To not want to be repeatedly bulldozed into receiving gifts I have already said nicely that I do not want

(163 Posts)
DontMentionThePrunes Sun 13-Oct-13 18:22:40

The backstory to this is that my MIL will NEVER, EVER take no for an answer, even if for a very good reason. She does not give up, never mind if it's an important thing or a completely trivial thing, she won't accept no.

She is obsessed with tulip bulbs. Last month she rang to ask if I would like some pots of tulip bulbs which would sit in the garden and flower in spring. Ordinarily I would say yes, thank you; but we are moving soon with luck, and so this year I would like one less thing to bother about etc. (Also, I just don't really care for them, and we have talked about that before. It's just a question of taste really. I haven't been rude about it but I have said I really don't love bulbs.)

So when she asked, I explained clearly that I didn't want extra pots in the garden this year because of the move.

DS visited her today and was not supposed to tell me but has spent the afternoon potting tulip bulbs as a present from him to me.

Before you answer, please consider that this has happened again, again, again, over and over: I say 'no thanks because X' and I find she has gone behind my back to make sure my response is disregarded. Also, even if you like tulips, that's not the point grin

AIBU to feel completely undermined, furious at not being allowed to say a polite 'no thank you, for X very good and clear reason' and doubly furious that she is using my son as a way around my very reasonable refusal?

DontmindifIdo Sun 13-Oct-13 18:42:59

Oh, MIL, I think we should keep these at your house as you obviously like them, and really I don't like tulips.

See, that sounds rude so you don't want to say it, but she's being rude by ignoring your polite request. People who do this get away with it because other people have more concern for their feelings than they do for yours.

hiddenhome Sun 13-Oct-13 18:43:25

Just let her do what she wants. You can always re-gift stuff you don't want.

beccake Sun 13-Oct-13 18:44:14

YANBU, Mil does this on a regular basis so I regift to someone else, leave it at theirs when she's not looking or straight to the charity shop. (I have been know to do this with DM as well, so I'm not mil bashing) I would just view it as extra gifts for the charity shop/give them to next door neighbour/someone who is unwell. It's really annoying but at least it's not your money being wasted and I am sure her intentions are well meant.......grin

Coupon Sun 13-Oct-13 18:45:34

That's a good idea hiddenhome. Sounds like you're going to be receiving the tulips anyway, so maybe you could pass them to the person on your street who'd most appreciate them.

RevelsRoulette Sun 13-Oct-13 18:47:00

I agree. Give them away.

DontMentionThePrunes Sun 13-Oct-13 18:48:10

Don'tMindIfIDo this year alone I have told her that I am getting rid of all the pots in the garden, asked her to take some of HERS home again (she hasn't) and used the very line you suggest: she wanted to buy seeds for DS so I said 'yes he would absolutely love them but please could you have them at yours in your huge garden because we will be showing the house and so are not adding any more pots'. And I have thanked her for growing them at her house and we have talked about what a good idea it was in the end.

So yes it's a great idea but ultimately doomed to failure grin

Honestly, every day I dislike her a little more, and it's all down to her lack of fucking respect. It's a pathetic little power game and I hate it but cannot escape. <weeps>

DontMentionThePrunes Sun 13-Oct-13 18:49:13

I would definitely give them away, but the way she's done it is to get ds to prepare them for my birthday. So I will be getting rid of his birthday gift to me.


RevelsRoulette Sun 13-Oct-13 18:52:06


I wonder what your son would love to get Grandma for her birthday/christmas.


Now, if you were of evil mind, I am sure you could have a great deal of fun. grin

hiddenhome Sun 13-Oct-13 18:52:53

ha, ha she is oppressing you with her fiendish tulip strategy grin

I guess your ds will soon forget about them. She does sound crafty though.

hiddenhome Sun 13-Oct-13 18:53:56

Yes, I think your ds should get Grandma one of those huuuuuuuuuuge rubber plant thingys for her lounge. They grow to enormous proportions! grin

thebody Sun 13-Oct-13 18:55:46

but just always say 'yes that would be lovely please send me some' and then gift on.

win in your pissing off mil by being nice and not being riled by her and win that you can gift on.

Coupon Sun 13-Oct-13 18:56:36

Or a cactus!

Chippednailvarnish Sun 13-Oct-13 18:58:30

Give them back to her at Christmas.

I know it must be irritating but you can very easily just leave them in the garden when you move house. Not sure why THIS particular gift had to be an issue. Any others, just pass on to someone else or take straight to the charity shop. It's HER problem if she gets offended when she discovers you have done this, not yours.

DontMentionThePrunes Sun 13-Oct-13 19:34:40

Oh good you have made me laugh with 'fiendish tulip strategy' grin Thanks for saving my sanity because dh is sitting opposite me and if I have another go at his mum I think he may crack.

She will remind ds, you know. She will remind me in the spring and make me say nice things about the fucking tulips. I am adept now at being non committal and changing the subject but you know what? I would feel so so much better if I just didn't have to.

She did this with some cacti as well. Stage one: tell me about some cacti she'd potted up. Stage two: a few days later, ring and ask if I want them. (No thanks, we don't have a place to put them really.) Stage three: arrive at the house, give them to ds, get him to present them to me. (I said 'No, I said I didn't want them before, and I haven't changed my mind, so...') Stage four: offer them to DH, who passively accepted them but told her she'd have to deliver them to his office, where they promptly died grin

This happens several times a year by the way. Twenty fucking years of her making me be grateful for things. It's the power. I have no idea how to thwart her. She's the Japanese Knotweed of my life.

Anyway I am going to have some fun. I love the rubber plant idea. She particularly dislikes lots of houseplants so I'm going to get her the very worst and make sure I remind ds about it every time we go round.

I'm going to go completely over the top when I get these tulips. Never will a gift be so welcome. I'm going to take an ad out in the local paper to thank her for the tulips. Write her a song and put it on Youtube. Have a tattoo on my forearm: MIL's name intertwined with a bunch of tulips. Ha ahahahahah <goes insane>

SueDoku Sun 13-Oct-13 20:07:40

Everything except the don't need a permanent reminder when you have her and I speak as a MIL grin

RhondaJean Sun 13-Oct-13 20:09:41

Do you know where she stores the tulips?

Could you sneak in with weed killer the next time you are visiting?


ICantGoOverItICantGoUnderIt Sun 13-Oct-13 20:13:43

Oh good God. This thread has revealed the future to me.

Currently, MIL is giving us this sort of gift (although we've explained we don't want/don't need/don't have the time to look after whatever it is) by saying that it is for 11mo DD. She actually says "It's for [DD's name] so you can't say no."

I can see now that it will soon graduate to this.


quoteunquote Sun 13-Oct-13 20:17:24

Send them to me, I love tulips.

When you move you could leave them as something lovely for the next people.

DontmindifIdo Sun 13-Oct-13 20:17:36

Don't rely on her taking the pots home, put them in the car, drive to her house next time and say, "oh, remember we discussed giving you the pots back, well here you are! We aren't taking them with us, so if you don't want them, feel free to bin them, but they are nice, I'm sure you'll find someone who'll appriciate them." Don't let them back in your car.

Oh and brief DH - you don't care how he does it, or what it costs, but if he lets your DS give you these pots of plants and not something nicer for your birthday, you will throw DH out and throw the pots after him. He's had warning, there's time for him to fix it.

i'd also start getting rude. Not "no thank you, I've nowhere to put x" go with "No, I know you mean well but I really don't like X and it'll just go in the bin, such a waste of your money, much better to give it to someone who likes X". If she asks after whatever thing she's forced on you "oh, I didn't really like it so it's gone in the bin, sorry, I'd have offered it back to you if I thought you wanted it."

arf at Japanese Knotweed of my life

DontMentionThePrunes Sun 13-Oct-13 20:20:56

I do need to brief dh. That is a very good point. I need to do it in such a way that he doesn't throw up his hands in despair and see me as a total bitch. Hmm.

Lavenderhoney Sun 13-Oct-13 20:22:07

My mil does this. Recently it was a giant ugly brown lampshade that was stained and just horrible.

Dh was all- well, she means well, don't be ungrateful. But the thing is, she laughs when she does it.

I have retaliate by buying her really dreadful presents. A large light up orange koala bear with baby was the best one, wrapped in cellophane with a bow. Just right for your sitting room mil! And the dc hand them over " where do you want it granny?!!" and I take a photo!

Just go to the local charity shop. Loads of unwanted gifts in theresmile stock up after Christmas.

Leave the tulips. How old is your ds? Is he teasing you?

BuntyPenfold Sun 13-Oct-13 20:34:51

My ds would have been in on the joke of leaving them behind, by the age of 8 or so. Before that he might have been a bit hurt I think.

My mother does this too, cushions are a favourite, ' I got these for you on the market'. 'No thanks, fake tapestry doesn't go with anything I've got'

Then I get them again, for Christmas.

