Things Grandmothers Do that Drive Moms Crazy!

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DISCLAIMER: Just to put it out there, this list is by no means created as a consequence of my experience.

Nor do all grandmothers do everything on this list.

I decided to write this post because I realize that this really is a HUGE topic in mommy forums.

In other words, it’s very common for moms to clash with grandmothers.

There are entire group boards dedicated to issues that new moms have with their mothers and mothers-in-law with THOUSANDS of threads!

I had no idea!

 

So, because it is such a hot topic, I really wanted to write about the biggest issues that I see that moms run into with grandmothers.

Of course everyone’s personal experience is different and the tips I include might not fit your experience (which is what made this post so difficult to write), but generally, these are the main issues I would see coming up in the threads.

So, before further-ado, here are the big eight things that grandmothers do that drive moms crazy!

 

**SHORT NOTE** The humor is not meant to be apathetic or make light of a serious issue, but it is meant to provide a bit of “comic relief”, so enjoy! Hopefully even this could be something you look back on and laugh about later!

 


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1. Force Their Advice on Mom

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But first, a short word on ‘advice’:

I never understood how advice could ever be a bad thing, I have previously always loved the idea that there is always room for improvement.

When you’re a mom, though, it appears that things can be taken very differently.

I’m sure all moms appreciate anecdotal tips (what worked for another mom and what didn’t), but when it comes to advice on raising babies, it hits a soft spot.

For many moms, especially first-time-moms, being on the receiving end of constant advice on baby care can be overwhelming because they feel like it’s another way of telling them they are doing things wrong.

If this isn’t mom’s first rodeo, she doesn’t take things personally because she’s confident in her ability to mother, but if it is her first time, she usually isn’t as secure and might take it the wrong way if grandma always “hints” at “the right way of doing things”.

Sure, that’s not the message grandma intends on sending, but oftentimes the post-partum hormones can mess with mom’s perception.

But that isn’t always the case (I would still recommend using caution and erring on the safe side until you can figure mom out)

 

Many moms actually really appreciate any tips and recommendations because the journey into motherhood is pretty stressful, to say the least.

The most common issue that arises in this area is when that advice is forced.

When mom does it one way, but grandma insists on another way, conflict can quickly arise.

 

These are the two common scenarios I constantly see popping up:

 

1. Mom Does It the Way that Works for Her Baby and Grandma Does It the Way that Worked for Her Baby.

Experience in motherhood instills confidence, there is no denying that.

Grandma does know what she is saying when she is insisting on something because she has been there.

Sure it might have been a while since she was a mother to a baby, but she knows, so moms should always respect that!

 

However, just as you’ll discover if you have another one, every baby is so different.

Although something might have worked to calm one down, it might not work to calm the next one.

So, the one who spends more time with baby, usually it’s mom, knows best.

And even if grandma does spend more time with baby because of work situations, there is just something intuitive about moms knowing their babies.

 

2. Mom Does Things the Way the Doctor/Lactation Consultant Says to Do It and Grandma Insists on Her Way.

Another thing that you will quickly notice when you become a mother is that the practice of medicine is always updating.

Research is constantly telling us how we can improve.

So, chances are, grandma was taught baby care using a different approach, and it still worked because you (or your partner) are the proof.

 

It can be frustrating for moms, especially if they come from a culture that doesn’t trust medicine, but if there’s a way of doing things that has been proven to be better, then it’s the better way for baby.

 

How Mom Can Cope With It?

The main question is, how do you deal with it?

 

Well, the short answer is you can’t really stop everyone from saying something or pushing on something.

There are a few things, though, that you could do to manage through it:

 

1. Communicate.

Let them know it bugs you!

Don’t just ‘deal with it’.

It will build up and one day you will explode and say or do something you might really regret!

 

2. Appreciate.

Try to work on seeing the good intentions.

Grandma’s advice comes from the fact that she really does care for your baby, so try to focus on the good for the sake of your baby.

Don’t take it personally.

You’re doing a great job momma!

 

3. Listen.

If grandma is persistent, then just listen to her advice (if it is practical and safe, of course).

