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To have had enough of my MIL?

(49 Posts)
Frenchsticker Tue 23-Jul-13 14:14:32

So the background is this (apologies in advance for long post): DH is an only child so the only source of grandchildren. MIL has been desperate for a grandchild. Seriously desperate. The first time we ever met - I'd been with DH for 6 months - she got tearful telling me how much she wanted one. The pressure this has put me under from day one is immense. Part of the problem is that she has 6 siblings who all have at least two DGCs each, and she has felt left out. She got divorced after DH was born and one of her sisters once told me that she wanted a DGC so she could have another baby to look after, which is sad but also freaked me out a bit.

DH is the only offspring in the family to move away from his hometown, which she resents. It sounds mad but him getting a good job in London has made him the black sheep of the family. None of the other women in the family work so MIL has always been baffled by my having a career instead of popping out sprogs. She has never, in the 10 years I've been with DH, asked anything about my life. I don't even know if she has any idea what I do for a living. But she is personable and friendly when talking about her own stuff (which is what her great-nieces are doing, what the baby who lives next door is doing, what some strangers' kids she saw in the park were doing, etc) so I've tried to be civil, but really it's as if we're from different planets.

After years of telling her we wouldn't be having kids, we had DS. I had a miscarriage prior to that, which devastated me. When DH told her over the phone that I was expecting, he mentioned the miscarriage for the first time and said "We didn't tell you about it because we didn't want you to be upset." Which totally sums it up - she would have viewed it as her losing a grandchild rather than me and DH suffering a loss.

Anyway, things were just about ok until DS's arrival because we only saw her twice a year. Now DS is here she wants to visit every month. The first time she visited was when DS was a month old. He wasn't sleeping, had been in hospital for an infection, was struggling to bf and I was recovering from a pretty traumatic emergency C-section. Still she didn't ask how I was. I understand that she was excited to see her grandchild but she stayed for a week and never once uttered the words "how are you". Isn't that just basic conversation? One morning I staggered downstairs on the verge of tears and told her I was feeling broken after only getting an hour's sleep. She burst out laughing and said to DS: "Oh, are you being naughty for mummy? I don't believe it because you're so gorgeous!" I could happily have killed her. She's also let it be known that she doesn't approve of bfing, which she considers to be for hippies.

I'm finding it impossible to hide my feelings, which I know is immature but I've always been rubbish at it. I'm trying to give her what she wants by leaving her with DS and me getting out of the way. When I'm holding DS or pushing the pram she just stares and stares with longing, so I let her take DS out on his own and leave her to play with him even when my instinct is saying he needs picking up and taken to play on his own for a bit (she is great with him but doesn't pick up on the signals that he's tired or wants a bit of space). But things have come to a head with DH this week after her latest visit, which came with the usual eye-rolling when I mentioned baby-led weaning, and comments of "well I suppose he'll cry his little self to sleep eventually" when I didn't rush in at his first whimper. He turned around this morning and said he didn't think our marriage would last if I didn't make an effort and grin and bear it.

AIBU? Any advice on how to deal with her? She adores DS and I do appreciate that. DH is coming home from work later and I'd like to be honest and tell him how much the miscarriage comment hurt me (I never said so at the time because of the happy news about the new pregnancy) but will he just accuse me of dredging up old stuff? He used to be the one complaining about her baby obsession but since DS was born he's ignoring everything she does and seems convinced it's all down to me.

Like I said - apologies for the long post. and breathe

YouTheCat Tue 23-Jul-13 14:28:12

He accused you of not making an effort with HIS mother? That's really not on. He should be supporting you and your child, not pandering to his rather bizarre mother.

And tbh it sounds like you have made huge efforts with the old bag.

Mitzyme Tue 23-Jul-13 14:29:01

Hi I am usually the first to get annoyed with Mil bashing but I really don't think you are being unreasonable. The comment from your DH must have really hurt and she is way out of order.
Sorry about your miscarriage, stay on here for the best advice and support MN will give you.

MaxPepsi Tue 23-Jul-13 14:36:19

Do you have a friend or relative that your DH doesn't particularly like or get on with?

I'm just wondering if you could reverse the situation for him and see how he likes it.

Yes, I know that's childish but someone fighting your corner for a change might jsut make him realise what an arse he's being.

Ragwort Tue 23-Jul-13 14:36:50

I have mixed feelings about this, I do think you are over reacting a little, as you say, your MIL loves your DS, is happy to take him out and you only see her once a month.

Your DH's comment was a bit thoughtless but if you are endlessly going on and on about his mother I can understand he may be feeling a bit fed up.

