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The last weekend in November we made the 5-hour drive to visit our families. We had a lovely visit with my family on Saturday and returned home to my in-laws’ place in high spirits. That night sitting in my MIL’s living room, I reminded my hubby that we needed to be careful about what we said as most people still didn’t know about A’s diagnosis. My MIL pipes up ‘Oh EVERYONE on our side knows!’ And then proceeds to list everyone she had told.
I was shocked! I was hurt and very betrayed by her lack of respect for me and my wishes. I went to bed early and seriously considered packing up right then and there and heading home. My hubby came to bed and after a long (heated) discussion, came to see my side of the situation. He also talked me out of making a 5-hour drive at night in the snow.
I stopped talking to my MIL until I could work out in my own mind the best way to address the situation. However, Sunday night my FIL talked to me and basically the gist was I was in the wrong, I was a bitch and how dare I hurt mom’s feelings. WOW!! She disrespects me and I’m the bitch??
The next morning, my hubby was so upset and stressed that he was throwing up. Since I love him, I agreed to go for lunch with the in-laws on our way out of town. I also knew that he was hoping for a resolution between me and his mom. So bearing that in mind, I apologized for upsetting her. Instead of a return apology, I got, “That’s ok dear, we still love you.” Needless to say, that only upset me more!!!
Fast forward to September 2012. The in-laws came for a visit over the day A had her heart surgery. In hindsight it was a mistake to have them stay with us. They were only concerned with themselves and did not stop to think about me and my hubby. They “helped” by taking apart my furnace, then taking my hubby shopping for 3.5 hours, when he really wanted to spend the afternoon with A and me. The day of surgery, they sat and stared at me while I had a breakdown in the hospital after having the surgeon tell us he basically thought A would not make it through the night. They called and woke us up the following morning to tell us they were 60-minutes away and then did not show up for more than three hours. Then they had the nerve to confide to my mom that they felt they were unwanted and an inconvenience!
Since then. I have made myself unavailable when they call or Skype. I have no desire whatsoever to talk to them!!
Oh, but it gets worse! On Christmas Eve I replied on my FB wall to a question from another family member about coming to visit. I explained our situation (I’m pregnant again and working very hard to get the required hours at work so I can collect Employment Insurance and be off with my kids for 12 months) and since I am due in March I did not see us making the trip before baby two arrives. Plus, it would depend on finances since we would have to stay in a hotel. (In light of the above, I don’t feel welcome at the in-laws’ place anymore, and they do not have a room large enough to accommodate us). My MIL saw this post, called my hubby and freaked out. He sided with me, and the conversation ended on a bad note.
She then proceeded to send him a nasty email, the highlights of which are:
– she is losing touch with us (my hubby talks to them 3 time a week!!)
– I am never available to talk to them (I wonder why!)
– they have to ask for photos of A
– all the “promises” went out the window
– it broke her heart to see we would be staying in a hotel posted to FB
– they will not infringe on our lifestyle if they come to visit, they will stay in a hotel and call for an appointment
– she thinks we don’t want her in A’s life
– she is done crying her eyes out over this
– and while she will always love us, right now she doesn’t like us very much.
I’m livid!!!! How dare she send this to my hubby!!! She hurt him! But he is an ostrich and has stuck his head in the sand. She called the next morning wanting to Skype and he let her!!!
I have discussed with my hubby what has upset me and that I think it needs to be dealt with and she needs to be told her behavior is inappropriate and will not be tolerated. His response is that it’s over and we can’t change the past. I dislike conflict, but this is driving me nuts!! I don’t want them anywhere near my kids!!! She is manipulative and narcissistic. She has never once apologized for anything. Even when it was brought to her attention last November that she hurt me, all I got was “Sorry you feel that way.”
I know that, in the frame of mind I am in, any contact I have with her will result in a worse fight than is already going on! I know what I have to say and how I will say it will result in her crying.
Can you help me? I love my hubby, but I HATE his mom. — Betrayed DIL
Wow, you have been through a lot in the last 16 months, haven’t you? You gave birth, found out your daughter not only has Down’s Syndrome but also a heart problem that would require surgery and could potentially be fatal, and then got pregnant again when your baby was only nine months old and still faced major surgery and a scary uphill battle to regain her health and strength. I can only imagine how incredibly stressful this time has been — how your hormones are affecting already mixed emotions on multiple levels. And I can appreciate how out-of-control and even helpless you must have felt at different points in your child’s first 16 months of life.
I can also appreciate that when there are so many emotions and stresses or hormones working over time, it’s hard to know what to do with it all — where to put it. I gave birth to a perfectly healthy, if not tiny, baby, and have only him to worry about since he was born — no additional pregnancy or sick family member or other big life upheaval — and it’s still been a challenge finding balance in my life. In the early, post-partem months, I often felt torn between feeling immense love for my baby and feeling resentful over the way his presence had so drastically altered my lifestyle. And then I’d feel guilty about that resentment and then I’d beat myself up emotionally about not being a better mother, wife, friend, etc. It was a pretty difficult cycle — one that I’m sure is very common among mothers, new and experienced alike, but made even more challenging for anyone who has a child with health issues.
My point is, you have to do something with all those emotions or you’ll explode. They have to go somewhere. They can’t just stay inside you. Some healthy ways of dealing with them include: exercise; talking with your partner and friends; journaling; talking to a therapist; making time for hobbies or things that bring you joy; taking a vacation; having a glass of wine now and then. Maybe you’ve been doing those things, but it seems like you’ve also been projecting at least some of your anger, disappointment, fear, and sheer exhaustion onto your MIL. The “crimes” she’s committed — sharing news with extended family before you could share it yourself (and after you asked her not to tell anyone); not returning an apology you gave her; being an inconvenient houseguest at a very stressful moment in your life (at a time, I assume, you invited her to be there); and getting upset over a Facebook posting which may or may not have been a passive aggressive act on your part to upset her — don’t match the punishment you want to give her. What she did was hurtful and disrespectful, yes — and I’m referring mostly to the part about her sharing A’s diagnosis with extended family members before giving you a chance to do so, since that’s what I consider the biggest offense and that really set you off — but was it so disrespectful that she deserves to not see her grandchildren? No. So disrespectful that you should never speak to her again? No! Never stay in her home again? Eh, debatable.
What I suggest you do is take a deep breath, step back and try to see the larger picture here. You have a daughter who was born with some pretty scary diagnoses. She’s only 16 months old, had a near-fatal heart surgery less than six months ago, and you’re expecting a second baby in less than two months. That is so, so much to deal with — for you and your husband, predominantly, but also for your respective families. They had to come to grips, just as you did, with the challenges ahead, as well as how to support you during those challenges. They’re human. They have character flaws — just like you do (and for the record, I’d consider asking someone to throw you a baby shower and then getting upset when it isn’t convenient for you — i.e. only open to one side of the family — a little bit of a character flaw… or at the least, exceptionally bad manners). Your in-laws likely haven’t been in a situation like the one they’re currently in — parents to parents of a sick baby — and obviously don’t know the best way to handle the situation.
It’s not like parenthood comes with a manual, as you know, and for them, maybe driving your husband around for a few hours to “go shopping” (whatever that means) was how they thought they could be supportive. Maybe they thought a distraction would help him. Maybe they wanted to shop for things they thought you’d need. Maybe they were under the impression your furnace wasn’t working and took it apart to fix it so it would be one less thing for you to worry about when you got home from the hospital. Maybe they, too, were so sick with worry over the thought of their baby granddaughter not surviving heart surgery that they just simply didn’t know HOW to react to your breakdown. Maybe it was all they could do themselves not to breakdown too. I don’t know. What I do know — or what I think, anyway — is that you’re being unfairly hard on them right now. And on your poor husband who is in the middle of all this.
Show some compassion. Be the bigger person. Share photos of your babies with your in-laws. Let them be a part of your lives. Accept that they have flaws and are going to make mistakes and are going to do stuff that get under your skin. Most in-laws do. But it sounds like they love you very much — they most certainly love their son and granddaughter (and grandchild-to-be). Let them love them and love you the best way they know how. It may not be the way you’d prefer. It may not be the kind of love you’re used to from your own parents. But love is love, family is family, and if your husband is lucky enough to have two living parents who care for him and his wife and his kids, don’t stand in the way of letting them share that love with all of you. Occasional Skype sessions, regular photos, and a visit a couple times a year isn’t going to kill you. But preventing a relationship between your husband and his parents or your children and their grandparents just might kill your marriage and family. And for what? So you can feel “right” or vindicated? Well, that’s just wrong. And it’s a big price to pay for such a trivial thing that really won’t leave you feeling any better.
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parton_doll January 31, 2013, 9:15 am
I completely agree with Wendy. And you are so lucky to have a husband that stands by you and supports you. Don’t put him in more of a position to choose you or his family. Because as much as you need support right now to handle all of the challenges in your life, he needs support too … support that can not come from you because you are emotionally spent. He may be reaching a breaking too, and at a time when you need each other most. Talk to your doctor about ways to help you handle your emotions and stress. And best of luck to you. I hope things start to look up for you and your family.
SuzyQ January 31, 2013, 10:36 am
Maybe there’s some post-partum depression at play here as well. She sounds quite manic which is a sign…. maybe some good anti-depressants will help. I’ve known several women who suffered from this who sounded very similar until they got help.
Sarah Callaghan March 26, 2017, 11:34 am
Please do not advise people to take medication. How about take care of yourself and eat healthy. Too many people are popping pills these days and they do nothing but mask the real issue.
beca February 26, 2021, 7:48 am
I don’t agree. Your MIL seems very intrusive. Perhaps cutting her out is a bit extreme but having a close relationship with the grandchildren is not a must. If she is not healthy for your family then protect your family. Being a grandparent is a not a right. When people are toxic your responsibility is with your family.
It seems like people are blaming you for what you MIL is doing. I wonder if they are MIL hah,
Marie October 12, 2019, 10:26 am
A wife does not put her husband in any position to choose. He chose her when they took their wedding vows. It’s the mother that makes him choose.
Trixy minx January 31, 2013, 9:16 am
Holy crap, Wendy. That is a really thoughtful answer!
GatorGirl January 31, 2013, 9:16 am
I can not get past the the first line…you do not ask someone to throw you a shower of any kind. Period.
kerrycontrary January 31, 2013, 9:22 am
lets_be_honest January 31, 2013, 9:27 am
Yea, I have read the replies yet, but was scrolling to leave one and saw yours. I knew that wouldn’t go over well. I hope no one is too vicious as she sounds like she has a lot to deal with and should be focusing her concerns elsewhere, however…
You don’t like conflict lw? You sure?
