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Is it me? MIL question(47 Posts)
Don't know if I'm being overly sensitive (28 weeks down and it's clear hormones have kicked in as I just cried like a baby at Educating Yorkshire) but my MIL's attitude seems crazy.
This will be her first grandchild and, while we're super excited, she doesn't really seem to care. She's not one for emotion and tolerates me, though I am the opposite of what she probably hoped for as a DIL but I would have expected some form of excitement or acknowledgement from her. When we see her (which isn't often) I get a quick "how are you?" Then it's on to the 30 minute monologues..
My husband has just informed me that she's planning in booking a holiday for when I'm due to give birth because "she won't be needed anyway".yes, ill have my mum (we are very close and, unfortunately, my husband and his siblings don't have that type if relationship with their mum) but -call me selfish-I would have thought shed want to be there, especially considering how much of a miracle this actually is (we've been "infertile" for years and the pregnancy was a massive shock).
I'm not looking for any help from her, financial or otherwise, I'm just a little miffed that a holiday is even a consideration.
I don't know if I'm being unreasonable. She works hard and deserves time to herself, but the hormonal part of me keeps asking "why then?" "Why not go before or after ?"
Is this a power play? A grab for attention? A way to highlight the fact that this event isn't of importance to her? Or am I being too mean? Maybe she feels left out but she has never once attempted to engage with me about the baby, or anything else. I don't even get birthday cards and its been 10 years!
My MIL is the same. My kids are pre-schoolers and if we didn't make the phone calls and arrange visits then I doubt she'd do it.
But when she is here she's overbearing to them... almost like a months worth of attention squeezed into a few hours which I can see makes my kids feel a bit WTF.
She also always arrives to our house with about 5 books for each child (they are close enough in age to share books) and a handful of outfits for each - then looks very put out when she sees that they already have books and enough clothes.
It's almost like in her mind they cease to exist between her visits and I think for her that's true - out of sight out of mind.
OP, I have no real advice for you, but I really do know how you feel. I remember crying during both my pregnancies about how MIL was so distant emotionally.
Try to not get into rows with your DH about it, it really isn't worth that stress on your relationship. She's an adult - would be nice if she was involved, but you can't force her.
Genuine question - what makes a 'good' MIL?
I only have one DS & I am absolutely terrified of being thought of as an 'over involved' MIL - now it seems that I could be seen as uninterested and distant if I don't want to see my DIL & grandchildren all the time .
What do mumsnetters think is the 'ideal balance'?
Well I am no arbiter of 'good' or 'bad' ...and hope to God I don't just assume that my own relationships are fine, when in fact the children-in-laws are posting reams about me somewhere .......but I am a massive believer in talking and just being honest.
Blending families is hard! of course DIL's are going to feel closer to their own mums (if those relationships have been solid - I was actually much closer to my MIL) - it takes an effort to include a MIL at the same level of confidence exchanges and as a MIL I think there is a duty to be truly open about things.
I also think that a bit of passivity goes a long long way. Its just as easy to say "what would you like me to do" or "when would you like me to come" as it is to say "I am doing" or "i am coming". Of course we don't have to. But it helps build the relationship.
Equally, we don't have to be right. It pays to keep your mouth shut and listen!!
And the really interesting thing is that the less you do state an emphatic stance - the more likely they are to talk to you, and ask for input.
The hardest thing, I think is that we have to accept that we are no longer the cutting edge generation. Our children are now parents and are where its at! remember how you felt about your own parents & MIL at that stage in your life, before you decide that what level of your input is needed!
There really isn't an ideal. It fully depends on the two individuals involved and how prepared they are (within reason) to make allowances for each other as people. Anyone having very set ideas on how a MIL or PIL or DIL or SIL should behave is setting themselves up for a big fall and pointless resentment. We pick a partner and we end up thrown together with the rest of their family. We don't choose them, they don't choose us, we're not related to them genetically and we don't have history with them. If we're lucky we all get along like a house on fire, if not, that's life and we manage it as we would with any other random person you have to spend time with - like co-workers.
As I explained to my DM the other day when she was going on yet again about my SIL's various alleged failings, she's not a bad person, she just has a different approach to life to DM.
I would like to comment on something you wrote earlier which is this:-.
"I really want a close relationship with her for the sake of the baby but I have to take my husbands lead on this".
But you are dealing with someone who is emotionally cold and has never made any real effort to engage with you; its not your fault she is like this. I think this is just the latest in a long line of snubs towards her son and by turn you.
I do not think you are at all being overtly sensitive here; it is understandable why you feel hurt.
