11.21.2010

holidays with baby bring out a family tug of war

 
I had this dream that my immediate family and my husband's immediate family were all on a beach. No, we were not sitting by a fire singing “Kumbaya” and making s'mores. His family stood griping tightly to one side of a rope and my family stood pulling hard on the other.

Chris and I stood divided by the rope with the baby perched up in the middle. I awoke to the “beep beep” of my text message reading: From Mom, “Where are you spending Christmas?”

For centuries all around the world, marriage has been about bringing together family. However, it seems in our culture these days, you most likely see a family divide. Chris and I had a master plan when we got married. We would just split the holidays — easy.

Then I got pregnant. Who gets to be in the delivery room? Who gets to baby-sit? Who gets to spend baby's first Christmas with us? A sweet little baby brought out the fangs, nails, tears and sweat, with a side order of pressure and guilt. Chris and I are now parents to a beautiful daughter and two loving families. We have to make sure they share, play nice and we have to keep things even.

I suppose having twins would have solved some issues: two babies, two grandmas. Similarly, when one side had the baby, I tried to offer the other side our dogs. It didn't work. Guess they just don't smell the same.

Being that I always feel better when I learn I am not the only one dealing with a certain issue, I collected responses from 30 anonymous families. A whopping 80 percent of these couples came up with a plan before their baby was born and only 30 percent stuck to that plan. In order to please everyone, more than 50 percent decided to visit both families during the holidays — even if that meant driving six hours on Christmas to spend half with the other side.

Furthermore, that 50 percent was spending at least once a month arguing about family, increasing after baby was born.

As I sat amongst a group of new wives and mothers recently — a group that is supposed to be talking about a book, being it is “book club” — we sipped our wine and spat out issues regarding our mothers, mothers-in-law, fathers, husbands, babies and dogs. The stories kept circling around the group as every wife could one-up the previous one's story. For three hours that room was filled with gasps, laughter and a whole lot of estrogen.

In the end, I wondered what we would talk about if we didn't have husbands who kept the toilet seat up, babies who were teething, mothers and mothers-in-law who always have opinions and dogs who chew up your favorite shoes. I guess we could talk about our books.

Family is what makes the world go around — the good, the bad, and the ugly. You really can't pick your family, you can just try and love them — or live far away. This Christmas, both families will be coming to our house. We could sit in front of the tree singing carols, but then what would I write about?


By the numbers:
In an informal survey of 30 families:
• 50 percent are closest to the wife's family, while 13 percent are closest to the husband's side; the remaining were close to both sides.
• 80 percent came up with a plan on how to spend the holidays after baby was born.
• 55 percent argue about family, with 50 percent arguing at least once a month.
• 50 percent visit both families during the holidays; 17 percent split Christmas eve and Christmas Day; 22 percent split Thanksgiving and Christmas, and 10 percent just spend the holidays with the wife's family. Only one family had both sides together at the holidays.


My ABC Soup: Holidays with baby bring out a family tug of war | The News-Review - NRtoday.com

3 comments:

~Erin~ said...

Loved it! I would say that I am fortunate to have families that are easy going and say "whatever". It is I who stresses about making sure that everyone gets a piece of the pie. Hopefully things go smoothly for you this holiday season.

Diane said...

In a divided family, I let my daughter do her thing with her husband and her father. I take the backseat to keep the peace. I don't really know if this right, but? Everyone ends up happy - I think?

T B said...

And this is why I'm happy that we're going to be overseas for the next 3 Christmases! :)

 
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