Wendy January 31, 2013, 9:30 am
Yes, let’s remember that this LW has a ton on her plate now, is probably emotionally and physically spent, has mad hormones working overtime, and STILL has to give birth and deal with a newborn is just a few weeks. Compassionate and thoughtful feedback here is the best way to go.
Addie Pray January 31, 2013, 9:35 am
But she calls her husband HUBBY?! I’m kidding, LW, you’re going through so much. I’d do what Wendy says, maybe see if a therapist to help process all these emotions.
ktfran January 31, 2013, 10:14 am
I love that you said that AP. Because I may or may not have been thinkng it. But my heart does go out to the LW and all that she is going through.
iwannatalktosampson January 31, 2013, 10:53 am
Yeah I was so distracted by it. But I can’t even be mean to this LW. The whole time I was reading it I was like OMG did I get drunk and write in to DW about my in-laws? But then the baby stuff happened and I knew it wasn’t me. I had a feeling Wendy would suggest being the bigger person – because deep down I always think I should too – but I was definitely all “fuck those guys” the whole time I was reading.
GatorGirl January 31, 2013, 9:57 am
I literally read the first line and posted my comment. A little more compassion in regards to the family situation is warrented, but I firmly beleive it is never okay to ask someone to host a party for you. I felt a little bad after reading the whole letter that my post was so blunt, but it is what it is.
artsygirl January 31, 2013, 9:17 am
LW – your MIL sounds like an idiot. Not a cruel or mean person, just self absorbed, impulsive, and again not too bright. I am sure in her mind she has done nothing wrong and even if you pointed out all the times you have been upset by her behavior she would no doubt brush it off as unimportant. That being said, your husband obviously is close to his family and wants to maintain a relationship with them (btw Kudos on his standing up with you!). I think you will need to find a common space. So I would be kind to your MIL and FIL but draw some boundaries. Send along lots of pictures but definitively state that you will not stay in their house because a)it is inconvenient for them – lead with this one b) it will be close quarters after baby 2 arrives and c) they are unlikely to have the space toddler proofed. When they come to visit, you might suggest local hotels but know that they could end up staying with you anyway. Pray for a sleepless night filled with the screams of fussy babies if that is the case.
Also, did you always have an uncomfortable relationship with your MIL? Was she always this inconsiderate or was it her way of dealing with the stress of baby A? No matter what, she is in your and your children’s lives forever so make sure you find ways to live around her nature. Good luck and positive thoughts from across the interweb for the stressful year and a half you have had.
You Go Girl January 31, 2013, 12:54 pm
I agree that the MIL sounds like an insensitive, dogmatic person who is sure that her way is the “right” way and everyone else is wrong. She thought everyone in the family “should” know about their baby’s diagnosis even though her daughter-in-law requested her not to say anything. If my child was having life-threatening surgery, the last thing I would want is my in-laws taking apart my furnace without my permission.
The LW has been through a great deal, and is about to have a new baby in addition to deal with. With her husband’s help, she should allow her difficult in-laws to be a part of their grandchildren’s lives with firm boundaries. Like Wendy suggested, she can share a few pictures, talk occasionally on Skype, and visit once or twice a year and stay in a hotel. If health, time and money prevent a visit at Christmas, then they can visit after the baby is born. I would not recommend having them come when the baby is born, as this will add more stress.
Skyblossom January 31, 2013, 4:05 pm
The LW comes off the same way. They sound like they are very much alike and banging their heads together like crazy.
Desiree January 31, 2013, 9:18 am
WWS. The LW to me sounds pretty unstable throughout this letter, but I think Wendy is correct to attribute it to hormones and intense stress. Also, LW, everyone you have been fighting with (husband, in-laws) are also people who were emotionally impacted by your child’s diagnosis and surgery. Please realize that you aren’t alone in your suffering, and please stop pushing these people away. I hope you will stop trying to burn bridges with you MIL and instead focus on fostering goodwill in the relationships that will be essential support to you and your family (especially your kids!).
SuzyQ January 31, 2013, 10:34 am
I like your response – I think the LW was very hurt that her MIL didn’t give her an apology and she felt “beaten up” by the whole family the night of the shower. That’s a hard feeling to overcome, especially with that much stress in her life. But I hope she can find a way to do it, because the parents-in-law could really help out when needed in the future. It sounds like they’d be delighted.
kerrycontrary January 31, 2013, 9:21 am
WWS! It sounds like the MIL is one of those people who never apologizes. Sometimes you just need to accept people for the way they are (flaws and all) and get over it, even though what she did was really really wrong. It sounds like this has just gone on way too long and you need to raise the white flag and surrender, even if it hurts your pride. I hope your baby girl is doing ok and best of luck with the end of your pregnancy.
Oldie January 31, 2013, 9:30 am
LW has been through an awful lot and deserves some slack, but she also needs to recognize that in her current mental state she is more than a little toxic and the spreader of unnecessary drama and family discord wherever she goes. This battle with MIL was started by her declining to host a baby shower. What’s with that? She isn’t required to host a shower. While I can understand that LW wanted to tell everyone in her husband’s family about A’s condition in her own time and way, the command not to share what you’ve been told is controlling and disruptive. LW is clearly greatly disturbing her husband with her behavior, if he gets so upset that he pukes. She’s trying to tear him apart from his mother and his birth family.
I’ve experienced this problem with sharing but then demanding a promise of secrecy. It has caused tremendous discord in my family and is driven by one person who will say things to somebody and then follow up with ‘but you can’t tell X and Y, or you can’t let anybody else know’. My family was very close and my sibs still are and this giant web of secrets being spread out by one person is becoming very destructive. This person has a different way of seeing life, which just seems incompatible.
My advice to LW is that you don’t understand the dynamics of your husband’s family. They really should not be required to drastically change their family dynamic to accommodate your desire to keep secrets. Really, your sense of what must be secret is rather strange. Why must some members of your husband’s family not form an initial impression about A until they meet A, while it’s alright that other members do? That’s pretty much what you have demanded. Remember the old saying that two people can keep a secret if one of them is dead. In the case of your MIL letting her family know about A’s condition, which is something that is important in her son’s life and she assumes her son’s other close relatives would want to know and be supportive, seems like something that cannot possibly do any harm to anyone. It seems your main complaint is that you weren’t in control and your wishes weren’t followed. Did you even discuss this matter of requiring the keeping of this secret with your husband, before you imposed it on his mother.
I hope that Wendy is right about the hormones and that the contents of your letter are not reflective of your normal personality and the way in which you relate to your husband and his family. The issues you mention do not warrant a demand that your husband stand up against his mother on your behalf. Your MIL is more right than you are.
Skyblossom January 31, 2013, 9:42 am
I also don’t understand the demand for secrecy. How long would the family have to wait before they told anyone? It sounds like they only visit a few times a year at most so when was the entire family supposed to meet and get to know the child. I also think they would know instantly when they met the child or saw a picture of the baby. The need to hide something that can’t actually be hidden says that the mom hasn’t emotionally dealt with the daughter’s condition. You don’t get years to let the world know your child has Down Syndrome. I have to wonder if the mom not wanting to send pictures is because she doesn’t want people to see the child. It is a way of hiding her daughter.
JK January 31, 2013, 9:44 am
Yeah, I would think it would be better for people to know previously, to get over the shock of the diagnosis, and get to know the baby for herself, not have the diagnosis be the huge elephant in the room when they 1st meet her.
Skyblossom January 31, 2013, 9:54 am
I think that if you hadn’t already told them they would see the baby and be startled and then wonder if you knew that your baby had Down Syndrome. They wouldn’t want to say anything but the whole family would be talking about it behind your back, wondering if they should tell you. I think it is much better to just be honest. Her husband’s family will wonder what is wrong with her for trying to hide this from them. It will make them think that she hasn’t accepted the condition and doesn’t love the baby unconditionally.
I have met a newborn with Down Syndrome and didn’t know until I looked at her that she had the condition but it was blatantly obvious from the first glimpse. She was still a beautiful baby and everyone made a fuss over her just like any other newborn. Down Syndrome children are delightful.
MsMisery January 31, 2013, 1:28 pm
Agreed, and I also don’t get the whole “get to know her first” thing. I mean, she’s a baby. You’re not going to be holding conversations with her regardless of her health, right? I’d rather not be wondering the whole time, even if it isn’t politically correct, if A has something up when I’m first meeting her.
Clementine January 31, 2013, 11:15 am
I think the request for secrecy was to encourage people to get to know and love baby A with no prior prejudices or misconceptions to color the relationship. It’s understandable. There are people in this world (I had more than one for an in-law) who will keep themselves from becoming attached to anything–an older pet, a temp worker at the office, even a sick baby–that they perceive to be only a temporary presence in their lives.
Oldie January 31, 2013, 12:38 pm
This may well be the reason that LW didn’t want to tell all of her husband’s family. But then… she is sending the message that she thinks (or assumes) that they are prejudiced and will act badly toward her baby. They won’t fail to pick up on this message. Likely, MIL picked up on it and decided that she didn’t want to be part of such a negative assumption about the possibly wrongfully assumed prejudices of her relations and how they would react badly to the situation. It’s also very possible that LW’s family and her husband’s family are just very different in degree of closeness, sharing, and communication style. It seems wrong for her to impose her family’s style on her husband and his family. Her letter makes clear that she is really beating on her husband emotionally to see things her way. She even calls him an ostrich for refusing to admit that he’s been hurt by his mother.
Skyblossom January 31, 2013, 2:50 pm
I was thinking the same thing. The family would wonder why the condition was hidden from them and their assumptions could get ugly. The MIL may very well have known her family better than the LW and knew that it would be better to tell them right away.
wendykh February 6, 2013, 12:04 pm
I sort of agree… but it’s THEIR baby. THEY get to choose. Not MIL.
LT January 31, 2013, 11:45 am
I know in my case, I don’t plan on telling my in-laws that I’m pregnant (when I get pregnant) until the first trimester is over. I would do this because not because my MIL is a horrible person, but because she would NOT be able to keep it a secret, and her entire family is VERY judgy about health problems (they actually think a cousin’s breast cancer is her own fault somehow, and simultaneously think she has anorexia because she looks skinnier now that she had a mastectomy). I know that I would not be able to take the blamey accusations if I were to miscarry, so I plan on keeping the info to myself until things are sort of “safe.”
It sucks, because I know my husband will want to tell, but he totally gets it, because he knows his family, and telling someone “Here’s a HUGE piece of info, keep it secret” is an impossible situation, like you said. People should keep their own secrets if they want them kept.
