Hey Rene:

I need your help. I had my first child, a baby boy, six-weeks ago. My husband, Mark and I are thrilled; I never knew I could love another person as much as I love Zack. He’s a beautiful baby, with a wonderful disposition. Needless to say, everyone who sees him falls in love.

 Unfortunately that also means Mark’s mom. Carol lives around the corner and is always coming over, most of the time unannounced, just to “see how I’m doing.” The problem is her timing is all off; she typically knocks on the door just as I’m feeding Zack or headed out to an exercise class (as you can imagine, I still have a bit of weight to lose).

Mark says I should relax and let his mom take the baby when she wants and use that time for myself. But honestly, I’m a little jealous. I don’t want my only child to bond with my mother-in-law before me.

What do you think Rene? Is my husband right? Am I making a big deal out of nothing?


New Mom in Missouri

Hi New Mom:

First of all, congratulations on the new baby! I totally understand that feeling of not knowing your capacity for love until you hold your own baby. It’s amazing, isn’t it? Okay, now let me shake you by your shoulders and say this,“ WOMAN, LET YOUR MOTHER-IN-LAW HELP!”  Oh.My.Gosh! Repeat after me, “Free childcare.” And she loves this baby as if he were her own. Honey, that is the proverbial win-win. Here’s why you should let  Carol help.

*YOUR MOTHER-IN-LAW WILL LOVE YOU FOR IT: Want to get in good with Mark’s mom? Let her take the baby. That may not be the ultimate goal but it sure will make life easier around the Thanksgiving dinner table. This is not a competition, you against her for the affections of a six-week-old child. There is more than enough love to go around and your son will ultimately benefit, I’m convinced of that.

*DON’T WORRY ABOUT BABY BONDING WITH OTHERS: This is a common fear I hear from new mothers; that somehow their babies will bond with someone else if they’re not around. Go ahead and put that out of your head because unless your mother-in-law can produce milk at her age, there’s little chance Zack will confuse you two. Even if Carol spends an hour a day with the baby, you’re still with him the majority of the time; he’s gonna know you are his mother. And remember, in the grand scheme of things, it’s good for kids to experience love and affection from other people in their lives. This is a good thing. Really.

*OPPORTUNITY FOR “ME TIME”: I admire your dedication to getting back in shape; it’s important for your health and well-being. As you know you need consistency in order to see real results. But if you can’t get out because of a sick baby or you miss your class because Zack sleeps late, you won’t see the results you want in the time you want them. So you have a couple of choices. You can pop the baby in a stroller and get to steppin’ or you can lean on Carol. She wants to watch Zack and you want, no NEED, some time away. Get a manicure, grab a workout, go browse the bookstore,  go to lunch with girlfriends, I don’t care what it is but take time for you. You will be a better mother for it.

New Mom, I think it’s only natural to feel some of what you express in your letter. But as someone who’s gone through this and is now on the other side, rest-assured, your baby will know you are his mom. Appreciate the fact that you have Carol and that she wants to help, then take time to focus some of your limited energy on yourself. You deserve it!

Good luck mommy and congrats again!

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