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Is this just a momentary lapse or is my MIL trying to tell me something?(23 Posts)
I've been mulling this over for a few days and I think I need some alternative points of view as I don't have anyone I can really talk this through with in RL as they would all have their own axes to grind.
I've known my MIL for 25 years. She is very different from me, but a lovely lady (if a bit prone to worrying and over-thinking things since being widowed 15 years ago). I have genuinely always felt that we rub along quite nicely.
She spent Christmas Day with us, and chose to use it as an opportunity to air her opinions on "womens lib", equality, gender division of toys and "men's jobs" vs. "women's work". In 25 years she has never, ever chosen to talk about anything faintly political - so something must have happened to trigger her need to dump all this over me (quite specifically me, as she only talked about it while DH was out of the room). She is usually very astute and take pains not to offend friends and family. I'm now worrying about her motivation, because the conversation felt to me to be on the verge of a personal attack on me. Alcohol was definitely not a factor as none of us had drunk anything at that stage of the morning.
In the course of the conversation she laughed at the fact I told I her that I had been upset when I found a man doing the same job as me was earning more. She also made huge, sweeping generalisations about my DDad's attitudes and the assumptions she has been making about my parents' marriage. She also told me she pities me because I have never experienced a man spontaneously offering to carry my bag for me (I have had people offer to carry bags when I was obviously overloaded, but never because "a woman should always have empty hands").
She often admits to 'playing dumb' to get her own way but I used to believe that she was more honest and straight forward with me. Now I'm wondering what the motivation behind this conversation was, is she judging me for not being a good enough DW to her PFB? She didn't really want to hear my opinions - so why was she telling me this stuff?
I feel uncomfortable about being around her again, at the moment. I need some ideas about what on earth it was all about, do I need to raise it with her or just let it lie?
Does he think that women shouldn't work then? Does she have any daughters?
Two sons - no daughters.
I think she is OK with women working - so long as it doesn't get in the way of their family commitments. She gave up her work when she got married and didn't work again until her DC2 started work. As I'm a SAHM at the moment, I wouldn't have thought she would have an issue with me about that.
My FIL makes similar underhanded comments sometimes like that.
I suspect he thinks his grandchildren should be raised by me in our home rather than go to nursery. Could it be something like that?
It's not me he's concerned about, it's his son and grandchildren, God forbid they might be
neglected by my choosing to work
I would ignore and change the subject. Little does he know that I am actually the main earner in our household and I'm not prepared to debate it with him.
What sort of age is she? If she's getting on, then it could be something like dementia - some people become a lot more "unfiltered" in what they say, either because they become less able to see both sides of an argument, or because they have always believed something and have stopped being polite about it.
Sorry that doesn't answer whether she actually feels what you do is "not good enough" or not, but it could potentially explain why she suddenyl came out with it.
Either way, don't let it get to you - times have changed, and she is a dinosaur if she thinks that 's the best way for people to behave.
Tell her to mind her own feckin business.
Her opinions don't seriously matter do they? She must be a good 20yrs older. Why do u care?!?
Oh cross post, so you are SAHM?
Maybe she wants to make sure it stays that way. It sounds like she is trying to put you in your place.
I would still ignore for an easy life.
She is in her early 70s and I care about her opinions because she is someone I would normally describe as a friend...plus she spends a lot of time around my DCs. With hindsight, I do think she is getting a little odder recently, but I think it's down to living on her own and thinking too much about everything.
I think I will pretend that the conversation never happened. And take avoiding action if she looks like revisiting the subject. TBH I took her at face value on Christmas Day and thought she genuinely wanted to talk about how things had changed across the generations - I'll know not to get involved next time.
Thanks for your replies.
"Mmmm, what an interesting point" <smile> <nod> "yes I suppose some people do think that don't they" <smile> <nod> etc
This way if she's doing it to make you feel shit or wind you up, it stymies her, and it also works if she's doing it because she doesn't know any better or she's getting dementia or has taken up secret drinking or whatever.
My mil talks some right old bollocks sometimes but I only ever challenge it if she says it in front of dc.
<smile> <nod> <smile> <nod>
Hmmm - I could get good at that .
My DF and DM make that kind of comments.