MJ January 31, 2013, 12:06 pm
In this case, though, this isn’t a secret you CAN keep. I mean, unless you want to hide your baby away from its grandparents, aunts and uncles. I don’t think the LW should’ve tried to keep it secret, but you can’t blame her for telling her MIL and FIL that the baby had DS. I don’t think it was fair for her to ask them not to tell, but they should’ve respected her wishes.
JLS January 31, 2013, 3:52 pm
This is an amazing response. I agree 100% with everything Oldie said.
I have spent time working in the NICU and I am sorry to say that this type of family strife is not that uncommon in these situations. Emotions run very high. I think Wendy’s advice about speaking to a therapist is paramount for the mother. There are resources for this readily available through the hospital, they will know who to contact. Trust me, these counselors/therapists/social workers are superb (at least in my experience).
I hope this mother will open up to letting others help her. I know we don’t have all the details of the family dynamics here but not telling close family members of a diagnosis like this could potentially have consequences the LW never thought of. Life can be strange and you never know who knows whom. Any one of these family members or their spouses/friends/etc. could know or know of an expert who can make the life of this little girl and her family better.
A has a lifelong condition, this family is going to need a lot of help. There are going to be so many special needs beyond the urgency of this heart surgery. This LW and her husband have to accept that. It will go such a long way toward finally relaxing a little bit and enjoying motherhood if she lets people love her and help her.
painted_lady January 31, 2013, 4:15 pm
I agree with all of this. Plus, if the LW keeps this secret from family, aside from sending the message that “You people can’t be trusted to love my baby,” it also sends the message, intentional or not, that there’s something about DS that should be hidden. Probably not intentional, but LW is going to set the tone.
Also, while she’s the mother, she is not the only person who loves this kid and who will be affected by this diagnosis. I have a cousin who is 22 now, but when she was born she had a heart problem and ended up needing a heart transplant when she was 10. They thought she wasn’t going to make it for the first few months of her life. As much as I appreciate the desire to maintain some privacy, even as a distant cousin halfway across the country, I wanted my cousin to be well, and I wanted to know what was going on. I can’t imagine what that must feel like not only as a grandparent but watching your own child suffer through the agony of a sick baby. So as much as I do feel for the LW, I don’t know that this is only hers to tell. Should the MIL have handled telling people differently? Absolutely. But I can think of a million reasons why she would have – maybe she deals with fear and sadness by talking about it, maybe she felt like people deserved to know, maybe the husband felt differently about keeping this news secret and felt like the LW wasn’t in a place to hear it, maybe she thought that the LWs fears were misplaced and thought that an outpouring of love would help LW and husband through a difficult time. Do any of these supersede the fact that LW asked the family not to tell? No. But unless the MIL was spreading malicious gossip about her granddaughter, the reasoning was hardly nefarious.
My parents separated when I was 25. The incident that caused it was awful, traumatic, scary, and incredibly painful for all of us: my dad physically attacked my brother. I watched it happen, and it was horrifying. I had a few close friends I called and cried to, and when my mom found out, she was initially furious with me for airing our dirty laundry. She felt betrayed, like I was spilling her secrets. But what I told her, and she eventually realized, was that it was also my secret. My dad, my brother, my horrible memory, my family that was falling apart. I don’t know exactly where that line is drawn, but I feel like maybe the MIL has a certain amount of ownership of this secret as well.
MJ January 31, 2013, 9:30 am
I know you hate this woman, LW, but it sounds like she’s more clueless than malicious. (Never attribute to malice what can be explained by simple stupidity!)
I think you should investigate sitting down with a family therapist for just a few sessions (probably you and your husband) to talk about healthy boundaries and maintaining a cordial but not overly-friendly relationship. Especially for your poor husband’s sake. Being caught in the middle of this conflict sounds horrible.
Then, send her photos of your kids! That’s the easiest thing to do. Have your husband do it and sign a quick “HI” note from all of you. She’ll love it, and you’ll be giving her a small part of what she wants with very minimal effort.
theattack January 31, 2013, 9:31 am
WWS for sure. You sound very stressed, LW, and like Wendy said, I think some of your anger is misplaced. I’m sure you’re at a place where every little thing is driving you up the wall, especially with your in-laws because, hey, they’re in-laws. I agree that it was inappropriate for them to tell others about your child’s Down Syndrome without your permission, but to me that’s the only offense here, and You should really try to move on from it. It’s in the past. Are people treating your daughter poorly because of it? If not, then your MIL didn’t do any real harm besides going against your wishes. You should also remember that you chose to tell her the diagnosis and trust her. Maybe take that as a lesson learned about sharing sensitive information with her and move on.
When she took your husband out shopping, that really was not a personal affront to you and your baby. It had nothing to do with you, and you are trying to make it all about you. Chill out and realize that your husband probably did want to go, and that there’s nothing wrong with him being away with his parents for three freaking hours. Can you imagine if your daughter grows up and marries a man who freaks out when you take her shopping for three hours? If that thought bothers you, then you need to back off your in-laws.
The bottom line is that continuing this bickering is only damaging your relationship with them, which is probably damaging your relationship with your husband. Sometimes there are legitimate reasons to distance yourself from family, but that is a very serious decision to make, and you really need to weigh out whether or not it’s worth it. Your in-laws care about you, and they are trying. They’re just making mistakes along the way. That is much more than a lot of people can say about their in-laws. Also consider that when you’re pulling away from them, you’re also pulling your daughter away from grandparents who love her. Isn’t it best to have as many loving people in a child’s life as possible? You have a lot of self-reflection to do, LW.
Skyblossom January 31, 2013, 9:35 am
I’m feeling sorry for the husband caught in the middle of this mess.
I also don’t see how the LW thought she could keep people from knowing her daughter had Down Syndrome. It is pretty obvious, even in a newborn, and most relatives will love the baby because it is a member of their family. They will be sad that the baby has Downs but they will love it unconditionally.
JK January 31, 2013, 9:37 am
I think we might be twins, Skyblossom, you always say exactly what I´m thinking!
Fabelle January 31, 2013, 9:45 am
Yeahhh, I was thinking this too.
I do get the LW’s reasoning, but if it’d actually been put into practice, I think the secretiveness would have backfired. People are unfortunately very awkward when confronted with these things, & if family had just been surprised once they saw the baby? I could see it ranging from forced pretending-nothing-was-wrong, to overly personal inquiries to the LW & her husband.
jlyfsh January 31, 2013, 9:46 am
I feel bad for the husband as well.
i can’t imagine being told your baby has any issue before birth and all the anxiety she must have felt, i’m sure that played a part in her trying to protect her baby already from people’s judgement?
anyway I read this blog post that someone shared (it’s a few years old now and the blogger has kept posting, it’s a really good read) about finding out her baby had down syndrome at the birth. even though it’s obvious in the pictures that were taken no one in the room knew until the dr told the mother. she’s very up front with the emotions she felt and the support she got. not really on topic per se but it was a very captivating read!
Skyblossom January 31, 2013, 9:57 am
The mother also published a book about her daughter. It is a great read about all the emotions related to the unexpected birth of a handicapped child.
jlyfsh January 31, 2013, 9:59 am
I’ll have to check that out! Obviously I enjoy blogs 😉 so I really got in to reading the story of their life.
bethany January 31, 2013, 10:21 am
omg, this is killing me…
When they give her the baby and she says the look in the baby’s eyes say “Love me. Love me. I’m not what you expected, but oh, please love me”
jlyfsh January 31, 2013, 10:25 am
yeah i read it at work and cried pretty much the whole time!
cdobbs January 31, 2013, 9:36 am
maybe i’m missing something…the LW sounds like a diva to me….#1 you don’t ask someone to throw you a shower…and #2 so what your MIL told people about your baby’s diagnosis…they will find out eventually anyways…its sounds like the LW is a total drama queen and freaks out if people aren’t constantly giving her attention…and then to post on fb that you are going to stay in a hotel when you go to visit…thats just cold…no wonder the MIL said that they would do the same when they came to visit you and your husband…i think the LW has just completely lost her mind due to preganancy hormones and the stress of having a sick infant to take care of
MissDre January 31, 2013, 9:48 am
It doesn’t matter if people would find out anyway. Something like that is extremely personal, and the LW had every right to want to share the news in her own way, in her own time. It was extremely disrespectful for the MIL to disregard that.
BecBoo84 January 31, 2013, 10:21 am
Yes, I agree. It doesn’t really matter if every singly commenter on here thinks the LW should have told people in advance of them meeting baby A. What matters is that the LW and her husband told their in-laws in confidence and made it clear they didn’t want anyone else to be told, and the MIL went against that.
bittergaymark February 1, 2013, 5:33 am
The request was absurd and unreasonable. Look, having a child with special needs doesn’t give you carte blanche to be an insane control freak with the world’s shortest fuse. Sorry, it simply doesn’t.
wendykh February 6, 2013, 12:09 pm
it doesn’t matter how absurd or unreasonable. It was their choice and right.
Skyblossom January 31, 2013, 10:56 am
When you are a parent you can’t control what other people say about your child. It is a fact you have to accept. If you don’t want people to share something that you’ve told them you can’t share it in the first place. You can only control yourself so you need to think long and hard about what you share with others.
Sara January 31, 2013, 11:12 am
I hear you. I closely guard my personal “news” (like job changes, family planning) until I’m prepared for everyone to know about the news. It just feels so sad that you can’t even share news with the grandparents of the child and have confidence that they will respect your wishes for privacy.
iwannatalktosampson January 31, 2013, 11:46 am
Yeah I agree. I told my MIL a medical situation I was going through in confidence (I kind of had to tell her because she had to pick me up from the appointment) and she literally then proceeded to tell the whole family. It was a really personal thing. Even thinking about it now makes my blood boil. But I chose to call her out on it instead of being the bigger person, and that felt great. (But LW I am not recommending you do that)
cdobbs January 31, 2013, 11:07 am
i agree that the MIL should not have told anybody…and probably could have apologized for that…but its the way the LW overreacted to it and then just kept it going making the situation worse and worse by pouting about it…the MIL made a mistake yes…but don’t take a bad situation and then make it worse by then overreacting to every little thing that subsequently took place
Lynn January 31, 2013, 10:00 am
Giving birth to a child with Down syndrome is tough — especially when you’re not expecting it. I volunteer with the SO, and as much as these people love their children, it’s heartbreaking to hear their stories about when they found out. You imagine having this perfect child, and news like that, in a sense, ruins that dream. Of course, these children are perfect but it’s tough… life is going to be a lot more difficult. And the fact of the matter is, there are some people in this world who aren’t great with children who have mental disabilities, and I would bet she was thinking about that. I am sure the LW wanted people to see her child and interact with her child first before judging or coming to any conclusions. I personally think she overreacted a little bit, but I understand why she wanted to be the person to break the news.
