Spectacularly passive aggressive MIL!

(74 Posts)

Background - one year old twins and a 19 year old I've just rescued from Uni as, well, long story.

PIL come up for the weekend. Despite everything on my plate, get up 2 hours before the twins each day to cook in advance, clean, make beds etc...

MIL: "You're so wonderfully relaxed <stinkingbishop>, when I was a young Mum I tried so hard to make everything perfect".

Reasons why I shouldn't clump her one?!

DP cannot see the problem by the way - "it's a compliment, she's saying you're not stressy".

Yes, DP. But I got up at 4am and apparently it's not 'perfect'.


There are worst problems in the world, I know. Sorry....

IHateSafeStyle Sun 28-Apr-13 08:00:49

Think of it this was, she is jealous you are so in control her life must have been a nighmare

I have one of those....

After descending unexpectedly for lunch and me managing to knock up a Tex Mex feast with the aid of some Old El Paso store cupboard essentials:

'Oh Sparkle this is such a lovely easy meal to make - its your signature menu really isn't it? I always feel its cheating if I don't cook from scratch.'

pudcat Sun 28-Apr-13 08:01:39

She hasn't said it's not perfect. I think she's complimenting you.

beeny Sun 28-Apr-13 08:03:05

I have one of those you have my sympathy.

I now realise such comments come from an extremely anxious and neurotic person who sees her only value in her domestic goddess status. FIL taking an interest in cooking has nearly given her a breakdown.

VIX1980 Sun 28-Apr-13 08:04:08

I think shes complimenting you also, without knowing more about your background its hardly passive aggressive to give you a compliment is it hmm.

Not having a go at you btw, i tend to snap and be very critical of everything said to me when im under stress so 1 little thing can magnify by millions and i over analyse it to the point i stress myself out. I do genuinely think she was giving you a compliment that even under the stress you have going on at the moment your not showing it that much.

ginmakesitallok Sun 28-Apr-13 08:04:12

Don't read so much into it! She had to try hard to get things perfect, you can get them perfect without even getting stressed!

MaryRobinson Sun 28-Apr-13 08:06:09

You could reply ... "Yes I really value time and the relationship with my children above cleaning for what - I'm mean only the tuly horrid judge each other don't they ?"

diddl Sun 28-Apr-13 08:06:13

Sounds like a compliment to me also-as in she tried & failed/it was pointless.

What help is your OH giving?

Why are you getting up so early & seemingly doing everything for his parents?

Houseinmerseyside Sun 28-Apr-13 08:06:30

Is it a one-off comment or just one of many similar back-handed "compliments"? If one off I think she just meant to be nice but it came out awkwardly, but I get he feeling hats not the case and its just one example.

fairylightsinthespring Sun 28-Apr-13 08:06:41

eeeesshhh, yes, totally get where you are coming from on this one. My MIL can NOT respond to anything with anything other than one-upmanship. Whatever you make, as it goes on the table she'll say "oh I make this, I do it with..." which (and maybe I am being oversensitive here) but always feels like an implied criticism. If you say you've been away, she'll not even ask one question about it, just immediately respond with "we went away and it was the best possible room and we got a free upgrade and it cost us less than anyone ever spent in the world ever..."

jkklpu Sun 28-Apr-13 08:10:28

Don't get up at 4am - everything thing seems a million times worse/more negative when you're exhausted. It's not doing you any good. Where's your dp in all this? Does he help? It's really OK to change your house-keeping standards when you have wee kids - they certainly don't care and it just adds massive pressure on you if you try to make things anything near "perfect". If your 19yo is home, s/he should get his/her finger out and do some things around the house. Try to ignore your mil and cut yourself some slack.


If someone said that to me, I'd have said "Actually this is the best I can do and I'd like some handy hints on how to make things easier for me".

If she's genuinely being passive-aggressive, she will provide you advice that will probably be so useless that you can pick holes in it.

malteserzz Sun 28-Apr-13 08:10:46

To be honest I can't see the problem with what she said either but maybe there is history between you. Hope your dp helped get things ready for his parents too ? If not its him you should be mad at !

YoniOrNotYoni Sun 28-Apr-13 08:11:11

Do you get up at 4am every day? Wow! Do you need to?

HellesBelles396 Sun 28-Apr-13 08:15:12

definitely snide.

that's a sign of her insecurity though. nod, smile, ignore.

or question ruthlessly: oh? what was your routine? interrupting each point with at least half a dozen questions.

EmmaBemma Sun 28-Apr-13 08:19:51

I think we need more evidence of potentially PA remarks and behaviour before making a judgement call. It's very possible you might have taken that one remark the wrong way.

sparkle12mar08 Sun 28-Apr-13 08:24:20

That is not a compliment, I can't believe some people think it is?! I'd go with HellesBelles suggestion myself...

