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

Beastofburden Tue 23-Jul-13 15:43:31

Staying for a week is ages. I would have said a weekend is plenty.

If you cant cut this down, start something for yourself- spa treatments, swimming lessons, whatever you fancy that needs childcare, and do them when she comes. Then those weeks become your treat that MIL makes possible and not an endurance test.

Frenchsticker Tue 23-Jul-13 15:43:50

diddl I don't know why he mentioned the mc either - I think she said something like "I didn't even know you were trying for a baby" and that was his reply. She has of course never brought it up with me but I know she's told the family because next time I saw his aunt she dropped into conversation that she'd had a mc and had been very upset about it, which was sweet.

Forgot to mention that when DH called her to say DS had been born, her first comment (despite having waited a lifetime for this moment) was "You've called him WHAT? Where on earth did you get that from?" Not putting the name on here but it's really not that weird!

ViviPru Tue 23-Jul-13 15:47:00

I've no sage words to impart I'm afraid OP but I would like to say that your MiL does sound like a complete drag to me too.

diddl Tue 23-Jul-13 15:51:49

I would say that staying for a week every month sounds too much.

Especially if you are expected to entertain her.

My husband is an only child & supposedly his parents had been wanting him to settle down & have kids for years

So much so that they would never visit just me & the GC!

And have never been to visit us here(Germany) in the 14yrs that we've been here!

Oh & when we had a daughter, MIL declared that she didn't know what to do with a girl??!!

ArtexMonkey Tue 23-Jul-13 15:52:00

She has maybe built it up too much, obsessing about this for years. Disappointment is inevitable under these circumstances - but this is NOT your fault. And no, op, I do not think you should spend one week in four, ie a quarter of your maternity leave, busying yourself with 'spa treatments' or god knows what, just so your mil can have a second crack of the whip at motherhood. This is your time, it is your baby, what if you never have any more yourself?

Mil and dh are the ones who have the wrong end of the stick about this situation, they are the ones who need to adjust their expectations or hit the fucking road. In time your baby will be a toddler, then a child and then he will have his own growing relationship with your mil that you are not a part of. But small babies need their mothers and your dh and your mil can't just wish you out of the picture once a month. It is very worrying.

diddl Tue 23-Jul-13 16:02:43

Oh I'm not unsympathetic btw, the thought of MIL with me for a week-err, no thanks!!

We are totally different people-we just don't get on.

But that's not to say there's animosity-but things would be strained/uncomfortable.

And I know I would be watching & criticising everything she said/didblush

But your MIL at least sounds as if she's interested & not nasty for the sake of it.

I think I'd tell her as little as possible-and maybe try not to read too much into what she says-and have her stay for shorter visits if it will always be every month.

If it must be a week's stay, then I don't see how every month is doable.

But your husband needs to be supporting you-by at least acknowledging that his mum can be annoying!

Wibblypiglikesbananas Tue 23-Jul-13 16:39:44

Firstly, congrats on your baby!

Secondly, I can understand how frustrating this must be. My ILs, whilst well intentioned, can be incredibly overbearing, their way is always right, blah, blah - thank goodness for SIL, who shares my views!

However, the difference here is that your MIL has not been interested in you or how you live for the last decade. I'd find it incredibly insulting if someone who had virtually ignored me for so long suddenly wanted to be in my personal space so often. To be honest, given your DH moved away and was thought of as the black sheep, it's as though he's back in favour now he (or rather you) has produced the longed for grandchild.

I think you need to have a serious chat with your DH. It may be that he's almost basking in the attention from his mother, via your DC, as he's been the outcast for so long. However, that does not excuse her previous behaviour towards you. Whilst I'm generally in favour of GC having a relationship with GPs, even if cultural differences can make thus somewhat tricky, I'd find it hard leaving my child with someone I barely knew, DH's parent or not.

I hope you navigate a way through this. Remember that you are in charge in your own home just as much as DH. Be kind to yourself and good luck.

ComtesseDeFrouFrou Tue 23-Jul-13 16:55:08

OP I really sympathise.

My DH is an only son to an overbearing, trying too hard mother and I am 30 weeks with our first. She is always right, pushes pushes pushes for involvement in our lives in a way it hugely intrusive, but she sees it as concern. I too struggle to appear happy and relaxed around her and, quite, frankly, I am dreading the new challenge of her inevitably wanting to encroach on my maternity leave. DH gets as frustrated with her as I do, but manages to approach things in a completely wrong headed way when he tries to put her straight.

They've even discussed moving 90 miles to our home town - all of which is completely driven by our impending arrival.

