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.

GiraffesAndButterflies Fri 24-May-13 08:06:03

Yanbu to be angry. But probably much better to rant on here/ to friends than to escalate things further with your mil.

Hope your DS is okay. flowers

jacks365 Fri 24-May-13 08:11:03

My mother does this. We get a group email telling us what they've done and where they are. I just respond with basically a variation on "glad you're enjoying yourself". Last time she came home she commented on the fact that I'm the only one who bothers.

Two granddaughters have birthdays while they are away this time, one has her own email address etc but a birthday greeting gets added a few days before to the bottom of the generic email now that to me is the height of rude.

CouthyMow Fri 24-May-13 08:15:26

Bad form? Christ, I don't always even read my emails more than twice a week. The OP has some quite serious stuff going on in her life, a DS being investigated for leukaemia FFS, and the MIL is throwing her toys out of the pram about them not replying to a fucking email she sent while she was off on her jollys?!

I think juggling long working hours, with a DC just starting school, and a DC being investigated for a serious illness would be higher up anyone's list than a reply to an email.

Because when you have a sick child, replying to your emails is your top priority, isn't it?!

Lovecat Fri 24-May-13 08:32:04

I'm hoping that everyone replying saying that 'you' should have replied is referring to your family unit and not you personally.

She's your DH's mother, if anyone from your family should have replied it's him, not you, unless you're v. close to your MIL (which sounds unlikely from the OP). I get very cross with the expectation that its the female partners who'll do the running with family communications.

I'm not sure why she included you in her disappointed email, as well as her 2 sons, to whom any ire (which I believe to be totally unjustified, she sounds like a drama queen with this 'safety net' nonsense) should have solely been directed.

Lovecat Fri 24-May-13 08:33:24

Jaysus, that last sentence is incomprehensible! blush

brass Fri 24-May-13 09:22:52

Some thoughts:

she only sees you 4-5 times a year, what is her safety net outside of those times?
if she was more involved in your lives she would know your son's health is being investigated
relationships are a 2 way street, you get back what you put in (as she has just discovered)

Fairylea Fri 24-May-13 09:27:20

I wouldn't have replied to round robin email post cards either. They weren't sent just to you.

I think she is overreacting. If I were her I would have just assumed you had been busy, especially with your poor son sad .. and I would have rung you when I got back.

LessMissAbs Fri 24-May-13 09:30:42

MIL is not an easy woman. She is intelligent, successful, interesting, full of energy, but pretty clueless when it comes to family relationships

Gosh. She didn't send a fake, insincere email but one about what she was doing (and it sounds like she was doing something interesting).

A MIL you see 4 or 5 times a year, who keeps in touch, but not too much, and is interesting and active, sounds ideal. How long does it take to reply to an email? Women are allowed to lead interesting lives beyond the age of 50 you know!

You sound a bit judgemental.

cheeseandpineapple Fri 24-May-13 10:03:51

OP, based on your last post, sounds like this isn't really about your MIL but your general stress and worry, particularly about your son. As you say, you're probably directing it at her because she's got the "luxury" of licking her so called "wounds" when you are dealing with what could be very real "wounds".

Very much hope that your son is fine. You're going through every parent's worst nightmare. Either ignore MIL email on basis your DH has responded or send short honest email to say trip sounded amazing, sorry didn't reply, am really worried about DS and can't focus on much else.

That might help her understand that you and your DH need a bit of support at the moment. All the very best, must be so hard to focus on anything else at the moment.

As saski asked, does she know about your DS? If she did then it is really sad and insensitive that she didn't ask about him. But don't let this get you down, you must have so much gng through your mind as it is. If she doesn't know, tell her and tell her how much you as a family would appreciate her support at this time. I really hope your DS is ok flowers

pictish Fri 24-May-13 10:24:22

YOU don't have to reply, no. Leave it to your dh.

pictish Fri 24-May-13 10:25:24

And I'm sorry to hear of your trials too. You certainly don't need this. xxx

voucherprocon Fri 24-May-13 10:38:03

Seriously your daughter has just started school and your son is having investigations for leukemia and she didn't even ask how your DD's first day went or after your DS?

She could fuck right off as far as I was concerned. I wouldn't reply.

Fuckwittery Fri 24-May-13 10:42:50

I wouldn't reply to a group email that was me me me and asked no questions about how I was, how my sick son was, how we were coping. Did your MIL ask any of these questions at all in her emails to you, were any of them personal? If not, yanbu.

TobyLerone Fri 24-May-13 10:44:45

I don't think she sounds self-centred. I think she sounds lonely and upset that nobody could make time to send a quick message saying "It sounds lovely. We are looking forward to seeing you when you get home."

FasterStronger Fri 24-May-13 10:49:12

I agree toby - when did it become self centred for parent to expect a reply from her sons?

tangerinefeathers Fri 24-May-13 10:50:36

I think it's fine not to reply, given your son's investigations, and also to feel resentful about her having a fun time in good health and then coming home and complaining about not getting any replies.