IAmNotAMindReader Sun 28-Apr-13 08:30:48

I would interpret that comment as "You're a lazy sow who's living in a shit pit."

purrpurr Sun 28-Apr-13 08:41:30

I'm with MindReader on this one. OP, stop getting up so early. Set and meet your own expectations, don't try to meet those of others. It makes it so much easier for those that are inclined to, to move the goal posts so you never measure up. That includes pithy little PA episodes over the dinner table. Meet your own expectations.

OHforDUCKScake Sun 28-Apr-13 08:45:12

I dont read that as an insult at all. I read it as, you're doing so well keeping your shit together, when I was a young mum I struggled to keep my shit together.

Of course only you know your MIL though, so you'll be more intune to any undertone.

I think you're crazy getting up at 4am though.

Finallygotaroundtoit Sun 28-Apr-13 08:52:18

If she doesn't know you get up so early and is commenting on your calmness it's a genuine compliment

Finallygotaroundtoit Sun 28-Apr-13 08:54:54

Also, people who say stuff like "I make mine like blah blah " are just trying to find common ground confused

Some MILS can't do right whatever they do, apparently

sarahandemily Sun 28-Apr-13 08:55:18

You have 1 year old twins. That is exhausting! Give yourself a break please! I only have 1 and at that age I was still mostly following the sleep when she is sleeping advice. MIL sounds a PITA but you will feel much better if you get some sleep. If she is so perfect next time she comes she can have the kids for the day while you go and do something nice (or just sleep)

WhoWhatWhereWhen Sun 28-Apr-13 08:57:23

OP, Trust your instincts you know her better than most, is she often saying things like this?

Stropzilla Sun 28-Apr-13 09:00:18

I have one of those I know exactly what you mean. "I'm so jealous of you being able to spend time with your baby. I feel I missed out because I was to busy making sure my house was tidy. "

Innocent to everyone else. Snipey to me but recently dh can spot it too.

TigerFeet Sun 28-Apr-13 09:00:20

why on earth are you getting up at 4am to do housework? ?? shock confused

pudcat Sun 28-Apr-13 09:05:29

Well I think I had better stop paying my daughters in law compliments in case unbeknown to me I have actually been making snide comments.

I think it's a compliment too from what you have written.
I think she admires you for getting up so early and getting your house sorted. So do I but you must be crazy!

Finallygotaroundtoit Sun 28-Apr-13 09:10:42

Strop, I think your MIL was just voicing her regret.

I've heard many older people say they genuinely regret not cuddling or enjoying their dcs more.

BoundandRebound Sun 28-Apr-13 09:15:23

That's not passive aggressive, that's nice

And maybe you should treat her like a friend and laugh it off by telling her you're up at 4 which is in my view, and would be in hers no doubt, absolutely barmy.

What are you trying to prove?

Loveiswhereitfalls Sun 28-Apr-13 09:19:38

Compliment -My arse !grin

Stop getting up at 4am .
The need to make nasty little putdowns (under the guise of being "nice") is her problem. Either laugh hysterically until she looks at you like this confused or just ignore and say "Aww Thanks DMIL" she will also look confused .Works like a treat on PA people .

FarBetterNow Sun 28-Apr-13 09:22:00

Please come back and tell us that you don't choose to get up at 4.00am everyday to clean and cook.

Some of us can't work out whether you mean everyday or just that day.

Aw, just on a twin break and seen all these comments. You're lovely ladies all of you, will read properly later, but thanks! We'll be 'fine'...

And no just 4am on MIL days! Not every day!

DoJo Sun 28-Apr-13 10:30:19

I too don't really see the problem with it - sounds like she's complimenting you, although as others have said if she is always saying things which are genuinely passive aggressive then maybe this is just a part of it. I frequently compliment a mum I know who has twins on how calm she is compared to how I imagine I would be if I had two - I'm sure she takes it in the spirit which it is meant!

Loveiswhereitfalls Sun 28-Apr-13 10:38:57

A compliment would be " Oh stinking you are really managing the twins/house well - you are really relaxed"

On the surface MIL comments seem nice but there is always a little dig or sting in the tail- usually about how much better the MIL did it ie she had everything "perfect"
I have had to deal with the most PA person ever ( not my MIL) and it is best to either laugh it off or ignore and take the "compliments" at face value - it dont half confuse them grin

cocolepew Sun 28-Apr-13 10:40:17

Fuck sake woman stay in your bed shock Don't get up at 4 to clean and cook, if nobody helps you then it doesn't get done, if MIL makes a comnent say "oh thanks so much for offering, the hoovers over there".

Plomino Sun 28-Apr-13 10:41:27

I have a MIL that has been known to come out with some fantastic comments . I particularly enjoyed the " ooh I haven't been in such a lived in house in ages ". This when both DH and I are both juggling full time shift work , no outside childcare other than nursery , 5 kids and 3 horses .

