OK. About 6 or 7 months ago, we agreed to have my mom move in with us. At the time, it seemed like a dream situation for all involved. She didn't want to be alone, and it would help her our financially. We thought it would be a great opportunity for Kai to have a close relationship with one of his grandparents, and let's be honest, it would help us out financially, too.
From the beginning, I knew deep in my heart that this would not work. I really, REALLY wanted it to. I told everyone that I talked about it with, that everything would be fine. Look at the Waltons. They all lived with Grandma and Grandpa Walton. A happier family you never did see.
As with everything in life, the reality was much different than the expectations. My mom assured me from the beginning that she had put aside her feelings for my husband. Granted, he and I had been through a lot in the past, but we went through counseling, got it all worked out and remained committed to each other and to our marriage. He was more than willing to bury the hatchet with her, and wanted to simply move forward. Things didn't quite work out exactly like we planned.
My mom has had a hard time adjusting, and I totally understand that. She's gone from having her own place, to living with a family. She's not just seeing Kai on the weekends or talking to him on the phone, she's with him every day. And if you're not used to the delightful whims of a 7-year old boy, that's a lot to get used to.
With all of this adjusting that we were all doing, Kai was also having problems at school with bullying and with what was eventually diagnosed as ADD-inattentive. Tim and I were stressed to our limits, and homework time or cleaning up Kai's room usually involved lots of yelling and tears from everyone involved. Luckily, Kai started seeing a great child psychologist, and is now on medication. At one point, I would have said 'NEVER' to meds, but it's been the best thing we could have done for him. His behavior is better; he can focus and get his work done in school, and the school has taken steps to back up what they say about 'zero tolerance' when it comes to bullying. Happily ever after, right?
Not so fast, there. There have been several instances where my mom has said very negative things to Kai about his father. I can't begin to tell you how big of a No-No this is with me. All it succeeds in doing is upsetting Kai and upsetting me and Tim. I've talked with her about it, and told her that I didn't care what her feelings about Tim were, she had no right to discuss them with Kai. She simply says, 'well Kai knows how I feel, so what's the big deal?' Oh boy.
Finally, after a particularly bad argument the other night (it was very Jerry Springer-ish, I'm sorry to say. Except we were all clothed), I sat down with my mom an told her that it was up to me and Tim to decide the best way to raise Kai and to discipline him. If she could not accept that, then perhaps it would be best for all concerned if she made other living arrangements. It was very hard to tell her that, but it's been getting to the point where every time we correct Kai (we don't spank, we usually take privileges away, and we usually raise our voices if he's not paying attention to us), she says we're 'abusing' him. We don't spank. We don't do time out or make him stand in the corner. If he's making me absoultely batshit crazy, I yell at him to knock it off. And if Tim yells at him, it's usually because he's not doing what he's told. And see, she makes me feel like I have to justify the way we discipline our child. We're both loving, caring parents who would do anything in the world for our son. But, because we on occasion raise our voices and it causes Kai to cry, we're 'abusive'.
After experiencing all of this, I have learned a couple of very important lessons.
1. No one can ever 'try' to like someone. You either like them or you don't it's as simple as that. My mom hasn't been able to set aside 14 years of not liking my husband, and I really can't expect her to do that. If she really didn't like him, she should never have moved in.
2. If you have a parent moving in, put something in writing. Especially if you are raising children of your own. Even well meaning parents can overstep their boundaries and interfere with how you raise your child. If their principles are different than yours, this can cause quite a bit of friction. It's better if everyone knows up front what's expected from them in this living arrangement. I wish we had done this!