If having a baby brings you closer to your partner (which I’d say it has done overall, but maybe not during the third wake up call of the night, with Calpol all over your carpet and a screaming baby in your arms), it also brings you closer to his family.
I know this is a difficult terrain to navigate, but although I’ve always got on with my in-laws, I’ve also always had a very clear line dividing my family and my husband’s. Which I’m sure is normal. I’m a version of myself with them – I wouldn’t be as honest or free with my opinions as I would be with close friends and the family that’s surrounded me my whole life. They’re quite different and I’m aware of the differences.
But having a baby has changed that. It’s made me relax a bit and appreciate them more. I’ve needed them more than I have before – they’re closer in distance than my own parents, and being retired, they were able to dedicate quite of bit of time to helping us in the early weeks, and looking after Scrip for us nowadays.
They really were particularly helpful when we were acclimatising to being new parents. For the first time I couldn’t move the pile of washing or polish the bathroom taps before they arrived – I didn’t have the energy or the focus during the hazy early days. And I couldn’t even refuse when they offered to cook or tidy the kitchen – in fact, I was grateful.
Although it was a long time ago, they seemed to remember what would most help us as new parents; they made me sleep for an hour in the middle of the day and they had the patience to gently walk around with a newborn until she fell soundly asleep. My mother-in-law even got up with me in the night to help me breastfeed Scrip when I damaged my back – certainly not the best job in the world!
And possibly the best thing is seeing the way they look at Scrip; like my parents, they have genuine love and tenderness in their eyes. Not prone to expressing these kind of sentiments, my father-in-law told me quite early on what joy I’d brought to him and his wife by bringing Scrip into the world – and that’s one of the nicest things anyone could ever say.
That’s not to say we’ve turned into the English Waltons. We still have different views on what Scrip should be doing, eating and wearing – and I’m sure that will only increase as she grows older. But I can say with conviction that my little girl is incredibly lucky to have grandparents on both sides who adore her and are keen to be a big part of her life. And so are we.