Then one memorable year , she came to visit , and on day 2 had a heart attack in our house , which meant six weeks in local hospital and two weeks then staying with us , and FIL staying with us for the whole 8 weeks . Not one comment have we had about our ' lived in ' home since , and it seems I am apparently now regarded as some kind of miracle worker . All I can say is , they never found the gin and Pro plus ....

Ooh, that really is insulting you.

Compliment- You're so wonderfully relaxed

Sting- when i was a young Mum, I tried so hard to make everything perfect.

She's basically saying that she worked a lot to make everything perfect (a.k.a worked hard) but you are laid back (a.k.a lazy).

I have a MIL like that. Always a negative under the guise of a positive.

squeakytoy Sun 28-Apr-13 11:16:14

if your own mother had said it, it would have been a compliment, but because it was your MIL, the vast majority of this board will tell you she is a bitch, when it was probably just a compliment... but thats MN and the MIL hatred for you.. confused

flippinada Sun 28-Apr-13 11:22:58

YABU to get up at four in the morning!

Seriously, don't do that to yourself. You have one year old twins, you should resting as much as you can.

flippinada Sun 28-Apr-13 11:24:27

Also, what are your 19 year old and DP doing to help.

Please don't say you are rushing round trying to make everything lovely while they do nothing?

diddl Sun 28-Apr-13 12:43:59

"And no just 4am on MIL days! Not every day!"


Why do you get up & do it all in advance?

Does anyone else help-do they??

It's a weekend-isn't everyone at home with nothing to do but help?

diddl Sun 28-Apr-13 12:44:51

Why do you care so much that you make such an effort for them?

Graceparkhill Sun 28-Apr-13 12:48:11

I am wondering why the 19 year old and your OH can't help.
Getting up at 4 am is madness.

freddiefrog Sun 28-Apr-13 13:00:27

My MiL is always making digs like that so I wouldn't take it as a compliment either. She dresses up a dig as a compliment so you're never really sure how to take it

My favourite one was on our wedding day - 'so refreshing to see a bride who hasn't gone to any effort over her appearance'

Cluffyfunt Sun 28-Apr-13 13:01:51

Your mil is a bit of a tit, but you are being a bigger one with your 4am cleaning! shock
Stop it and remind yourself what century we are in.
She will be a bitch about it whatever you do, so why bother putting yourself through it?

Are you ok other than this?
The 4am housework is very odd behaviour.
Are you stressed day to day?

neontetra Sun 28-Apr-13 13:11:56

My MIL often jokes about my lack of housework. But I don't get offended because it's true, I don't do any! My friends and family all say I'm this wonderfully "relaxed" mother, and I do take it as a compliment, though perhaps they are, from their perspective, trying to stealth insult me, who knows? Don't worry about it - if she honestly believes it was a good idea for her to spend the early days' of her children's lives stressed making everything "perfect" (and what does that even mean?) then she's silly, isn't she?

iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Sun 28-Apr-13 13:35:30

4am cleaning shock shock

The MIL comments is a bit meh, but it wouldn't bother me. I would find it funny and would say something jokey back to her with an 'incredulous' look on my face.
It was thoughtless but I think you may be very a little sensitive.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Sun 28-Apr-13 16:04:06

It's not just the words, it's usually the accompanying look or tone that tell you if it's complimentary or not.

Safest response if unsure is "Oh thanks I'll remember you said that".

Up at 4 am to do housework shock you are a legend. smile

coffeeinbed Sun 28-Apr-13 16:06:28

Mine used to start every sentence with '"Of course no one ever wants my opinion but this is how it's done......." and then proceed to tell you exactly how things should go.
We no longer talk.

coffeeinbed Sun 28-Apr-13 16:07:30

I now realise this is neither here nor there on the thread.
I just had to rant, sorry!

You're over-reacting...but getting up at 4 to clean would make anybody over react. Why on earth did you do that? Surely if a house if reasonably clean before guests arrive, that's all that matters? And unless you really feel that you have to do a huge 'show meal' for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I can't see why you'd need to be cooking at 4 in the morning either. And how can you make beds at 4 in the morning? Surely anybody not trying to be a bit of a martyr is still in them!

Please, please try to be a bit kinder to yourself. Eat cornflakes and fruit for breakfast; shove stuff in the slowcooker; order takeaway; whatever.

You are so lovely, all of you. Really.


BerylStreep Sun 28-Apr-13 16:37:37

'MIL, you're so ambiguous I never really know what way to take you! <tinkly laugh> Do you want another cup of tea?' <smile>

Beamae Sun 28-Apr-13 16:42:32

You have my sympathies. I have the in laws here for the weekend. As a treat they are staying an extra night. I'm so thrilled that I am now hiding in the bath for at least two hours.

