AIBU to reply (or not) to MIL's snarky email?

(76 Posts)
TheRabbitCatcher Fri 24-May-13 07:13:59

Sorry....Another MIL thread.

MIL is not an easy woman. She is intelligent, successful, interesting, full of energy, but pretty clueless when it comes to family relationships. I like her (although not really in the capacity of Mother in Law) but she has difficult, complicated relationships with most of her family. I think she quite likes me, despite her view of me as socially, intellectually and morally inferior (that's fine by me). She travels a lot and we therefore don't see much of her, maybe 4/5 times a year.

Yesterday she returned from a 4 week pilgrimage. While walking she wrote a few group emails to family and friends detailing her journey. They were (as ever) interesting, lyrical and thoughtful. But not in any way reciprocal, no 'how are you?' etc. Anyway, on her (unexpected) return yesterday, DH, DBIL and I received a message about how disappointing that we didnn't bother to reply to her messages and how difficult her return home is 'without a safety net'.

In the four weeks she was away we have both been working long hours, our daughter has just started school and our son is having investigations for leukaemia. To be honest, much as I enjoyed her messages, a reply was not top of our list of priorities.

DH sent a reply designed to placate her, he was upset that she came home unhappy and lonely. I just feel pissed off and am tempted to send her a blasting in return. I suppose that would be unreasonable (or unhelpful) and I know that I am projecting a lot of stress about other things in her direction. What else can I say to her? I just feel real angry (especially on behalf of DH).

HollyGoHeavily Fri 24-May-13 07:20:57

A blasting? Because she wants to hear from her children when she's away for a month? If I was you i'd be apologising for not replying to her interesting emails and asking when she can come and visit.

Thesebootsweremadeforwalking Fri 24-May-13 07:22:25

Personally I wouldn't reply, especially as your DH has already done so.

I agree with her. You could have sent a couple of replies. If you read her emails, it takes 5 minutes to reply.

Vividmemories Fri 24-May-13 07:24:15

You can apologise for not replying and give the reasons you state above re the children, unemotionally. No need for a "blasting".

FannyFifer Fri 24-May-13 07:24:50

Bad form not to reply to the e-mails.

SkinnybitchWannabe Fri 24-May-13 07:24:54

You didn't need a 'how are you?' in her email, you could have answered saying how great her trip is and then fill her in on whats happening. A quick reply would have done.
I hope your son is ok.

samuelwhiskers Fri 24-May-13 07:26:48

She sounds very attention seeking and quite selfish, it is generally polite to ask how other people are in family emails. I would reply politely to her that you are very sorry that you didn't reply to her news but things are worrying for you at the moment with your DS being investigated etc etc. Make it really short and sweet and ignore mentioning her holiday tales. Maybe she just might think a bit deeper in furture (or maybe not!).

Circaea Fri 24-May-13 07:26:51

Meh, I'd ignore her if I were you, she'll get over it. I say that as someone who has fairly low contact needs with the rest of the world - I've spent my whole life disappointing people about not writing back/being a bad correspondent.

I decided to stop feeling guilty, and stop worrying how everyone felt about it - any reasonably empathetic adult knows that not everyone is equal in the wanting to stay in touch stakes. It doesn't mean I don't like them, it means I prefer face to face conversations.

FarBetterNow Fri 24-May-13 07:27:05

Rabbit: YANBU - she sounds very self centred.
How lovely for her to be able to do a four week pilgrimage, to have good health, the time and the money to do so.

She is independent enough to do that, so she needs to be independent now she is home and also help her family.
I'm hope your DS is ok.

Best wishes to you.

AuntieStella Fri 24-May-13 07:27:29

It's up to DH, and he seems to be on top of it.

And if your DS has leukaemia (I hope not) he might know he'll need his mum. Don't blast that for the sake of sending her the odd email just to be friendly, rather than restricting contact to when you see a need for a reply.

RubyGates Fri 24-May-13 07:28:02

I think from your description your MIL's emails sound like the digital equivalent of a postcard which surely need no reply.

I would have sent a quick glad to hear you've arrived safely, see you soon reply, but nothing more.

cantreachmytoes Fri 24-May-13 07:28:09

YANBU in feeling that. Probably U to give her a blasting though.

My mother sends emails like this too. What can you reply to them really? The email is "me,me, me" and then you either reply doing in the same style, which is not comfortable (at least for me), or you write back with questions about her prompting more "me, me, me".

Your DH has replied. Just leave it at that. It is neither your nor your DH's job to provide her with a "safety net", she's an adult and can do that herself (friends, arranging to visit you etc) - especially if she's capable of taking herself off for a four week pilgrimage.

Saski Fri 24-May-13 07:28:50

I think if my son were being investigated for leukemia, I'd probably let everything else fall by the wayside. I hope he's OK, and I hope you're OK.

I think it's a bit self-involved to send out lyrical emails about your travels to a wide audience on a regular basis, but I'm just wondering if she's aware of what's going on with your son.