Does she know what's going on with your son? If she had behaved like this without the stress you are under it might have been a bit less noticeable, but coming when it did I can see why you're angry.

Try not to blast her though. It will only add to your own stress.

I hope your son is OK.

lydiajones Fri 24-May-13 10:50:51

YANBU - I can't believe she didn't take the time to write you a personal email to see how her grandchildren are.

scarletforya Fri 24-May-13 10:51:38

'Safety net' what the fuck ? She's a grown adult. What drivel.

What an insensitive, self absorbed asshat. I'm with couthy. You should have shamed the selfish bag. Does she know about your son?

TobyLerone Fri 24-May-13 10:54:37

I really hope none of you end up as lonely, 50-something women with grown up families who don't seem to give much of a crap about you. This whole thing sounds a little one-sided. Yes, MIL didn't ask about you individually, but none of you seem to be able to set aside a few minutes for her either.

I actually hope it's just because she's a bit of a cow, and not because she's really lonely and sad.

ssd Fri 24-May-13 11:04:22

hope you ds gets good news op, sending best wishes x

voucherprocon Fri 24-May-13 11:26:42

Toby, the OP's son is having investigations for leukemia and she couldn't be arsed to ask how he was. That is totally out of order and if she is that thoughtless then it's no wonder the grown up family didn't feel the need or want to email her back.

brass Fri 24-May-13 11:34:22

I think it's telling that no one bothered to reply to her, says alot about her relationships with people.

Quite frankly if you don't know what's happening in your children's lives you have to take some responsibility for the distance.

Cinnamom Fri 24-May-13 11:38:08

If you read her mails then I think you should have responded. My absolute worst at the moment is when people say "I didnt get a minute, sorry". Nonsense. 10 minutes in a month, everyone has.

FasterStronger Fri 24-May-13 11:40:20

has the op told grandma her GS might be ill?

Jan49 Fri 24-May-13 11:41:54

I wouldn't generally reply to a group email because it isn't really addressed to me. It seems very impersonal. I'd rather have a few lines addressed to me than a long letter sent to lots of people. I was delighted to get a long letter from a friend at Xmas then realised the names had been added by hand separately and it was a 'round robin' so I didn't bother to reply.

But I think your DH (since it's his mother) ought to reply sometimes with a brief note. If he has time to read the message he can spend a few minutes replying. But she ought to have understood what a rough time you're having and not expected it.

Torrorosso Fri 24-May-13 11:45:05

She sounds self-obsessed and needy, but as others say, a rant would make things worse and your dh has dealt with it. I'd have been bloody resentful too.

I hope your son is ok - do look after yourself - you have a lot of stress. Perhaps ask mil to help out now she's back - that might make her feel more wanted?

BornInACrossFireHurricane Fri 24-May-13 11:47:09

Surely she should be sending emails asking how her grandson is, instead of expecting her family to fawn over her holiday tales? OP, I hope your son is ok. What a stressful time for you xx

brass Fri 24-May-13 11:54:40

exactly: look at me and my lovely holiday, I'm not terribly interested in how you are or what you might have on your plate right now. ah boo no one's fawning over me now I'm back.

Lweji Fri 24-May-13 11:58:31

I might reply saying that I didn't feel she wanted a reply as there were no questions or requests on her e-mail.
I'd apologise and tell her that next time I'd make sure I'd reply.

"And by the way..."
Then write 10 pages long about how your 4 weeks went.

Lweji Fri 24-May-13 11:59:20

Also teach her how to FB, so that you can "like" her stuff instead of replying. grin

Nanny0gg Fri 24-May-13 12:00:09

has the op told grandma her GS might be ill?

I wondered that. Does she know what's going on in your lives?

(Hope everything is ok for you DS too)

EldritchCleavage Fri 24-May-13 12:03:25

Don't even take this on in any way. It's on your DH-he's her child, he can take the lead in communicating with her and he's apologised already.

TheRabbitCatcher Fri 24-May-13 12:14:05

Thanks for the messages.

MIL does know DS has been ill. He has been ill on and off for months now including being hospitalised twice and having some confusing blood test results, which is why they are now investigating something more systemic. TBH, leukeamia is unlikely, but they want to rule it out before they refer to a specialist team at GOSH. I have tried to talk to MIL about his illness, but she doesn't hear what she doesn't want to hear and I when I include information about his health in emails, she never acknowledges this. She knew that my daughter was starting school too.

I really don't resent her success and adventures. I am proud of her but don't really have the energy to meet her expectations at the moment.

ClartyCarol Fri 24-May-13 12:15:07

I'm with Brass, Couthy et al. OP -does MIL know abpit your ds?

I can't believe MIL has been off navel gazing for a month, sending emails which to me sound like they'd be full of pretentious waffle (lyrical and thoughtful you said OP) and then has a hissy fit because you didn't reply. If she didn't know about your ds' s potential illness then she is simply self obsessed, if she did know, then I'd find her heartless in the extreme.

ClartyCarol Fri 24-May-13 12:17:22

Sorry x post. I think you need to detatch from her a bit and preserve your energy for the other things you have going on.

