Why My Door Will Always Be Open For My Mother-In-Law

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“An open letter to my ex’s mum and nanna to my babies.


When your son and I first decided to go our separate ways, it was all so much up in the air and a lot was said in the heat of it all. One thing in particular that you said, as you were crying quietly down the phone to me one night, will always stay in my mind.

You told me you were scared because you thought that because I’d split up with your son, I wouldn’t let you see Charlie and Elsie as much, if at all. You thought that because his and my relationship had broken down and he didn’t want to see them himself, that I would do what you’d heard so many people do and limit how much time you get to spend with them. Maybe even alienate you completely.

I remember feeling so confused in that moment, it took my breath away a little with the sadness of it all. I didn’t understand why you could ever think that. It wasn’t your fault.

As far as I was aware, you hadn’t lost your ability to be an amazing nanna to them overnight just because mine and your son’s relationship status changed. It upset me so much that you felt even the smallest bit of fear about it but after looking into it and living through some personal experiences, I can sadly see why that fear was there in the first place.

That sort of fear shouldn’t even be a thing. It stems from the reality of many parents around the world, who sadly feel the need to use family alienation in order to exert their ownership of the child/children caught in the middle.

It is something I will never understand or be on board with. Quite frankly, to me, it seems like a very subtle yet damaging form of child abuse.

I wanted to write this letter and take this opportunity right now, Jackie, to let you know that as Charlie and Elsie’s mama, my one job in this world is to keep them safe from harm and make sure they grow up feeling loved and secure in the knowledge they will never be alone in this world. To me, stopping you from seeing them just because their daddy, your son, didn’t want to have a relationship with them himself would have been removing a whole lot of love and security from their lives, leaving nothing but hurt and confusion.

To me, if I did that, I would have failed as their mama.

I want you to know my door will always be open for you to come and see them, and the kettle will always be on for us to have a catch-up, too! I will invite you to every sports day, class assembly, school play, and weekend football game, and promise to never ever choose bitterness over love and deny you that.

I will call you every time they do something amazing in school and inundate you with photos and videos of all the moments I’ve captured when you weren’t around. We can chat for as long as you want about how they’re growing up so quickly and how lucky we all are to get to see our little people become the incredible bigger people they’re becoming.

I will continue to let them spend the long weekends with you they love so much and will listen with a smile when they come home and tell me about all the amazing memories they’ve made with you. (You’re much more fun than me!)

The photo of your dad and Charlie as a baby will stay on my mantelpiece, exactly where it’s always been because the fact he had a grandpa who loved him so much hasn’t changed, whether it’s his grandpa on their dad’s side or mine. The family photos under my bed of you as a child and the extended family on your side will continue to come out whenever they feel like looking at them and laughing at their Great Auntie Pat’s cool tracksuit back in the day.

I will continue to FaceTime you every other day so you can all have a catch-up and they can tell you about everything they’ve been up to during lockdown. If you ever want to call them unannounced just to tell them you love and miss them, I will always answer the phone and pass them straight over because I know they love and miss you too.

I will make sure they write you out a card and help them choose you a little something special for every birthday, Christmas, and Mother’s Day until they’re old enough to do it themselves. I’ll always write one out from me too!

I just need you to know I will always be the biggest supporter of the amazing relationship they have with you and will never talk you down or make out you’re any less important than the family on my side. You’re their nanna and that won’t ever change, not through anything. For as long as you are the fun, super loving, and kind nanna you always have been, I will always be the first in line to tell them both how lucky they are to have you in their lives.

So please, if you’re going to worry about anything, don’t let it be that there may ever come a time where I don’t let you be as big a part of their lives as you’ve always been. If anything, then worry about the speed at which I’ll be dropping them at your door the minute Boris says children can go to their grandparents’ houses.

Worry about the fact I’m probably going to need at least 2 weeks to recover from 3 months of 24/7 parenting and you and my mom will have to sort that time between yourselves. Worry about the fact that during this time, I will be completely uncontactable due to the fact I’ll be too busy hibernating under my duvet with a good book and some good gin.

Do not dare to ever worry about anything else! They love you, and I love you very much too! Besides, I could never go too long without one of your sausage meat plaits! Let’s be realistic here!

All my love,

Your ex almost daughter-in-law and the mamma to your grandbabies.”

grandma smiles while holding grandchild
Courtesy of Jessica Collins

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jessica Collins of The Student Nurse Mummy. You can follow their journey on Instagram or Facebook. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

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