DontMentionThePrunes Sun 13-Oct-13 20:37:43

Ds is 9 but he wouldn't be able to get the joke, unfortunately. He would be very hurt.
I will be making sure that he gets me a proper present via dh and that this one is minimised.

(Except for the ad in the paper grin grin )

Viviennemary Sun 13-Oct-13 20:43:06

It's annoying. But she isn't going to change and it's hardly worth the effort. Just say hope you don't mind if I pass these on to such a person. They love tulip bulbs. But the bulbs aren't such a bad thing. It's other hideous stuff that nobody would want not even a charity shop.

BuntyPenfold Sun 13-Oct-13 20:43:45

If your ds would be hurt then you are stuck with the tulips. On the other hand you have a lovely caring ds.

How about teaching him to play .grandma, we love you, there's no one quite like grandma. Etc on the vuvuzela? And keep the vuvuzela at her house so he can play it every time he visits smile

DontmindifIdo Sun 13-Oct-13 20:45:58

when's your birthday? There's time for him to forget. Get him to get you something else. the tulips can be sidelined...

littlecloud Sun 13-Oct-13 20:46:53

Oh god this would drive me bonkers.

Shall we help you construct a potted tulip poem/song?

DontMentionThePrunes Sun 13-Oct-13 21:20:15

A poem? A song? Why yes!

I am so glad IANBU, dh tends to think it's far better to just let her do these things and forget about it and not be mean. (But then she has groomed him to think this.)

Beastofburden Sun 13-Oct-13 21:38:00

Can't you divert her onto diamonds? Or even, expensive chocolate ?

Lovecat Sun 13-Oct-13 22:00:57

Think yourself lucky it's tulips, Dontmention At least they can live outside the house.

I get given pink and peach satin quilted lace-edged tissue box covers from MIL, who appears to buy them in bulk on her trips to the market. And matching loo roll covers. And something for the loo brush too in a matching style. AND she then tells me what a bargain they were.

Our bathroom is white and chrome with a touch of dark blue so you can imagine how well these offerings fit in... Thankfully DH is her stepson so does not have that emotional tug when I bin them 5 minutes after she has left the house grin

DontMentionThePrunes Sun 13-Oct-13 22:01:41

She thinks both are tacky. Particularly chocolate.

DontMentionThePrunes Sun 13-Oct-13 22:03:13

Hehe lovecat, it's incomprehensible isn't it?
As DH says, this sort of shit only gets worse as they get older.

Alexandrite Sun 13-Oct-13 22:07:06
thebody Sun 13-Oct-13 22:15:47

this thread is so funny grin

Curioustiger Sun 13-Oct-13 22:16:28

I am in the same boat OP. I used to be deluged with presents I did not want. Think 35 pairs of tights for my dd at Christmas (my dd was 2 at the time and has the standard number of legs), amongst many other presents. Our tiny house was heaving. I now receive them by saying 'why did you buy me this when I said I didn't want any more?' (Straight face, no smile). Tbh my MIL still persists but the volume has reduced and I don't feel like such a bloody pushover.

DaleyBump Sun 13-Oct-13 22:22:53

I hate this. I'm currently the proud owner of 8 bottles of brown sauce (we don't eat brown sauce), 4 jars of coffee (we don't drink coffee), 12 packs of blister plasters (none of us have blisters) and 4 packs of foot felt hmm because my gran just doesn't seem to understand "no thank you".

DontMentionThePrunes Sun 13-Oct-13 22:23:11

Sadly she is well aware of what Gunnera can do grin
What would really upset her is something suburban like an umbrella plant.

MrsBonkers Sun 13-Oct-13 22:24:03

Can DS take them to school so the class can see them everyday???
Give her the pots back and say you re-planted them in the garden?
Leave them at the front of your house and hope someone steals them?
Claim they've been stolen?
Donate them to an old peoples home?

I understand. My MIL buys me clothing and costume jewellery. I feel so ungrateful when I try to convince DH to talk to her about it.
I have so much stuff that I need to Ebay!

CerealMom Sun 13-Oct-13 22:28:24

Spider plant, aspidistra and mother-in-law's tongue. All 'loverly' house plants.

JumpOnIt Sun 13-Oct-13 22:30:15

This is such a MIL thing to do!!! Why?! Mine drives me up the wall. She gives me things for the garden so she can make snarky remarks when I kill said plant.

Seriously OP, when it's her birthday tell her that DS loved potting them with her so much, you thought she would like them back for all of the lovely memories. She won't be able to say no because they are from your DS. She would be highly unreasonable if she refused a present from a child. smile

AllThatGlistens Sun 13-Oct-13 22:31:21

Dontmention I'm sorry I have nothing remotely helpful to add but your quote "She is the Japanese knotweed of my life" made me howl! grin

ZenNudist Sun 13-Oct-13 22:32:34

Yabu to be furious.

Yanbu to leave the tulips behind when you move. Tell ds it will be a lovely housewarming gift for the new owners smile

Your dmil sounds like she has thick skin, should be able to cope with odd looks & less than effusive thanks.

Zazzles007 Sun 13-Oct-13 22:35:06

I have a mother like this, simply doesn't listen and won't take no for an answer. When I visit, she will pack up a bunch of things for me to take home, some of which she has asked me if I would like, and I have said no. She won't listen, and can't change, so I have simply taken to unpacking the things I don't want, and taken the few things I do want back with me. Of course none of the things she gives me will ever make up for the lack of love I have experienced from her over my lifetime sad.

If those tulips turn up, I simply would not allow them to come into the garden, pack them straight back into the car, and dump them on her doorstep. Then go MIA for a while shortly after so you don't have to hear MIL's ranting grin.

DontMentionThePrunes Sun 13-Oct-13 22:35:42

DaleyBump we have a fridge full of jars of various jellies. Crab apple, rowan, apple and mint etc.

I have asked her repeatedly to stop buying or passing on jars of this sort of thing because we don't use them and don't really like them. For some reason she cannot take this in, or refuses to take it in. I've raised the issue with dh and he thinks I'm overreacting (not sure how because it's taken about five years to get to this point).

She came round the other day with more jars and I accepted one and refused - politely! - another and this did not go down well at all.

I am forty years old and getting disapproval because someone who I've asked more than once not to give me a particular thing keeps giving it to me, I have no room for it and I have politely refused. It's absolutely intolerable.

oscarwilde Sun 13-Oct-13 22:37:51

You could get DS to buy her some chickens for Christmas. A noisy cockerel in particular. :-)

cocoleBOO Sun 13-Oct-13 22:38:18

I would like MIL to buy me tulips envy
I get verruca sock (singular) and deodorant from my MIL hmm.

Idespair Sun 13-Oct-13 22:39:31

Include them in the fixtures and fittings list when you sell your house. No need to take them with you! If she questions where they are when you get your new house, remind her that you said you couldn't move any extra pots!

Your mil sounds overbearing. Can your h not reason with his own mother?

Thank you, thank you, thank you
For the lovely tulip pots
They've made me oh so happy
I love them lots, lots, lots
I want to show my gratitude
In ways that mere words can't
So dearest MIL, I'm giving you
This super umbrella plant.



DontMentionThePrunes Sun 13-Oct-13 22:44:31

grin Love it!!

CoTananat Sun 13-Oct-13 22:47:28

Oh just throw it away. That's what I do. When questioned I say it, whatever it was, went the way of all flesh.

DontMentionThePrunes Sun 13-Oct-13 22:50:07

"Can your h not reason with his own mother?"

No! She has groomed him. He is scared to talk back to her and to be fair she gives him no reason to. I saw BIL lose his temper with her - he was completely justified - and it ended up with him apologising to her after she'd flounced from the room. Mostly we just let things go. I have lost count of the idiotic, tactless shit she has said to me over the years and my hands are usually tied by the need not to make a scene.

The woman is a PRO.

Alexandrite Sun 13-Oct-13 22:55:02

I feel your pain. My family are quite able to produce lots of clutter of our own, we don't need to have piles of junk foisted on us in our 2 bed home all the time because my mum's favourite hobby is shopping.

MollyRoses Sun 13-Oct-13 22:56:06

Zazzles my mother sounds like yours.

I do sympathise - my grandmother is like this. I don't need unsolicited gifts and feel really guilty for wasting her money too even when I've clearly said I'll never use a Jesus bracelet, a prayer booklet, a leather bookmark ie non regiftable things!

Alexandrite Sun 13-Oct-13 22:57:05

My mum even bought me curtains once. confused I'm funny like that. I like to choose my own curtains for my own house.

Alexandrite Sun 13-Oct-13 22:59:38

I think from now on I'm going to say "No thank you we don't have room," each and every time until the message gets through.

Alexandrite Sun 13-Oct-13 23:00:12

It's actually like hoarding by proxy. (Trying to hoard things in someone else's house.)

timidviper Sun 13-Oct-13 23:04:13

Buy her a pampas grass for her front garden, they grow huge and you can snigger every time you see it grin

johnworf Sun 13-Oct-13 23:07:49

It sounds incredibly annoying, yes. But I'd graciously receive them and then pass them on. She's happy and you're happy.

