It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing now. Today, we hear from “Betrayed DIL” whose initial letter appeared in one of the top 30 columns of last year. She originally wrote in about not wanting her MIL anywhere near her kids (after she blabbed to everyone at the baby shower that baby #1 had Down Syndrome, among other indiscretions). She updated us here and now, nearly a year later, she has a new update.
First off, I need to clear a few things up for the readers:
1. My aunt had asked if I was having a shower in their city and offered to host it. Since I wanted to give my MIL the opportunity to host a shower before accepting my aunt’s offer, as I didn’t want her to feel left out or like her toes were being stepped on, I asked her if she wanted to host one. I meant no offense or bad manners as some readers suggested. She did not tell me that she wanted to host for her side of the family only. She gave the impression that she did not want to host a party at all, which I was fine with. I was upset when she appeared to reverse her position just four weeks before a party that my aunt had been planning for months. It was a very small detail and in hindsight I should not have included it at all as it seems to be all some readers focused on.
2. I did attend the party (sore readers mistakenly believed I did not attend); DH talked me out of leaving at 1 AM to drive 5 hours back to my home city with a 2 month old in the car. I enjoyed myself immensely talking with DH’s aunts; I just refused to speak to MIL.
3. Some readers wondered if I was ashamed of my DD for having Down Syndrome or if her features were severe, but I have sent a photo of A to Wendy who can let the readers know whether she looks like she has Down Syndrome, or if it was something that we could get away with not saying anything about. [Down Syndrome children are beautiful and, although A doesn’t have the typical features of a Down’s kid, she’s super cute. – Wendy]
4. I am not psychotic or depressed or controlling or anything else that was suggested. I didn’t grow up in an abusive home and I am usually much more thick-skinned than my letter suggested. However, I have had a real run of it over the last 7 years. Highlights are:
2007 Dad diagnosed with Cancer
2008 DH diagnosed with Cancer
2010 Dad Passes away (6 days before my 1 year wedding anniversary!!)
2011 Daughter Arrives with Down Syndrome and massive hole in heart
2012 DD Hospitalized in February, March and April, and has to be on oxygen 24/7. I have to turn down AMAZING job offer due to second pregnancy and DD has open heart surgery.
Anyway, since I sent my letter to you, we bought a new house. I started maternity leave on March 1, 2013. I fell on March 7th and broke my foot. I was not allowed to walk and I had to use crutches. Ever tried that at 38 weeks pregnant? I don’t recommend it. I had my DS on March 15, via C-Section, and then had surgery to repair my foot on March 21st. We moved into our new home on May 15th and have been trying to renovate since then. OH, did I mention I decided to try and open a home-based business and have been taking esthetics classes?? Yup, I’m extremely busy!!
My relationship with my MIL is much better. My in-laws came to help us with some of the renos shortly after we took possession, and have been here on a semi-regular basis since then. When they came in August, Mom and I sat down and had a nice talk. She was honest and said that they were very hurt that we had not been to see them. Since we were being honest, I gently told her it felt like she was blaming me for having a sick baby. She said that was absolutely not the case and so I asked her when we could have gone to see her. We were there in November 2011, and then did not want to travel 5 hours in the snow at Christmas that year (she agreed). The next long weekend we could have gone was the “Family Day” weekend in February (the third Monday in Feb is a Stat in my Province as well as in theirs). “A” was in the hospital for this holiday. She was home for 2 weeks and then hospitalized again on March 5th. She was in the hospital until Good Friday, home for the Easter weekend and then back in for three days. (Mom agreed that we couldn’t travel). A was on oxygen for her heart, we had an oxygen generator at the house and a few 10-hour tanks (that could be 8 hours and could be 11 hours depending on how each was filled) for required outings like doctor appointments. Mom agreed that we would not have been able to travel. A’s Surgery was September 27. She was discharged on October 10th and I went back to work on October 25th. Mom again agreed we couldn’t travel that soon after surgery. I explained to her (and I’m explaining to your readers just for clarity) that in Alberta, Canada where I live you are allowed 52 weeks of maternity leave, PROVIDED you have 600 insurable working hours (not sure how it works down in the US but in Canada it is law that your employer deduct employment insurance premiums from every cheque). If you have 600 insurable hours you are eligible for maternity leave. The government of Canada pays me to be home with my children (for the person who accused me of fraud, there is NO requirement that I return to work after my maternity leave, but, after 26 payments, they stop paying me.) I was not able to take ANY vacation time at Christmas last year due to the need for every available hour I could possibly work. I had 644 insurable hours on March 1.
When Mom heard it broken down like this, even though she had lived through it with us, it seemed to get through. I also explained that with the new house, the cost to go visit them was prohibitive. I WANT to go back. I have aunts and uncles who have not seen A since November 2011 and no one has even met my DS!
Now that Mom understands that I am not not going back to being bitchy or punishing her and it is simply a function of time and finances, she has eased up on the guilt trips she lays on DH. We Skype with them every Sunday night and sometimes more often if we can find the time and the kids are in a good mood. Photos are DH’s responsibility and Mom knows that. Since Facebook created drama last year, I made the decision (as noted in my last update) to delete her and have not re-added her. I don’t want to constantly worry that malice or mal-intent will be seen in every post. DH knows that he needs to share any photos and videos of the kids I post so that Mom gets to see them.
All in all, I agree that my reaction was extreme. I still feel it was justified – to a point; however, I was letting my emotions cloud my better judgment and there was no reason the drama needed to carry on for 14 months!! My MIL truly loves my children and I know that not having the stress of his wife and mother fighting has had a calming effect on my DH. To those readers (and to you, Wendy) who showed compassion, it was so incredibly appreciated and I read your replies with an open heart and an open mind. To those readers who felt an attack was warranted, I have this to say:
Some will, some won’t, some do, some don’t, SO WHAT, NEXT.
Moved on and Much Better!!
Well! Very good, then.
If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at email@example.com.