baby’s first road trip, complete with backseat drivers

We are biting the bullet tomorrow and making the three-hour trek to my parents’ place for the weekend. My sister is having a housewarming/freedom -from-a-bad-relationship/Halloween party, so we want to come show our support, even if we won’t really be staying for the party proper. My parents are overjoyed that Baby Genius is coming for a visit.

We also made it clear that if great-grandparents would like to see Baby Genius that they are welcome to come to my parents’ to hang out with him. My wife informed my mother a couple of weeks ago, however, that we would not be spending our time there travelling all over to see relatives, meaning she was not to start making plans for us to do so (you’ll recall this is just what she did before we cancelled our previously-planned trip). At the time, my mom agreed and was certain we could make this work. For a little while, it even seemed like she was respecting our boundaries and our baby’s limits.

Enter last night’s conversation wherein she says, “We’ll talk about the plans for Saturday once you get here.” I told her our plans for Saturday were to go to the party early and to come home. Period. And her response was, “Well, we can talk about it when you get here. It won’t be too busy of a day anyway.” No it won’t because we’re going to the pre-party, and we’re going back to the parents’ place, and that will be all. Her comments that we’ll talk about it when we get there are her attempts, though, at finding her way around it, of getting us to go visit my grandmother (who was just  here last week for a visit) or go somewhere else, and we just can’t do it. Our son won’t deal well with a drive to my grandmother’s (40 minutes round trip) and a drive to my sister’s (80-minute round trip) in the same day, and it’s just not going to happen. I’m putting my foot down, and she’s really not used to it.

I’m beginning to think my parents are of the mind that we are being overly cautious with our son, but frankly, I don’t care. We know him. We know his limits, and his limits are no more than one event per day (some days none!) if said event takes place outside of the house. Some might say that we need to just put him through it so that he’ll get used to it, but J and I are both of the mind that there is no need to put our son through undue stress simply for adults’ convenience and entertainment. He’s just barely eight weeks old. His nervous system is still developing, and he doesn’t have the skills or capacity to cope with too much stimulus. It is our job as his parents to understand his limits so that we don’t overwhelm him.

There is this mindset in our culture, however, that babies are portable, so we ought to take them everywhere so as not to disrupt our lives. This philosophy does not take into account the well-being of the child but instead focuses on the needs and desires of the parents and other adults in the child’s life. I know this is unpopular to say, but it’s selfish. I certainly know the times we have subjected our son to too much outside world, these have been selfish acts–we’re not innocent here. However, we have also learned from these experiences that we want to introduce him to the world slowly to limit the trauma he experiences. Yet somehow this makes us those crazed, fringe, over-protective, unmoving, inexperienced new parents. You know the sort–the ones who (gasp!) don’t allow their kids to watch television until a certain age or (the horror!) won’t feed their children soda or fast food. Yeah, we’re those sorts. Our poor, deprived son.

We really are learning just how challenging it is to make parenting decisions without hearing a slew of opinions about them.  I thought backseat drivers were annoying, but backseat parents take the cake.

Wish us luck this weekend. I fear we’re going to need a lot of it.


This is not an endorsement.


Filed under Baby Genius, family, parenting

11 responses to “baby’s first road trip, complete with backseat drivers

  1. dunno. There isn’t a kid alive who doesn’t recognize those golden arches. Even if they’ve never been to a McDonalds in their entire short little

  2. Jen

    I completely agree that we as adults are sometimes unfair to the needs to kids and as adult-children, our families have unrealistic expectations of us. I hate the holidays for this same reason and once munchkin is here, I am growing a backbone and putting an end to driving around the world on holidays to see everyone merely becuase it is expected. Good for you for putting your footdown!

  3. When you write about such issues, we SO understand. Thankfully we are at the point where we are pretty much past Miles’ “I NEED A NAP NOW” meltdowns, although it is very important for us to still schedule nap time into our day for him. And since it’s been 6 months now, our families have finally realized “oh, hey, that baby does require a lot of sleep and maybe we shouldn’t expect them to go all over the place with him in tow.” But it took a while and definitely line-drawing and putting the foot down. And this isn’t to say it’s definitely over either.