If it's food then I should think your local food bank would be happy to take it. As for the bulbs, could you give them to your LO's school? I know our reception/Y1 use bulbs for various projects.


Itstartshere Sun 13-Oct-13 23:08:48

I'm sorry, but for our entertainment, please can we hear what's she's said to you over the years?

I feel for you, it's one of those things that just drives you bonkers with frustration, doesn't it?

Zazzles007 Sun 13-Oct-13 23:09:51

My mothers sounds exactly like your MIL - both of them have groomed their families into behaving in a certain way, a way which suits them and their self-centred way of thinking. Remember, in her mind, its all about her. Don't engage in your MIL's self-centred ways and histrioncs, that's what she wants.

If she gives you something you don't want, just state calmly and no emotion (whatsoever) "No, I don't want that" and then return it with only a scant explanation ("I did say I didn't want that"). Again employ the no emotion tactic as it gives them nothing to retort and rebel against.

Am I right in thinking that this is not the only self-centred behaviour she exhibits?

NameChange70 Sun 13-Oct-13 23:10:03

Aw bless. Every time a relative dies, my mil had turned up with boxes of crap to clutter my house. It got out of hand once and there was a power struggle over two beds for our spare room that I didn't want. Hub was having issues with saying no and was trying to negotiate her down to one. Long story short I came home one day to find both beds in spare room and no room to swing a cat. I lost it and sold them on eBay the next day.

"Hoarding by proxy" ! Yes yes yes this is my DM in 3 words. What a great way of describing it!


Doodledumdums Sun 13-Oct-13 23:31:31

If my DH wasn't an only child then I would swear that we must be talking about the same woman!

The xmas before last she asked if we wanted a stool for our bathroom. We said no thank you as we wouldn't use it (who sits in the bathroom?!). She asked us about 8 more times before xmas, and each time we said no we really don't want one. Xmas day arrives, as does she with a huge box, and in it was a bathroom stool. 'I thought this would be useful?' Fine if she had not asked and had just given us a bathroom stool as a gift, but if you are going to get one regardless of the response of the person you are buying the gift for, then my suggestion is to not ask! She did exactly the same thing last year with a towel rail. ARGH!

DontMentionThePrunes Sun 13-Oct-13 23:32:36

Zazzles I am good at being firm and clear. She tries to say the same thing in different words, and if that doesn't work she waits a few days then gets to DH. Since it's mostly trivial shit like plant pots, he just goes 'yeah, yeah, thanks' - job done, as far as she's concerned.

She just does NOT give up. It's bordering on hateful.

DontMentionThePrunes Sun 13-Oct-13 23:33:34

Oh no doodledumdums, that sounds like a person who had already bought the bathroom stool and perhaps lost the receipt grin

Zazzles007 Sun 13-Oct-13 23:40:38

Yeah I know Prunes sad, I go through the same thing with my mother as well. It is so bad that I only see her once or twice a year now. She cannot get it through her head that 'everyone is not like her'.

When I last saw my mother regularly, she gave me 3 bars of soap, and since I accepted them, the next time she tried to give me a pack of 20 soap! For someone who lives on their own, it would take me years to get through 20 bars of soap!

Doodledumdums Sun 13-Oct-13 23:43:42

Haha, that would seem like a logical excuse! However, knowing my MIL, the receipt for the stool will have been photocopied and neatly filed in her alphabetised filing system, probably with a copy at home and work 'just in case!'

MrsZimt Mon 14-Oct-13 08:24:11

That sounds like my mother. She sends me the most useless stuff by post from abroad, costing a fortune. Whatever I said, she'd send it anyway.
The latest being a box full of empty margarine pots (300 of them) to freeze my fruit from the garden. She spend £10 on postage and made me feel guilty for "forgetting" them at her house.
I didn't forget them, I didn't want them (they open in the freezer and get squashed) and binned them straight away.

She is also very good at emotionally blackmailing me through our children. My older ones are now seeing through it.

vtechjazz Mon 14-Oct-13 08:30:51

My granny does this, and then accuses people of taking advantage of her and 'doing very nicely' out of her generosity.

Mumoftwoyoungkids Mon 14-Oct-13 08:47:48

Sorry but the Japanese knotweed and the daughter with the standard number of legs have cheered up my morning immensely!

timeforahaircut Mon 14-Oct-13 08:49:23

Oh I feel for you! My MIL has decided that we need bookends in our lives. We both dislike bookends (we have bookcases, lots of them, jammed full with books, no need for bookends) and although we have lots of clutter, we're fairly strict on only having clutter that we like or that is the DC's stuff. MIL has been buying us bookends for 8 years because she thinks we'd "see how useful they are if we'd only try."

Why would I need or want to "try" to like bookends? Over the years we have progressed from polite thanks (and quietly passing to a charity shop) to openly expressing our surprise that she's bought bookends yet again and telling her that they will be going straight to the charity shop. She even brings them as a staying-for-the-weekend gift. The local charity shop must have had dozens from us.

We feel no guilt on this. There's something very strange and controlling about trying to force people to accept presents that you already know they don't want. If you consider someone difficult to buy for then surely you go down the gift voucher/wine/chocs route?

In your position, I would tell DS when it's handed over that Granny has been naughty and wasn't supposed to give you this and that it's going back to Granny's house. I've done that before when she very deliberately brought over something we'd banned.

"Hoarding by proxy" - omg yes, DM does this. If we ever express the slightest intention to buy a thing, she will already have six in her attic, and we get all six regardless of suitability.

Primrose123 Mon 14-Oct-13 08:57:18

My DM is definitely a hoarder by proxy. She is a hoarder anyway and her house is full of junk. She loves to buy second hand stuff and give it to other people. I have no problem with second hand things as long as we need them and they are in good condition, but she expects us to be grateful for any old tat. We arrived home one day to find a flimsy child's desk by our front door for our 5'6" DD.

When DD was 3, we bought her a bed frame and mattress. DM was furious because she had kept my dead uncle's bed in their barn for 12 years and we should have used that (never mind the mice living in it) and told us that we should have asked permission to buy our DD a bed!

Now we are stuck with my dead great great aunt's bed in our garage, because she wanted it but had no room to keep it (although they have 2 barns full of junk). She has said she would move it for 2 years now, but it is still there. She seems to have a thing about beds!

pleasethanks Mon 14-Oct-13 09:10:02

Oh I have every sympathy OP, some of this sounds very similar to how my MIL behaves. I am fed up with my house getting filled up with crap she has bought for DD (at jumble sales, which I have no issue with, but she tends to go for quantity over quality). And I swear she has been collecting toys at jumble sales since the moment she found out I was preggo and her attic is full of enough toys for all various stages until DD is 16. It gets to the stage I cannot buy anything for DD as MIL buys so bloody much. Or when I do buy her something she says (in a put out way) 'Oh, I have that for DD up in the loft'. Oh piss away MIL.

But will NOT listen to me saying 'no more' etc etc etc. Yes, you can pass it all on charity shops etc. But why should you have to do that, it is another chore for you to do. You have already said you don't want it.

Also, she will say 'oh I have seen cycle helmets for a good price in Lidl, would you like some for christmas'. I say 'no thanks ,we don't have bikes". And then we get them for christmas anyway. It is just patronising isn't it. It isn't just about the tulips, it her not listening to you and respecting you point of view.

Anyway, I digress, apologies....

Is there anything (such as the house plant) that you know she won't like? You should mention to her you have seen X and would she like it (perhaps to thank her for something?)? She will hopefully say no. You buy it and get DS to give it to her. See how she likes that! What do you think her reaction would be if you did that? Would be say 'dontmentiontheprunes I said I didn't want it". If so, that opens up a opportunity for you to say she does that to you all the time.

tobiasfunke Mon 14-Oct-13 09:16:45

I have had my own MIL Tulipgate. She came and planted 100 tulip bulbs in a large rockery in our new house that was so overgrown with groundelder that we had planned to weedkill the whole lot for 2 years and then start again. I had explained all this and said no thanks but she did it anyway when we were away. Then she wailed to DH that she'd spent a fortune and if I weedkilled I would kill them so I had to spend 6 months weeding the bloody bed . Every so often I happen upon some of the bulbs and like to smash them with a spade. They weren't even nice tulips.

i think i'd go round in the middle of the night, return all the pots and plant a whole lot of dahlias all over her garden. then deny all knowledge.

you'd lose a night's sleep but it would be soooo worth it.

Squeakygate Mon 14-Oct-13 09:31:35

Next time you see her try and offload some of your old stuff onto her.

comewinewithmoi Mon 14-Oct-13 09:36:02

Do we share a mil?

DontMentionThePrunes Mon 14-Oct-13 10:27:01

So there are lots of MILs like this?! Good grief, no wonder we are all slightly falling apart at the seams (or is that just me?!).