Also, I’ve read some other comments from people — you can’t always tell right off the bat that a child has DS. My best friend’s little brother has DS, and if you hadn’t met him yet and just saw baby pictures, you would have no idea. As he’s gotten older, it’s become more apparent, but when he was a baby … not so much.
Fabelle January 31, 2013, 9:37 am
WWS. LW, I’m sorry for your child’s diagnosis & the tumultuous, scary time you’re going through right now. But if you un-focus your hatred, anger, & self-righteous indignation for a moment, you might actually find life to be a little less stressful.
Honestly, it seems to me that the people around you are only trying to help, & are feeling at a loss for ways to interact with you—an emotional, stressed-out new mother facing enormous challenges. Go back over your letter & try to view each situation with your MIL through her eyes.
First, were you clear enough with her that you wanted the diagnosis kept secret until everybody met the baby? Maybe you were, but maybe it was already too late (& she’d blabbed to family already?) I understand being hurt & feeling betrayed over this, but hiding out afterwards threatening to drive hours in bad weather was a poor way to deal with it, & I’m sure your extreme reaction had your husband & his parents…in a tizzy (I never use that expression, but I’m lacking the ability to find another description right now)
As for their stay with you—like Wendy said, was there something wrong with your furnace? And are you ~sure~ your husband didn’t WANT to go shopping with them? He’s in this with you too, you know, & he could probably use a break.
As for the other drama, I’m not sure what to even say about that, but I DO think that, yeah, you & your MIL shouldn’t be going back & forth to visit so much. But if you want to cut back on these visits, you need to open up in other areas. Send her some pictures, Skype with her at least SOMETIMES, & make sure she & your FIL know that they’re welcome into their grandbaby’s life. Wendy’s right that they haven’t done anything so egregious to warrant cutting them out.
Oldie January 31, 2013, 10:11 am
Here’s a helpful hint for situations like this. If you have a mania about secrets, don’t assume that everyone else will be as happy keeping your secret from their loved ones as you are. If you are going to tell somebody a secret, that you expect them not to tell a soul, then you really owe them an upfront warning first. Don’t do, as my family member does, say something in a conversation and then once you have said it, followup with ‘but you can’t tell anyone’, or ‘you can’t tell X and Y’. That is just feeding your own need for drama. You owe it to the person to tell them that you are about to share a secret with them, but won’t do so, unless they agree to treat it as a secret. Then, if they don’t want to engage in you secrecy mind games, they can simply reply that they would prefer not to hear your secret. LW’s approach is all about being controlling and demanding to be the center of dramas.
RangerChic January 31, 2013, 1:15 pm
I agree with this. Sometimes my mother tells me thing about my father I don’t want to know (she tells me without warning and therefore don’t have a chance to stop her) and then proceeds to tell me, don’t tell anyone especially your siblings! Ugh, I always tell my husband because I need someone to talk to about it. There are somethings people shouldn’t share if you want it kept quiet. In my family if you tell my dad you’ve pretty much told everybody. So I always keep that in mind when talking to him. It is unfortunate.
LW~ I agree with everyone so far about the secret. Maybe you should have clarified with “can you please not tell anyone for the next few weeks while we work through the news ourselves?” or something, but you can’t really expect her to keep it a secret forever.
Lynn January 31, 2013, 9:39 am
Your MIL certainly sounds like a lot of work, but please don’t keep your kids from her (and FIL). I’m sure they love Baby A and your unborn child and really want to be in their lives. Try to move on from her faults and the stress she’s caused you — don’t let her be that source of stress anymore.
And on a side note, want to know something great? Baby A is always going to be the shining light in the room and will always have a heart full of nothing but love. Children with Down syndrome seem to have the most genuine and loving hearts — spending a day with those kiddos can turn anyone’s bad day into a good one — it’s pretty awesome. So here’s to good health for you and Baby A and your pregnancy, and here’s to restoring the sanity in your life as well as your husband’s. Good luck!
ktfran January 31, 2013, 10:12 am
It’s true! About children with down syndrome. My best friend’s baby was diagnosed with it shortly after birth. I absolutely adore her and she’s always smiling and just fun to be around. She’s a pretty special little girl. Actually, I would say everyone gets about ten times happier when she’s around.
Lynn January 31, 2013, 10:31 am
Aw, that’s so sweet! My best friend’s little brother gets so excited about everything and every time he gives a hug, he hugs like there’s no tomorrow. Of course, there are tough times and they can be a handful, but they are very much special kids.
ktfran January 31, 2013, 11:13 am
Right? I haven’t seen her since before Christmas, because we don’t live in the same city. Right about now, I’m thinking I need to see her and my friend soon. Three to four times a year might not be enough.
mainer January 31, 2013, 9:42 am
I need a nap after reading that. It sounds like the LW just needs someone to talk to/unleash on. I think this is precisely the reason therapists exist. There will always be issues with in-laws because all of a sudden you are forced to adopt their family values in order to feel like part of their family. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do about that and you will have to find compromise (even if that is just understanding the fact that your husband’s side of the family behaves and operates different than you or your family). Best you can do is find a way to channel that stress, just like Wendy suggested. Try (and this is a shit ton easier said than done) not to take it too personally and just recognize the fact that they are who they are and you have to live with them in your life. Welcome to the cliche in-law relationship.
Taylor January 31, 2013, 9:43 am
Wow LW, you have a lot on your plate. WWS, and I hope everything goes smoothly for you.
bethany January 31, 2013, 9:44 am
LW, you’ve been through, and are going through, a lot right now, and I think you’re shifting the anger and anxiety you’re feeling about life in general onto your in laws. Take a step back and try to unwind before you do some real damage to that relationship.
Amanda January 31, 2013, 10:22 am
WWS. This letter was an emotional roller coaster with gratuitous use of the word “hubby”. As a result, I could only skim, but it seems that the LW is being unnecessarily cruel to the in-laws. From the title, I was expecting a user and abuser type situation to prevent contact with the grandchildren, but this wasn’t even close. LW, get a hold of yourself! Whenever I feel really overwhelmed, I remember that me and my problems are so insignificant in the grand scheme of our universe. We are all just a speck on a planet in a solar system that is so, so small to the rest of the universe. Personal problems really aren’t problems when you think of them on a large scale.
BecBoo84 January 31, 2013, 10:29 am
I actually think the LW has a lot on her plate, as Wendy outlined. She’s dealing with back to back pregnancies and a special needs child with a potentially fatal heart condition. Clearly, she’s not been treating her in laws the best, but I don’t think advice that basically boils down to “get over yourself” is what she needs.
Amanda January 31, 2013, 10:40 am
I didn’t say that. I said “get a hold of yourself”. The LW is going through so much and clearly feels overwhelmed and out of control. She needs support, but she also needs to try to “get a hold of herself” through self awareness and emotional control. This isn’t easy and for me personally, it helps to think of my problems in the grand scale of our universe. When you think in the grand scale, problems seems so insignificant and I can really appreciate my life and the lives of all living things on our planet.
Oldie January 31, 2013, 11:35 am
It’s a delicate balance. Yes, the LW is having an extremely emotional time, but so is her husband. He may not have the pregnancy hormones, but guys generally aren’t comfortable this this extreme level of drama. He has a very sick infant, another child on the way, an emotionally out-of-control wife and demands to build a wall against his family. It is clear he is being emotionally pounded into submission, rather than actually agreeing with his wife’s position.
On the fateful evening of the MIL revealing that the ‘secret’ has been revealed, the whole incident starts with LW reminding husband, apparently in front of his parents, that he must be careful what he says to others about A. If he were on-board with keeping it secret, this reminder really isn’t necessary. Then after the blowup;
“My hubby came to bed and after a long (heated) discussion, came to see my side of the situation. He also talked me out of making a 5-hour drive at night in the snow.”
This doesn’t sound like husband ever came to see her side of the story. He was emotioned into silence and considered himself lucky not to be forced into a 5-hour night drive in the snow, because his wife was out of control.
Then there is the curious reaction to MIL’s not outrageous e-mail to her son:
“She then proceeded to send him a nasty email, the highlights of which are:
– she is losing touch with us (my hubby talks to them 3 time a week!!)
– I am never available to talk to them (I wonder why!)
– they have to ask for photos of A
– all the “promises” went out the window
– it broke her heart to see we would be staying in a hotel posted to FB
– they will not infringe on our lifestyle if they come to visit, they will stay in a hotel and call for an appointment
– she thinks we don’t want her in A’s life
– she is done crying her eyes out over this
– and while she will always love us, right now she doesn’t like us very much.
I’m livid!!!! How dare she send this to my hubby!!! She hurt him! But he is an ostrich and has stuck his head in the sand. She called the next morning wanting to Skype and he let her!!!
I have discussed with my hubby what has upset me and that I think it needs to be dealt with and she needs to be told her behavior is inappropriate and will not be tolerated. His response is that it’s over and we can’t change the past.”
This is more, extremely heavy-handed beating on husband, over an imagined offense. Apparently the husband doesn’t believe his mother hurt him. He also doubtless doesn’t consider himself an ostrich for not participating in his wife’s extremely emotional war against his mother over not much more than imagined sleights.
Counseling is excellent advice. Yes, LW really does need to get it together. If she keeps treating husband and MIL like this, I predict that she will shortly be experiencing the joys of single parenthood.
Skyblossom January 31, 2013, 11:56 am
My thought was that sooner or later the husband won’t be able to take any more and he’ll walk out the door and he won’t be back.
Bittergaymark January 31, 2013, 2:12 pm
You really nailed something I was leery of getting into. And that is that the LW basically forces her husband to see things her way. Frankly, it sounds like she browbeats him in a way that is abusive… It’s not his mother that is making him vomit — but rather his wife… She is out of control and needs a reality check.
Skyblossom January 31, 2013, 2:57 pm
Her behavior seems bullying. She tells her husband what she thinks until he agrees with her. She craves respect and thinks she gets it by demanding control of everything but that in effect disrespects the husband and his ideas. The way it is now is a no win situation. Everyone is going to lose and that is tremendously sad for the LW, her husband and both of her children. I think the LW wants very much to do the right thing for her child but this method isn’t going to work.
painted_lady January 31, 2013, 10:24 am
I can’t imagine how stressed and stretched thin you must be feeling, and boy do I understand the desire to direct some of your helplessness toward something you can control. Your relationship with your mother in law seems to be your target right now. But the thing is, as much as you feel like being angry at her is helping, it’s making it harder. Fighting never makes anything easier. I don’t feel like I can advise you how to proceed with her, because at this moment you’re much too angry and panicked and stressed, so I don’t know that you can approach this yet. I do advise you, however, to go to counseling, if for nothing else than to figure out where to put things with your MIL and how to direct your stress and fear in a way that doesn’t hurt other people. But I think you’re also coping in general less well than you think, and you probably don’t even realize how miserable you are. Your husband can handle keeping A for a couple of hours a week by himself, and I bet, given how torn I imagine he feels between you and his mother, he’d be more than happy to.