Yes, she does sound very rude not even to ask you how you are but I really don't think bringing up past grievances are really going to help. And why on earth discuss BLW with MIL? hmm.

I think it is easy to get fraught over insensitive comments but in the long run the fact she helps out with your DS is a huge bonus.

SarahAndFuck England Tue 23-Jul-13 14:40:32

It's a tough one.

DH absolutely should not be saying things like that to you.

You sound like you have been more generous with her than a lot of people would be. And more generous than she deserves.

I'd be tempted to tell him that your marriage won't last if he thinks he can hold a threat like that over you.

And that if he can't support you when you need him to, then his mother can't come to stay because it's her creating the situation. So if he won't help you resolve it, and would rather ignore it and blame you for it, then stopping her from visiting is the only way to remove the issue.

thebody Tue 23-Jul-13 14:42:23

completely agree with Ragwort here op.

badguider Tue 23-Jul-13 14:47:51

I don't understand it, from your post it does sound like you are 'grinning and bearing it' confused
What does your DH actually WANT you to do?

YouTheCat Tue 23-Jul-13 14:48:51

But it doesn't sound like it is a 'huge bonus' because it sounds like OP is managing just fine anyway so it's not like she's providing essential childcare.

There are only so many little digs and comments you can just let wash over you before you snap.

badguider Tue 23-Jul-13 14:49:26

Oh, or are you grinning and bearing it to your MILs face then moaning a lot about her to your DH after as a realease? I can see how he would find that tough - I wouldn't want my DH to moan to me about my parents as I'd feel torn.

wharrgarbl Tue 23-Jul-13 14:53:36

he didn't think our marriage would last if I didn't make an effort and grin and bear it.

WTF does he think you've been doing all this time?

Ragwort Tue 23-Jul-13 14:55:39

I think badguider makes a good point, it is very difficult to moan to your partner about their parents - obviously if they are really abusive or incredibly cruel that's different but really is it worth getting so stressed over a few thoughtless comments? My ILs have long since died but my (elderly) parents are still around & I know they drive my DH to distraction but he is very careful to bite his tongue and not moan about them, even when I do grin. It is one thing to moan about your own parents, but to hear someone else moan about them is another matter!

YouTheCat Tue 23-Jul-13 14:58:05

But she is having to bite her tongue for a whole week every month! That's just excessive. Fair enough if the visit is a few hours once a week, easy to just grin and bear it then.

hermioneweasley Tue 23-Jul-13 14:58:45

Let me get this straight- he has said that your failure to "grin and bear it" with his mother's over bearing and frankly sometimes rude behaviour could destroy your marriage?

I'd tell him that his pandering would spell the end of our marriage. You can then enjoy the rest of your mat leave without her around. Bliss.

cornflakegirl Tue 23-Jul-13 15:00:50

I think it's really hard being around someone you don't really get on with, especially when you throw a newish baby and sleep deprivation into the mix. Is DH always around when she comes to visit?

I can understand it's hard for you to feel belittled and constantly criticised. But from what you write, it doesn't sound like she's doing it to hurt you. She's just besotted with DS.

Can you get DH to take more of an active role during her visits? If you or he realise that you're getting a bit snippy, get him to take over while you go and have a bath / nap / read a book. Let him justify to MIL why you need a break.

I didn't get on brilliantly with MIL pre-kids, and still don't have much in common, but once we were past the first year and things were more settled, it was much easier, not least because we had the children to talk about.

Ragwort Tue 23-Jul-13 15:08:27

I am not quite clear from your original post exactly what it is that irritates you so much about your MIL?

As cornflake says, she is besotted with her grandson, is it because she is ignoring you in favour of your baby? You are obviously very different people with different attitudes to life, but that doesn't make one 'better' than the other - just different.

ArtexMonkey Tue 23-Jul-13 15:10:18

"I'd tell him that his pandering would spell the end of our marriage"

^^ this. You have a small bf baby, tell dh good luck to him and his mother seeing as much of him as they do now if you decide you've had enough of their manipulative bullshit. And yes, wah wah wah, it's not nice to pull rank like that but you are ds's primary carer, his main source of comfort and food at this point in his life, in short, YOU ARE THE MOTHER, and it sounds like they need reminding of this.

QueenofallIsee Tue 23-Jul-13 15:11:07

My OH can be a bit like this OP. I get on fine with my MIL most of the time and am grateful for her being hands on with the kids BUT if I even HINT at anything I am not thrilled with, he reacts as though I have smacked her in the face with a wet fish.

