Question: I am a stay-at-home mom with my beautiful 17 month old daughter. I have a wonderful mother-in-law who lives close by and helps me with childcare sometimes. I appreciate it, but I have been feeling jealous of her. My daughter seems to laugh so much more with her than with me. She is happy to see me when I come home and usually wants to nurse right away, I am still breastfeeding. I just feel like I am left out of the joke, I am worried that she has much more fun with Grandma. Help, is this normal.
Answer: Yes, Yes, Yes – your feelings are perfectly normal! Jealousies can easily surface parent-to-parent, parent-to-grandparent, or parent-to-caregiver. Your jealousy is a sign of your deep attachment to your daughter. But, as you’ve already experienced in so many other areas of parenting, parenting is also about “letting go”.
Here are a few affirmations to help you to feel better when those nagging doubts arise.
- Affirmation #1: I am a fun and irreplaceable mother who shares the joy of her wonderful daughter with other exciting adults – and my daughter is better for it!Your daughter is very lucky to have an involved, playful grandmother and you are extremely lucky to get a break from the 24-7 demands of motherhood. Even stay-at-home moms deserve guilt-free time away from their children. Use this time to replenish your soul and to take care of errands that are easier done sans children.
- Affirmation #2: Good mothers enjoy time away from their children and are better mothers because of it!Your daughter is in an expansive stage of rapid growth. The next six months hold some of the most monumental changes of any time in childhood. Your mother-in-law may be choosing activities that capture your daughter’s new-found interests and encourage the silliness of this age. You may have unknowingly limited your interaction with your daughter to the nurturing, quieter play of earlier stages. Visit your local bookstore or favorite websites for new activities and games to re-inspire your playfulness. I would recommend books like 300 Three Minute Games: Quick and Easy Activities for 2-5 year olds (by Jackie Silberg) and Things To Do With Toddlers and Two’s (by Karen Miller) or websites like www.EarlyChildhood.com orwww.AmazingMoms.com
- Affirmation #3: I am growing and changing with my daughter, learning new ways to play with her everyday.Lastly, take a few minutes to reflect on the special gifts you bring to motherhood. Review your mental list of treasured times together whenever those moments of doubt creep up on you.
- Affirmation #4: I am the only person on this planet who can share my unique talents, strengths and interests with my daughter.You will quickly replace feelings of jealousy with feelings of deep personal satisfaction.
Karen Deerwester, Ed.S.