Good luck for your ds.

Nanny0gg Fri 24-May-13 12:32:58

After your last post, it's clear you are not U at all.

When he's got the time and energy, your DH needs to have a straight talk with his mum.

ephemeralfairy Fri 24-May-13 12:33:05

Yanbu, she sounds self-centred and entitled. Does she know about your son? If so, you'd think her first concern would be to ask after him, not try to make you feel guilty for having concerns about things more important than her self-indulgent jaunts.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Fri 24-May-13 12:34:06

she doesn't hear what she doesn't want to hear
but expects some kind of feedback and pat on the back for enjoying a
a lovely 4 week break?

You have a lot on your plate so I'd just let her have her say, duly noted, and move on.

Hope DS gets a diagnosis and appropriate treatment and gets well soon.

brass Fri 24-May-13 12:37:26

meh don't waste energy on the MIL, hope everything goes well at GOSH.

EldritchCleavage Fri 24-May-13 12:39:16

Clearly you were supposed to reply praising her witty, well-written emails.

How about composing a standard response along the lines of 'I do love getting your emails, you really bring everything to life for us-have you ever considered becoming a writer?' and then send it to her every bloody time you get one of these missives.

DuelingFanjo Fri 24-May-13 12:41:19

Why are you accepting it as a criticism of you? Your husband could (And should) have responded. Leave it to your husband to deal with. It's nothing to do with you.

I like that Eldritch!

brass Fri 24-May-13 12:52:58

It's nothing to do with you.

ok I find this difficult. Are they not a family and does the OP's DH not have any expectation that his mother should be concerned if one of his children is ill enough to warrant hospital intervention?

OP is not a baby making machine. It's common courtesy to ask after someone especially if you're feeling entitled to fawning responses.

No wonder there are fractured relationships if half the people are walking round thinking you're not family - you just married their offspring.

DuelingFanjo Fri 24-May-13 12:58:28

what I mean is, it's not her responsibility to respond to the emails.
If the MIL is critical that an email was not responded to then she should be critical of her own son who also did not respond to the email, not the DIL who is not the first person who should be replying and not the first person who should be criticised.

the Son (OP's DH) has had a longer and closer relationship with his own mother and so should be thinking of responding to messages from his own mother.

Bobyan Fri 24-May-13 13:09:56

Is your mil my mil op?

I've done the GOSH rounds and it is exhausting, my mil has barely even acknowledged that our dd was potentially seriously ill.

The best advice I can give is to detach and ignore.
She's not your mother and she isn't your problem. Wishing your DS all the best.

TheRabbitCatcher Fri 24-May-13 13:23:18

Thanks Bobyan- it is exhausting, emotionally and physically. He's sleeping well at the moment, but a couple of weeks ago he had a chest infection and I was managing on about 3 hours sleep a night, and then going into work the next day (my husband was away). If she had sent the message then, I may be regretting my actions now!

DH did reply back, saying how much he enjoyed her messages and that he hoped she had a lovely time. He's used to her and generally has very low expectations of their relationship.

Thanks for all the good wishes for DS by the way smile

CouthyMow Fri 24-May-13 13:39:31

I hope everything works out OK for your DS. It's so bloody tiring to have sick DC's.

And I wouldn't reply, but I would ignore.

What would I do if I was on holiday and my GS was ill? I'd fly home to support my DC's and their partners.

Not send flowery fucking emails about how great my holiday is, and expect a pay on the back for sending a friffing email...

It's all about her. Sod the OP, sod her own son, sod the fact that her DGD just started school, sod the fact that her DGS is very ill, just look at me, aren't I great, I went on holiday and sent some generic emails, give me a pat on the back...

I have a selfish, toxic MOTHER like that. What she is doing is always the important thing, and she doesn't listen to the things that are going on with her GDC's. Or me.

I keep her at arms length, over the phone mostly, and I don't hold any truck with histrionics over me 'not paying enough attention to her'.

If she starts, I hang up! And turn my phone off.

It's not personal - the OP hasn't had time to see her friend's new baby, amongst other things. Obviously her DS's health HAS to take priority. Not answering a bloody round robin email!!

Sending you all my best wishes, OP. It'll be more than you'll get from your MIL by the sounds of it...

whistleahappytune Fri 24-May-13 14:00:13

OP I find it difficult to believe that your MIL was on a pilgrimage, and never once lit a candle, said a prayer or sent specific love and good thoughts to you and your DS.

Bobyan Fri 24-May-13 14:03:44

I think people forget the emotional side, the first visit to GOSH I was actually hyperventilating with fear about what they would find. My DD is still being monitored but its no longer potentially life threatening.
Stay positive and be kind to yourself, and maybe try to lower your expectations of your mil to match your Dh's - she's not worth the energy wink

fedupofnamechanging Fri 24-May-13 15:02:07

I would have sent the blasting email, based on your later posts about how she isn't acknowledging your son's potential illness or your dd's first day at school.

If she shows no interest in your lives, then she has no business being put out that she is not a central person in yours.

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