My mom’s smoking has always been an issue between me and my husband. He doesn’t like us to visit because of the smoke. I visit my mom far less often than I’d like because my husband refuses to go. Sometimes we only go once a year. We’ve come up with a little protocol when we go: We take our own pillows, do laundry immediately after we get home, and ask my mom not to smoke around us. It’s not perfect, but it makes a big difference and it means I get to see my mom. Now, my husband absolutely refuses to let the baby go. No visits to grandma’s house, even for the holidays.
Don’t get me wrong – I care very much about the baby’s health and fully understand the dangers of second-hand and third-hand smoke. However, becoming a new mom myself has me reflecting on how little time I get to spend with my mom. I’m heartbroken at the idea that my daughter and mother might not get the kind of relationship I’d like them to have.
What do I do? Oh, and to head off one seemingly obvious solution: My mom has limited travel ability because she cares for her parents and has a dog. She can usually do quick afternoon trips to see us, but can’t stay a full day or overnight. — Up in Smoke
Look, I can’t stand cigarette smoke either, so I sympathize that you have to deal with it in your mom’s presence, I do. But it’s not enough of a reason to sacrifice a relationship with her. And it certainly isn’t reason enough to sacrifice a relationship between her and her granddaughter. That you would even consider letting your husband who, quite frankly, sounds like a real control freak, make a decision that has such heartbreaking ramifications is alarming. I only hope he doesn’t try to control every other aspect of your relationship and life together.
Now, the good news: you do not have to sacrifice a relationship with your mother no matter how adamant your husband is about keeping her away from your grandchild. You can simply tell him you’re going to visit your mother and take the same precautions you’ve taken with yourself and that’s that. A weekend in a smoker’s home isn’t going to kill your baby, especially if the smoker is refraining from smoking and you stay in a part of the home that she keeps smoke-free. You can also talk with your mother about how important it is to you that she enjoy a long relationship with your child and that to help ensure that, it would mean the world to you if she’d attempt to quit smoking to lengthen her life, improve her health, and make her home a safer and more comfortable place to bring your family.
In addition, you could look into staying at a motel or an airbnb in her area when you visit. And if you drove early in the morning and left late the next evening, you could get close to two full days with your mother for the under $200. And here’s another thought: if you each drove on hour, you could meet at a halfway point and enjoy an afternoon together where no one would have to shell out for a motel OR carry extra pillows and do laundry immediately upon their return home. What if you planned to do this every three months? One Saturday or Sunday every three months to maintain a relationship with your mother sounds like a pretty good deal. And it sounds like it would bring your mother some much-needed joy.
If you aren’t willing to put in a two-hour drive every few months to maintain a relationship with your mother and help foster a relationship between her and your daughter, then there’s more going on here than just the cigarette smoking. I don’t know if that something has more to do with your relationship with your mother or with your husband, but something is amiss, and I hope you’ll do some soul-searching and deal with the real issue — if there is, in fact, another issue — before your daughter loses out on what could be one of the most special relationships in her life.