I know this isn’t what you might have wanted to hear, but it’s just not worth getting all worked up about it.

 

You’ll realize quickly that she’ll be satisfied and will move on to whatever else they were doing.

 

Remember, your mom or mother-in-law isn’t always around.

The way you mom is your way and it’s ok (if it is not hurting or endangering your baby, of course!).

 


2. Criticize and Judge Mom

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I also would add ‘Put Down Mom’ to the list.

 

Unlike advice, which usually comes from compassion and desire to help mom out, criticism is direct disapproval.

It is honestly really rare for grandmothers to voice their disapproval of moms but it can happen from time to time, especially if there is a history of bad relations between the two.

The only reason to criticize a mom is if she is directly harming her baby in some way.

Otherwise, moms are already their worst critics.

There is absolutely no need to put moms down more than they might already be.

 

The thing is that grandmothers usually feel that the criticism is warranted because the baby’s well being (and what they perceive that to be) is the priority over mom’s feelings, or that they feel that mom listens more to criticism rather than advice.

I read and hear about it from time to time.

 

These are the two common scenarios I constantly see popping up:

 

1. When Mom Doesn’t Follow Through with Grandma’s Advice.

Some grandmothers get really upset when mom doesn’t listen to their advice.

Their first reaction is criticism.

 

Mind you, if your situation falls into this category, you have to remember that this is your mother we are talking about.

The same way she expressed disapproval of what she saw as your poor choices when you lived under the same roof, she expresses similar disapproval over what she sees as your current ‘poor choices’.

 

Although I will say that once you’re a mother, you take your mothers criticism much closer to heart than you might have before because of the weight and pressure of the new role.

This is why grandmothers should be careful with what they say to mothers as it can really put the relationship on ice.

Moms need support not criticism!

 

2. Grandma Just Never Liked Mom to Begin With

It is unfortunate if mom never felt any love or support from her mother or mother-in-law before having a baby.

It’s no wonder that the negativity continues once a baby is born.

 

I run into stories like these often in mommy forums and I feel mom’s pain because there really isn’t much of anything she can do to avoid criticism.

The worse part is that it is constant, and it can get to the point that grandma puts mom down intentionally in front of others.

It’s negativity that can add a lot of extra, unneeded stress to the already stressful role of motherhood, and mom should not be forced to endure it.

 

How Mom Can Cope With It?

Well, first things first is communication.

 

1. Communicate.

Let grandma know that her approach isn’t helpful and instead negatively affecting you and/or your ability to mother.

Now, if you’ve already let them know that their language and/or tone comes off as critical and judgemental and she doesn’t change or instead gets more hostile, there is only one other thing that you can do to avoid confrontation.

 

2. Avoid.

Temporarily and until things get better.

You DO NOT need to deal with the negativity of you don’t want to.

I know it might seem a bit harsh, but if grandma isn’t helping and making things more difficult, then you have no obligation to let her continue enjoying the presence of your little one and you.

If she loves her grandbaby(ies), she will realize that she will need to respect mom to see them.

Just make sure you are respectful about it.

 


3. Don’t Respect Rules and/or Boundaries that Mom Sets

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When grandma doesn’t follow through with mom’s instruction, trust can be lost.

 

Moms naturally set rules.

It is their way of expressing their role as a mother.

When grandma doesn’t follow those rules, regardless of how ‘ridiculous’ they might sound, she is directly overruling mom’s authority.

That is a recipe for disaster.

 

I have read many posts where moms express that before having a baby they had a great relationship with their mother or mother-in-law, but that after, due to crossed boundaries, their relationship has grown strained.

It might not be that grandma even broke a rule, she just might have ignored mom’s request of not coming over or not giving your baby a pacifier, but that was all mom needed to lose confidence that her new role was being respected.

It really is a grey line.

 

These are the two common scenarios I constantly see popping up:

 

1. Grandma Disregards Mom’s Guidelines to Child Care.

Mom insists on her baby sleeping on their back, but every time grandma babysits, mom finds her baby on their side or tummy.

Mom doesn’t give pacifiers, grandma still uses them.