BTW is your H the eldest of her children, how do his siblings get along with their mother these days?.
Your baby should not be the glue that binds you and she together. I would agree with the second part of your written sentence in that you do have to take your H's lead on this. After all he has known her for a lot longer than you have and he's had a lifetime of her, he knows all too well what she is like and does not engage very often.
I think you are both nice and reasonable; you have come from a family where this type of crap is thankfully unknown so a rebuff like this is very difficult to deal with. I would also stop nagging your H to keep up contact; he does not contact her very often for what he feels are good reasons. She has never been interested in your H her son and by extension yourself (you've never even received a card from her, btw has your H ever tried to take her to task on that matter?. Do you feel that he could really stand up to her if push came to shove?). All you can ultimately do with regards to such a difficult person is to ensure that your own behaviour is above reproach then she cannot pin anything on you.
It may well pass that her own relationship with your child will prove to be difficult to navigate as well given her past behaviours with her son and yourself. Unfortunately that is not beyond the realms of possibility.
Have you ever watched "Outnumbered"? The scenes where Claire Skinner's character tries to get her husband (Hugh Dennis) to have a conversation with his mother. Some families and relationships work very differently to others.
Maybe she is holding back, because she doesn't want to
is terrified of being seen as and interferring MIL? Lots of cases on here are about MIL who are around all the time, and get in the way.
Why don't you just talk to her, tell her you feel disappointed she isn't going to be around when you have the baby. Maybe she didn't think you wanted her? But do listen if she says she just feels uncomfortable around small babies.
I love tiny babies personally, but would happily hand them back at 10 weeks, until probably 4 or so, and actually really enjoy teens. I was fine mothering my own children at all ages (as much as anyone is), but did feel nervous with other peoples children outside my safety zone.
I think it depends very much on their overall personality; if the person is difficult to deal with anyway in terms of being snobby, prickly, self absorbed along the lines of narcissism etc then these types of people are going to be a lot harder to have to deal with. A good rule of thumb here is that if they are too difficult for you to deal with, then they are too difficult for your defenceless and vulnerable child to have much if any contact with. These above types do not also make for being good grandparents.
Women who are anyway "difficult" on all sorts of levels (ranging from these women having a weak bystander of a husband that does not try and protect the offspring from her mad excesses of behaviour, women who completely rule the roost by being the dominant matriarch of the family by using divide and conquer tactics) can too easily make for being difficult MILs as well. This could easily apply to FILs as well.
Someone who listens and fully accepts their son's choice of partner even though the MIL may on some levels have some doubts. Also a need to realise that yes their darling boy has grown up and yes indeed does have a life of his own. He can still love you both but his primary loyalty now or should be to his wife. You are still needed but you must not interfere in their marriage. If a MIL to name but three behaviours sits there all miserable and grumpy, fawns over her son and hangs on his every word, ignores the DIL when the family go over to visit (and yes this does happen to me) this will not endear this person to either her son or his wife.
Stop trying to force something that isn't there.
It'll just make you resentful which isn't fair when she seems not to have done anything wrong.
There may be a generational effect now - I don't know how old she is... but she possibly had her 6 kids without any fanfare.
These days, we're all baby showers, magazines, forums, clubs to join, week by week guides to baby's development, lovely stylish clothes to buy, vanity scans...
We expect lots of attention for being pregnant, but she may be of a generation where less minute by minute attention was applied!
I would just drop your expectations. It is sad for your husband, but it's not worth getting bothered by.
Perhaps Mil feels a bit awkward and uncomfortable about not having a close relationship with you both, especially as your family are close, and is using the holiday as a bit of an escape clause. That way she can see you and the baby when things are calmer.
BTW... with six kids she's probably anticipating boat-loads of grandchildren in due course. One of my grandmothers had four children around 15 grandchildren and I think upwards of 30 great-grandchildren before she died. She was pretty horrible as it happens, but just the logistics of trying to keep up with this vast brood would have stretched anyone. She never sent cards or presents to any of us but, to be fair, with that number it would have bankrupted her. My other grandmother had just one son, two grandchildren and one great-grandchild. She was massively involved but then she could afford the time etc.
I've known two MILs in real life to book holidays when the baby's due.
I honestly don't know if somewhere there's a MILnet where some hairy-handed regular poster is encouraging MILs to do this because it's the best thing to show that you don't want to crowd your DIL at a difficult time...
Anyway see it like this: you know now that in future, when you have this baby and more babies, you don't really have your MIL to support you. It has taken me nine years of up-and-down to realise this and I wish I'd saved myself the bother by reading the signals early on.