DF actually loves to rattle my cage with comments such as "educating girls is robbing a good man of a good job". It never fails to piss me off, as I went as far as one could academically and have one of these good man job.
Meanwhile, my mother nods approvingly at that BS, telling me how we cannot have it all and be it all, that having a career is incompatible with being a mother etc...
In their case, it is very much their opinion, combined with being facetious and enjoying seeing me being rattled.
But for your MIL, it seems a bit sudden - and unexpected. Can she take critiscism? If so, tell her that you do not necessarily agree with her. I would just firmly brush it off, rather than enter in a debate though (unless you feel so enclined!!) - some people are just stubborn.
If it helps, my v sweet FIL decided to tell me over Christmas that his cousin's son had married a woman and she was black! And all their children have the fuzzy hair!!!!
I decided silence was the best policy.
Living alone can make it easier to get a bit "odd", as you don't have someone telling you that you're talking nonsense so much of the time. But it can also make dementia harder to spot, as a lot of people in the earlier stages can "act" normal for a reasonable length of time which gets them through visits etc, and you don't actually know that they have had memory lapses or reached odd conclusions to "cover up" their memory and/or processing difficulties.
If you're seeing a few changes then it's something to bear in mind. But she could just be being an arse of course!
Has she recently taken up with a new and opiniated friend? Or on new medication? Or maybe she just felt no one cared about her opinions anymore and you were there. She sounds like my relatives of that age tbh. Things have changed so much. I just smile, bite my tongue and try to ask leading questions around it
I think Christmas brings something out in people.
My own MIL and I had this little exchange on Christmas day. She had popped in to see us on her way home to her own dinner. She joked she couldn't stay long or the bird roasting would be like a crisp by the time she ate it. I retorted yeah like a slice of turkey bacon. All laughs, very jovial atmosphere, all good.
My mistake was to say the following. "Ah sure we can forgive a lot with a load of gravy poured over it." I kid you not but she fixed me with a stare, said there'd be no juices if it was cooked to a crisp and there'd be no gravy as she doesn't keep that granule stuff in the house
like I do Could have cut the atmosphere with a knife.
Please don't rule out dementia.
As someone else said, elderly people taking in an 'unfiltered' way is often the sign that everyone misses and it's sad because sometimes what they say can be so offensive and hurtful it leads to further isolation, rather than a trip to the doctors for a memory test, a brain scan and some medication that can arrest the condition for a few more years, if not cure it.
Marasme - I guess you will never convince your DF. I would simply say, 'What about all the bad men? Or the men who aren't up to it?'
Thanks again everyone.
I think I'll ignore the specific conversation
and try not to rise to the bait next time while being a bit more alert to any other odd signs. I'm probably the family member that spends the longest periods of time with her, so I might spot something which her sons may not.
I think 'unfiltered' describes it exactly - which is why it seemed so odd, coming from someone who is usually very careful and aware of the affect of their words on others.
My mum is in her 80's and worked part time when she had young children which was more unusual in the 60's. However she sometimes come out with odd statements like this. She is sort of retreating to the past and coming out with things her parents might have said. I agree with other posters it is posibly something people do as they get older.
She was just confiding in you, as a confidant. But do not understand her saying men carried a woman's bags so she can have her hands free? To do what essential task? Must say before internet home delivery of groceries, after my DH died, I often used to say we should have 8 arms like an octopus as 2 were so limiting! Men did that as they could carry with 2 fingers heavy things that I had to use 2 arms with difficulty to do. Or I had so many bags I was dropping some. We were on the buses, not driving cars, you see.
Think she was just talking to you about how it was in her day with children, not critising you.
Her admission to playing dumb to get her own way, is called women's wiles. Pity I didn't have any, but then with my DH I didn't need any, <smile>
My mum worked part-time in her 50's when we were all older
If she is getting on, perhaps she is reflecting on her own life and trying to justify it? So it's not so much about what you do, but about her own choices?
Which bits felt like an attack on you? Have re-read a few times but think you just say what she talked about, not what she said, iyswim.
My granny basically thinks anyone related to her shouldn't work - so is disgusted that my brothers help their DWs with DC/housework etc but equally appalled that my DH doesn't do more!
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