Family Matters
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What would you do if you were me?

A few things - I'm 30, hubby is 33 and we currently don't have kids but hopefully we will in the not so distant future (not trying but not preventing). I'm an aunt to 3 kids (all on my side) but my brother and his family live across the country. They moved out there when my nephew was 1 and have since grown their family by one adorable little girl. As a result of them moving, our family has been without little ones for several years. That all changed when my sister had a baby 8 months ago. I knew my parents missed being around their grandkids and would love every minute of having one local. I knew things would change (again so to speak since my brothers son was around before they moved) but I guess I hadn't expect so much change. Prior to my sisters' pregnancy my mom and I had a great relationship - I probably would have said she's one of my best friends. But over time my mom became less interested in my life and more interested in my sisters. Every family gathering the main topic of conversation was my sister. Even one-on-one conversations with my mom would tend to steer toward my sister.

Fast forward to my nephew being born and it seems to be the only thing people can converse about. I get it - he's adorable and he's happy almost all the time. But I feel like I've lost my parents (specifically my mom) to my nephew. My mom said to me a couple weeks ago that she never hears from me anymore and thinks it's because hubby and I moved into a new space in January (we're now only 10 minutes away from them as opposed to 35 so if anything we should see/talk more). I think she was partly joking but I didn't say much in return because I didn't want to hurt her feelings by opening up this can of worms. I have the opinion we don't talk much anymore because she doesn't know how to talk about anything but my nephew and occasionally work (we work for the same company).

I don't have kids so I can't and won't pretend to know what it's like but I can't help but feel like I'm not as important anymore because I haven't had a kid yet. Last night all of us got together and at dinner my husband and I literally could have had an entire meal with our own conversation - no one talked to us directly and the few times we tried to talk about something other than my nephew the conversation steered back that way within a few minutes.

I asked my husband how he felt about it since it's my family and I know I'm going to be the more emotional/opinionated one about it. He doesn't feel as strongly about it as I do but has noticed how different things are and feels like no one in our family has a clue what's going on in our lives anymore because no one bothers to ask. We only see my parents a few times a month due to schedules but my sister and her family see my parents a couple times a week - because of my nephew. When my sister was nearing the end of her maternity leave she realized they couldn't afford day care (blows my mind that she didn't plan ahead but more on that later) and asked my parents if they could help out. My mom works an average of 60 hours a week and my dad is at home but our parents are in their mid 60's. They wanted to help and now keep my nephew a couple days a week and usually one overnight a week.

My family will be taking a small vacation together next month and initially I was excited about it but right now I just feel like it'll be 4 days like last night's dinner.

My sister and I used to be close but that was 10 years ago when we were both still growing up (she's 5 years older than me). Over time I realized how different our personalities were - she kind of wanders through life and doesn't plan ahead and struggles to make decisions. I've become more type A and as a result have been the responsible one and the person my family can count on to get things done. All that being said - my sister and I don't have a bad relationship but we don't see eye to eye on a lot of things either. I have a feeling she drives the conversation toward my nephew because it's all she knows how to talk about too (which I can understand more from her than my mom).

I'm at a loss for now to proceed with family gatherings now. I love my nephew to pieces and I know they don't stay little forever and he deserves attention. But how do I get over this feeling I have of being less important because I'm childless? I know there's a good chance hubby and I will have a kid within the next year (barring any infertility issues) so things might shift then anyway. But for now I'm at a loss of what to do and whether or not to voice my concerns to my mom - I know she's very sensitive and almost any conversation about this would involve tears.

What would you do? Or what have you done?

Re: What would you do if you were me?

  • Wow.  First, having had DS, my relationship w/ my parents has changed - but for the better.  I see them more because they help out w/ DS, but also because they ADORE DS too.

    However.  Our lives don't revolve around DS to the point that all our attention and all our conversation is about him. 

    Personally, if I were in your shoes, I'd actually probably be dreading having a kid because if THAT is really what it takes to "matter" anymore, I'd be pretty darned annoyed. 

    If your mom out and out says "I hardly see you anymore", I'd be honest with her.  "It's true mom, you don't.  I love sis, I love nephew.  He's a wonderful addition to our family.  I love seeing him, spending time with him.  However, ever since he's been born, that seems to be ALL that anyone ever talks or cares about anymore. " and perhaps just leave it hanging with that.  You're not pointing fingers at her - and hopefully she'll pick up the conversation.

