I worked in the nonprofit field… aka… my childcare costs even for part-time work were pretty much what I made in a paycheck. However, I was one of the lucky ones. My mom gave me FREE (WHAT!?) childcare a few times a week to help cover my work hours. When I became pregnant with my first child, I was ecstatic at how lucky I was. I had the best of all the worlds: a loving caregiver to fill in for me when I could not be there, a job I felt “good” about, and no cost part-time childcare. But that was before I fired my mom.
When I had two children this dynamic began to shift. Frankly, by this time my mother had four local grandchildren under the age of three and I could tell I was starting to wear her out. And I really began to miss my mom. With her filling in as part-time caregiver, I never actually had any quality time with her. I tapped out her little free time available towards our family. She was ready for her own life and free time after watching my children so we stopped just hanging out. This sort of broke my heart a little bit.
You see, my mom has been my best friend, and let’s be honest at moments even my frienemy because… well… that’s what happens when you have a mom/daughter relationship peppered with brutal honesty and open opinions shared way too freely (both ways). But I LOVE my mom, and I adore hanging out with her. But most of all, I not only miss our “friend” time together, I miss watching her have a REAL grandmother relationship with my little ones, where there weren’t any expectations from me beyond utter joy.
So I fired my mom. Because I love her. I fired my mom because she has spent her entire life being a caregiver to us, to everyone. I fired my mom because she owes me absolutely nothing. I fired my mom because she would have never quit. I fired my mom even though this meant that I too would thereby be quitting my employment.
It takes a village to raise a child… “they” say. I have always thought this is so true, and one of the main reasons I moved back to Austin before having children. (Well that and come on… it’s Austin… I’m not one to let the transplants take over my home city… I kid I kid). However, maybe I was wrong about this. Maybe it does not take a village to raise a child. Rather, perhaps I can raise my child, while the village supports me in my role as “Mom.”
The relationship roles of familial caregivers can be really confusing at times. I have mentioned my mom and I very freely overshare opinions with each other. How annoying is this when those opinions are about our children? But is it really reasonable to expect someone that is not only a grandparent, but also a caregiver, to have ZERO opinions about how you are raising your child? I am just being realistic. The dynamic is challenging to say the least. I wonder if there are even some grandparents who feel this is their closest tie to their grandkids, and to their children… to be needed as opposed to wanted. My mom has nothing to fear. I am pretty sure she knows she is not only needed but very wanted as well.
The beauty is our relationship is no longer tainted with a mutual anxiety and guilt. She is still there for me, for her grandchildren, for her entire family. However, now it is on her terms completely and her timing.
So mom… It’s really not you. It’s us. We need you to be a mother, friend, and grandmother more than we will ever need you to be a caregiver, babysitter, or nanny because we love and like you so stinkin’ much.