IME you can't change 'em, you can only smile and nod and make sure you have other, better relationships outside your partner's family.
BTW in my own experience, no interest in us while I was pregnant turned into great love for a baby and a tailing off when the baby turned out to rush around madly and develop the vocabulary to disagree with her.
I wish I had protected him more, he now can't take in the fact that she doesn't want to be around him much.
I actually read back my comment there and it does seem rather harsh; wasn't intended to be, it's just really early in the morning and didnt sleep well!
I'm not an overly emotional person-not a hugger, gusher or crier by nature. I just have an open and honest relationship with my folks that we've worked on over years. It's not by any means perfect but I know that, if I needed them, they'd drop everything and do anything they could do to help and it is just a question of trying to strike a balance with her , without stepping on my husband's toes.
I should be grateful she's not overly controlling and take her attitude at face value, rather than trying to find motivation behind it. There's a lot of pre-baby behaviour that leads me to the conclusions about the motivations behind her actions but you're right; we're different people and I should stop expecting her to act differently to the way she's always been.
Here's hoping things change once baby arrives!
It's just that, knowing how much we wanted a baby and how miserable we were for so long KNOWING it couldn't happen, I know my husband was gutted when her response to miracle baby was "oh, I take it x is happy now she's got what she wanted".
Tad harsh. And yes, I'm flipping delighted!!!
Listen to her, she is telling you really and truly what she thinks. Don't brush it off or sugar-coat it. She is not on your side.
"oh, I take it x is happy now she's got what she wanted".
That seems very detached.
I'm thinking it's also what your husband wants?
It's possible that they're just not close.
How often does she make contact?
Maybe she is pissed off that your mum will be there & it's a reaction to that.
But if so-talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face!
We were always closer to my mum's mum.
Dad was one of 7 & rightly or wrongly thought that other siblings were preferred & visits weren't that frequent.
That said, I still have lovely memories of them.
My mil is the same and tbh it really hurts. I know the truth is that nobody has to be bothered about their grandchildren but it still is a shame. That's what I've come to accept - its a shame. My mil doesn't have anything to do with dd from one month to the next - she may say 'how is dd?' On the weekly call with Dh, but it's just a platitude as she doesn't listen to the answer.
But as she gives dd money for birthday and Christmas I'm not supposed to notice!!
seems to me that you'd like to replicate the much closer relationship you have with your own mother, with your mother in law. Or replicate the closeness you and your mum have, between your partner and his mum.
She is a different person and it doesnt sound like it can happen. Its a pity, but you can't make her into something she isnt. Mourn that emptiness between them and between your MiL and new baby, if you need to, mourn it then try to come to terms with it and accept it is what it is.
I don't think it's my place to meddle. I know that husband had a very different childhood experience to me and that he feels he can never really live up to her high expectations. Having said that, she's raised a smart, funny and loyal son so credit where credit is due.
While I would love a closer relationship, its not me I'm really worried about. I had a horrible grandma who made it clear that my mum was a disappointment because she had a girl. She made life very difficult because she clearly favoured my brother and I remember exactly what it felt like; I desperately don't want that for our baby.
The other children are a mixed bag. 5 boys, one girl; very close to her daughter (youngest) and the other boys are nice but detached too. I think there's a lot about his childhood that my husband has buried -as have the other boys-and he deals with it in his own way, which I have to respect.
I think not much can be done. Ill keep trying and encouraging but, ultimately, I can't make her like me. Shame-I'm pretty delightful!
Ill deal with the issues surrounding baby pickle if they arise. Here's hoping these pregnancy hormones are making me worry needlessly.
I think you're over-thinking this.
Your child's life and upbringing will be nothing like yours for a start. Also some if the happiest people I know are simply not that close to their parents. They love each other but don't live in each other's pockets and there isn't a hint of emotional dependency.
Other people I know are "close" to their parents but in a rather co-dependent and debilitating way.
Distance between parents and adult children can be very positive. Those who don't have that distance often wish their parents' lives had moved on a bit.
She's had lots of children of her own and is finally enjoying some freedom.
When your baby arrives, no matter how longed-for he or she is you'll realise how precious that individual freedom is.
She has waited a long time to get hers back. Let her enjoy it.
She's probably read the MIL threads on Mumsnet and thinks she's doing the right thing.
Which, if she had read a few more, she would have realized she can never, ever do.
I think it's quite sad she doesn't want to be there, but it seems like this is the type of person she is. You said your husband and his siblings aren't close to her, so she probably acts like this to everyone. Don't take it personally. You should be happy to have your family and the people you love around, let her celebrate in her own way.
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