    Or maybe add "I just miss getting together where you and I can really talk about us, and what's going on in our lives."

    However - if she dissolves into tears, then let her.  You can't control her feelings.  But honestly- even when you do have kids, do you want your relationship w/ your mom to be ENTIRELY about your kids?  If you don't, you need to speak up at SOME point. 

    I've been a mom for 5 years now and really - when I'm w/ friends, family, anyone... I'm actually almost surprised how much we DON'T talk about kids!  but it's nice.  I have one friend who will go on ad nauseum about her child and.... well... it's obnoxious and just so, so, so boring.  I avoid being around her.  It's absolutley affected our friendship.

    You need to talk to your mom if you want a chance to get back to anything even close to what you used to have with her.

    "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
    ~Benjamin Franklin

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  • Well, I understand, kind of. My sister also just had a baby... My Mom and I used to talk every morning. It was just something we did. My sister got pregnant, and that slowly shortened. Now there is a new baby in the family. Beautiful baby! I love the crap outta him, along with my other nieces and nephews. We have many kids in the family, we have a big family. But this is my Mom's 1st daughter that has had a child. My sister is younger than I am. Ever since, our relationship has gotten to a point of us not talking every day anymore. I too live close to my parents, my sister a little further. My mom sees my sister a few times a week, me maybe once. I work, she works, we both get busy etc. Our relationship is good, just has also turned into about her. I just figured, since we don't have a bad relationship, that this will fizzle over time. It is just a new baby, her daughter's baby, and it is just a special time for her. It did hurt my feelings at first, but I have gotten over it. Us too are hoping to have a baby within a year, still ttc. If you want to talk with your mom about it, go for it. As pp said, you could say just that to her and see where it leaves her. Funny, I could have written this. Good luck, I think your family is just really excited to have a new baby in the family. And it is different, since it is her daughter not son. There is just a bond moms and daughters have.. good luck..xo

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  • As the person on the opposite end of that scenario - as the sibling WITH the child - please tell your mom and if need be, your sister, that you need to talk about something other than your nephew. I have the first grandchild on both sides and my mom resorts to only talking about my DD. I know that's turned off my siblings, and it's actually really uncomfortable to me. I've backed WAY off of visiting because of that and other issues surrounding it (my FOO felt more "free" to voice criticisms of my parenting).

    This is total projection based on my experience, but your sister may be under pressure that you have no idea about.
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  • I can relate! My brother had his first child 8 years before I had mine, and it definitely felt like everything became about his family. My sister and I hated family dinners because it was all about them, and no one asked us anything about our lives anymore. It can also depend on the parent. My brother and SIL very much expect everyone to love their children as much as they do, and treat them like they are more important than others. Not everyone is that over-the-top about their kids, though. When I had my DS two years ago, I appreciated any and all attention that he got, but I also don't walk in everywhere expecting everyone to fall all over him. If it's any comfort, I think the first grand kids got spoiled to the point where they started becoming kind of rude, and it got scaled back. With my son, yes, he gets attention, but he also knows that he's not always the center of attention. He's more polite, waits his turn, entertains himself, etc. while my nephew and niece constantly need attention and end up getting disciplined. I guess my point is that there are perks to not having the first grand kid, and how you approach it will also guide others. I'm not sure I would say anything about your nephew, because it might sound resentful, even if it isn't. Instead, I would focus on how you feel like you don't get to talk about your life much anymore (and leave your nephew out of it.) And speak up at family dinners, don't wait for people to ask you questions. It'll help get people talking about something other than your nephew. Also, ask other people questions about their lives, outside of kids. Good luck!
  • OP, like others have said, I would just try to mention something in a non-confrontational way about it but leave your nephew out of it. Can you maybe plan a mother/daughter outing just the 2 of you so you can catch up and talk? If you talk to your mom on the phone and she steers the conversation towards him/your sister, steer it back to what you guys are up to. And keep doing it. Same with the family dinners. Hopefully it will get better but I can definitely understand the frustration.
  • I've actually been through this a couple of times. 

    I have 4 nieces and nephews and my H has 4 as well. There have been times when it's hard to get anyone to talk about anything else, but it eventually dies down. 

    We've just let it go and waited it out. That would be my advice to you as well. Now, if it goes on for years...I'm not sure what I would do...but it usually doesn't.
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