small plastic pieces, more than 200 pieces in fact. I’m working at turning “putting the pieces back in the bag” into a fun game.
    One last note. If your toddler wakes up in the middle of the night and you climb into bed with her to help her sleep better…double check that someone didn’t put her to bed wearing shoes. The “no wearing shoes to bed” rule appears to have malfunctioned last night, somewhere around 2am. I have bruises on my back to prove it. (I failed to notice the shoes until this morning…I was very tired).

  82. I have been slowly reading through these today… oh, it’s good to have a place to vent, isn’t it?OT, but I wanted to mention that in today’s NY Times business section there’s a round up of the years best and worst ads and the Motrin-baby-in-sling-as-fashion-accessory got a big raspberry. Rightfully so.

  83. Some of you are so funny.This Christmas was more odd for me than “us”. I’ve just been a huge cranky beeatch. Why my husband can’t read my mind, I don’t know. And I can only blame man brain for his deeply held belief that an iPhone is higher priority than house repairs. (This is a stretch, but I’m cranky, remember?)
    I highly recommend finding ways to not participate in family shennanigans. The last two holiday seasons were the first I’ve ever NOT spent with the family. I love them, there’s only the regular weirdness, but it’s quite and peaceful with just DH, DS and I. (Most Christmases historically have had at least one screaming episode, by, yes, me, because I’m treated as some crazy demanding loose cannon, pardon me for trying to keep 84 year old dad from carrying heavy suitcases after surgery, etc. )
    Anyway. Not to be *that person* but really this year I’m just thankful warts and all for what I have. I’ve got friends going through a non-insignificant medical crisis with their 3 year old and it’s hard to think of anything else in the big picture.
    You are all my favorite moms.

  84. hey everyone- at BIL/SIL’s enjoying the internet access and their hospitality while my MIL is suffering a stomach virus, poor thing. we are also trying to re-pay some of the help they have gifted us with coming down so often to work on our house- anyway i am opening both pages of comments and will be reading when i get back to the in-laws when i get the chance!here is a mini-rant, which really isn’t one anymore since it’s over and done with and it’s almost new years already!:
    decided since my husband had to work a 1/2 day (which really turned into a 3/4 day) and the bean was the baby jesus in our children’s mass nativity pageant (so freakin cute, really) we’d wait to drive the six hours to the inlaws for christmas break til christmas morning, after we did xmas morning at our own house…thought it would make our lives a lot easier- it was a good plan, in theory…here’s where it went wrong:
    1. stomach virus the week before xmas descends upon entire family, taking them each down, one by one…precious holiday time spent elbow deep in puke and poop- nothing says holiday cheer like bodily fluids! cut down on our prep time…
    2. wedding to go to the 21st of december, wiping out an entire day of prepping for the holiday- a great wedding, but we seriously needed that day…minus one more day to prep xmas stuff…
    3. add to that that i am the world’s most disorganized person, really, if martha stewart had an exact opposite, it would be me- best intentions and no execution skills anymore, they seem to have abandoned me since i had kids…so maybe i could have gotten it together to leave after opening gifts, but since i was still doing laundry at that time, we weren’t packed yet, and follow that chain of chaos…
    4. so we never left the house on christmas day til 6pm! for a 6 hour drive! needless to say we had christmas dinner on the road, in the car! it was mcdonalds! for christmas! sigh.
    5. but we’re here now, the pnut is having a friggin blast with her grandma, the poor bean caught his dad’s cold, and i’m enjoying eating my weight in christmas cookies.
    we are blessed, indeed.

  85. @paola, yes, there can be other standard stages, but they’re usually 6 weeks max (especially the ones marked by stuttering) – they’re actually (IMHO) a POST-PHASE adjustment, as the mental skills have leapt hard upwards and have solidified, but the physical execution hasn’t caught up yet. So you get greater mental dexterity plus same physical dexterity equals ARGH until the physical catches up a bit. At the same time, sometimes on the side-of-brain switches, you’ll have a measurable loss of function/skill (slight, and short – again the ~6 week thing), which causes frustration. So you may see that more on some years than others. I recall that happening, but it was really mild for most of my kids (compared to the disregulation, which is HOLY MERRY HECK at our house, perhaps because every blessed one of my kids is born at the same time, three on the same day, the fourth just a couple weeks earlier… so I have everyone disregulating in synchrony… whee? eep!), um, anyway, it looms very small on my mental checklist at this point, and it shows as a kind of grumpy period with clumsiness (and sometimes a growth spurt physically) – more banging into things, falling down, ER visits, that sort of thing. (I’m going to have to check the medical records, I wonder if ALL the major ER visits were at the same time period, about 2-3 weeks after the birthday.)

