Bringing a new baby into the family is an emotional event that provides a wide spectrum of feels for not just a new mother but other family members, too. The simple fact that you're carrying everyone's hopes, dreams, and expectations inside your body and are about to expel it in a mess of uterine tissue is enough to make even the most blissed out Zen Mamas feel less than chill. After I had my first baby, not only were my postpartum hormones making me feel mental, but some of the most ridiculous fights I'd had with my mom made me think I was living in some kind of Black Mirror type of alternate reality.
Here's the thing: my mom and I are close. Like, talk-five-times-a-day-about-everything-or-sometimes-just-to-find-out-what-the-other-person-had-for-lunch kind of close. So, it was really strange for both of us when, all of a sudden, we had such divergent ideas about the very important life event that was welcoming a new human being into our world. From the most benign to the more serious facets of the care and keeping of a newborn, my mom and I butted heads about a lot of things.
However, now that I have the ability to look back from the safe and comfortable distance that only hindsight provides, a lot of what we argued about was actually kind of entertaining. So, with that in mind and because reminiscing can be fun, here are 10 of the most ridiculous fights I've had with my mom since having a baby:
When We Didn't Know What To Call My Mom, Besides "Grandma"
At first, my mom was like, "No one is calling me Grandma. No one." So we tried to brainstorm different names to appease her. I begrudgingly proposed the name, "Glam-Ma" because that's what Goldie Hawn had settled on when she became a grandma and Goldie Hawn is kind of my mom's spirit animal.
Still, I resented the fact that my mom took issue with the grandma thing, because newsflash: it didn't matter what we called her, the fact remained that she was now the mother of someone (ahem) who was having a baby. I was over 30 at the time, so it wasn't like I was at some inconceivable age for having a baby. In the end, guess who gets the final vote on Grandma's name? The grandchild. My two kids call her "Mimi" now, and everyone is happy.
When My Mom Didn't Want To Wash Her Hands
I don't know why this struck such a nerve, but when I was in the hospital with my newborn and my mom first came to visit me, she really took offense when my husband and I asked her to wash her hands when she came into the hospital room to see the baby.
"But I just came from my house," she insisted. It was as if we were labeling her Contagion Number One and implying that just prior to visiting our hospital room, she had been dumpster diving in the hospital waste bins on 69th street and York. Looking back, I realize that yes, we were being hyper-sensitive crazy newborn parents who were a little obsessive about hygiene and hand washing in general. However, the fights that we had about her hand washing alone were bananas.
When My Mom Thought Breastfeeding Was "Gross"
My mom did not breastfeed me or my siblings. So, when she heard that I was planning on nursing, she was surprised by my choice and tried to convince me otherwise.
She didn't know why I wouldn't want to do what she felt was the easier thing – formula feeding. However, a lot of our initial arguments about breastfeeding seemed to stem from her feeling like feeding my baby from my body was a little too "Mother Earth" for her liking. Every time I unhooked my nursing bra, she had to stop herself from rolling her eyes or grimacing, like feeding my baby was some kind of "burn your bras" uber feminist statement or something I was doing to spite her. Eventually, she became hip to the cause and, to her credit, very supportive of my nursing. Still, it was a long, uphill battle.
When My Mom Thought Buying Organic Food Was A Waste Of Money
My siblings and I were raised on Burger King and Subway sandwiches. And hey, besides my third nostril, my brother's fish scales and my sister's tail, we all turned out fine!
All joking aside, my mom thought it was insane that I insisted that, whenever possible, most of the fruits and vegetables we gave our baby had to be organic. When my first son was starting solids — and on the occasions when my mom was bringing food to the house —if I requested anything organic it was like I was asking her to cover foods in a light dusting of 14 carrot gold.
When We Could Agree On "Appropriate" Places To Breastfeed
When I was making one of my first attempts at breastfeeding my newborn, my mom quickly rushed to close the curtains separating my humble slice of hospital room from my neighbor's (who I'm sure was just itching to get an eyeful of my mammaries in action). This was just one of the many times my mother tried to censor my breasts from doing what they needed to do to feed my colicky, never-on-a-schedule baby.
One of the most epic "battles of the boob" we ever had took place over afternoon tea at The Plaza. We are not "Tea at The Plaza" kind of people – more like Lipton at my countertop – but one day we ended up there for some reason or another and my son had a freak out that a bottle of pumped milk just wouldn't tame. There are numerous places in New York City where I really don't care who sees me with my boobs out, but at a more refined and elegant place (like The Plaza) I'll bow to some social norms and use a nursing cover or a blanket. On this particular summer day, I didn't even have a burp cloth. I was also wearing a dress that required I hike it up in its entirety, exposing most of my thigh and stomach, in order to get the baby in a comfortable latch. I chalk this mostly up to bad planning and a little bit of bad luck.