I think if she came and planted anything in my garden I might lose the plot. We once had a house near her to which she had the key (we didn't live in it but were organising to rent it out). She arranged for an agent to come round and assess it for holiday rental potential then very publicly presented me with all the financial details with a ribbon around them. I told her in public that she had overstepped the mark — I mean that was my house and she just wanted to know what it was worth! — and she told me very clearly in a deep, quiet voice and with a steely stare to watch what I said to her because 'we would need her in future'.

So it is all about control and asserting her position over me. I think I've done well not to let her do this, by and large, but I can't stop this sort of thing and it bloody annoys me!

DontMentionThePrunes Mon 14-Oct-13 10:30:53

And of course it's all complicated by the fact that when we started out she gave us a whole load of really nice antique furniture: all things she didn't really want but nevertheless. It is such a massive help when you get your first flat to have free furniture, not to be underestimated. I really do appreciate it, and they have helped us move, helped us redo the garden etc. She isn't all mean.

Over the years we have run out of space for the furniture and can't sell it because it's dh's grandmother's family's stuff, and MIL won't take it back. So it's now in storage and costing us money every month. Aaargh.

It IS about control. And the psychology of stuff. My DM kept all our childhood toys for 30 years to pass on to my children (and my DBs, if he has children). She also buys lots and lots from charity shops/jumble sales like someone else said upthread. So. She passes on the toys. Some of them break very quickly because 30-year old plastic has slightly perished/weakened. It really has steeled me to get unsentimental about toys. If my kids are no longer playing with them they should be passed on or charity-shopped so that someone else can make use of them while they are still unbroken.

The unbroken stuff - I feel I have to ask her permission before I dispose of them! (For some she has actually specified this as she would save them again for my brother!) Control control control.

So the antique furniture - no-one wants it or needs it! What is the psychology of keeping it? Someone else - unrelated to you!! - should be making use of that furniture while it is still usable. The perfect response to tulipgate is sitting right there; you are going to stop spending money storing it and sell it. (or - MIL can start paying the storage bill?)

Aaaahhahhaghhhh. Its taken years for me to persuade my DM that I am not EVER going to be living in a house that is bigger than hers. (She says, "I'm keeping this for when you have your own house, ie space) ie hoarding by proxy for sure. We are finally buying a house. Smaller than the house we currently rent, which isn't large.

cartoad Mon 14-Oct-13 11:02:21

Can you get ds to pot up some Japanese knotweed and present it to her to have in her garden? [evil cackle]

Or make sure that you go to her house to be given the tulips, preferably indoors in her sitting room. Then you can be holding them, trip over spectacularly as you are about to leave having made sure that you have loosened the soil in advance so it's not all packed in tightly and all the soil, tulips and broken pots can fly through the air to make an almighty mess... Which you can leave behind for her. [more evil cackling]

Or take a packet of cress seeds with you and sow them into your mil's carpet/curtains/car...

Or weed killer to spell out no tulips on her lawn?

<insert as many mad crazy schemes involving tulips, Japanese knotweed, weed killer and other plants here and enjoy cackling as you imagine her face on discovering them>. (and if you're anything like me, wish that you had the guts to carry out at least one of them!)

I'd also have a word with dh and even mil herself to say that you are concerned about her as although you have told her several times that you dont want potted tulips or any potted anything, she hasn't remembered and has still gone ahead regardless. Is there a fil that you can express your concerns to - highlight that it's just not normal to repeatedly insist on doing something even when you've been asked - with very good reason - not to. And that whilst you and dh can overlook this worrying symptom of forgetfulness, now that mil has started to involve ds in her plans, and therefore knowingly cause distress to her grandson when you have to point out again that there is a good reason That you don't want the pots and thus hurt him in the process.

Can you also have a chat with ds so he understands the real situation and how granny is using him?

I'd also insist on the pots, if you do have to have them, staying at granny's at least until you have moved, so she doesn't have the satisfaction of you having to have them when she wants.

Good luck!

Alexandrite Mon 14-Oct-13 11:08:36

Yes I agree it is about control. My parents have displayed this in other ways too, eg. When my dh and I bought our house, they drove over (before we had moved in) and knocked on the neighbours' doors to ask them questions. We were in our 30s and my parents hadn't contributed financially in any way, which would make it more understandable. My mum also used to read my letters and listen in on phone conversations from the other extension. A lot of it is boredom as well as control.

RigglinJigglin Mon 14-Oct-13 11:22:57

This is my MIL and hanging baskets.... In our first home (first floor, rented flat) she gifted us a hanging basket. That we couldn't put up anywhere. We left it on the windowsill, where she could see it and it died. we hoped she'd take the point.

When we bought a house we had hanging baskets of fuschias given to us for years, and years. We have about 50 empty hanging baskets in the garage.

This year I though of a cunning plan to do my own hanging baskets and show her - 'oh MIL we've done our own baskets this year, no need to buy us any!'.

She bought us hanging baskets cos mine weren't nice enough (and didn't contain fuschias).

DH hates them, always hits his head on them - then all I hear in the garden is 'frigging bastard baskets'!

DontmindifIdo Mon 14-Oct-13 11:32:52

OK OP, that furniture needs to go - first things first, next time you see her tell her you are never going to use it again and have decided to stop paying for the storage, so give her a clear choice, does she a) want it back or b) shall you sell it? If she suggests an option c) of you keep it and use it, repeat like a broken record "no MIL, we're never going to use it, and so something needs to be done with it, either you take it back or we'll sell it or see if we can find anyone else who wants it. I'm not going to keep paying for storage, it's such a silly waste of money and is just delaying the decision being made about what to do with stuff we have no use for." Then if she says again about it being useful for you in the future say "ok well if you don't want it, I'll get rid then, really just wanted to give you first refusal." OR "OK, I'll arrange to have it delivered to you next week then." Basically, insist on only hearing one of the two choices you've given her and spell out she doesn't get to decide what the options are.

It's tough because it feels rude, but she's being rude to you. You can then tell your DH that his mum has either A) agreed for you to sell it so that's what you're doing or B) has agreed to take it back, so you're arranging for it to be taken to her house (what she does with it next is her problem).

Honestly, this is so much bigger than tulips!!!!

comewinewithmoi Mon 14-Oct-13 11:37:54

Oh no you're not the only one. My mil is a control freak. It does and has driven me nuts at times. She is now doing it to my nearly 12 year old, I vehemently defend her corner and tell her straight what mil is like.

comewinewithmoi Mon 14-Oct-13 11:40:19

I have just got over a nasty illness which could raise its head at anytime. I have been on loads of tablets, been feeling quite odd coming off them and a bit fragile. This co-incided with mil visiting for the weekend. hmm

Pil pulled my sofa out to clean under it, I was on the edge I can tell you.

comewinewithmoi Mon 14-Oct-13 11:41:53

Mil gave dd1 some money to buy clothes. All kind and lovley. However, she wanted to go round the shops bullying Helping dd. I advised dd to decline.

badbride Mon 14-Oct-13 11:54:22

She'd the Japanese Knotweed of my life.

Have you tried covering her with root barrier membrane and burying her under at least 5 metres of topsoil, Don'tMentionThePrunes?

Gets rid of the problem, apparently. And creates a new garden landscape you could plant with something nice, like, I dunno, tulips or something grin

Curioustiger Mon 14-Oct-13 12:02:42

It is totally about control. I get on OK with my MIL, this issue aside, but I truly believe if she had her way we would all pay over all salary to her each month so that she could select appropriate clothes for DD (and DH... which would heavily feature brown polonecks), all our furniture (we spend too much), all our food (we don't spend enough and should be buying M&S ready meals as they are 'the best'), and toiletries, cleaning stuff etc, as she's a neat freak. Then she would dole out pocket money (carefully allocated by perceived need ie loads for DH as he is the man of the house, not much for me as I would fritter it away on non-approved clothes etc).

I just read that back in case I was too harsh, but no, I genuinely believe she would both love that situation and truly see it as being in our best interests.

oscarwilde Mon 14-Oct-13 13:32:10

Have you tried sitting her down with a very concerned expression on your face and asking "How are you feeling? Are you quite well.....?" in tones of grave seriousness. When she says "I'm fine, why?" in a concerned tone you need to say the following:

"DH and I have noticed that you have had some "episodes" of forgetfullness [cite tulips and other areas where your wishes have been clearly outlined and ignored] recently and we are getting a bit concerned.
We were wondering if you have noticed and while we know it is a difficult subject to raise, we thought perhaps we should raise it with you now. Perhaps your GP could run some tests just to make sure that all is ok with your memory" tests for rude women being non-existent

It's quite evil but with any luck she will be so horrified at the thought that you're all worried that she is developing alzheimers/dementia, she'll back off and listen a bit more.....

shewhowines Mon 14-Oct-13 13:50:11

Just say no and if she persists just give it away immediately. If she moans just remind her that she already knew you didn't want it.