Mom asks grandma to respect her baby’s privacy and not change her baby’s diaper in front of others, grandma not only changes the baby’s diaper in front of others but she also lets others bathe the baby.

Those are just some of the stories I read!

 

There’s a reason for mom’s guidelines, they really should not be ignored and overlooked.

 

2. Grandma Posts About Baby Without Mom’s Permission.

This is definitely a lot more specific, but technology has really changed things from the days of our parents.

We now have digital platforms across which we can communicate and reach millions of people at the click of a button.

 

As a mom, this was a huge concern for me, personally.

Call it pessimism, but I requested that my permission is asked before my baby’s pictures or videos were shared anywhere.

 

Different moms have different requests whether it be regarding media or information about their babies, grandmothers are obligated to have parental consent.

Once you post something online, it stays there forever and makes the child vulnerable to data collection and an unwanted digital record.

 

How Mom Can Cope With It?

1. Be Clear and Direct.

Make sure that you are clear about and that you stress the importance of your rules with your mother and mother-in-law.

You don’t want to leave any room for any misunderstanding.

Now, if you have been straight forward with your rules and requests and you see that they are being ignored, then as mom you have a right to react how you see fit, especially if you feel your baby’s wellbeing might be in jeopardy.

 

2. Use Your Intuition.

Grandma should understand that there are consequences of breeching your trust, so use your intuition when deciding on what to do next.

 

If something bugs you, there’s a reason for it.

You should never feel ashamed or as if you are over-reacting when it comes to boundaries and rules.

Momma’s intuition is always right… even if it isn’t!

 


4. Act Like They Are Mom

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I can totally understand grandmas here because it’s just their instinct to spring into mothering their grandbaby.

The problem is that their grandbaby could have a very jealous momma bear.

 

I will admit, not all moms care about this because they know that they are mom at the end of the day, but if a mom isn’t secure in her new role she can feel threatened by the approach.

Especially if her mother-in-law is behind the phraseology; it has something that has to do with someone being direct versus indirect kin.

 

Also, first-time moms are generally the most prone to getting offended, so beware.

 

These are the two common scenarios I constantly see popping up:

 

1. Grandma Makes All of the Decisions Because She Doesn’t Think Mom Can or Should

I read a post recently about a mom who felt her role was hijacked every time grandma was around.

Grandma feeds baby, changes baby, clothes baby, and decides what baby does.

Grandma even goes so far as to say that mom just doesn’t know how to do things ‘properly’!

What does that even mean?

 

Whether grandma has good intentions or not, she is completely undermining mom’s ability and right to be a mom.

Grandmothers are more experienced, it’s in their name, but they were also first-time-moms at some point.

I would bet that they probably found it frustrating and annoying when someone undermined their ability to mother their own babies.

 

2. Grandmother’s ‘Name’ is Too Close to Mom’s

Sometimes grandma’s ‘name’ is close enough to “mom”, like Big Mommy, that it can cause some friction.

Grandma might even sometimes refer to call herself mom!

Accident or not, these can strain a relationship between mom and grandma.

 

Many moms want clarity when it comes to who is the parent and who is the grandparent, and close names can sometimes cause confusion as to who is the primary care provider and makes the final decisions when it comes to the kids.

Grandmothers must also remember that there is usually another grandma that is also in the picture, so that their ‘name’ doesn’t undermine her right to feeling important to her grandbabies as well.

 

How Mom Can Cope With It?

1. Don’t Take it Personally.

Try not to take the expressions of mothering personally and see it from her side.

I know this is probably not what most moms want to hear, but trust me no one can take that title away from you.

They love your little munchkin, but they can never replace mom no matter how much they spoil them.

 

2. Let Grandma Know it Bugs You.

That being said, let her know it bugs you.

Whether she refers to herself as mom or she really does take over mothering your baby when she’s around, tell her that you would appreciate it if she would respect your role as mom.

Just make sure you are careful in how you say it so as to not come off negatively.

 

3. Be Confident.

Don’t doubt your ability to be a mother, even if this is your first round.

Sometimes grandmothers see insecurity as a green light to step in for mom.