My mom tried to shield me with her body as I attempted to semi-undress in full view of the other diners with my baby screaming holy hell in my arms. Finally, I gave in to her suggestion that we retreat to the restroom to nurse my son, which is something I swore I would never do. It was an unpleasant afternoon, and I learned two things that day: to never leave the house without a light cardigan or muslin swaddle, and to avoid places where I wouldn't feel comfortable without a bra if the right occasion called for it.
When She Didn't Want Me To Wash My Newborn's Clothes First
Despite all the trash I'm talking here about my poor mother (who I know truly loves me and means well), she did try her hardest to be helpful when I had my babies. I had a c-section for both pregnancies so the recovery was not lovely. My parents came by often to have dinner with me, help with the baby, and offer love and moral support.
Most importantly, my mom did my laundry (yes ladies, you know what I'm talking about). However, whenever I'd open new baby clothes or blankets, and toss them into the laundry pile, my mom would take them out, fold them, and say something like, "This is brand new! It's clean! Why are you washing it?" Then I would have to explain that there are nasty chemicals and all kinds of crap on clothes and inside the plastic bags when we first get them from stores that aren't ideal for the virgin epidermis of innocent children. My mother would follow up my necessary explanation by using this weird sound in her throat that typically signals deep disapproval and inherent disdain for my opinion.
I swear, to this day, she pretended to wash those items but secretly just refolded them on the sly. Confession: nothing bad happened to my children's skin as a result of being in contact with unwashed clothing items.
When I Tried To Explain To My Mother That My Kid Didn't Need A New Toy Every Week
My mom thinks it is her inalienable right, as a grandmother (but don't call her that), to spoil her grandchildren silly. That means every weekend when she and my father visit, she is entitled to bring a gift. This drives me and my husband insane.
Now, whenever anyone comes to the door — be it the pizza delivery guy or a plumber — my son wants to know if the person has brought a present for him. I know that my mom's heart is in the right place, but my husband and I are so tired of hearing my son ask, "What's Mimi bringing me?" before every visit. We want our kids to recognize that gifts are not a given and that they are something that happen on special occasions like birthdays or holidays (or when mama just can't take your whining anymore so here, I ordered that thing you wanted from that YouTube video now just stop talking and don't tell your dad.)
The constant grandparent presents undermine this core value I'm attempting to teach my kid. We recently came to a compromise wherein my mom only brings educational or craft-based gifts such as puzzles, workbooks, or art supplies that she can do with the boys as activities during her visits with them. My husband still isn't necessarily thrilled that every visit involves a gift, but I have come to see the value in the shared experience that the gifts my mom has been giving as of late, bring to the table. In other words, it's a work in progress.
When My Mother Thought My Baby Was Always Hungry
Basically any time my baby cried or expressed dissatisfaction for any reason at all, regardless if I had just fed him or was currently feeding him, my mother would not so subtly posit, "Do you think he's hungry?"
Literally, I would have my nipple in my baby's mouth, and she would openly wonder, "Maybe he's hungry?" To which I would all but use the powers of my mind to bring flashing neon signs in the shape of arrows pointing at my breast to show that I was, in fact, feeding my child at that very moment. In response, my mother would say, "But maybe he's not getting enough that way." To which I would ever so calmly flip out and leave the room, slam the door, and continue to nurse in private. It was such a pleasant and wonderful time, you guys.
When My Mom Always Thought The Baby Was Either Too Hot Or Too Cold
It really doesn't matter what my children are wearing or what temperature it is outside – my mother always insists that my children are either under or overdressed. I think this must be written into the genetic code of grandmothers, as I have a feeling I'm not alone in this one.
When I have my son in long sleeves on a crisp fall day, my mom wonders aloud if he might be "too warm." If I have him in a shirt on a hot summer night, she asks if he might be chilly in his room at night. I have had to teach myself not to snap at her each time she asks me a question about my children's comfort — with regard to their manner of dress — and accept the fact that second-guessing a daughter's sartorial choices for her kids is just a grandparent thing.
When I Said I Wanted Another Baby
When I was considering becoming pregnant with a second child, my mother initially cautioned me against it. "Oh, but think about how that might make your son feel," she had urged me, motioning to my then 10-month-old, who was busy contemplating a stale snack he'd found stuck to his play mat. "You won't have as much time for him anymore."
Great, like I needed the Guilt Police on my case any more than they were already because, you know, #momguilt is real. I think, at the time, my mom was likely tapping into my own conflicted feelings about having another baby and was verbalizing them to me. However unhelpful that conversation was with her, in the end, I did have another baby and my mom cannot imagine life without him and she continues to be a loving and ever-present Mimi to both of my boys. She is also available on most Saturdays, if anyone is in need of a local doting grandmother (but beware, she comes bearing gifts).