Sometimes you have to tell people how to treat you. It sounds like maybe the way your family treats you is really different from your MIL. I don’t think she treats you badly (other than the telling people about A, which was kind of shitty) but it does sound like you find her treatment off-putting. My FMIL is the same way – she comes for long visits and stays with us, which my family doesn’t do. She insists on cooking all the food and cleans up after and won’t let me help, and that makes me really uncomfortable, but Walter insists she’s never minded. I finally said, “Hey, please let me help. I feel awful that you’re doing all the work, and it will make me feel much better.” She let me. The long visit thing, I am just going to have to get used to. Apparently in their family, staying in a hotel is rude because then you’re saying you’re too good for the hospitality being offered. So maybe this is like the worst time ever to figure out how your husband’s family does things, but it doesn’t sound like they’re staying with you to be malicious. It doesn’t sound like she expects pictures and regular visits out of spite. It sounds like you need to figure out precisely what your expectations of each other are. But do it when you’ve gotten the worst of this stress directed in the right place.
I’m sorry you’re hurting. I hope you can repair things with your MIL, because it never hurts to have one more person in your corner.
Taylor January 31, 2013, 11:53 am
“FMIL”. Hee! (Or am I wrong in what I think the F part is?)
Taylor January 31, 2013, 12:11 pm
Just realized it was probably for future. Sorry ’bout that.
painted_lady January 31, 2013, 12:37 pm
Lol. Yes, future. I actually love her a lot, despite some differences in family culture.
Bossy Italian Wife January 31, 2013, 10:42 am
Your MIL would drive me up a wall, LW. All that being said, it sounds like you need to draw some healthy boundaries and it doesn’t sound like you have the tools to deal with all this right now. I agree with Wendy you need a place to lay your grievances and find a way out of emotions you are building up. Therapy would be a great place to do this because you could get instant feedback from someone outside of the situation.
Also, if you get a lot out of reading you might try this AWESOME book that will give you a different perspective on the way your MIL is. It’s called “I thought it was just me (but it isn’t)” By Brene Brown. It’s about shame culture and women and it will change your life and interactions with the people around you.
Look, your MIL is in your life. You can have clear boundaries– not wanting her to stay at your house is fine and vice versa–but you should check in with someone who can give you advice on the matter. And to be clear, advice doesn’t count as your girlfriends saying, “Girl you are totally justified.”
ebstarr January 31, 2013, 10:44 am
Wendy, this answer really demonstrates why so many people trust you with their deepest problems… because your advice is so compassionate and understanding. What a perfect, kind and wise response.
Sophronisba January 31, 2013, 11:15 am
I think this is the greatest number of exclamation points I’ve ever seen in a letter, anywhere.. If the sheer number of them is an indication of what you are like in person then sister, you are wound too tight. Do something to get these emotions out of your (pregnant) body, all this internal turmoil can’t be good for your unborn child, not to mention the rest of the family. Get nice clean sheets of paper and viciously tear them up into little pieces…Go watch The Impossible and cry your eyes out for two hours…buy cheap plates, put each one in a nice Ziploc bag and hurl them on the floor to break into a million pieces (saw that one on Japanese TV).. do something, anything to relieve the pressure. Take a deep breath. Take another.
Now, since the past cannot be changed, instead of dragging every minutely analyzed problem, issue, experience, and righteous wrath-filled exclamation surrounding your in-laws into your future, it’s time to accept that this is mother in law you have and she is never going to change. She will never “get” what she did wrong in the past, nor understand or deliver what you want in the future. That’s it. Step away from conflict with her because there is nothing to be won. A frame of mind to aim for is a rueful smile and shake of the head “Mom’s being Mom again!” and move on, unaffected by her antics or tearful postures.
And by all means, make hotel stays the norm when your families visit each other – no need to invite trouble in..
Christy January 31, 2013, 11:35 am
Wendy, your answer was so compassionate.
iwannatalktosampson January 31, 2013, 11:38 am
I feel you, I do. But as I get older I see the relationship between my mom and grandma (step grandma technically – but she’s been my grandma my whole life) differently. Apparently my Grandma used to drive my mom crazy. Which I kinda get. She’s a little snotty and a little controlling. But I LOVE her. And my mom has always said that no matter how much she was fighting with my grandma she would never keep her from me and me from her – and for that I am SO thankful. So maybe try thinking of this relationship as less between you and your MIL and more between your kids and their grandma. Because even if she’s a real piece of work to you (which it seems like she is) she might be one of the best grandma’s around. You shouldn’t deny your children that opportunity.
And honestly you need all the support you can get right now. So limit your interactions to being all about the kids. It might save your sanity. Be more direct with your needs. Maybe (giving her a HUGE benefit of the doubt) she is trying to be there for you but doesn’t know how. So tell her. Say you would love it if they could come visit in a month and stay at the house and stay with the kids. Maybe one day you’ll have a spa day and one day you’ll go shopping and take a nap. And seriously – get to a doctor. I got anxiety just reading your letter.
BecBoo84 January 31, 2013, 11:48 am
I do think there are times in which it is totally appropriate to cut a grandparent out of a child’s life; it’s simply that the circumstances outlined by the LW don’t even come close to warranting that type of action. I understand why the LW wants to limit her interactions with the in laws, but she should do her very best to not let that impact her husband and kids’ relationships with them.
FireStar January 31, 2013, 11:45 am
I think this has to be water under the bridge now. Did your MIL behave the best she could have behaved? No. Maybe you didn’t either. But you need to deal with the boots on the ground reality now. Do you WANT your husband literally sick with worry that there is conflict between his wife and his mother? Don’t you want MORE rather than LESS people in your children’s lives to love them? If you don’t like conflict – then run towards the option that gives your family peace. Maybe you can write your MIL a letter and say you want to reset the clock with her. Things have happened in the past that have hurt you deeply and it seems from her email to her son, she has been hurt too. But this should stop now. And then you adjust YOUR behaviour (the only behaviour you can control) to lessen the conflict. If you want something secret – then YOU don’t tell. If you want to stay in a hotel then you say you are doing it upfront for comfort instead of a passive aggressive posting on Facebook. If you need space from visitors then you tell everyone you aren’t accepting visitors just yet. Your MIL is not always going to do EXACTLY as you would have her do – that’s just life…she can’t read your mind and she is her own person and just doesn’t think the way you do…but I’m sure you don’t act the way she expects either.
If she oversteps – then you or your husband sit down and tell her. To be honest I’ve never been big on getting an “I’m sorry” I don’t care if you are sorry – I care that you heard me when I told you your behaviour wasn’t acceptable. And either you don’t act that way again or, more likely, I won’t put you in a position where you even could.
The thing is…acting as a wedge between your husband and his parents is a terrible, terrible thing. Particularly when the infractions don’t call for it – this is not a case of violence or abuse. And you don’t sound like a terrible person. You need to think about what is the best for your family now – not just the affronts to you. How would you feel if the future spouse of one of your children wanted nothing to do with you, kept your grandchildren from you, and isolated you from your child because you misstepped? If you need boundaries then put some in place. But your reaction to the initial affront has to be proportional. And what you are proposing just isn’t. Congrats on the new baby and I hope you can take a step back from your situation and see it with clearer eyes.
bittergaymark January 31, 2013, 12:19 pm
Listen, I understand that you have been through a lot. And I understand that it can be VERY appealing to pin ALL your anger and frustration onto your mother-in-law… such a convenient target. But even with everything you say here — even with everything she has “done” here, it still doesn’t make it right.
And as Wendy said — many of the SINS your MIL committed simply aren’t that grave. I would actually go a bit further and (surprise, surprise!) be a bit harsher and even suggest that they are, in fact, downright trivial and your reaction to them reveals you to be beyond petty… Look, if you make your husband choose between you and his mother — well, you simply may NOT like his decision. I can only hope you react more stable and rationally with him. Somehow, I rather doubt you do — and that makes me sad. It should give you REAL pause. But honestly, faced with being alone with you for 3.5 hours or shopping with the parents, eh, I can see why he chose his parents. Again, you seem to forget that EVERYBODY is incredibly STRESSED out by what is going on. That this affects EVERY ONE — not just you… And it is beyond unfair of you to expect that everybody react and act precisely how YOU would like them to. To be be perfectly blunt, I somehow suspect that you aren’t exactly behaving in a way that they find ideal, either.
I get it, I get it. Stress. Anger and Disappointment at the hand the universe has dealt you… Hormones. Blah, blah, blah. None of that though gives you license to be a deranged shrew — which frankly, is how you sound rather quickly into this letter.
Keeping your child’s condition some big secret is just… I dunno, bizarre. It almost sounds like you are ashamed of it or something. Okay, okay… in a perfect world, I suppose your MIL wouldn’t have told anyone… That said, that is an awfully big piece of news for anyone to digest and, frankly, to sit on. And many people simply aren’t good at keeping secrets… And I wonder if your demand this all be some big secret struck her as odd as it strikes me… Especially in light of how you demand everybody to react perfectly to every situation — perhaps having you ambush everybody with this news was a frightening prospect to your mother-in-law? I certainly wouldn’t want anybody else in my family to make a “mistake” if I was her… Let’s face it, LW, cutting people slack? Not your strong suit.
And, uh, yeah. As others have pointed out… You don’t call up people basically DEMANDING that they throw you a shower. Sorry, I know its your generation. And I know you all think the world revolves around you… But, hey, newsflash? It simply doesn’t.
theattack January 31, 2013, 12:42 pm
“Again, you seem to forget that EVERYBODY is incredibly STRESSED out by what is going on. And it is beyond unfair of you to expect that everybody react and act precisely how YOU would like them to. To be be perfectly blunt, I somehow suspect that you aren’t exactly behaving in a way that they find ideal, either.”
theattack January 31, 2013, 12:43 pm
And btw, most young people would never think of asking anyone to throw them a shower. That is beyond tacky. LW is definitely an exception here.
bittergaymark January 31, 2013, 12:47 pm
I hope you are right on this, but it does come up in advice columns often enough to make me mention it…
theattack January 31, 2013, 12:51 pm
Has it really come up before? I don’t remember that at all. I might be giving my generation too much credit then. I’ll just say that neither I nor any of my friends would ever do any such thing. When my best friend and her mom said they were throwing me a bridal shower, my response was telling them they really didn’t have to go through all that trouble. I can’t ever imagine doing that.