BerylStreep Sun 28-Apr-13 16:44:36

Beamae, don't drop your phone in the bath.

WaitingForMe Sun 28-Apr-13 16:46:51

I have a PA MIL. What I did was extensively explain to DH how she was PA until he understood. Now he spots it and gives me sympathetic looks.

It pisses her right off grin

HerrenaHarridan Sun 28-Apr-13 16:48:03

Yy to beryl!

I agree that unless there is a history this could swing either way.

Stinking, I absolutely forbid you to get up at 4am and do housework, EVER!

Ffs woman this is mother abuse!

Do NOT get up before TWINS unless it is to treat yourself or otherwise relax! What were you thinking?

Cluffyfunt Sun 28-Apr-13 16:48:17

I'm not.
I'm a bit of a dick tbh grin

Please, for the love of chocolate, don't get up at silly o'clock to do housework.
The only reasons to be awake at that time are ; small children needing you,
Wetting the bed,
Or attack by (early rising) squriels.
No othe reason <stamps foot>.
If mil is being a pita, just smile and ignore her.
Nice people don't put others down like that, so she's not worth worrying about.

DailyNameChanger Sun 28-Apr-13 17:51:02

My mil used to be classic when I was younger and tbh I was way too naieve to even pick up on half of it. For example, when I was going out with my hub in early days, she would bang on and on about a friend's son who went abroad and got married 'AND UPSET HIS MOTHER'. I have no idea if she thought we were planning to do this, but obviously she saw me as a threat. On my wedding day, she kept telling me how much she liked my lace gloves and how beautiful the gloves were (lol no mention of the rest of my outfit). When we had our first child she used to talk to me through the baby, ie "Oooh and what have you and mummy being doing this week and "Ooh she is a one your mummy" - you catch the drift. Bless her, I really was bit thick and didn't understand what she was doing most of the time, just very uncomfortable. I got to about 35 though and thought sod this and made my husband take over the majority of the visiting and whilst she has done some lovely things for her and I am very fond of her, I stay fond from a safe distance!!!

DailyNameChanger Sun 28-Apr-13 17:54:08

ps to balance things, my own mum is no better lol! She even used to iron bibs and pants you know!

Nehru Sun 28-Apr-13 17:54:37


how can you clean when everyone is in bed?

Beamae Sun 28-Apr-13 17:55:52

Good call, Beryl. It has happened before.

Bollynix Sun 28-Apr-13 18:33:12

Of course it was an insult! Blimey, how frustrating these nasty folk whose barbed comments leave their targets oblivious must find you all! Good on you.

CocktailQueen Sun 28-Apr-13 19:23:02

Lordy, have never got up at 4am to get house ready for anyone's visit, never mind my in laws!! what about your dh? Does he 'help'? Do anything?

youmeatsix Sun 28-Apr-13 19:29:17

"Background - one year old twins" you can be forgiven anything

ChewingOnLifesGristle Sun 28-Apr-13 20:05:17

Mine can be like this too. She has the knack (or as I suspect has perfected the art) of taking a criticism/negative point and turning it into a sort of reverse 'compliment'.

It's brilliantly clever because it's so subtle. But bloody infuriating at the same time, because after all how can you complain about a complimentconfused.

Ie: I had dts and a toddler on the go at one stage and was very frazzled. Mil:'Oh I think it's marvellous how you cope! I'd look much worse than you do with all that to manage'. Gee thanks. I think.

WafflyVersatile Sun 28-Apr-13 20:05:17

don't get up at 4am because she's visiting! Get the PILs to help out. 'I'm just so exhausted. I can't hope to match your energy and perfectionism, Maureen. Maybe you can iron these bibs for me. You do it so neatly' smile

cjel Sun 28-Apr-13 20:56:21

I used to iron bibs pants and socks!!!and tea towels and hankies (i am crying now for wasted lifesad. ).>
I can't read this as anything other than a mil who is saying that she wishes she had been like you, and not stressed to get it perfect like you have.
Although I think you are amazing to have 19yr old, twins and PIL. I hope you are getting chance to rest now?xx

snowmummy Sun 28-Apr-13 21:35:09

Classic backhanded compliment! My own mother does this and if I call her on it, its me that is too sensitive or takes everything the wrong way. Absolute bollocks.

PoohBearsHole Mon 29-Apr-13 17:37:34

At least you didn't get a comment that I don't know what means:

"he looks very common doesn't he" about 2year old ds.

1. How does a child look common?
2. Wtf is common?
3. If we are going down the social class route love, my family is distinctly uncommon whereas yours, well.........

Nne of which I actually said as she tried to bluster her way out of foot in mouth, brain not connected fecking comment!

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now