    It is amazing to me how selfish people can be to not think of the child’s well-being, be it the child’s own parents or relatives. But you just keep on doing what you know is right (and of course you are) and here’s hoping that the rest of your family will come around soon. Best of luck with your travels. Oh, and he is just adorable. Those eyes are killer.

  4. A.

    I think it is wonderful that you’re setting your own priorities for you and your family….that’s what makes you great parents! Good luck this weekend!

  5. poppycat

    Oh good lord. Just what you need right? I am going to take a stab at this and I may be way off base but it seems to me there are two things going on with your mom in this situation.

    – She is really, REALLY excited about the visit and can’t wait to show him off to everyone as his Grandma.

    – As her daughter, you have probably always catered to her wishes the best you could because that’s what we do for our patents. We share a parent/child relationship with them no matter our age. I think it will take her a little bit of time to become accustom to your new role as a mother to this boy and not just her daughter. There is a new mom on the block and that is you. It’s a new dynamic and she probably will need some time to adjust to you calling shots since she has always been the one to do that in the past. She is also probably trying to cater to her mom as well. So complicated sometimes, these mother daughter relationships.

    With all that said, I think now is the perfect time to start laying the ground work in this new relationship. Starting now with your boundries and sticking to them when you feel it is necessary is the only way for you to help your mom understand how things will operate going forward. Do what you need to do and eventually (i hope) she will recognise how and why this needs to happen.

    Good luck ladies and enjoy the time with your family! I hope you have a great weekend.

  6. Well put. I admire you and J and the boundaries you’re setting. I wish someone would cut down my events and demand I stay home from events 2, 3, or 4. You really are so right about introducing the world slowly. A couple close to me had a baby “accidently” and decided they would just live life like they always had, just with a baby in tow. Yikes. The effects of over-stimulus and expectations are already evident in that poor 6 month old. You’re doing the right thing. Tell gram to just hush and hold the baby. xo

  7. were THOSE types of parents too. My in laws gave our 6 week old juice and HFCS Popsicles. They also give her a ‘bite’ of anything they are eating because she ‘seems’ hungry to them. This bothers me soooo much.

    I also believe that you shouldnt CONTAINER your kids constantly. I wear my baby, I let her explore and hate her in the stroller or car carrier. Its just so confining.

    I just had to tell my wife to STOP giving our 8 month a bite of everything including a bacon flavored ice cream sundae she had. !

    Yea I suck according to most folks but I disagree….

  8. You go, moms.

    BTW I will offer up my one bit of unsolicited travel-with-baby advice: put baby in PJs at bedtime. Put baby in car. Drive the three hours. Transfer to bed. Good luck standing up to the parentals. This is the part where they learn that they are no longer the only parents in the picture.

  9. Next in line

    Once again I feel like I am reading your blog and it is preparing me for the next few months. Poppy is so wise. I like what she had to say about laying the ground rules with the family relationships.

    We are already starting to feel the shift and transition with my mom. She doesn’t take change well. One of the things I am aiming for is being able to have boundaries and not have it be a big deal. Which means I have to let go of making her happy and accept that she may not be happy about my decisions. Just no, we can’t do that. Clear and to the point. No drama. Hmmm I am not so sure if I can do this, but practice makes perfect.

  10. That baby is just too cute to make him ride in a car for very long being miserable!
    I have honestly never thought about the mother-daughter issues b/c I have been more of a ‘mother’ for so long, that standing up to my mother is a non-issue. We have a relationship more where she asks for my permission!
    With Chicken’s family, however, I know it will be a different story b/c Chicken is not good at standing up to her parents and it will be hard.
    Reading your story makes me very aware of this.
    I guess you just have to take things as they come, but be firm in what you believe in and do not cave. Be consistent with the parents and eventually they will get it. I hope!
    BTW–we also don’t believe in TV before age 2, any soda, fast food or ‘junk’. It can be done and I think there are plenty of kids in this world who don’t know what McD’s is. THANK GOD. (although the breakfast sandwiches during pregnancy are pretty darn tasty).

  11. Joy

    I think it’s great that you’re determining what’s right for your family, sticking with your boundaries and communicating effectively to those that matter. I hope you have a great weekend! Thanks for the adorable pic.

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