GatorGirl January 31, 2013, 12:56 pm
theattack is right. It’s not our generation. It’s tacky people in general. 97% of people I come across understand basic etiquette and would never do this. But some people are just rude, and it’s not a result of being born in the 80’s.
CatsMeow January 31, 2013, 1:34 pm
She might not even be an 80s baby. Aren’t children with Down Syndrome typically born to older mothers? That and the fact that she got pregnant again so quickly could mean that she thought she might not have much time to conceive again.
GatorGirl January 31, 2013, 1:40 pm
I totally agree. BGM is usually hating on us 80’s babies so I assumed he was talking about us. I too would assume the LW is closer or even over 40, which solidly puts her out of our generation.
Bittergaymark January 31, 2013, 2:17 pm
1980s baby? I doubt it. This is a 1990s baby, I suspect.
FireStar January 31, 2013, 2:58 pm
I agree – she doesn’t write like she is anywhere near 40. I’d even be surpirised if she was in her 30’s. And while some syndromes are more prevalent in some “older moms” they are by no means precluded for anyone else.
Skyblossom January 31, 2013, 3:09 pm
I researched this once for a paper in college. You have a higher chance of having a baby with Down Syndrome when you are older but so many more women have babies when they are younger that most babies with Down Syndrome are born to younger mothers. Also, if she was over 35 they would have offered her amniocentesis, which even if she was over 35 she might have choosen to skip. I was 38 when my daughter was born and I chose to not do the test because there is a small risk of miscarriage and I knew the likelyhood of having another baby was very small so I didn’t want to do anything to risk her.
bethany January 31, 2013, 1:08 pm
ITA on that paragraph, too. People react to stress/hardships in all kinds of ways. Some cope by isolating themselves, others need people around them. Some people eat, others exercise. Some people cry, some scream, others remain silent.
The LW needs to understand that she’s not the only one who was going through a tough time. I’m sure her In Laws and husband are all struggling after the baby was diagnosed with down syndrome. They are all struggling in their own ways, and that’s normal.
LovePromise March 21, 2021, 1:26 am
LW came for support and advice during a tough time in her life, not for rules on etiquette. It’s billions of people here on earth, from different cultures who don’t follow the same rules. So please stop pointing out the one part of her letter saying she asked her family to host her baby shower.
6napkinburger January 31, 2013, 12:38 pm
I hated my BF’s mother and everything she did bothered me. You hate this woman SO everything she does, you interpret as intending to affect you the way it does, when it is most likely just her trying to be involved.
Once we decide not to like someone, we see everything they do through that lense. I am going to draw a parallel to my life, but I am NOT AT ALL SAYONG IT’S THE SAME — its just a teeny tiny example of this human trait. In the WORST possible example, but most recent —
I joined a new gym which is incredibly expensive and is group personal training because I needed to get myself in line. The week after I joined, the management changed, the trainers changed and everything changed, but I’m stuck because you pay for a year all at once (note: my sister and mom had been going for a year so I didn’t just join on a whim and plop down all that money). And I hate the new manager and the new trainer, because I liked the old ones. And I hate the way they do everything and it makes me sad/angry, which I bitch about to my sister. But talking to my sister, she put it this way: you’ve decided to hate them because its not what you thought it would be, so everything they do bothers you, and you notice everything they do wrong and nothing they do right. <– because that is what humans sometimes do. Decide not to hate them, says she, and then see if they really are that bad. which they aren't — just different.
So, believe me, I am NOT AT ALL saying that because of my little petty experience at my gym, that I have any idea what it feels like to be in your position. But I did hate my future inlaws and I did see them the same way I saw the new manager/trainer. You have to make a decision NOT to hate them and a decision NOT to carry around the baggage of the past and to look at your relationship anew. Only then can you see their actions in the spirit that they were intended.
It sounds like a wonderful olive branch that they'll stay in a hotel and make "appointments" to come over, so that they won't be an inconvenience — maybe a little passive aggressive, but take them up on it! Of course they want pictures — think about it, how could that be vindictive or narcisstic? Most of the other things in the letter are accurate — they are growing apart from your family, you will not talk to them on skype, etc. You are seeing it as mean because you hate her. Decide not to hate her and you will read the letter differently.
Make a conscious decision not to hate your inlaws, if for no other reason than its too much work to keep hating her and you won't win the battle of keeping your children away from loving competent grandparents and it can get MUCH MUCH uglier. And it will make you feel better. Because it takes so much work to carry around that type of animosity and you have so much other shit to deal with. But also start speaking up. Don't want hubby to go shopping the day before your daughter's surgery? SAY SO. OF COURSE you would rather he and they just know, and you don't want to have to tell him, and that's kind of a point on its own — but you have so many other things to worry about, speaking up about what you want will SERIOUSLY raise the chances of that happening and your life becoming so much easier. Start asking them to do the kind of things they want to do, things that will help you in this time and then they can build credibility in your mind when they deliver. This situation can be turned around.
MJ January 31, 2013, 12:56 pm
You articulated this so well! When you look at people with the idea that they are trying to be well-meaning and caring, you will interpret things MUCH differently. But that means letting go of a lot of past interpretations and baggage and stuff.
(This obviously doesn’t apply in extreme cases, but this LW’s isn’t one.)
sobriquet January 31, 2013, 5:30 pm
That’s a great way to look at things. Resentment is a powerful, powerful thing and it’s important to remember that perception is everything. It is so easy to criticize and pick apart the flaws of people you dislike.
It’s timely, for me, because my potential sister-in-law has done it again. Things were good, I let things go, and then BAM, she said something completely inappropriate to me a few days ago and I’m at a loss. If I didn’t live with her, I don’t think it would bother me as much, but given that she has done things with malicious intent in the past I’m finding it difficult to believe she was coming from a good place (if not a stupid one). She gave a tearful apology to my boyfriend about what she said and explained where she was coming from, but never came to me about it. I don’t know if I’m just holding on to the past resentment and choosing to believe she said it out of malice, or if I’m just a realist who doesn’t know how someone could keep “wronging” me over and over again without some kind of motive.
Anyway, I’ll try to look at it with a better point of view, thanks to your comment! It’s not like her intent even matters… we are still going to be roommates for the rest of the year, ha
Vathena January 31, 2013, 12:48 pm
I couldn’t agree more with what Wendy and everyone else has said. There has been so much turmoil in your life in the past year and a half, I can’t even imagine. It does sound like MIL is a touch narcissistic, but all of this stress is going to tear you up. Your marriage is facing enough of a challenge with a special-needs child to care for an a new baby on the way. I think one thing that really helps in dealing with people who routinely drive you up a wall is to manage your expectations of them. It sounds to me as though, in this case, the relationship with your MIL wasn’t exactly peachy keen right up until May of 2011. I’m guessing she has always kind of rubbed you the wrong way, and everything that has happened since then has only served to magnify that dysfunction. My mom has some personality traits that make me feel like I’m going to Lose My Mind at her sometimes. It’s tough when you want a person to behave or react to a situation in a certain way, and they just don’t do it. But I like to call upon a piece of advice from another columnist I love (sorry Wendy!), Carolyn Hax of the Washington Post. You can’t change or control other people, how they feel, or how they behave. All you can control is *you*, and how you react. As sucky as it is, sometimes you just have to go into interactions with difficult people and totally expect them to be difficult. Expect her to get under your skin, to say the wrong thing, to not apologize. She’s not going to change, but it will make a world of difference to your well-being if you can brace yourself – and distance yourself – enough that you can just roll your eyes instead of wanting to claw her eyes out. Detached bemusement is the attitude you’re going for here. I would suggest some lower-stress interactions with them – as in, no more visits when life-threatening surgery is scheduled – to put this into practice. It’s tough to do, and takes time, but it can be done.
Also, second what everyone else has said about seeing a counselor to get some of this out. It’s a lot to handle. I hope just writing the letter was cathartic for you.
Sue Jones January 31, 2013, 1:07 pm
WWS! LW, you have to learn to deal with YOUR emotions first, since you really can’t control what your in laws do. They are who they are , BUT and this is a BIG but – you CAN learn to control YOUR emotions by getting proper nutrition, proper rest, seeing a counselor or therapist, getting adequate exercise, etc. And ultimately it is YOU who is responsible for your reactions to events. You have power in this situation to NOT react over real or imagined slights. You just need training to learn how. Meditation and yoga (and I know you are very busy and dealing with some major shit right now) can go a long way, as can exercise. You still need to exercise even during pregnancy unless your doc tells you not to. Walks with the baby (ies) in the buggy, time outside in nature, etc.
Now your in-laws do seem a bit tone deaf and difficult, and they MAY NOT CHANGE. They are who you are. Believe me, my own mother was an extreme narcissist (may she RIP) and drove me NUTS until I learned to deal with it and not fly off the handle at her ridiculous, mean and outrageously self-centered behavior. I learned tools. I learned to have healthy clear boundaries, I practiced meditation, yoga, did therapy, all of it. I even went to India!!! It has helped me in my life immensely not to be such a neurotic high strung person, not just with my mother but in general. Because people in general are often difficult and crazy and you cannot avoid them or hold grudges etc if you are to be a healthy well balanced person and a good parent yourself.
Sue Jones January 31, 2013, 1:08 pm
who they are, I meant.
Older and (hopefully) wiser January 31, 2013, 2:50 pm
Did you ever read the “Dear Prudence” column where the MIL was poisoning the DIL? Now that’s a bad MIL!
Skyblossom January 31, 2013, 3:17 pm
Yes! I read that one and the husband didn’t seem to mind until the wife traded gravy with him and he was the one that got sick.
JK January 31, 2013, 3:19 pm
Yes! SO creepy! There was an update, no? I can´t remember what it was though.
JK January 31, 2013, 3:23 pm
OK googled it. In the update she said she switched plates with her husband and he got sick, when she told him what she´d done he looked at her with hatred (so he must have known all along). So very creepy. Although I do have to wonder if it was all true.
sarolabelle January 31, 2013, 3:05 pm
So imagine for a second…..
