A relationship with your in-laws can be tricky to navigate, even if the people who raised your partner are objectively the best. There will always be a history they have with your partner that you weren't privy to, and you will always be the new addition to the group dynamic. So adding a grandchild into the mix can make any otherwise sane daughter-in-law a little, well, nervous. I'm no stranger to those feelings, and I had at least a dozen terrifying thoughts when I introduced my baby to my in-laws.
Thankfully, nearly all my concerns were unwarranted and were a reflection of just how much pressure I was putting on myself as a new mom. My concerns were also a reflection of how difficult relationships can be with in-laws, even if yours happen to be pretty nice and time spent with your in-laws is, for the most part, smooth sailing. Big life changes can bring out insecurities in even the most stable of family relationship,s and sometimes you just have to dive in and hope for the best.
In my case, my in-laws met my daughter in phases. My mother-in-law met her when she was just a few weeks old, but my father-in-law didn't meet her until she was nearly 9-months-old, because he lives overseas. I might have been more nervous about that later meeting, only because I wanted my daughter's reaction to be special which, of course, is a lot to ask of a baby. Needless to say, two years later, I'm glad I didn't waste too much time worrying about my in-laws' reactions to their new granddaughter. We all lived to tell the tale, and my daughter has grandparents that simply adore her.
"What If She Poops On Them?"
I did really wanted my in-laws to have a nice, serene, picture-perfect moment meeting their granddaughter for the first time. So, needless to say I was a little worried that a bodily function would, um, soil their first interaction. My daughter was going through a particularly unsettled phase and you just never knew which way it was going to come out of her adorable bottom. The last thing I wanted was photos of her pooping on her grandparents.
"What If My Mother-In-Law Criticizes Me?"
I think all new moms put a lot of pressure on themselves, but having a mother-in-law around (in my opinion) heightens that pressure and self-criticism. I wanted my mother-in-law's approval from the very beginning of my relationship with her son. So I was worried she would criticize me for doing something "wrong" as a new mom, and I would react by snapping because, well, I was sleep-deprived, adjusting to motherhood, and didn't really have it in me to hear comments from the peanut gallery. Yes, even if I was relate to the peanut gallery through marriage.
"What If They Don't Accept Her?"
After my daughter made my partner and I parents, I obsessively worried that her family members wouldn't accept their adopted granddaughter, niece and cousin. I so desperately wanted her to fit right in. Of course, and thankfully, she did.
"What If They Think I Should Stop Working?"
I was still freelancing when I had my daughter, and I wasn't interested in giving it up. Since my mother-in-law was a stay-at-home mom since the birth of her first son, 35 years ago, I was a little concerned she was going to pressure to me to make the same decision. Thankfully, both of my in-laws have supported my decision to continue to work. They knew my choice to keep working was the best thing for my family, and a decision my partner and I made together.
"What If I Don't Want Them To Hold Her?"
When my daughter was very small and meeting my mother-in-law for the first time, I wasn't exactly excited about the idea of someone else holding her. Well, at least not for a significant amount of time. My daughter was my first baby and I basically wanted to hold her every waking (and sleeping) moment. I was beyond worried that I wouldn't give her up, or I would have to ask to give her back and offend my mother-in-law.
"What If My Mother-In-Law Judges My Parenting Decisions?"
I remember so clearly when my mother-in-law met my daughter for the first time, and one of the first things she said was, "Why doesn't she smell like Johnson's baby shampoo?" Well, because we don't use that kind? She then explained that all babies should smell like Johnson's, to which I had no response because I definitely don't remember reading that "rule" in a parenting book or online forum.
"What If My Daughter Screams?"
Because my daughter was 9-months-old when she met her grandfather, there was a very real chance she was going to scream bloody murder when I put her in his arms. Luckily, she was more interested in his beard and, as a result, hardly noticed she'd never been in those arms before.
"What If They Weren't Excited Enough?"
What if, after five years of waiting to start our family, my in-laws weren't really excited to meet my daughter? It wasn't a fair expectation to put on them, but deep down I know I was worried they wouldn't seem like meeting her was the best thing that had happened all year. Luckily, they did.
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