I Used to Love Her

Before I had my son, she was great.  Now that I'm no longer incubating her grandchild, it's on.  According to my husband's grandmother, she's just going through "the change" right now, so we need to be understanding.  Most people live with circumstances that would render them appreciative of a little understanding, so that doesn't really fly with me.  It's a situation I just don't know how to deal with.  Lately I've resorted to "ignore it and maybe it will just go away," but I don't think that's going to prove beneficial in the long run.  I'm trying to set a positive example for my son.  Since he's been born I'm trying to be more patient, more kind, less judgemental.   That's hard when someone's testing you every step of the way.

My husband and I met while we were both in the military.  Our schedules made it difficult to put together a traditional wedding.  Both of us come from families with little money to spare, so if we wanted to throw a wedding we'd pay for it ourselves AND we would have had to pay for travel and lodging for both families, to include my husband's parents, grandmother and three siblings.  Scheduling difficulties aside, that would have been impossible without racking up thousands of dollars in debt.  So we went to the justice of the peace.  Mind you, both of us are hours away from our home states and we had never met each other's families.  By the time I met my mother-in-law I was married and pregnant. 

Hours into our first meeting she said they all figured my husband married me b/c I was pregnant.  Additionally, they had wondered if I might be black.  I was neither black nor pregnant, but SO WHAT if I had been?  Then she told me that when they received our honeymoon pictures, they tried to discern whether or not I was pregnant but they really couldn't tell.  I said, "Yeah, I do look a little big in those pictures.  Some of them aren't very good."  She told me that my husband's ex, upon seeing them, told her I look different in real life than I do in pictures.  I thought that was strange, and a little more than I wanted to hear, but I didn't pay much attention.  Months passed by until the baby was born.  We talked frequently on the phone and emailed every so often.  According to my husband, she thought I was great.  I cooked, cleaned and shopped Wal-Mart clearance racks.  I wasn't a picky eater and I made the bed when we came to visit! 

Every now and then she'd make a remark about how things would be when the new baby (my son) would be at her house, but I didn't pay much attention.  Why would my son, as a newborn, be at her house?  She lives eight hours away.  Now I see she's trying to replace her kids, who are nearly grown, with the grandkids.  The couple of times we have visited with the baby, she completely takes over.  The last time I was there, he was starting solids.  I was giving him little bits of very thin rice cereal, in addition to nursing him.  Not only did she do little to hide her disapproval of my breastfeeding, she also fed him things he definitely should not have had.  It seemed like she also wanted to say something about what I was eating.  I was nursing at the time, and constantly hungry.  At a size 10, I'm sure I seemed huge to her little size 2 self.  My MIL can be a little intimidating, and I did not want to disrespect her in her own house, so I didn't say much.  I was angry with myself days later when my poor son was crying and constipated. 

She doesn't entirely approve of the way I run my household.  I don't put the baby in front of the TV so I can get housework done.  I don't let my husband smoke indoors.  I bleach his white t-shirts, and I don't run the washing machine until I have a full load.  You can tell she doesn't like the answer you give her when her response is, "Welllll...."  She asks about the baby's diet every time you get her on the phone. She's gets a little huffy when I tell her he doesn't really eat hot dogs b/c I don't keep them around the house.  She believes breastmilk is just like formula, oatmeal cream pies are healthy, and American cheese with potato chips is a suitable lunch for a growing boy.  Broccoli and plain Cheerios?  Welllll....  Of course, my husband thinks this is all very funny and likes to play into it.  When she asked whether or not my son was going to have an Easter basket, he told her no, because we couldn't find one that had tofu in it.   

Sometimes I think she has a real problem.  Either she flat out lies, or she's suffering from early-onset Alzheimer's.  She will say one thing to me, then completely contradict herself just minutes later.  During our last visit, she tried to get my son, at 4 months, to eat spaghetti.  I told her I didn't want him to have wheat, but she was like, "Oh, just a little piece.  I always let mine have it."  Two months later, she asks me if he's eating spaghetti.  When I told her no, she said she never liked to give her babies spaghetti until they got older.  WHAT?  She also told me that when my husband's first son was born, he and his ex came and stayed with them for a month, and she had to do everything to take care of the baby b/c his mom didn't want anything to do with him.  According to DH, it was more like a week, if that, and if MIL took care of the baby it was b/c she has to have her hand in everything.  Usually her lies are little, leading me to think maybe she's just confused.  (She does get confused a lot.  We've called home to find, for some unknown reason, she'd expected us to arrive for a visit two days prior and has been worrying since we didn't show up.)  But the one about her supposedly taking care of DH's older son caused a lot of bitterness.  For a months I carried a chip on my shoulder, thinking my husband didn't understand what I was going through, taking care of a newborn all by myself with no family support.  I thought he had his mom doing all the work, but really he hadn't. 

