MIL relationship is a little sour

(19 Posts)
Mashedupbanana Sun 24-Mar-13 14:59:24

So back story is that I used to get on fine with MiL. As I worked in the town she lives in, we would have a coffee once a week on my lunch break. She has different tastes and a different background to me but none of that mattered as I thought she was a kind, family lady and we got on fine.

So after 3 years with DP, we decided to have a baby, I fell pregnant, we were delighted.

The day of 12 week scan, we met PIL for dinner. When we told them we were expecting a baby their faces just dropped in shock, no congratulations just lots of questions and clear disappointment. We went from being over the moon to feeling really flat, but just thought it must have been a bit of a surprise for them.

Over the next 6 months, our weekly meet ups continued. MIL hardly spoke of baby which confused me somewhat as it was their first grand child and I'd have thought they'd have been excited.

Christmas at theirs, again no mention of looking forward to a little one being there next year.

Trip to B&Q with them, the cashier was cooing 'ooh not long now, are you two the grandparents, how exciting' and MiL just said 'Mmm' and rolled her eyes.

I was finding this behaviour quite upsetting and asked Dp to speak to them as it was clear they had a problem. He did and they said they were disappointed we weren't married and they had been embarrassed telling people we were having a baby, especially those in the family.

I couldn't believe this, we were in late 20s, in a stable, loving relationship and being made to feel like naughty teenagers.

When Dp rang them to say I had given birth, he had them on loud speaker. Conversation went like this:
'Just calling to let you know we've had the baby'
'Oh right, what's she called'
'We haven't decided yet, we're going to decide over the next week'
'Well you're going to have to decide by Friday because that's when we're back from holiday and we'll need to tell people'
'Well I can tell you now we probably won't have decided by then'
'huffs and puffs'
Goodbyes etc
End of conversation, they thought they'd hung up.
MIL in background 'i cant believe they haven't picked a name, this is embarrassing'

I was absolutely furious at this, I had this beautiful new baby and all they could think about was how embarrassing it was that we weren't married and hadn't named her yet. Full of exhaustion and emotion over the next week or so this ate me up and I couldn't sleep at all and felt really resentful at them. A lot of my conversations with Dp were about this when we should have been enjoying our new baby. However they are the kind of people that are very stuck in their ways and wouldn't understand another view point and we decided to leave it at that.

A year passed and they started having dd one day a week while I was at work and of course now adore her.

The problem is that I just don't feel warm towards them at all. I am very cordial when we see them but we keep this to the bare minimum. I know they would like to see us more and were upset we didn't spend Christmas with them.

I don't want to just 'use' them for childcare but to me it's a good solution because they get to see dd without me there.

I think the problem is that we've never told them how their behaviour upset us and I really don't think they have a clue but every time I see MiL I feel seething with frustration after.

Dp is so different to them and would happily not see them much as would I but they live so close and I think we are now being rude by not doing much with them except to ask for the odd favour.

Do I continue to just try and 'get over it' (not working so far, and 2 years have passed) or bring it all out in the open. The trouble is they are not really feeling discussing types and this may just make things even worse.

How do I deal with Christmas etc, I don't want to see them on these 'happy' occasions as I don't feel happy around them and I suppose I'm also punishing them subconsciously by denying them christmas with dd, but that's not a very healthy way to be.

I think most people will say just get over it,
I know what they did isn't that bad, but because it happened at such an emotional time I just don't seem able to and everything MiL now does drives me nuts. (see post about recent slide purchase).

Thanks for the advice and sorry for such a long post if you stuck with it.

50BalesOfHay Sun 24-Mar-13 15:07:26

Now you've got it off your chest why not just let it go and build a relationship? She's from a different generation, has obviously come round to loving your dd and seems to want a good relationship.

I don't think that holding this grudge is good for you

musickeepsmesane Sun 24-Mar-13 15:16:11

move on, they obviously have. If I took to heart everything my in-laws said to me I would have no relationship at all with them. Different generations, different values etc. Reread your post, that may be a good place to begin your moving on. They now adore your DD, thats great. So is them taking her one day a week. Look at the positive and get over it

Pancakeflipper Sun 24-Mar-13 15:17:35

You either tell them that it hurt. Or you move along.

