Why We Let Grandma Spoil the Kids

grandmaEvery Sunday, my mother in law leaves a little present under each of my son’s pillows at her house. Like a weekly tooth fairy, my sons eagerly await to see what Mima has left them, whether it is a shiny quarter, a coupon for extra stories, or fort building,  a small Lego set or a toy car.

When my first son was born I used to frown and be annoyed at this behavior. Her coddling, the presents, the candy, the extra treats and outings would drive me insane that she was spoiling my kids. Who would have to deal with the tantrums? Who would have to deal with the Grandma hangover? Me. The amount of stuff she gave, the toys and snacks all bothered me. Any advice or comment made would rub me the wrong way, and was taken as criticism. And like many new mothers, anything she did was taken as a direct hit on my mothering.

As my son grew and then was joined by his brothers, I started to see her in a different light. She was a conspirator, another person to share secrets with who loves and shares in his life. As the mother, I, like every mother before me,  have to deny various things. I enforce rules, teeth brushing, manners, kindness, homework, sportsmanship, referree sibling squabbles, the eating of vegetables and whether rewards are given. I enforce dress codes, playdates, sports, baths, bedtimes and wake ups. I am the Monday through Friday of these kids’ lives: the schedule and comfort, the snuggles and discipline. Grandma is the weekend: The person who says yes. Yes you can have a toy just because, yes you can have all the cookies, chocolate, yes you can do this.

I appreciate her loving and spoiling my sons simply because it is how she shows her love, how she shares herself with them whether in an extra slice of cake or an extra bedtime story. She has paid her dues as a mother and has said her fair number of no’s – I can give her the pleasure of spoiling them the way I hope to someday spoil my grandkids.

And, in my own way, I enjoy the joy my kids have going to Grandma’s and the joy they have sharing their hopes, dreams and desires with her. Because she loves them, and is a big part of their lives, spoiling them is minor in the grand scheme of things. Much like I wouldn’t restrict a future love interest from spoiling and caring for my sons, I wouldn’t spoil my Mother-in-Law’s fun by restricting her love for them. I let her spoil them now, gladly.

And I now happily deal with the Grandma Hangover.

Pia Watzig is a Stay at home mom to three little boys ages 6,4 &1. She lives and attempts to control the chaos in Portland, Oregon.

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