My MIL remains on good terms with my husband's ex.  DH's ex lives three hours away and lets her son visit for weeks and months at a time.  MIL says she has to be nice because of the grandchild, and I respect that.  That's how it should be.  However, there seems to be more to it than that.  Things my husband tells his ex, regarding possible moves, his career, etc. make it to his mom before he gets a chance to tell her himself.  I have witnessed my MIL on the phone chatting away with his ex's mom.  I've been there when his ex called his sister.  She once called my MIL to complain that her internet boyfriend cancelled his trip to see her, yet again.  This all wouldn't be so bad if they didn't all trash her.  My MIL talks bad about her, then chats with her and lets her stay over night at her house.  It makes me wonder what she's said about us.  I'm sure she's playing both sides. 

Since I was pregnant, she has repeatedly mentioned the possibility of getting our son by himself for a visit.  DH's ex-wife was under the impression that my MIL would have our son with her the summer he was born.  I have tried to make it clear that our son will not be making any visits without his parents.  At one point I told her that when she says things about him visiting alone, it makes me feel unwelcome.  It sounds like she would prefer to have just my son.  Recently she offered to take him for a couple of weeks so that I could get a break.  That would mean sending my 1 year old son 8 hours away.  Not happening.  I turned her down as politely as I could, explaining I love him very much, would miss him terribly, wouldn't know what to do without him, etc.  She got loud with me and let me know that once I have another one I'll be begging her to take one off my hands.  Since then, I have not spoken to her and she's been a little cold toward my husband.  Thankfully, he fully trusts my abilities and decisions.  I'd rather have his approval than hers.

ledake ledake
26-30, F
5 Responses May 15, 2007

I had a lot of nonsense from my MIL especially as I was only 21 when my first child was born. I stood my ground from day one, and when she got too critical I didn't go over there until she apologized. Yes, I held visits over her to make her behave. If an adult behaves like a child, you have to treat them like one. <br />
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My strategy paid off. Now they are grown up she CONSTANTLY tells people how competant a Mother I am.<br />
Believe me it was a hard won compliment. <br />
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Now my daughter is going through the same thing with her MIL, and using the same strategy, so we shall see if she can be taught too.

At least your husband defends you. that makes it so much better.

It's sad that so many other people are in the same boat, but it's nice to know we're not alone. The situation bothers me because I want to get along with the in-laws and I want to like them. But I won't "go along to get along."<br />
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Funny you should mention kidnapping, tizzanny. My MIL actually isn't my husband's mother. He was raised by his aunt and uncle. They took him in when he was a baby b/c there was some bad stuff going on in his home. He thought they were his parents until one day at school his "cousin" aka his brother, told him, "Your mom stole you from my mom." He was never adopted. I get the impression that they just sort of kept him. They might have had legal guardianship or something. She and her mom talk about how they would love to keep DH's older son, who lives with his mother. He has some developmental delays and is a little bit of a handful. They expect his mother will give him up one of these days when he gets to be too much for her. Whenever this comes up, I say his Dad would be the next one to take him. They glance at me and go on like I never said I word. So kidnapping is something that crosses my mind every now and then. She might think about it, but I don't believe she'd do it. My father-in-law would put his foot down on that instantly. He keeps quiet, but he has enough sense and respect for my husband that he wouldn't let it go that far.

Forget what she says. You're right to stand your ground and raise your kids as you see fit. It's none of her business as long as the child is healthy and happy. And as for the visiting alone, it sounds more like a plea for kidnapping. That's crap.

I will never understand why who we are is and never will be good enough for our MILs. Good for you for putting her in her place. I'm still trying to figure out how to do that without completely destroying my hubby's relationship with her. I know it's easy to think who cares? but I know my mom isn't perfect and I would not tolerate anyone trying to come between us. (Although she doesn't act a fool like his mother does.) Why would you be begging her to take them off of her hands? I never heard of such. Good for you and hubby both to be standing your ground. Tempting for it to be a cold day in hell before she sees your precious child, isn't it? My hubby and I have a strong marriage but he still got a little peeved when I suggested (OK I was trying to sneak it by him) that our daughter stay home with me instead of going with him to see his mom (I had already told him I wasn't going because I didn't want to see her)and he told me it wouldn't be right of me to keep her from her grandmother. (I privately disagree, because I want nothing more than to punish her). Very frustrated and depressed.