I am a mother. My son and his wife are expecting a baby. I live 5 hours away. I can’t do much. My daughter in law calls to ask if I want to host a shower. Oh I can’t do that. I’m too busy with things and I wouldn’t know where to have it or the money to have it. I politely decline. The baby is born premature before any shower can be given. Not only that but the baby is born with down syndrome and a hole in her heart. Oh my! My son calls and tells me this news but says “try not to tell too many people.” I should do something for them. I’m going to host a shower. I’m not going to tell the mailman, the neighbor or my old great aunt in the nursing home but I am going to tell my sister because I’m close with her. Obviously she will tell her family. I’m planning this shower when my daughter in law calls and asks me for addresses. I tell her I’m throwing her a shower for my side. She doesn’t seem grateful but maybe she is under stress.
Thanksgiving comes and we have a good time. On Saturday night they return to my house and I hear my daughter in law say to my son how they need to keep it quiet since most people don’t know. Well I did tell everyone on my side. What does she mean most people don’t know? I thought they said not to go spread it around to too many people. “Hey, DIL, everyone knows on my side. My sister, Aunt Sally and her family and also my brother and his family.” The next thing I know DIL gave me a dirty look and went to bed early. What did I do? Why is she mad at me? She says she doesn’t want a shower anymore. I went to great lengths to have this shower and now they are leaving early? Well maybe we can have lunch one last time? I’m so upset…..We go to lunch and she apologizes. I accept. We still love her.
Flash forward 10 months. The baby is going to have surgery. I think it is best if we are there for that to support them. Oh the furnace is broken lets fix that so the baby has a nice warm house to come home too. Let’s also take son away from his thoughts and go shopping. It’s the day of the surgery. The doctor comes in and says that the baby might not make it through the night. Oh my poor grandchild! My DIL is obviously very upset.
The next morning we called and told them we were on our way back to the hospital. We decided to stop for breakfast first though. I have begun to feel like I am in the way here. No one has thanked us for the help we have provided. I think it is best we leave.
My DIL has stopped talking to me. She has stopped sending us pictures of the baby. I feel something is wrong. Everytime I try to Skype she declines. I cry often about this. I don’t know what to do.
I’m on Facebook one day and I see that my DIL posted a note on a friend’s wall saying she would have to stay at a hotel if they came in town. Why? We have always taken them in before! I’m so upset. I’m going to write an email to my son to discuss this. I just feel something isn’t right. I love them so much but I can’t help but not like the way they are treating us. This is my grandbaby! And another is soon to join. What is going on? I hope we can get this fixed….
Fabelle January 31, 2013, 3:12 pm
I hope the LW reads this, seriously. Also, maybe it’s my mood today, but this nearly made me cry! Well done, haha
sarolabelle January 31, 2013, 3:24 pm
I hope she reads it to. In my opinion the MIL has just made some mistakes that she isn’t even aware that she made.
j2 January 31, 2013, 3:10 pm
I do not disagree with what Wendy said, but I think one additional element really needs to be considered.
As I read LW’s letter, I was struck by what appeared to be her feeling of complete helplessness. Consider it from her POV:
– nature has damaged her helpless and innocent daughter,
– her MIL has repeatedly betrayed her and her FIL has verbally backhanded her,
– her husband is physically stressed (instead of leaping heroically to her defense),
– her MIL is communicating “behind her back” with her husband, and
– she is pregnant again, and has work issues she has to overcome to ensure med benefits (and may or not may not succeed).
My point is that LW feels she has no control, no empowerment, no ability to affect affairs.
I would add to the discussion that LW should be reassured that she DOES have power. As mother, she is the gatekeeper to her children. A mother (especially a new mother) deprived of that is at risk of deep and dangerous depression. I am not saying that this LW is a suicide risk, but it is not uncommon for the news to include tragedies that can be traced back to this point.
So what I would say to LW is that you DO have the right to exclude your MIL from your house and from your infant children. I know well of instances from personal observation when young mothers did exactly that, and sometimes it was the mother’s own mother that got shut out. In all of those cases, the M/MIL did something(s) that convinced the new mother that the woman was not one she wanted around her children. One woman had a hair-trigger temper and would lash out angrily and loudly. In another case, the woman adored her son but made it clear with nearly every conversational exchange that her DIL was unworthy of him.
I would like to add that the excluded women suffered. In some cases, the women reformed, or at least modified their behavior and earned a second chance, but not all.
So, LW, you DO have great power. Your husband sounds to me like he would probably back you, though at great cost to himself.
Do you want to exercise this power? You can. It’s there.
Or, can you do WWS?
The choice is your, BUT YOU HAVE THAT CHOICE!
Firestar January 31, 2013, 7:42 pm
As long as she can live with the consequences – which include a devastated husband and a potentially damaged marriage and children isolated from loving grandparents.
bittergaymark February 1, 2013, 5:31 am
Frankly, to do what you suggest over what is perhaps the pettiest list of grievances ever would be a HUGE mistake and will probably doom her marriage. Although, frankly, I’d best against this marriage lasting much longer any way… This LW seriously needs to get a grip… she is wayyyyyy out of line.
Lo January 31, 2013, 4:09 pm
fantastic, thoughtful advice from wendy on this one.
Leyahn January 31, 2013, 4:45 pm
Does anyone key into the fact that she starts her post with complaints from 2011? Two years later and she it still harboring resentment from 2 years ago. I get that she has had a horrible and scary two years – but she needs to let go.
I think LW needs a scape goat for all the pain from the past two years and has chosen her MIL to dump all of this on.
I would like to her the Mother in Law’s side on this one.
sarolabelle January 31, 2013, 5:02 pm
see my comment. I really think what upset the MIL so much is that LW chose not to go through with the shower anymore. She doesn’t say that though. I also added more to the story (the baby was born premature, the reason the parents were late, other feelings they may have). I think to the MIL it looks like something is wrong but she has no idea what. I think the MIL is an idiot like a previous commenter said and doesn’t do things out of spite but is just clueless.
Oldie January 31, 2013, 5:10 pm
The MIL doesn’t seem like an idiot. She seems like a totally normal MIL who is trying to deal with a totally out of control DIL and maintain a relationship with her son and his family. Given the trivia that drive LW to choosing the nuclear option of breaking up her children’s and son’s relationship with her MIL, I can see that MIL has her hands full.
bittergaymark February 1, 2013, 1:16 am
I completely agree… This LW sounds… um, I guess I will be VERY diplomatic here… HIGHLY DIFFICULT and very hard to please…
sarolabelle February 1, 2013, 10:40 am
I mean it in the since the MIL doesn’t understand and is clueless to what might be considered hurtful to the DIL.
Oldie January 31, 2013, 5:07 pm
I noticed that. I think LW has been feuding with her FMIL/MIL for quite a while. If I had to guess, I’d say this likely goes back to wedding planning. Given all the drama in the letter, it is not hard to imagine LW as a very demanding Bridezilla, whose FMIL failed to meet her expectations about something or other. There is just so much in the letter, which is downright petty to totally nothing. It’s almost like middle school — ‘I was upset, and she looked at me,’ and ‘I apologized, but she didn’t’, and ‘my bf/husband is such an ostrich that he doesn’t even realize when somebody has hurt him’. There isn’t really an unequivocably bad thing that MIL has done in the whole tirade that LW has presented us with and yet she ‘HATES” her and is determined to keep her children from seeing her and to bludgeon her husband into building a wall against her. One can read the letter and feel sympathy — LW is very, very upset and has been handed a really tough deal with A’s illness, but all of the turmoil is of her own making and MIL really does seem to be trying to help her. The shower slight was never forgotten, nor likely was the equally trivial (with LW being the social transgressor) one which preceded it. It is tough to get along with a person, who never forgives or forgets her hurt from what was her own error about the shower.
rightasrain919 January 31, 2013, 5:16 pm
Wow, I’m sorry to hear how much stress you’re under. It just seems to be coming from all directions. I hope your daughter is doing much better.
Regarding the situation: WWS, especially the part about talking with a therapist and remembering to take time for yourself. A talk therapist might help you (and your husband) interact as a united front with your MIL in ways that don’t cause additional conflict in your relationship. If a therapist through your health insurance isn’t financially viable, your local university or college might offer therapy from trainee psychologists, clinical social workers, and psychiatrists at reduced cost. I also HIGHLY recommend getting in contact with a support group for children with special needs if you haven’t already. Easter Seals offers personalized services for people with disabilities throughout their lives along with support for their families and caregivers.
I wish you all the best.
Meredith January 31, 2013, 10:06 pm
LW, I cannot imagine what you’ve been through with your daughter and life’s stressors, I really feel for you and your family. It’s got to be super rough. That being said, you’re being way too hard on your MIL. She doesn’t sound the greatest, but doesn’t seem like a monster or deserving of the hate you throw her way. I could tell you MIL stories that would make yours seem like Mother Teresa in comparison. But you know what, I’m polite and respectful to mine because she’s my husbands’ mother and my daughter loves her and I’d never want to deprive her of that loving relationship. Your daughter has enough to face in her life and could use all the love she can get, both of your children deserve to have a good relationship with BOTH of their grandmothers. You don’t have to like her, but tolerate her because it makes life easier for you, your husband and your children.
I think it’s very obvious you’re focusing your negative emotions and energy onto something you can control, which is your relationship with your MIL, bc so much of your life right now is out of control. Wendy gave excellent advice and I hope you follow it bc it will make life so much better for everyone involved.
spark February 1, 2013, 8:05 am
Keeping it a secret sounds like you’re ashamed of it, especially because in most DS cases, it’s extremely obvious. Your MIL probably did not feel comfortable pretending like the diagnosis didn’t exist, and it sounds to me that she shared it in an act of love for the baby. And LW, think about how hard the diagnosis was for you; do you think it was easy for your MIL? Stop and think about whether sharing it was therapeutic for her; she has to cope too, and it’s not out of line for her to need some support. (One last note; who has baby showers after the child is born? Is this a thing?)
jlyfsh February 1, 2013, 8:16 am
i’ve been to two, in both cases the baby was early (3 months in one case, he’s fine now!) and we still wanted to celebrate with the mom. i guess it was more of a meet and greet at that point, but in both cases everything had been planned, gifts had been purchased, etc and i don’t know i guess we all enjoy an excuse to celebrate in general so we didn’t want to cancel them.
Skyblossom February 1, 2013, 9:10 am
Where I live they are often after the baby is born and they used to always be after the baby was born so that you would know whether it was a boy or a girl.
Pinky February 1, 2013, 11:05 am
I might be off-track here, so please bear with me. I’m wondering if the LW grew up in an abusive household. The only way you can deal abusers is to shut them out of your life. If you grow up getting the snot knocked out of you, you can’t give someone a bit of wiggle room to reform because they will knock the snot out of you again at the next opportunity/provocation. You have to cut people off in order to survive.