  86. @hedra, paola, kate- i was going to agree that my kid(s) seem to always go through that 1/2 year adjustment phase- birthdays and 1/2 bdays, in a variety of ways- physically, emotionally, intellectually, etc. so mid-summer and mid-winter for us, as well.for all of you who struggle with family who wants to snuggle and cuddle your kids and they want nothing of it, i’ve found this to be effective: “well, research shows that little kids who are taught that they are in control of their bodies are significantly less likely to be victims of child abuse. and that, to us, is one of the greatest gifts we can give our kids.” i’ve even gone as far as to remind my husband, who has a hard time not squeezing the pnut super hard sometimes to the point of her discomfort and then will say “i can’t help it! i love her so much!” since if she really believes that an adult can’t help doing something to her body that she can’t stop, she won’t try. sorry to be a downer. but man, i take that sh*t seriously!
    and finally, yes, we got some craptastic gifts for the kids this year…i know most people just don’t get us, and what we want for ourselves and the kids, but we also got some great ones!! so much plastic, such good (and not so good) intentions…ah, christmas, you’ve won this round…there’s always next year!

  87. C’mon you guys…I’m sure mhati is just joking and is desperately awaiting the next thread like the rest of us. I’m guessing if she really meant it as mean, she’d chicken out and post as anon. Remember, sense of humor doesn’t always come across the computer screen, so I’m sure that we’re missing something. Either that, or she’s just a bitch.(See, that’s funny, but it could be interpreted as mean if you totally miss the humor in it.)

  88. Thank you for the support, Mom’s!What helped is your stories of what to do now… And what yucky things might happen if I don’t. That was the support and ammo that I needed.
    Looking back, I’m proud that I didn’t back down, and that I didn’t drop the eff-bomb. I’m in talks with the dh to begin setting boundaries *now*, unfortunately he doesn’t like confrontation and setting bpundaries with boundary-less family will result in confrontation. We’re working on it.
    Thanks everyone including Moxie, for having this available to us!

  89. I had a great (although disconnected from the internet) Christmas at the inlaws.However, I’m very depressed. The medication and light therapy does not seem to be doing enough, but I can’t up the dosage or change meds because of the pregnancy. Some days, I just want to stay under my covers and cry all day. Today is one of those days. I hate the winter.

  90. hang in there, caramama. The darkest is past.I assume you also take vitamin D on top of the light therapy? No idea what the advice for pregnancy is for that, but it does help another little extra bit. (And fish oil, you know about that.)

  91. @Hedra, Thanks for the outside & been there done that perspective. Visits with my parents (we’ve already made several so far as they are only a few hours away) were all good & fairly relaxed (my parents are good about not giving too much advice and letting me do things/parent my way…I’ve always been an independent kid – they had lots of practice in my teen years!). I think since all of the other visits were fairly smooth sailing (and a nice break for me), I was really thrown for a loop when this visit fell apart.All the points you make, make sense. I kinda forgot about the 1/2 year disregulation. Our guy is pretty easy going anyhow, and he was actually doing pretty well through the whole visit.
    But I think the disregulation is starting to kick in (or reach a max) now…including going board stiff during diaper changes (gawd, just got over the instant crying on change table during the week 26 wonder week fussy period), growling like a dinosaur, pulling my hair hard and all_the_time, and quicker to throw a mini tantrum. Also, I can see now that his mind has made leaps and bounds and his body is struggling to keep up (though I suspect that’s not far behind – he rolled over for the first time on Xmas day & seems like he’ll be crawling soon).
    The biggest eye opener from your post though was to remember about the transition phase, and that my parents are still getting used to the idea of their child being a parent. It’s all firsts for us (first grandchild, first kid for us), and we’re not spring chickens, so I imagine that it’s a jolt to the system we’ve perfected over the years.
    I’m so used to planning, planning, planning now with the little guy, that I think I took a planning vacation while at my parents figuring someone else could do it for a few days. But alas, we now know that the days of winging it are over (at least for a while).
    Happy New Year everyone!

  92. Here’s one for you: I gave my 11-month old an ornament-wreath-thingie made of colorful jingle bells, then turned my head for a moment (aka got on the internet). When I checked back in with him, he was smiling, surrounded by jingle bells, and eating them.Two days later I changed a very festive diaper.
    Happy Holidays.

  93. Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahahaha!Somehow, I’m picturing this:
    “Does the baby need changing?”
    (sniff sniff)
    “I’m not sure. Hang on.”
    (picks up baby, jiggles baby, listens)
    (jingle jingle jingle)
    “Yeah, it’s time to change the baby.”

  94. We survived. Just barely. But we still seem to have some unwanted guests…Since BIL is a smoker, he kept going outside for a smoke many times during the day and night, always leaving a door open (despite us telling him not to). (Did I mention I can’t stand BIL?) One morning, we woke up to a freezing house and found that BIL had accidentally left the back door open ALL NIGHT LONG…. Late the following evening, after DS and my parents had gone to bed, we noticed something running across the living room floor — a mouse!
    BIL decides to chase after it with a hammer, yelling “MOUSE!!” at the top of his lungs, waking up the whole house. My mom must have started making the calls right then and there because the next day everyone on our frickin’ family tree started calling and emailing about our mice problem. (Gee thanks, Mom! Just when I had almost forgotten that you suck.)
    It’s been over a week, and we have found a grand total of 5 mice! I am so sick of cleaning and wondering if we’re all going to suddenly come down with hantavirus. Next Christmas, I swear there will be NO relatives invited.

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