I am afraid I have no suggestions, just solidarity!

tumbletumble Tue 23-Jul-13 16:58:26

I wouldn't bring up the miscarriage comment if I were you, I'd focus on looking forwards and trying to calmly discuss strategies for dealing with MIL together. Can you think of specific ways in which he could help you to find it easier?

MammaTJ Tue 23-Jul-13 17:06:13

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

I wonder how he would feel being a part time parent and how she would feel with her time with your DS being even more limited by that!

You need to have a serious talk with him about how she affects you and also about how hurtful his comment was. If your relationship with him depends on your relationship with her, that is a real problem. I no longer talk to my MIL, not a big deal. My children still adore her, my DP takes them there a couple of times a year. I have no relationship with her whtsoever, I still have a very good relationship with my DP.

angeltattoo Tue 23-Jul-13 17:16:58

YANBU. Your DH is.

I would be telling him that he needs to be present when his DM is around, and that visiting once a month for a maximum of 2 nights is your limit - once a month for a week? Far too much, epecially for someone who took such little interest and made no effort with you prior to you becoming a mother.

I assume you are on mat leave? This is your time to bond with and enjoy your baby, and will be short enough, without ' sharing' it with rude and judgey DMIL.

My own DM wanted me to FF and not BF, give cooled boiled water, frets I am overheating/freezing/starving my baby etc. I finally ended the BF comments by telling her I was proud of how my daughter was growing and thriving, would be eating solids soon enough, surely if a mother wants to and can feed her DC that this is better for mum & baby? And that frmula is great for those who don't want to or cannot BF, and my baby might go onto formula eventually, but that would be our choice as parents. She is now telling me what a beautiful sight it is to see me BF! And her crazy first time GP madness is calming down. I have book marked some weaning info for her to read; I will give these to DM, with a brief explanation that we will be follwing current guidance, so as I will not have to be constantly explaining or defending current recommended weaning practice. As a PP said, things have changed since they had babies, and some people are quick to see this as a criticism of their own parenting!

Sorry, that was long! Basically, keep repeating a few stock phrases that make it clear that you and DH are DS's parents, comments are not necessary or wanted.

And congratulations!

Frenchsticker Tue 23-Jul-13 23:42:16

Well he came home from work and apologised for the 'marriage under threat' comment, which at least is something. We had a long talk and I made a lot of the points I read on here (thanks everyone) and we've kind of cleared the air, but he still thinks it's 100% down to me to make the effort rather than her. He even said "I don't understand, you get on well with everyone else in the family and all of my friends" and when I said that suggested the problem might possibly be on her part he said I was just trying to justify not getting on with her. Aargh.

Time for a glass of wine. You know, before I had a baby I used to wonder why people spent their time on Mumsnet and swore I'd never do it. And now it's a lifesaver smile

Nanny0gg Wed 24-Jul-13 00:02:35

I understand your issues with your MiL, but prior to you having your DC you didn't actually see her all that often - twice a year is nothing. So why did she get to you so badly?
That's why I don't understand why it is so hard for you to grin and bear her.

Although I do think your DH could speak to her about the way she treats you - it is a two-way street.

YouTheCat Wed 24-Jul-13 00:09:08

You have made an effort. A huge effort. Time for him to tell his dm to back off.

I'm another suggesting she only visits when your dh is about too. Why should you have to entertain his mother when she behaves so badly towards you?

BlissfullyIgnorant Wed 24-Jul-13 00:34:45

Wow...lots of long posts with good advice!
I did wonder if you were me from the past, and were catching up...anyway, here's my twopence worth
1. Remind him very gently he is not allowed, by law, to marry his mother. He may as well stick with you, whom he fell in love with and committed himself to
2. Remind MIL very gently that her job is to be a granny, not a nanny and in 2013 they do things differently to the way they did them back in her day
3. Occasionally ask questions like 'for how long did you commit to sterilising the carpet thrice daily?' and 'was it much safer when electrical devices, like irons, were plugged into light fittings, so crawling babies couldn't tug on the flex?' Always follow every answer with tinkling laughter and a mildly dismissive 'Oh, how quaint...'
4. Keep taking plenty of deep breaths!

BlissfullyIgnorant Wed 24-Jul-13 00:40:57

I stopped my MIL having lone time with both my DCs. After DS (1st child) was born she contradicted my strict instructions regarding the car seats and almost tipped DS head first onto the road. This was followed, within a few months with "We didn't have car seats in my day and most of you survived!"
They're a fair bit older now and I let them decide how to run their relationship with their grandma. Hasn't stopped her complaining though!

diddl Wed 24-Jul-13 02:30:01

It's down to you to make the effort??