Established when I asked that it wasn't good enough in his view that I make the effort when she is there, I have to ENJOY myself or am being fake! He is hard work!

Suspect like mine, what your chap means is that he doesn't want you complaining about his Mum to him as it feels wrong. Some men are like that - you just have to decide if you can live with it.

DontmindifIdo Tue 23-Jul-13 15:15:58

I would throw back at DH that yes, he's right, if the problem, his mother, isn't dealt with so she stays at a level of just being a little annoying which you can grin and bear but continues to be down right rude to you, then it will spell the end of your marriage because you won't stand for a man who won't stand up for you.

Often as well, the first year is the biggest 'flash' points for grandparents, because IME, this is the time when modern parenting is so different to the way they did it, breast feeding being something 'normal' woman do, BLW and what age you wean, how you 'train' them, sleep locations etc are the big flash points and all hit in the first 6-9 months. By a year, it'll be easier to deal with her because it won't be as obvious that you are parenting differently.

In the mean time, yes, he needs to be around more when she's staying so he handles her more, she can't stay when it's going to be just you doing 1-1 with her for a week. Limit her visits to long weekends.

I would also explain to him that she doesn't seem to want to have much of a relationship with you, your MIL isn't trying to be nice to you or to find out anything about you, she's just seeing you as a baby machine, although she's his mum, he has to recognise she's not related to you, feeling kindly towards her isn't given as it would be if you were family, and if she wants a friendship with someone, then she has to put some effort into that too. You can't build that alone.

Beastofburden Tue 23-Jul-13 15:16:41

I can't quite tell how old DC is and how many visits you have had? if this is still v early days, let her go home and breathe. You need sleep, rest and recovery time before you can take a careful view on this.

I wouldnt have expected my MIL to be genuinely concerned about me, or been insulted if she had made some inane crack about baby being too booful to keep mumsy-wumsy up all night. She isnt my mother, I dont look to her for emotional support. With your MIL, it sounds as if she's not that bright, and she often doesn't quite know what to say. I daresay your DH has long ago come to that conclusion, and just treats her accordingly. Perhaps you need to have lower expectations of that relationship? A genuine friend would do all the things you say, and its a shame she doesnt want to be a genuine friend, but actually she is a tad obsessive about babies and still over-excited and she can't concentrate long enough to have any manners.

DH's comment about your marriage is disturbing. if this continues to be an issue, and her visits dont get any better, tell him straight that if the marriage does end, his mother will be seeing DC during his access times, not during yours, so he had better get used to either breaking his mother's heart or seeing a lot of her.

And it would not hurt to drop a few hints to MIL. I was given the opportunity when my MIL talked about a friend who did not get on with her own DIL. "Oh dear," I said, sweetly. "That is such a shame- because of course, it's the mother who controls access to grandchildren. if she can't get on with her DIL, she will miss out on her GC growing up. What a pity." She got the message.

DontmindifIdo Tue 23-Jul-13 15:17:29

I also wouldn't give her lots of 1-1 time with DS if you know she's not actually going to care for him well. DS is not a toy. When he's older he can complain if he's not enjoying time with Granny, right now if you can see it, it's down to you to step in.

Frenchsticker Tue 23-Jul-13 15:20:23

Thanks all. I think the problem is that after so many years of this I no longer have a happy face on when she visits - well, not after a few hours of dealing with her. I know that's bad, but it's worn me down. I don't criticise her to him. DH makes a valid point that he always makes a big effort with my parents despite them being annoying in their own ways. But the difference is that when they are being out of order I tell them so, and I will always back him because I think of us as a unit.

diddl Germany Tue 23-Jul-13 15:21:05

I think it's your husband you need to be annoyed with tbh.

Your MIL sounds maybe intense?

But she loves her GC.

Visiting once a month-doesn't sound that much.
I'd have moved in

Don't quite understand why she was first told about your MC when you were pregnant againconfused

SarahAndFuck England Tue 23-Jul-13 15:27:23

"But the difference is that when they are being out of order I tell them so, and I will always back him because I think of us as a unit."

Then this is what you need to say to him OP. Because this is the real problem, he's not doing something for you that you do for him, and as a result you are being worn down by his mother.

What would he say if you said you would pick her up on the things you weren't happy with?

I'd certainly cut out the monthly visits as well, if they go on for a full week each. Or at least cut them down to a weekend visit so your DH is at home for them.

ENormaSnob Tue 23-Jul-13 15:37:32

Your mil sounds okay imo.

Your dh doesnt though.

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