If this is your case, let grandma know you got this and that you will ask her for help when need be.

 

4. Use Your Intuition.

Every situation is different and every momma has a different perspective, so use your intuition.

 

If you feel that grandma is intentionally undermining your right to mother your children, then you should consider distancing yourself for a short time and seeing if things improve that way.

 


5. Ignore Mom and Focus Only on the Baby

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It’s true what they say, it’s all about the baby after the delivery.

It can be hard, though, to accept that reality, especially if leading up to labor everyone gave the pregnant momma a lot of attention.

 

Grandmas, like everyone else, get caught up in the excitement over a new baby that, at times, they can end up forgetting mom even exists at times!

Babies do that to people.

Still, it can drive moms crazy!

 

I do, though, want to emphasize that there are two types of “ignoring” scenarios and it’s important to differentiate them.

 

1. All They See is the Baby

Babies are great at attracting a lot of attention.

I call them little celebrities because everywhere they go almost everybody is captivated by their presence and attention.

 

Grandparents (after parents) are usually the most excited to see the baby.

They tend to focus all their attention on the baby which causes them to oftentimes zone out everything (and everyone) else around them.

 

This can get a little annoying, especially if you are trying to hold an actual conversation (with another adult after being surrounded by kiddos all day) and you find that grandma isn’t actually listening to you, but don’t take it personally.

Grandma still loves you, she’s just in the moment, enjoying it!

 

2. They Really Don’t Care About Mom

And then there is the, you don’t matter.

Usually, this stems from a bad/strained relationship from the start.

 

I have read countless heartbreaking stories where moms are left feeling less than or non-existent.

Their babies are taken from them by grandma when she is around and their parenting is mocked.

In some cases, grandma doesn’t even acknowledge mom when discussing the baby in any way.

If grandma is intentionally ignoring mom because she just doesn’t like her and/or think she is a good mother/woman, that is wrong.

 

Grandmothers need to remember that moms, as primary care providers, are the gate-keepers to grandchildren, and if they want to have a great relationship with their grandkids it must start with their mom!

It’s wise to acknowledge that mom is a big part of the reason why there are grandchildren in the first place (of course vice versa, moms should acknowledge and respect grandmothers for similar reasons).

They need to feel love and respect and that they are more than just “the one who gave birth”.

 

How Mom Can Cope With It?

It really does depend on your situation.

 

1. If Grandma Treats You Less Than, Then Avoid!

I don’t think you are required to spend your time with individuals that put you down and breed negativity into your family.

You don’t need it, nor do your kiddos because they will pick up on it.

 

You shouldn’t necessarily cut ties, just avoid for a little.

Your kids will only reap benefits from having another individual, especially a grandmother, love on them.

That said, it will be important for both sides to seek a resolution and compromise, if necessary, to maintain the peace, for the sake of the children.

No child can stand to see their mother humiliated.

 

2. If Grandma Only Sees Your Baby(s), Then Try to Appreciate It Instead.

Sure you’re being ignored, but it’s not intentional.

Try not to take it personally and instead appreciate that grandma (and everyone else for the matter) just loves your baby so much!

 

3. Instead, Find Someone Who Actually Listens to You.

I found that talking to someone who actually listened and cared about what I had to say was reaffirming and what I absolutely needed to feel valuable in that sometimes lonely season of postpartum.

I am blessed to say that that someone was my husband because we were both in the same boat!

We have grown so much closer after having a baby because of this and I love that!

 


6. Push Excessively on Visits and Pictures

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I totally get it, grandma wants to see the baby every moment she can, and, in our day and age, technology has opened a lot of new avenues of communication.

The problem isn’t that moms don’t want to visit or take pictures (although sometimes it is), it’s that it takes A LOT of effort.

 

From personal experience, when I went anywhere with my baby, it was a HAUL.

I would have at least three bags, and some.

My baby hated car seats, so I would have to be mentally prepared to handle the drive (crying all the way).

It was exhausting.

Add the fact that babies don’t fall asleep well when they aren’t home and that they have schedules, and it’s sometimes near to impossible to stay out of the house for long.

