As I am typing this post, my father-in-law (FIL) is preparing to get on a plane to fly from China to the US to help us with our baby.
Mr. FAF and his dad made the decision just a week ago, and now our plans are changing.
It was about 2:30 AM last week when I woke up to pump and saw Mr. FAF being frustrated with our baby, “She doesn’t want to eat.
She doesn’t want to sleep. She’s just being really fussy.”
I offered to do the night shift from then on, but Mr. FAF refused. He wanted me to rest and recover fast.
He then told me, “I will ask my dad to come here to help us with the baby.”
I felt puzzled “Why? I can take care of her at night and during the day. You don’t have to.”
Despite my insistence, Mr. FAF called his dad the next day to ask him to come to DC.
And his dad agreed although he had previously declined just months ago.
If my FIL weren’t coming, Baby F2 would start daycare in November when the weather is getting cold.
That’s when a lot of kids get sick.
In a way, I am glad that Baby F2 won’t have to go to daycare when she’s just 2.5 months old. Her immune system has not fully developed, and daycare centers are known for having lots of germs.
Now I know some parents will start saying that I should quit my job and stay at home with the baby. However, not everyone’s situation is the same. You can read more about my decision to return to work in the posts here and here.
In a nutshell, I choose to be a working mom since both my husband and I agree it’s the best decision for our family’s finances and well-being.
My FIL will stay with us for four months until the end of January and will return to China to celebrate the Chinese New Year’s.
When he leaves, Baby F2 will be about five months. It will be a much better age to go to daycare than when she’s just 2.5 months.
Why the FIL?
When I tell others that my FIL is coming to help us, I always meet with surprise and the question “Can HE take care of the baby?”
And I understand the concern. Usually, the women in the family are in charge of child rearing. It is hard to imagine a husband or grandfather doing that job as well as the mother or the grandmother.
However, Mr. FAF and I have seen my FIL take care of Baby F1 three years ago and agreed he did a much better job than my mother-in-law (of course we didn’t tell her that).
My MIL was in the US for a year and just returned to China in June this year. She was on a tourist visa and won’t be able to come back to the US until next year.
My mom applied for a tourist visa to come to DC to help us but was declined entry. My dad doesn’t have a visa. My FIL is the only one left with a visa that’s valid for another six years. Basically, he’s the only grandparent who can come to the US at the present.
Although I was glad that we’re getting help, and that our daughter won’t have to go to daycare until she’s five months old, I wasn’t totally happy with Mr. FAF’s tendency to rely on his parents.
I was willing to take over more responsibilities to not have to ask our parents for help. After all, we’re in our 30s and have full-time jobs. I want us to be independent and take care of our family on our own.
Plus, having lived with my MIL for almost two years, I eventually realized that the stress and emotional turmoil can far outweigh the benefits of living with the in-laws.
Mr. FAF mentioned to me that he wanted his parents to come stay with us in August 2019. I asked him why, and he looked at me and then asked “Can you take care of two kids?”
That question really ticked me off. I got visibly upset and refused to talk to him for two days. I eventually lashed out at Mr. FAF and thus ended our cold war:
— You decided to have your parents coming here without even discussing with me?
— You know your mom and I don’t get along well. We fought constantly. You saw what happened. But you still want her to stay with us. Do you care about how I feel at all? And I know exactly why you want them to be here. You want them to do housework for you and take over your responsibilities so you can have more free time and just have fun (to which he admitted). But I will still have to do my part and deal with the stress and tension of living with your mom. Do you think it’s fair?
— You are almost 40 now and still have to rely on your parents to take care of your kids. If you can’t take care of your own kids, why did you decide to start a family to begin with? And you asked me if I can take care of my two kids? You wanted to challenge me? This is exactly why I don’t want to have a 3rd kid. You just want to pop out kids and have your parents raise your kids for you. You made me question your responsibility as a father and a husband.
That’s pretty much what I said to Mr. FAF in anger and frustration. And it’s not because his dad is coming to help us. I’m glad he is. But I was really upset at Mr. FAF’s tendency to rely on his parents to solve our own problems.
He eventually apologized and said that he would discuss with me about our parents coming to stay with us either short-term or long-term.
A career opportunity
To be fair to Mr. FAF, he was super hands-on during the first month after our baby’s birth, taking care of our baby at night, caring for our son, and doing all the housework.
And there’s more to the story. Mr. FAF wants to have more time to study, take coding practice tests, and prepare for a job interview.
Two weeks before I gave birth, Mr. FAF was contacted by one of the biggest tech companies in the US with an office in DC. The company messaged him on LinkedIn and invited him for an interview.
Since we currently can’t move for Mr. FAF to take the job offer at Google, he was super excited about this new opportunity since the company is planning to expand their engineering team in the DC area by tenfold.
As Mr. FAF hasn’t been on the job market for a while, he will need at least 3-4 months to prepare for the technical interviews and take other online courses.
With the arrival of our baby, however, he now finds little time to focus on this new career change. I offered to take on more responsibilities, but Mr. FAF insisted that we needed help and asked his dad to come stay with us for four months.
Below are the changes that will happen to our finances.
— Baby F2 will stay at home with my FIL for about 2.5 months after I return to work. We will save $3,245 in daycare tuition ($295/week for 11 weeks).
— Our daily expenses (i.e. food) will increase due to having another family member. We will also spend close to $1,000 or more in gifts for Mr. FAF’s extended family when my FIL goes back to China. It’s not to mention the plane ticket and the money we plan to give his dad each month (~$500).
In the end, the extra expenses might just cancel out the daycare savings. But it’s ok. The most important thing is that our baby girl will be able to spend more time at home before having to go to daycare at five months.
I realized that Mr. FAF and I are very fortunate to have our parents here to help us out with our kids.
When I first wrote about the possibility of my mom coming to DC, I received a few comments saying that not everyone is so lucky. And to be frank, I did sense some jealousy in the feedback. I would be jealous too.
In fact, before my FIL said he could help us, I was secretly jealous of my neighbor, whose MIL could stay with her until her baby can go to daycare at six months old.
However, everyone’s situation is different. Mr. FAF and I are not trying to compete with any other parents to show that we can do it all on our own.
We have family to help us out just as others might have help or other perks that we don’t have.
In the future, I truly hope that Mr. FAF will become more independent and learn how to take care of our kids without having to rely on the grandparents.
That’s when I will feel the happiest and confident that we can weather any storms in the future when our parents are not around.