My kids are looking forward to my mom’s visit next month for Hanukkah, but I’m dreading it. The cliché is that the mother-in-law is overbearing, but to tell you the truth—it’s my own mom. She’s high maintenance, self-centered, and she criticizes my parenting. How can I take the high road and enjoy the visit?
I hate to break it to you, but it might be impossible to enjoy a visit from such an ima. I feel terrible for you, and I’d like to give you a hug. And perhaps some M&Ms. Face it, bubele: your momma is a 21st-century J.A.P. Sorry, I know it’s uncouth, but she sounds like a Jewish American Princess, all grown up (or not grown up, just older)! My own momala might yell at me for this advice, but I side with you on this one.
So how to survive and let your kiddies enjoy the visit from baube/grandma/safta, without the latkes hitting the fan? Follow your normal strategy when your own kiddies throw a tantrum (without the Time Out): Ignore her. She wants the attention. For whatever reason, she craves it. And she probably craves your approval just as much as you (secretly) crave hers. Reward her good behavior and ignore the bad. Tell her it’s the holiday season and you don’t want to focus on the negative. If all else fails, take a deep breath, leave the room and count to 10.
Also, it couldn’t hurt to organize a series of outings that include your mom (and dad?), the kids, and not you. Picture this: Mom takes the kids to the zoo, while you get a pedicure! The ancient Maccabees would totally approve this tactic.
And finally, my wish for you this season of miracles is that your mom will decide what she wants to be when she GROWS up: a more supportive baube who respects your home, your feelings and your time. Hanukkah sameach (happy Hanukkah)!