Fast-forward to adulthood:
It makes it really hard to read people’s intentions. Any sign of conflict causes the red-flag warning system to go on overdrive. People that irritate you overstimulate your already wonky fight-flight response. People who have been abused flee situations like that. People who have been abused avoid all contact with irritating forces. Non-abused people are able to compartmentalize their emotions and say, “Oh, well. I just have to deal with my irritating mother-in-law a few times a year. I just deal with it and then eat ice cream.” People who have been abused react like their lives are in danger because that’s a survival skill from childhood. Irritating people are vilified to justify the strong reaction.
Given the extremely stressful situation that everyone is going through and the strong reaction that the LW has to her mother-in-law, I agree that therapy is the best option. One thing to consider is how to react to stressful stimuli.
I wish everyone the best of luck. I truly hope that you can resolve this.
JTF February 7, 2013, 4:13 pm
No one else caught this: LW – “I’m pregnant again and working very hard to get the required hours at work so I can collect Employment Insurance and be off with my kids for 12 months”.
Sorry about these circumstances by accepting Unemployment Insurance with no intention of finding another job is felony fraud. Shameful, but the grifter mentality is pervasive.
Betrayed DIL March 11, 2013, 3:54 pm
I’m sorry, I am the LW and I just could not let this one go. Accusations of criminal activity are WAY over the line here!!! I live in Canada and the average maternity leave is 12 months. I have every intention of returning to work once my 15 weeks of maternity leave and 35 weeks of parental leave are done. Maybe you should do your research before you make unfounded accusations.
DG February 9, 2013, 5:28 pm
In all honesty it’s not bad for her not to see the M/L. M/L sounds JUST like my grandmother. She has Narcissistic Personality Disorder. She doesn’t really love or appreciate anyone but herself and has recently become paranoid (although that’s not the case with M/L). You can let your kids see her from time to time and give her pictures and stuff, but with a person like that the relationship they build is not going to be a strong one. My grandmother asks to see me all the time and says she misses me a lot, but when I go to my home country to visit I’d stay with my mothers parents, and the only one time that SHE took the time to travel and see me, she didn’t even stay that long. She just took whatever money she had asked of my father and left that same night.
People like her M/L can’t love because they don’t understand it. They understand how they are supposed to act in society and can fit in very well, however they can’t make interpersonal connections. That’s just who she is. There is NO reasoning with a person like that because you are the bad person, always. Don’t bother wasting your breath. Just let her see the kids from time to time and mind your business.
mary April 2, 2014, 5:53 pm
Asking your MIL if she WANS to throw a party is totally different than if she WILL THROW IT. Asking her if she wants to, includes her, and shows you are not choosing your family to host over her (which with her personality, might have been an accusation).
As far as the over sharing, my inlaws are like this. I just don’t tell them big news till I am ready for it to be made public. They have repeatedly showed disregard for timelines and announcements.
I had similar problems with my MIL including but not limited to her telling my husband that she doesn’t see him enough. I am very organized and I keep a color coded year-long schedule. To make a point to him I showed him we saw her 32x one year and my family 8x. She was enraged that I kept a list. I said it was a schedule! And I merely pointed this out to your son, who works in finance and relate to numbers, so he could see how rarely I’ve gotten to see my family. She viciously accused me of “trying to shove my family values down their throat.” I responded very calmly: You’re right I am, because I think my family is also valuable. I don’t want to take away the 32, but in order to change the 8 times it has to cut into your time i.e. holidays etc. Anyways the fight ended horribly. She flipped out and stormed out of the restaurant. But…
The confrontation showed my husband firsthand how disrespectful she is to me. How much she snaps at me and interrupts me. He asked if she talked to me like that often and I said “all the time.” She wanted to bring him closer but instead she made us a stronger team. I say schedule a family meeting (be prepared to stay calm – and no I don’t think you have PPD or are a jerk – you have an inlaw I a position of authority who is systematically belittling you and undermining you, therefore causing strife in your marriage). Try an open and honest convo, is she is so adverse to it that you realize she cannot respect your feelings or barriers…I say don’t leave the kids alone with her. Because GOD knows what she will say/do.
I’ve been getting along very well with my MIL ever since. I told her that I have no incentive to respectively communicate issues if she behaves like that. And I have had to stand firm. But I no longer get hives before seeing her and have actually started to enjoy her company. Hope this helps, don’t listen to the people on here who are making judgmental statements, they are probably cut from the same cloth as your MIL.
Latetothis****show June 8, 2018, 9:11 pm
Wow. I can’t believe the responses to this woman. Most of this sounds like gaslighting bull****. Thank you, Mary, for the one validating response.
Just because a woman is angry and facing stressful circumstances doesn’t mean she is crazy or selfish or needs to see a therapist (though that’s certainly not a bad thing).
I’m with you LW. Your emotions are VALID. And it’s only reasonable to ask for your MIL to treat you with consideration and respect. It sounds like you already know what to do. Trust your judgment and act on it.
LovePromise March 21, 2021, 1:03 am
I totally agree with you and felt the same way to me the responses. LW is being blamed as if she is not the victim here. Mother in law is narcissistic and her behavior will not change. With these types of people you have to be firm and direct. They tend to distance themselves when you have a no non sense attitude.
JEM May 17, 2018, 10:17 pm
Families…. the child should have been diagnosed with Downs Syndrome in utero, That way everyone can prepare for the birth and know what to do for the new born baby. Having a child who is not “perfect” is obviously challenging but much can be done for Downs Syndrome children. Maybe the best plan would have been to tell everyone before the birth- so everyone could be prepared, supportive, understanding and ready to help the mother and the father of the child.
Mae August 4, 2018, 7:26 pm
What! No, do not speak to them anymore and tell your hub to man up. 15 years of this crap for me and here I am still dealing with it. I would divorce him why you can if he can’t be a husband and father first.
anonymous September 11, 2018, 11:10 am
Came to this website searching for something.
I’d like to say that I too, don’t want my kids to see my MIL. She wastes her time on the computer all day, she is on disability and would fight anyone who says that she can stand up and do something (in other words, that she isn’t disable). She never taught my husband anything, from having a financial stability to having a career, or having a home of his own). She never taught him any kind of religion or culture. She is in her late 50s and dresses like a teenager. This one time, we were taking a picture and she made a face and pulled her shirt down so her breasts can be seen more. She jumps from one man to another over the span of two months. We’ve been married for under two years and she already has had about 8-9 men in her life. She is divorced by the way. She was divorced because she tried to run away with her kids (my now husband) to mexico and FBI put her in jail after catching her. She has also cheated on her ex husband (whom she still has relations with). When she comes to my house, she doesn’t see (that the son she has raised doesn’t have enough money – wow what a great mothering she did!) and yet would eat and drink all the food in fridge. I was raised right thank God and I still don’t ask much from my husband. I also came from a better family, a classy and educated family. I wasn’t born here but I earned a degree. No one in her family including her and even my husband have any kind of degree.
I don’t want her in my home for many reasons, especially when it comes to the kids. She can’t keep her mouth shut, especially when it comes to talking about how her ex goes to pro$titute$, which he does. My concern is my kids. Even her own son in law tries to keep his kids away from her (I know this because she has mentioned this to me). She constantly talks stupid things, and things like “well I don’t have husband”, right in front of me, as if I had stolen her husband or something? She didn’t teach any of her kids anything. I honestly can’t tolerate her. She also accused me of stealing her son (when I’ve never stopped him from visiting her at any time), yet instead she is the one on the phone with him either texting or talking for hours, I barely get to talk to him. Things like these really piss me off. I don’t care how often my husband sees her because he is her son, but I want to keep my kids protected from this nonsense. I don’t want them to become irreligious, illiterate and having no goals in life like her. Trust me, my husband’s mother side (no one has even a diploma). It sucks, I ended up with such a useless and illiterate family.
XY October 7, 2019, 2:23 pm
I always thought and still think that my mother in law will be my second mother. That being said my grandmother is like your MIL and even in these days at 84 is a very mean, manipulative woman. In majority of cases would think that the DIL should respect her husband family. This is not the case like at all. Being the closest woman relative she should have been the one to offer without being asked to throw a shower party, that is the role of grandmothers, sisters, etc.You betrayed DIL should tell your husband your problems, what you wrote here again and again and tell him to support you (if necessary yell your heart out, you deserve it) and to set boundaries for his family. What kind of human being a mother her self, a grandmother instead of being by you , your husband before and after heart surgery of her own grandchild does this kind of shit. She should bean there to help get through that difficult time, not to make it more hard for you and your husband.This is lack of total empathy, kindness , humanity and agree with you that she should not be near your children. My grandmother was like this and very negatively impacted my life.”That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” Your husband role is now to take care of his new family, that being you and your children.
LovePromise March 21, 2021, 12:52 am
I understand why she is upset and thinks she needs to establish firm boundaries with the in laws, minimize contact but keep it “pleasant” for her sanity, and call out bad behavior on the spot in a direct non confrontational way so it doesn’t fester. The mother in law seems selfish, which will not change. She needs to deal with her in laws with a long handle spoon but do it with a smile. Since they live out of town, they won’t see the grandkids often anyway, so no need to cut full contact with the kids just yet.
DangerDan May 6, 2021, 7:13 am
While I agree there is always blame for both parties, reading this was oddly familiar. My circumstances are completely different, but the tone in her letter and what I got about the MIL are spot on.
It’d be a very long post to go through the transition I had mentally about my MIL when she was visiting to ‘help’ with our first born. She showed little to no interest during pregnancy (in fact when my wife told her we were trying her response was a flat “why?”). They aren’t kids people and didn’t want any. We are doing pretty well financially, married, stable job, etc. (My mind would have first thought, maybe these people have some reason not to have kids)
She was out week 2 after the baby and had a break down because she didn’t know how to be a grandma (both of my in-laws had mothers when they had kids???) and wild stuff like complaining I did not text updates in delivery. Beside the fact that I was helping my wife, I hadn’t called/texted her for almost 3 years prior, we don’t have that kind of relationship. She never indicated she wanted updates from me, and we don’t have each other’s numbers anymore. I digress…
Her interactions started highlighting a fairly selfish personality that I hadn’t really put together before but the signs were there. MIL had no interest in our wedding (talking about or helping). There to help with the baby but not asking what we needed, instead there was a lot of complaining she’s not getting what she wanted. Telling my wife to hold on when she asked about baby book family information so she and my FIL can try to remember what comedian said X joke. Or my wife asking for the baby to feed, but again had to wait while they talked about Y.
It’s a stark contrast to the week before when it was all about what my wife needed. Wow that still ended up a long post even without all the extra details/incidents over the past couple years and since. Mostly I think I needed to vent a little and let others know, you aren’t alone!