 

Now pictures are easier, but even they can get tricky and that is if you even remember to take them!

Honestly, though, I will say that what I often read in mommy forums was that the picture taking itself wasn’t the issue so much that the comments on the pictures were.

Sometimes it could get frustrating when grandma adds in her two cents about how baby is dressed or what mom is letting her do every time you send a picture or video.

No wonder some moms just stick to visitations instead.

 

Whatever your situation, it is totally understandable why moms start to get annoyed with grandma(s) always asking for either every day.

 

How Mom Can Cope With It?

If this is an area you certainly find yourself struggling in momma, here are some ways you can keep grandma at ease and yourself sane.

 

1. Arrange.

Talk with your mother or mother-in-law about a reasonable visitation or picture schedule.

Maybe you could only visit once a week or once a month.

Maybe you could only send a picture every other day or only on Sundays.

Work around a schedule that actually works for you, because your tasks are the priority.

Let her know!

She might not like it but then at least she can’t complain because she knows exactly what to expect and when.

 

2. Plan.

Once you have decided on a reasonable schedule, plan for it!

When you have something in your plans you can start getting ready ahead of time which will make things a little less stressful for you, and when the unpredictable happens, which it always does, you can work around it!

 

3. Be consistent.

Stick to the plan you decided on and the demands should ease down.

When you are consistent in your word, then there are really no grounds for an accusation, that you’re keeping your baby away intentionally, to be made against you (if that happens to be the personality you are dealing with).

You are trying your best to appease grandma to the best of your ability.

 

4. Be patient and enjoy.

Finally, just be patient, things should simmer down eventually.

It won’t always be like this!

So, if grandma wants to take care of your baby, let her do it while she is offering!

Trust me, any help is HUGELY appreciated and a break from your baby with give you some time to recollect.

Take advantage of it!

 


7. Don’t Help Out

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It’s great when your mother or mother-in-law help out with taking care of your baby and even better when they help out with your chores because, well, motherhood is tough!

I know how much I appreciated my mother and mother-in-law, especially in those first weeks.

 

However, what if your baby’s grandmothers aren’t so helpful?

What if all grandma does when she comes over is hang around when she comes over, not helping mom out with chores or with the baby?

Mom might be scrambling to juggle taking care of the baby and grandma when she is over.

 

What if grandma doesn’t want anything to do with their grandbaby?

Well, I’m sad to say it, but yes I have heard about that extreme of grandmas too.

They just don’t care about the fact that you have their grandbaby or they have too many grandbabies to count already.

 

Whatever the case, they are not as involved in the rearing, nor do they want to be.

 

How Mom Can Cope With It?

Well, first off, you can’t change the person or get them interested.

Sure it is heartbreaking that they don’t want to be involved in their grand baby’s life, but don’t let that ruin your mood.

Your love is honestly all the baby really needs!

 

And if grandma does come over but she doesn’t help out and/or makes things more difficult when she is over, then momma tell her!

Let her know and if she still wants to see your baby then maybe arrange for a different meeting area, like her house or a park.

That way you don’t have an obligation to cater to her needs while taking care of your baby and juggling house chores.

You could, more or less, just ‘relax’ and focus on the baby.

 


8. Over-Spoil the Kids

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Spoiling their grandchildren is just what grandparents do.

They love on their grandbabies, probably more so than they did on their own kids because, let’s just admit it, they don’t have to deal with them on a day in and day out basis.

 

So, grandbabies are showered in love and gifts, which is super sweet and caring, but spoiling can start to make things more difficult for mom when it is excessive and done without wisdom.

 

These are the two common scenarios I constantly see popping up:

 

1. Grandma (and Grandpa) Can’t Say No

Now I’m not saying that grandparents are to start disciplining their grandbabies, but allowing them to do and have everything they want is also not a good thing.

Not only does it make it more difficult for parents to discipline their kids, but it is also a recipe for an entitled child which is not healthy either.

Grandparents should try to be consistent with what mom and dad do and don’t allow.

Doing so will maintain trust with parents and increase the likelihood of visitations.