Let the tulips stand, your sons sake this time but next time you say no, then tell ds and tell him to refuse it if dmil gives it to him, for you.

She's doing it because you are letting her.

becsbornunderadancingstar Mon 14-Oct-13 13:50:22

I used to think it was about control with my MIL but over the years I've come to a more sympathetic understanding.

I don't know if this is the same with yours, OP, she does sound more extreme than my MIL. But with mine I realised that her problem was that she found it hard to understand that her lovely son had married someone who had absolutely nothing in common with her. So she wants to see something, like it, give it to me, and then me to like it so that she can believe that he's chosen someone who is at least the same species as her, rather than the exact opposite of her in every way.

DH and I finally understood this one Christmas when DH put his foot down and said 'mum, you have to buy Becstar THIS for Christmas, and NOTHING ELSE' and she said 'But I can't just buy her that! It's not a nice present! I'll get it for her, but can't I just get her a few nice things as well?'. (The 'nice' things being, naturally, either godawful tat that we have no room for or a food that I'm violently allergic to, but which is MILs favourite - etc, etc.). So I've started to see it as a search for common ground, and I love her dearly despite us being exact opposites, so I try to see every misplaced kindness in that light.

Chelvis Mon 14-Oct-13 14:39:10

21 size 1-2 year coats for toddler DD, all from MIL. She literally fills bin bags full of clothes for her, despite repeated requests to stop. She sneaks them into the car when we're not looking. She has even started to give us these bags of clothes as Christmas presents.

90% goes straight to the charity shop now without even opening it. HER charity shop, where she volunteers. She hasn't mentioned it yet, but I hope she has seen them and realised that she is throwing her money away. I can't work out how else to make her understand because 'STOP GIVING US BAGS OF CLOTHES WE DON'T WANT' doesn't seem to be getting through.

DontMentionThePrunes Mon 14-Oct-13 16:23:53

becs...yes, I think you might be close to the truth in this case. (The warning not to mess with her as we will apparently need her in future, mentioned earlier: no, that was unpleasant and clear and I keep it in mind.)

She loves the fecking things. She wants me to love them. I actually feel fairly neutral about tulips but I dislike bulbs in my garden, just because they take weeks and weeks of looking awful and withering slimily before you can get rid of the leaves. I've explained this. I once house-sat for two years and the owners had a large garden full of bulbs. It was nice for a week, then rancid for two months, then I spend days and days on my hands and knees plucking out the slimy foliage, with a maniacal toddler trying to impale himself on the gardening equipment: I am DONE with that shit.

And still, every year I have this conversation with her about why I don't plant bulbs in my teeny tiny garden. It is mine and it's my prerogative AND it's just not a big deal. Except she wants me to love the things she loves. She cannot let go of the idea that I'd love these tulips if I had them so she has worked at it and this year, she's going via ds. I still hold in the back of my mind the picture of the look she gave me when telling me to watch what I say to her: THAT is her nasty side, this is actually her nicer side, but they are both down to her being a total fucking control freak.

I don't know that I "allow" this to continue: short of being very unpleasant, it is harder than you think to pull someone up on what they think of/or what they are presenting as kindness if they just won't stop. If you say no, then you say it again, then again, then someone tries it on via another route and you're a bit blindsided, often the only thing left to you is the sort of firmness that is actually unpleasantness by another name. Not that I don't do it: I have done it. As you can see, it hasn't worked in getting her to back the fuck down. So I can ramp things up a notch with proper confrontation but actually that will burn a bridge which will impact on DH and DS.

DontMentionThePrunes Mon 14-Oct-13 16:29:59

Actually what I hate more than anything about this is that I don't get the chance to be a nice person with her. I am always at the limit of what I find tolerable, and frequently over it. We can never have an exchange where we come to some mutually agreeable conclusion and get on with enjoying things. Everything is this fraught. I would love that sort of easiness. This forcing me and forcing me over and over to do things I don't want to do is one of the things that has made me retreat more and more, but tbh it is not making me any happier or healthier.

DontMentionThePrunes Mon 14-Oct-13 16:31:40

PS lol at badbride's suggestion of murder grin

And thanks everyone for the ideas and joint indignation. It has cheered me up immensely.

Howsuper Mon 14-Oct-13 16:44:00

Pissing myself at the book ends!!

That is just insane.

My mother goes through obsessive phases so, for eg, she will be really into some recipe she copied down off the telly. She will make it several times over, posting about it on Facebook, emailing me, phoning me and texting me about how marvellous it is. Texts like 'Oh I made my asparagus with almonds for blah blah last night - they RAVED about them'. She'll come over with the ingredients and make it at my house in a slightly hysterical flurry. I start off saying 'yeah, it's really nice' then after the 12th time I literally say nothing at all and completely ignore her. If she brings said dish round, I put it on the side in a very disinterested way. She never gets the message though.

Beastofburden Mon 14-Oct-13 17:01:30

she wants me to love the things she loves


If only we could divert them onto things we do actually love. My MIL started out giving me thermal underwear and had saved her children's old vests, never mind their toys, for my DC. Now she just gives me money smile

And yet... I find I am saving my DC's old toys for my DGC not yet conceived. But only Lego, so that's OK, no? well, and the dolls house, and the hornby, and the sylvanians, and the beanie babies, and the finger puppets and the classic books and...

DontMentionThePrunes Mon 14-Oct-13 17:01:48

I was telling a friend about this today and she said "What IS IT that happens to these women?!" We wondered if it is an age thing.

Or were these mothers/MILs always like this? Mine has always been controlling but this sort of random, tulip-based crap has ramped up in the past few years.

jars of crab apple jelly
small coats
baby tights
bathroom frippery
bathroom stool
margarine pots
inherited beds
hanging baskets
more tulips

It's never: fine wines, Georgian silver, books by interesting authors, perfect mugs, chocolate... Why do they fixate on the perfectly mundane?!

Beastofburden Mon 14-Oct-13 17:07:36

YABU on crabapple jelly, I'll have yours. A friend dropped some round last night, bless him.

Bathroom frippery, if sufficiently expensive, would also be fine. Think Santa Maria Novella, not Tesco.

Cheap chocolate, OTOH, <boak>

But I think its because they dont know us well enough as people, that we get given generics. Our DH need to talk about us more as people to their DMs. It is a nightmare getting DSs to talk about their GFs as if they are humans. I find it really hard to buy a nice Xmas present for my DS's GF as he wont discuss her enough for me to know.

DontMentionThePrunes Mon 14-Oct-13 17:14:58

You're welcome to the crab apple jelly. I have three years' worth in the fridge and she told me the other day that the harvest this year will be extraordinary.

I quite like the stuff but how anyone can use more than a tablespoonful a year is beyond me.

Hedgehogger Mon 14-Oct-13 17:29:41

DD is only 4 months but MIL will not stop buying toys for her. We have a tiny house and nowhere to put them. I have learnt that sometimes I can direct this towards things we actually want, "I say, wouldn't it be great to get a baby gym..." [hint hint] but rumour has it she's bought a giant toy giraffe for Christmas, big enough for DD to "ride" on. I am not supposed to know. Argh!

FreeWee Mon 14-Oct-13 17:48:24

My MIL is no way near as bad as yours OP or some of the classic stories of bookends or donating to the charity shop the MiL works in (take the hint!!!) but she used to offload her mouldy on the turn fruit because I used to make a lot of smoothies. It doesn't matter if it's over ripe but mouldy no thanks! Although TBF she's just regifted me a bunch of flowers she got given because she is going on holiday and they'll die while she's away. They're very nice so can't complain. It's not all bad. But it sounds like with the OP she just doesn't understand no. And the other poster's story about 'would you like a bathroom stool?' No no no. And yet at Christmas you're expected to change your mind? You tell my MIL something once and she logs it forever. I told her once I think Jack Whitehall is funny. She now texts me about every programme he's in. He's been quite prolific of late unfortunately

MILs are sometimes the loveliest and sometimes the densest creatures in the planet.

My DM does this slightly, and I do it a bit myself, but the motivation is not control, it's more hating to throw out/give away something that has some use in it (and much preferring it to go to family/friends rather than strangers).

But in our case it's NOT a control thing, just a wastage thing (e.g. I gave lovely cushion covers that no longer matched my redecorated sitting room to a mate of mine. She put them on the cushions in her DS's playroom, and she was a bit loath to show me in case I thought she wasn't respecting the gift - I was just delighted they were being used!)

Has she any sort of a shed/garage that you could secrete the unwanted gifts in while she was out? Build up a good stock of them, then when she discovers them, say "Oh, you must have got duplicates, perhaps you should talk to the doctor about your memory?"

phantomnamechanger Mon 14-Oct-13 18:11:17

my MIL is lovely, sweet, kind, patient and generous but still drives me insane. she is not bullying or calculating like some of the MILS here, but gah, I feel like a right ungrateful cow sometimes.

She planted tulips all over the garden with DDs - pink ones, I hate pink tulips, and anyway, if she wanted to gift us tulips surely she could have asked about the colour we would like and where we would like them planted?