I'm going against the grain here.

I don't tend to reply to generic 'send to everyone I know while on holiday' emails. These are the equivalent of postcards in the 21st century aren't they and noone would have expected you reply to them.

For sure it would be nice if at least one of her relatives had written to her while she was away but equally it would have been nice if she had taken 5 minutes to write to her children personally.

Having said that I do think ywbu to send a ranty email when your dh has already replied. I'd be letting it drop now.

CabbageLeaves Fri 24-May-13 07:31:21

Is it possible you didn't reply and didn't share information because you're cross that she can go off and do all those nice things whilst you're struggling back home?

In which case perhaps be honest. Replying to an email takes seconds. You chose not to because you felt she wasn't interested. Instead of a blasting perhaps a calm adult conversation expressing that.

Maybe she keeps herself busy because she would otherwise be lonely. Maybe she does feel excluded and unhappy. Maybe her mails were an attempt to make contact. Families can be such a support to each other in times of stress. Don't let a misunderstanding be the cause of a blasting which could cause so much harm to you all

Ok cross posted with others also going against the grain including rubygates who agrees with the post card analogy!

bootsycollins Fri 24-May-13 07:32:46

Er yeah Rabbit is her dil not her daughter, and while I'm at it her dh isn't mil's child either, he's a grown man with a wife and family of his own working long hours and dealing with his sons major health issue.

rabbit you've got enough on your plate at the moment, dh has replied, you don't need to. The 'safety net' thing sounds blackmaily since mil is a strong, independant, well travelled woman who only makes time to see her "children" 4/5 times a year. If she was desperate for contact she should have telephoned YANBU.

I hope your son is ok thanks

FasterStronger Fri 24-May-13 07:37:52

I dont think you have done anything wrong at all but why haven't her sons been in contact with her? It sounds like she is on her own. They dint seem at all interested in their own mother.

exoticfruits Fri 24-May-13 07:40:00

I would just say that you enjoyed reading them but thought they were the equivalent of post cards and didn't realise she was expecting a reply.

angelsonhigh Fri 24-May-13 07:47:09

It would take 30 seconds to type.

"Glad to hear you're having a great time""

My DB has been travelling through Europe for the past 6 weeks. Due back in another 4 weeks

He puts his travel photos and comments on facebook. One was of him changing a tyre on a car in the snow in Scotland.

He made a comment that he was amazed at the amount of people who "liked"the fact that he was changing the tyre in the snow.

I told him that they should have an acknowledged"button on facebook.

TheRabbitCatcher Fri 24-May-13 07:55:10

Thanks for the replies.

I think that the reason we both didn't reply was because we assumed, as a couple of you have said, that it was a 'digital postcard'. To be honest, when I read them I did feel resentful that she has the space in her life to do that sort of thing. I know it was probably rude not to reply. Just as it has been rude not to visit my best friend's newborn and to cancel a work meeting at the last minute because I didn't want to cry in it.

My MIL's always been the way she is. Normally that's fine, but she must trigger something, as my stress is headed her way at the moment.

A blasting of an email would have been outrageous, I can see that now. I suppose I just want to feel angry at someone and her minor misdemenour came at a convenient time.

Sokmonsta Fri 24-May-13 07:55:16

Yanbu. But dh has replied now so for the time being, leave it at that.

If she raises the matter again, turn it back to her by apologising and explaining that you didn't think she would want her holiday ruining with news of her grandson's health concerns, that understandably these are taking up a lot of your time and energy at the moment but it was nice to hear she had a lovely time.

If she is not as selfish as she appears to come across (safety net?!), she will feel a pang of guilt at not thinking to at least say she hoped things were going well even if she didn't ask the question inviting a response.

I too would treat them as a postcard type message. Although I may email back saying 'lovely, look forward to seeing the photos' to acknowledge it had been received. It doesn't need much more response than that.

Saski Fri 24-May-13 07:56:54

Does your MIL know that her grandson is being investigated for leukemia?

NutellaLawson Fri 24-May-13 07:57:45

I've been that MIL (i did a massive trip and kept a blog while away) and felt I needed to hear from family while away. you do need to feel connected to home somehow. but my sister was silent gor all 16 months I was away. I was abit miffed at the time but when I got back she had broken up with her partner and I felt bad. I realised when you've got your own shit to deal with you're not in a position to cheer on someone doing something a whole lot more fun (and self-indulgent) then you.
The safety ney maybe refers to the emotional crash you feel upon getting home. you wannt to talk (endlessly) about the stuff you did and saw.

I would get DH to tell get you loved getting her well-written and interesting (lay it on thick) updates, looked forward to each one but hadn't realised she wanted a reply.

Having said that, YADNBU. it sounds like she is upset about not getting your replies because she wanted her family cheerleading her every move, not because she felt left out of YOUR news and events. She is being very me me me about this.

she should have kept a blog, because then people can just leave comments or not and the writer doesn't feel replies are warranted. Sorry she's not being more grown up about this.

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