 

If the goal is to gain favoritism then there will be many other opportunities to shower the kiddos in love that don’t involve losing parental trust, but that also leads us to the next issue.

 

2. Playing Favorites

This one really does depend on the family and situation because not all moms are bothered if their child prefers grandma, but some really are bugged by this.

It’s only natural for mom to want to be the favorite of her children, I mean she (and dad) is the one that really sacrifices everything for them.

So, when grandma gets the preference it can be disheartening, to say the least.

What can I say, grandparents are at the advantage because they’ve been parents already and they know what kids appreciate and really care about in those early stages.

 

It doesn’t stop there, though, because there is another grandmother in the picture as well and sometimes that can create additional conflict for moms, especially if this is the first grandchild!

Sometimes everyone needs to just take a step back and evaluate what is really important for the child.

 

 

How Mom Can Cope With It?

If favoritism is an area of concern for you, then here are some tips:

 

1. Don’t take it close to heart.

Understand that your baby will always love their momma, no matter what, even if they prefer some extra time with grandma.

Instead, appreciate grandma’s love and the fact that your baby is growing up in such a loving environment:

 

2. Set apart one day to spend with your baby.

If favoritism really gets you, then set apart a time in your week to just focus on your baby(s).

Let them know that you can focus on them and spend time with them.

You’ll even notice that as they get older and start to understand more then they look forward to these days in anticipation!

 

3. Communicate.

Now if spoiling is starting to interfere in your parenting, as in your kiddo(s) behavior is starting to deteriorate as a consequence of the spoiling, well then something has to be said.

If what grandma is doing is making it much harder for mom, then grandma should refrain from doing it if she really cares about mom.

If she doesn’t care, then mom totally has the right to set boundaries on what grandma can and can’t do.

My rule of thumb is that if it makes my life difficult, in other words, it’s not just a preference, then there have to be limits set.

 


A Note to Grandmothers

I really hope I have not offended any grandmothers out there.

I’m just the messenger.

 

If I could give a few suggestions I would say:

 

1. Be cautious.

EVERYTHING you do, especially in the first days post-partum, will be thoroughly analyzed by your daughter or daughter-in-law.

Women are super sensitive the first days after delivery, and some remain so through the course of breastfeeding.

Just be careful with what you say and do, if you would like to avoid unnecessary confrontation or hard feelings.

 

2. Offer help instead.

Instead of giving advice immediately, offer help instead.

This way you don’t appear condescending to mom and instead, you are giving her the opportunity to speak up and ask for help instead.

Trust me, she will ask for help and advice when she needs it!

 

3. Don’t take things personally.

You probably know better, having gone through it yourself, that this is just a phase, so if mom does lash out, don’t take it personally.

Being a mom is super stressful, and once your daughter or daughter-in-law gets the hang of it, she will get back to her usual self.

So just give her some time and space and you’ll be seeing your grandbabies soon enough!

 


Re-Cap

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The struggle between mothers and their mothers/mothers-in-law is centuries old.

There is an old saying in Ukrainian that says to never leave two women to run one kitchen, it never ends well.

 

Well, we aren’t really talking about cooking, but something requiring a lot more responsibility, caring for a baby/child.

Regardless, we have to remember that in most cases both mother and grandmother care for the baby a whole lot, so reaching that consensus we can understand the perspective of the other side and instead work on a compromise.

 

And remember, grandmothers, it is mom who determines how much you see your grandbaby.

If you make her miserable, chances are she will avoid you.

 

Time will pass, though, and moms God-willing you’ll be grandmothers someday as well, so make sure to set a good example for your kiddos to follow!

 


Sharing is Caring

Share this with other mommas (and grand-mommas) you know and care about.

We need to help and empower each other to make mom life as easy as possible so we can continue to be super moms in all the important areas!

 

Stay smart momma and be on the lookout for more helpful posts!

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Until next time mommas!

 


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2 comments on “Things Grandmothers Do that Drive Moms Crazy!”

  1. Thank you for this post, I found it really helpful. I could relate to some of the topics, epecially grandma calling herself mom. Ugh.

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