Booked a holiday for us all to go on with her - very generous - but without checking the date with us first!

She asked what DD aged 2 would like for xmas, I told her the 2 things we thought DD would really really like and asked her if she wanted to go look at them in ELC, and decide which one she wanted to get (we would get the other ) she bought BOTH so not only did DDs 2 favourite gfts come from MIL and not us, but we had to think of something else to get her, and it also hurt me that our gift was cheaper, even though I know MIL was just spoiling DD as she had never been able to afford to spoil her own kids.

I am dreading being a MIL, its a bloomin minefield!!"

lisianthus Mon 14-Oct-13 18:57:52

But WHY do you think it's a minefield? Just don't do things that people have asked you not to do! The MiLs above have all blatantly disregarded the feelings and preferences of other people. Don't do that!

phantomnamechanger Mon 14-Oct-13 19:31:02

grin no, I wont do that, obviously, I promise - it's all the other stuff. So many examples on here!

Comes round too often/not enough
Never offer to help/interferes all the time
Expects to be catered for/takes over my kitchen uninvited
Wants to take over my baby as if its hers/never offers any help or guidance and am struggling with new baby

getting it right is a worry - damned if you do and damned if you don't!

DontMentionThePrunes Mon 14-Oct-13 20:07:24

Oh god I have had an email about...tulips grin
It is a grooming email, so nothing actually being asked of me. Just that it's a good time to put tulips in round about now and I can still get them in garden centres (she ordered hers back in the summer of course).

pleasethanks Mon 14-Oct-13 20:14:44

So dontmention what are you going to respond with?

I would go for something like.....

Thanks MIL, but as I have mentioned before, I won't be planting any tulips. I know you really like them, but they are not for me and my garden.

Short and sweet

Bearleigh Mon 14-Oct-13 20:18:43

If she likes gunnera and not umbrella plants she sounds like a bit of a garden snob (I like both she said quickly). You could have fun giving her things she really doesn't like garden-wise. Like a pot full of red salvias perhaps, or many things out of the Thomson & Morgan catalogue - it specialises is very Bright new plants, often in clashing colours ( not all: some things are lovely)

NeedlesCuties Mon 14-Oct-13 20:19:37


You are all my people! cake

My own MIL is the same. Arrives at each visit laden with pots of food, milk, bread, vegetables.... and hanging baskets, and plants, and books and toys and stuff and more stuff.

She's starting to remind me of Santa as each time she arrives the kids end up with about 6 new books and about 2 outfits each.

noddingoff Mon 14-Oct-13 20:22:43

I vote for the houseplants. The more tacky and/or complicated to look after the better. Get her a load of poinsettias for Christmas and be sure to make a big deal of handing over a pile of sheets printed off the internet with instructions of how to make them come up with the red bracts or whatever they're called on the dot of Christmas next year (have never done it myself - apparently if they get 5 minutes of light at the wrong moment it's all over- which is why hardly anyone bothers and just turfs them after Christmas). Then you can turn up next year and get all disappointed if they aren't looking great. Or houseplants that attract loads of aphids.

neverputasockinatoaster Mon 14-Oct-13 20:24:32

I am currently in the middle of a battle with my DM over my dining room table.

It was once my Grandparent's dining room table. It is solid oak and I love it. My mother hates it because she and my DF (now divorced) used to argue around it.

EVERY time she comes to stay she offers to buy me a new dining room table. I politely decline. She says how much she hates the one we have. i tell her I understand but it is my link to my grandparents and I love it very much. I explain that I have totally different memories of meals at that table to her. I point out that she is at my house a few weekends of the year.

She does the catsbum face.....

Then she comes to stay again and offers to buy us a new dining room table.........

cartoad Mon 14-Oct-13 20:36:40

Is there a plant that you do like?

I'd reply as has been suggested - short and sweet 'that's very kind of you mil but don't you remember - as we've already discussed several times, I don't buy tulips as I REALLY dont like them - whether they're planted in my garden or in pots. Now, if you'd said [insert favourite plant name] that would be of interest! But tulips - once again I have to say no thank you'.

Good luck!

heritagewarrior Mon 14-Oct-13 20:55:45

Not quite in the same league, but I have a MIL who leaves things in our house by stealth if she asks if we want them and we say no. This mostly happens with towels and bed linen - all hers but now unwanted. I've found random beige towels and lurid pink pillowcases recently.....

Conversely, my DM steals back stuff she's given us that she's decided we aren't using and wants herself. I still miss a nice wooden handled pallet knife...

Since my MIL handed back a present we had bought her saying that she couldn't use it (fair enough), I have no qualms whatsoever about regifting or charity shopping anything she gives me that I don't like!

Needles we must share a mum!

Prunes I can't believe she is emailing you about tulips!!

This is a brilliant thread and I had no idea how widespread this behaviour is. and how insane

By the way beast you need to send those toys on their way. They need to be played with, not stored away for 30 years. Believe me. Haven't you seen Toy Story!?

DontMentionThePrunes Mon 14-Oct-13 22:54:01

I haven't replied yet. I have a lot on atm and aside from posting on here every now and again, I'm trying not to devote too much brain to it as my brain is needed elsewhere grin

I'm thinking that before Christmas I need to get ds doing some seriously naff macrame. Because who wouldn't love a spider plant in a macrame plant holder made by a kid? It would need to have pride of place! grin

(NB ds's other grandparents actually would love that and more power to them.)

Jackanory1978 Tue 15-Oct-13 08:08:40

With my mil it's food.

'Would you like a coffee?'
'No I'm fine thanks'
'What about a yoghurt?'
'No that's fine'
'How about....?'.

Etc. Until she's offered me the contents of her fridge. In the end i'm grinning through gritted teeth & feel like shouting 'fine just give me the bloody biscuits'!. & I eat something I don't want just to shut her up.

Then when we leave the whole thing starts again!

'Would you like to take.....with you?'
'No that's fine we have some at home'
'Oh, so would you like to take....?'

etc etc

Oh god!!!!!!

NoisyBrain Tue 15-Oct-13 10:25:08

My (thankfully) now ex MIL was prone to giving me and ex H godawful tat for the house. I could deal with the embroidered tissue box covers, they could be hidden out of sight upstairs, but sometimes it was worse. I remember when we'd just had our kitchen done, in a modern style I should add, she presented us with this horrifically twee country cottage style utensil holder thing for display on the wall. It was hideous, totally her taste not ours, but ex H would rather have hacked his own balls off with a rusty knife than ever potentially upset his DM so the bloody thing had to go on the wall (I made sure it was in the most discrete place possible). She meant well I know, but I still come out in hives thinking about some of the things she foisted on us.

EyesCrossedLegsAkimbo Tue 15-Oct-13 10:54:02

Prunes before you reply to the email, open a new email account and name it IHateTulips wink

LittlePeaPod Tue 15-Oct-13 12:29:08

Op I can sympathise with the PIL surprise forced gifts. DH and I have a similar problem with MIL and FIL. Really frustrating. Below are some examples:

- moved into new property in December 2012 and MIL/FIL had decided to buy us a surprise antic dinning room table and chairs spent a fortune from what we know. Their intention was to have it delivered on the day we moved in. hmm. Good thing we found out before moving. DH told them they had to take it back because we had no idea how we wanted to decorate the dinning room and taking it would then determine how we decorated in the future.

- we need a breakfast table in the kitchen and MIL/FIL knew we were looking for one. They had again spent a fortune on a kitchen table which they couldn't then use long story. They kindly offered it to us but it wasn't right and we turned it down and it felt really awkward but it just wasn't right for us. Didn't go down well with MIL/FIL

- we have been decorating the necessary and they knew this had been in the pipeline for a long time. So rather than speak to us about getting the baby something for the necessary they decide to wait until after we had purchased everything then they spring yet another surprise on us. But now we don't know if their surprise gift will fit in the room. So had to tell them we don't know if we can take it and they need to wait till the room has been done to see if their gift fits. Again didn't go down well.

I could go on and the problem is a lot of their surprises aren't cheap so its awful when we decline. I just wish they would speak to us first before just buying stuff and expecting us to take t. At least they wouldn't keep wasting money and we wouldn't keep feeling awful.

Please don't get me wrong I like my MIL and FIL, but I just wish they would respect our privacy and speak to us before going off and buying stuff that we may not need and/or want. The other issue I have is MIL is very opinionated and can be interfering so I tend to keep her at a comfortable arms distance. This is proving to be difficult as she is now retired and I am due with her first GD end of the year. Dreading the fact she will probably want to spend more time with me than I will be comfortable with.

Sorry for ranting on your thread Op but I started and couldn't stop.. blush

Alexandrite Tue 15-Oct-13 13:36:37

Your MIL does sound a bit obsessed with tulips. I love tulips, but I don't keep going on about them!