WTAF??

What, so she can be rude & you have to put up with it?

I understand that he might not like to hear you criticise/complain about his mum-but he does understand that not all people get on?

Does she-or he get on with everyone they know??

How come you only see her a couple of times a year before?

Was that as much interest as he had?

If so-why must you suddenly have more??

NapaCab Wed 24-Jul-13 05:23:26

YANBU to have had enough of her. Seeing your MIL for a week every month would be enough to finish most new mothers off, I think.

I found that after I had my DS I just didn't have the spare energy to put up with people anymore, including my own parents who are a little overbearing like your MIL. My mother had also been desperately waiting for a grandchild as her sisters had their grandchildren close by and she wanted that too. I was living in another country, had an MC before my DS too and it all came to a head after the birth. She just became even more overbearing and weird after I had DS so I found I had less patience with her, kind of a double-whammy effect!

All you can do is just minimize the time you spend with her. When she comes to visit, use it as a chance to get some free childcare to get out on your own. Your DH is wrong to put you under more pressure than you already feel. He needs to understand how demanding it is to take care of a young baby and have someone interfering and visiting all the time. It's exhausting so he should support you and not his mother in this.

At the end of the day if your marriage did break up then your MIL would get even less time with her grandchild so she should be keeping that at the forefront of her mind and making an effort to get along with you! Ditto for your DH.

CSIJanner Wed 24-Jul-13 07:17:58

I get where you're coming from OP - totally get it. Point out to your husband that after years of putting a smile on, it's got to the point now where he needs to act as a buffer for his family as you do with your parents. Point out you pull your parents up on things and whilst you wouldn't say she can't visit, a week is too long especially when you're expected to entertain her each time. Suggest a long weekend so he can be the buffer. You could even say that in light of his comment of making relationships work, spend some quality time with his mother, taking her out for tea or lunch as she's missed him after moving away.

jammiedonut Wed 24-Jul-13 09:58:49

I feel for you, I really do. But this is a battle you will never win. As soon as my dh hears the words 'your mum said...' uttered by me he completely switches off, despite how unreasonable her behaviour he will never truly understand how frustrating it can be. I honestly think its because he loves his mother and so can forgive her oddities, whereas you don't have those feelings for her. That and the thirty plus years he's had to be conditioned to accept it.

My mil treats me as her surrogate, referring to ds as 'her baby'. On her first visit to see him she took 40+ photos, none of which I was in, although everyone else was! I am also expected to hand him over and stop being mum when she is around. I can't feed, cuddle or hold him as she literally won't hand him over (struggled to breastfeed with TT, so a lazy mum according to her, but 'at least there's no reason for you to stick around when you bring him to visit!')
It used to drive me spare, and nearly drove dh and I apart. That is until I realised she only had this effect because I LET HER. Be glad to have a doting granny, treat her comments to a big smile and an inward eye-roll and find someone apart from dh to vent about her.
You'll be much happier, I am definitely.

*apologies for slight hijack and poor grammar- shattered and just back from a loooooong visit to ILs!

jollygoose Wed 24-Jul-13 10:33:42

YANBU but you could take a different way of looking at things. Imo anyone who loves my ds as much as I do if thats possible is well worth being good friends with. Yes each generation has its own way of doing things but you will be doing it your way whateverso does it really matter? This oman is happy to take him out for walks and play with him, surely this gives you valuable time to yourself, make the most of it and be grateful. I am a gm myself and see my own much loved gc 2 or 3 times a week which makes me very happy, my dd is happy just to have time to cook or do something for herself.

jollygoose Wed 24-Jul-13 10:36:35

should have read post properly didnt realise she stayed for a week! that is a bit overkill!

TempusFuckit Wed 24-Jul-13 11:07:10

You have my sympathies OP. There's no way I could have my own DM (who I love dearly) staying for a week every month.

I'm a little curious as to what prompted the conversation if it wasn't you moaning. What does you not having a happy face on mean exactly? Were there any specific incidents?

In the meantime, unless visits can be cut back you need to implement the coping strategies others have suggested. My MIL is similarly sweet but uninterested in me, and makes comments about BLW etc. You need to get to the point where it's water off a duck's back, and you can enjoy the pleasure your DC will undoubtedly take in her company.

flanbase Wed 24-Jul-13 12:45:18

you are the vessel for her grandchildren. You are not a person to her and you want her to treat you like a person/friend. It sounds like this wont be happening so you'll have to come to terms with this. It's a hard one. She'll ignore you as a person and just ignore her as well. Ignore her comments and coldness

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