Mutley77 Tue 15-Oct-13 14:10:46

Oh god she sounds like mine - and people don't get it (esp DH) - they just say "put the things away in a cupboard she's only trying to be nice". BUT SHE'S NOT - it's a bloody control thing! I don't want tat that she gives me - or the kids - especially the kids. DH was really anxious that he'd lost a gift she gave us and wanted to put it back on display when she visited - I think I binned it (ha ha!) - she didn't ask or mention....

DontMentionThePrunes Wed 16-Oct-13 12:47:36

That's ok LittlePeaPod, think of it as joining a support group grin

Sadly no further developments. We've had trouble with someone scoping out front gardens and thieving from them. I may leave the pots right at the gate and see what happens grin

LittlePeaPod Wed 16-Oct-13 13:04:18

Thanks Op. Why don't you wrap them in ribbon with a little note to the thief saying take at your please? Ha ha ha grin

LittlePeaPod Wed 16-Oct-13 13:10:25

Tht shoud be peasure notplease

PrawnWidge Wed 16-Oct-13 13:20:37

We have the exact same thing with MIL and the unwanted dining tables of various people we've never met right now.

This comes after a long phase of (threadbare) towel-foisting. Our towels are new-ish and fluffy and lovely, why would we ditch them and use ones with holes and stringy bits? Or if you love holes and stringy bits so much and think these are valuable qualities for a towel, why not keep them for yourself? So annoying.

TheBigJessie Wed 16-Oct-13 13:39:30

Tell her you can't have the tulips, because you're planting croci. Much smaller leaves. Don't make an unsightly mess. Or at least not one that isn't covered over by some other plants.

She may actually hear you if you say that. This is the nice option if you really can't risk the brutally honest option.

As such there are downsides to my suggestion. Your choice! I'm sorry she's not respecting that.

Dwarf daffodils?

DontMentionThePrunes Wed 16-Oct-13 14:11:41

I honestly think she would wet her pants in excitement if I started planting dwarf daffodils. Tete-a-tetes? I often get a bowl of those for the table which dry out almost instantly and die, unmourned.

I do sound really ungrateful at that. It's lovely to be given beautiful things. It's just...I don;t really want them! The house is chocka.

DIYapprentice Wed 16-Oct-13 14:32:09

Leave them at the front with a sign 'free to a good home'. They'll be snaffled in no time at all!!!

TheBigJessie Wed 16-Oct-13 14:46:30

I planted some jonquils earlier this year and then sowed some annuals over the top, which came up as the leaves were dying around. Course, it remains to be seen if I will get flowers next year!

Tell her you're plantimg dwarf daffodils, while filming her. Then, if she wets her pants, promptly tell her that you've reconsidered, but that you'll put the footage on youtube if you see or hear of tulips again!

No? Too nuclear? grin

FreshLeticia Wed 16-Oct-13 14:49:18

But you see, tulips should be in pots, because once they have flowered you can put them away out of sight and tadaa! no unsightly leaves grin

If you are looking for tasteless houseplants, how about a set of those hideously neon azaleas that are always sold around Christmas. Make sure you buy orange, red and pink so they clash really well with the poinsettias. In fact, a lovely big Christmassy basket of them arranged with spiderplants and those really garish variagated ficus or ivies; a special present from DS?
To add to the list:
Cheap chocolate
Cheap candles/roomscent in peach or vanilla, or 'Christmas pot-pourri'

EldritchCleavage Wed 16-Oct-13 14:57:49

Or if you love holes and stringy bits so much and think these are valuable qualities for a towel, why not keep them for yourself?

I am sniggering at this.

My grandmother used to do this. It is a control thing. In my grandmother's case, it was about trying to force her granddaughters to keep house the way she considered appropriate. So she kept buying people things like hob covers. Who the hell uses hob covers? And why? And towels ought to be pink, so lots of pink towels were handed round. And pedestal mats for the loo in that shaggy twist pile that makes your feet feel funny when you stagger over it in the middle of the night. And mantel clocks. And jam spoons. And on and on and on. Some of it I liked and kept. Some I didn't.

The key is to feel no guilt about dumping anything you don't like or need. Be absolutely ruthless.

Noideaatall Wed 16-Oct-13 15:19:30

has anyone else got tulip adverts down the side of their screen reading this thread? grin

DontMentionThePrunes Wed 16-Oct-13 17:06:07

I caught myself feeling very mellow about this today, which is good...but also...I must not be weak....

From what I know of her, she isn't sitting there scheming and plotting ways to bring me down. She's just entirely, and perfectly self absorbed, and doesn't hear what doesn't fit with her world view.

But I have to remember that quite often it's me who doesn't fit in with whatever tableau she has created, and she likes to make sure I am not around in subtle ways. I've had enough of her, overall, so, you know, fuck the tulips.

struggling100 Wed 16-Oct-13 17:19:54

Oh God, I sooo empathise. My MIL is exactly the same. About everything, not just gifts. It is massively controlling behaviour and does my head in. When she's over at my house it's like...

MIL: Do you need any help with dinner?
Me: No, I think I have it under control
MIL: bustles into kitchen Shall I put the cauliflower in the microwave?
Me: No, it'll go soggy - it'll be fine in the oven.
MIL: (going through fridge) I'll just throw this out for you
Me: I'd rather you didn't - I need it!
MIL: puts it in bin I really think that cauli will be better in the microwave
Me: Honestly, I've made this loads of times before, it's fine.
MIL: If you say so dear. Do you always walk around the kitchen in socks? What if a knife falls off the counter?
Me: Even if I were wearing slippers, they don't have steel toecaps!
Microwave: PING
Me: What's that?
MIL: the cauliflower.
Me: It wasn't supposed to go in the microwave!
MIL: That sauce isn't thick enough. What recipe are you using? It doesn't look like the one I sent you.
Me: It's one I found online. It takes some time, but it tastes great
MIL: I wouldn't bother with that. My sauce is much simpler and I'm sure tastes better.
Me: (through gritted teeth) Please go and sit down, and let me bring you a drink. You must be tired
MIL: I already poured us all one.

etc. etc. etc.

PrawnWidge Wed 16-Oct-13 18:14:48

struggling yes! That is a scene that replays every time the PILs visit at meal time. I'm having flashbacks about the time a bottle of forrin muck gin was poured down the sink on account of it being "that terrible Bombay Samphire, I've done you all a favour there".

DontMention you are absolutely right, in my case MIL has very fixed views on what is the right or wrong thing to think or do in any given situation and genuinely sees her role as helping me navigate the scary grown up world of being an adult. I'm more of a do what's right for you and let everyone else get on with it person and it drives her equally mad. I think I will take to muttering "fuck the tulips" under my breath as a coping mechanism.

Inkspellme Wed 16-Oct-13 22:43:21

OP how about some of those wildflower grenades put to good use . Drive over in the middle of the night and ambush her garden. Won't solve the problem of the unwanted presents but will be enormously satisfying. grin

HangingGardenofBabbysBum Wed 16-Oct-13 23:27:18

Oh, mother in law you are obscene
With hide of leather and fingers green
Your raison d'être, it would seem
Is to see how long and loud I'll scream
When once again you barge right in
All steel of eye and fixed of grin
With yet another pair of pots
To add to the already lots
Cluttering up my little lawn
My son's a horticultural pawn
Planting bulbs from dusk to dawn
Mother in law, now feel my scorn
Those fucking tulips make me sick
I am not Dutch, you dozy prick
Get your pots out of my sight
Or I'll kick your fanny with all my might
One more gift of something brown
I'll burn your bastard bungalow down
I'll bury you in your flower bed
Do you understand what I've just said?
Let me make it crystal clear
Any further presents, dear,
I'll stick your trowel in your ear

outtolunchagain Thu 17-Oct-13 09:03:03

I have your MIL exactly except that its not plants but second hand books . No matter how many times I say we don't have room for any more they turn up relentlessly .

babybythesea Thu 17-Oct-13 12:13:13

Someone upthread mentioned that one possible reason that MIL's do this is because they don't know us as people. Because our other halves never talk about us and who we are as people.

I can take this one stage further. I'd been with DH for 2 years before he even thought to mention to his folks that he had a girlfriend. Now, his parents live overseas so it wasn't as though he was popping home every weekend and keeping me a secret, but still. 2 YEARS before they knew I existed. And how did they know? We planned a visit back to see them as he'd not been home for three years. He did all the arranging with his folks (as you'd expect). He threw into conversation a month before, when they called to talk to him about picking him up at the airport etc, "Oh, by the way, I'm bringing Baby with me." That was it. The lot. They had no idea who I was - they assumed I was the girlfriend but they had no idea really. Similarly, knowing I was about to spend a month with people I didn't know, I asked him about them (I'd have asked a lot more if I'd known how little they knew about me!). He said "They're, like, normal, really. Just parents. Sisters, well, one's blonde, one's dark and one's short. What else do you need to know?"

Not strictly relevant to the thread but it does explain why, when we go to stay, MIL cuts DH out of the equation altogether and asks me what we need/want!

ImpOfDarkness Thu 17-Oct-13 12:25:21

My MIL recently gave us a baby blanket embroidered with the head of a yorkshire terrier. No body, just a decapitated head picked out in silver thread grin

Alexandrite Thu 17-Oct-13 13:02:16

grin at horticultural pawn and I'll burn your bastard bungalow down

catsmother Thu 17-Oct-13 13:34:14

I've just spat my coke all over the keyboard thanks to HangingGarden - love it!!

Really, this is such a nasty control thing and so absolutely bloody rude, dressed up in a veneer of so-called generosity which is actually no such thing. It's all about - as Eldritch said - imposing their taste and their ideas about how things should be done upon others - in effect, saying that your taste and your way of doing things is crap and wrong.

I buy my mum hideous ornaments - but that's because she likes them! I know if I bought her something I'd like for my house she'd feel disappointed because my taste is very different - and IMO, it would be incredibly thoughtless and pointless to get her something I KNOW she wouldn't like. I think maybe that a few of the parents/ILs described previously are perhaps more guilty of being thoughtless rather than out and out controlling, but all those who continue to foist assorted crap upon people regardless of having had it made clear a hundred times over that whatever-it-is isn't wanted, can't be fitted in, isn't something you'd ever use etc etc etc are most definitely controlling twats - more so when they drag kids into it to do their dirty work for them by presenting mummy with something they've had a hand in making/buying.

BTW - my local Tesco are selling huge rubber plants this week at £10 a pop I think. I mean, they're probably getting on for 4.5 to 5 foot already (so actually a bargain if you like that sort of thing) so it may be worth checking your local branch out. Just imagine how lovely such a plant would look if placed in a "Christmas" pot which DS had lovingly decorated with cheap tinsel and "snow" (cotton wool), and, for added festive cheer you could also drape it with lametta and homemade baubles (think cut up egg boxes and painted yoghurt pots) and paper chains.

pinkpjs Thu 17-Oct-13 14:11:46

From Mil I've got a giant orange viscount type vase , a stone owl , and several hundred baby pictures of Dh that are in slightly manky tackey plastic albums ,too big for bookcases,that are stinking of mildew as they were kept in the attic for 30+ years .

Gosh , it's just what I've always wanted .

I also think she suspects Dh doesn't get fed , that neither of us is capable of making a hot meal . She sends down boxes of frozen soup . Homemade , but always the same , lentil and bacon , with Too much salt in it. Always in single portions of frozen soup. Poor Dh he's clearly wasting away , being 3 stone overweight . Never mind , it will soon be time for the annual " tin of biscuits " Xmas gift . <rolls eyes> .

She , once also acquired from her elderly aunt, a round pine dining table with matching chairs and insisted we use it ... ( I'm an interior designer FFs) , we then just had our house fitted with oak floors and furniture , so it looked shit . Took 18 months ,and an accident with a bottle of acetone nail polish remover to get rid of the monstrosity.

girlywhirly Thu 17-Oct-13 14:15:16

Prunes, accept the tulips from MIL. Then a few days later (after gifting to a local nursing home/hospice/wherever you explain to her that you found they had Stem and Bulb Eelworm, which meant that sadly the bulbs, compost and pots had to be destroyed. You can safeguard your garden from being overtaken by bulbs by saying that the soil has this pest and you must not plant any bulbs in it for at least three years! (Or they will be infested and die.) Perhaps save this one for the new garden, I'm not making it up, they are a genuine pest should she decide to find out for herself.

I think that MIL quite enjoys enforcing her will upon you, and will be infuriated if you fail to respond in the way she expects. Let her keep on buying you stuff and simply find it another home where it will be appreciated.

Perhaps it would be a good idea to have the antique furniture valued. It may not even be original i.e a good reproduction, in which case if it's not worth much you might want to consider whether the storage fees are worth it and send it to auction. If it is valuable you will have to consider more carefully, but leaving it in storage might be a risk. You could make murmurings about inadequate insurance if anything happens to it in storage, but you mustn't do anything with it without making sure MIL knows about it. If she is desperate to hang on to it she can fork out the storage fees which will impact on her tulip buying budget (you hope!)

DontMentionThePrunes Thu 17-Oct-13 14:35:18

lol at HangingGardenBabbysBum (I haven't got your name right I am sure)
Pam Ayres lives! Brilliant and gave me a good laugh.

I've calmed down a lot since I said I was going to have a sarcastic tattoo blush
But am still in the zone as it's half term here and two weeks ago she promised to spend time with ds: guess what eh? Silence.

Everything's for show. It's so sad. When she's being genuine (she can, I think) she's actually very warm and nice. Shame she can't seem to do anything these days without it all being a facade for something else. I'm sure she speaks equally highly of me too.

DontMentionThePrunes Thu 17-Oct-13 14:39:51

girlywhirly the trouble with the furniture is that it genuinely is 'family' stuff and when I once had the temerity to say that none of her children were going to have a bigger house than their parents so if she was feeling that the attic full of furniture was oppressing her maybe it was time to sell it on....It was NOT pretty. I was just fed up of hearing her going on about it, knowing that my own house was full of it as well. (This is really ungrateful-sounding, it was so so helpful when we started out, it's just that we can't buy a bigger place than we have, unless we sell our firstborn.) "I feel I am a custodian" she says <rolls eyes until they break>

Time for a MN haiku?

Poisoned chalice tulip
pot. I respond
with glyphosate

girlywhirly Thu 17-Oct-13 17:12:48

Perhaps then it is up to DH to hand the furniture back or get her to take over the storage costs. Why must you be the bad guy?

DontMentionThePrunes Thu 17-Oct-13 17:15:18

Yes that is an excellent point.

Badvoc Thu 17-Oct-13 17:24:41 mil crocheted a blanket for ds2. Even though I don't like crochet. Even though I had all the blankets from ds1.
It is now in the loft somewhere as I can't throw it out - last time I tried to get rid of it I put loads of stuff in bin bags for dh to take to the charity shop. Did he? Did he hell. He took them to his parents house so they would take them.
But of course first they rifled through it all and lo and behold there was the bloody blanket.
That was an awkward conversation smile
"Gosh, how did that get in there!?"
She tied to give me lace doilies not long ago. Had to be firm on that one.

Loopytiles Thu 17-Oct-13 18:01:33

Your DH is part of the problem here!

DoubleFunMum Fri 18-Oct-13 00:12:26

Ah, the fiendish MIL power games! Well I think I'm appreciating the tips on how to deal with it as much as the OP so thanks mumsnetters! My MIL's most recent piece of master manipulation was to buy my DH & I a weekend away for our wedding anniversary. Lovely you might think, yes and oh so convenient that she will have to have overnight my 9month old twins who I have been resisting letting her have overnight since the day they came home it seems. Sigh.

DoubleFun - the kids need to go with you sadly, don't they. To make the point. Or stay with a family-neutral friend if possible so it doesn't go into your mum vs my mum debate.

Ah well, enjoy it anyway.

Fantail Fri 18-Oct-13 08:29:54

My MIL does this, with kiwi fruit, avocado and honey. Despite being told that kiwi fruit gives DH & DD eczema (but its good Vit C dear) and DH not liking avocado. We o eat honey, but not several kilos a year!

DontMentionThePrunes Fri 18-Oct-13 08:36:27

The thing with DH is that yes he is part of the problem, but things have previously been a lot better with MIL. It's fair enough that she comes to me about some things directly, gives things to me, that I deal with some aspects of the family relationship: I don't mind that. I DO mind when things are going wrong and he thinks I am being hysterical and won't accept that she's bulldozing me.

He has managed to tell her that I definitely don't like some things (eg the flamingo she - a total garden snob! - got me for my garden, as though she has all the taste and I have none so that's ok!) and atm is doing good work rebuilding things between her and ds.

He just will not accept things that aren't obvious to him. It makes me very cross but then I realise I should be ignoring things a lot more than I do. Tulips for example.

Why don't you donate the tulips to your nearest church for decorating around the flowerbeds there? I'm sure they would love some!

As for the furniture that you are now storing using in your house, my suggestion is to either buy (yes you read that right) it from your inlaws so that it is yours to do whatever you want with or buy furniture more to your tastes and then you will have no option but to return the furniture to your inlaws (with a massive bunch of flowers I'd be brave and recommend tulips as thanks for loaning it to you).

Just my two cents worth.

Best of luck whatever you end up doing!

girlywhirly Fri 18-Oct-13 13:08:54

Re: the furniture. Could you spur DH into action by quoting the annual amount you are paying for it's storage, and then suggest what you could have spent it on instead, family treats, outings, holiday spends etc. Also the total amount you have spent since the storage began, on furniture you now have no use or room for, and ask why his mother should not take over the storage fees if she is desperate to keep the items? They are still hers after all, they were just a loan until you didn't need them.

It's a bit like forgotten direct debits that are still going out of peoples bank accounts, sort of out of sight out of mind.

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