I am sympathetic as my mother wouldn't talk about my pregnancy with DS1 at all. She was bloody horrible about it all. Then when baby was born she was a cow until she actually met him.

But my DS1 and DS2 love their grandparents. For all the faults etc... my children look forward to their visits ( they don't live near). So I have to grit my teeth and smile and get on with this. I had a very happy relationship with my grandparents and I want my children to experience similar - even after this rocky start.

Holding a grudge eats away at you. It makes you feel horrible inside. Be the bigger person - you and your DD will both benefit from that.

VBisme Sun 24-Mar-13 15:24:48

Please try to let it go, they are a different generation and probably wanted to see you married before you had a child.

They love your DD now, and more importantly she loves them.

WinkyWinkola Sun 24-Mar-13 16:25:54

I can understand why you are still cheesed off.

She was appallingly rude to you and about you. She behaved pretty disgracefully, in my opinion, saying it was embarrassing you hadn't yet chosen a name. What a weird creature.

She should feel embarrassed for being so self righteous and worrying about what other people think. And as for trying to impose her values onto you, well, she should realise that you are a grown up and make your own decisions.

What is she like now? Are you married now? Do you meet her approval?

You should pity her. I think you would have felt happier if you'd pulled her up on her rude comments at the time. A few "How dare you say we have embarrassed you because we haven't chosen a name yet!" and "Who do you think you are, rolling your eyes about the impending birth? How rude." would have shut her up and made her think twice about making such rude comments.

However, it's too late for that now. If she is at all rude to you nowadays though, I would stop her in her tracks with a few terse words.

You don't need to apologise to anyone or feel embarrassed about your life choices. She can keep her negative opinions to herself.

I think you will have to let the original unpleasant behaviour go but make sure you squash any future rudeness pdq. And I wouldn't rely on your OH to do it either.

Mashedupbanana Sun 24-Mar-13 20:14:17

Thanks for the responses.
Pancake - sorry you had a similar experience. I have been doing the same and gritting teeth for dd, but they are only 10 mins away and they are always dropping hints that they'd like to spend more time with us all together.

I completely agree about a grudge eating away at you. I want to be welcoming to them and I think I manage to just about but once they've gone I'm in a mess.

I'm pretty sure if this had happened in a different area of my life I'd be over it but as it all came to a head just as I gave birth, I think feeling helpless and exhausted with a newborn and dealing with this somehow pushed it into a place I can't easily move from. When I've seen them I almost relive the way they made me feel at that time and I feel all shaky and helpless again - kind of similar to post traumatic stress or something.

Winky - she is nice to me now. I'm pretty sure I meet her approval, they just want us to be married and still try and persuade Dp when I'm not there. The silly thing is that I wouldn't mind getting married now but the whole thing has put me off it.

So my problem is that, I want to move on, but for some reason I mentally can't do it and in light of this what should I do in terms of how much I see them. I would never stop them from seeing dd but I would prefer to see them a minimal amount. Do you think I should 'do the right thing' and have them over more and spend alternate Christmases with them etc or just let them see dd and keep my contact minimal (eg monthly) for my own sake - I'll probably have to explain this to them in some way though.

50BalesOfHay Sun 24-Mar-13 21:02:19

Just grow up ffs. This is a non issue. Someone who was unkind isn't any longer. If you can't/won't then tell her why and stop using her for childcare a day a week.

WinkyWinkola Sun 24-Mar-13 21:12:19

How very kind - "just grow up ffs!"

I think unkind and thoughtless things that are said to you during your pgy and just after you've had the baby really really really stay with you. I don't know why - heightened sensitivity? hormones everywhere? - they just affect you deeply.

You need to talk to someone professional about this to move away from it. It's not really about nursing a grudge. I think it's more about a deep hurt when you were really vulnerable from someone you liked and trusted.

50BalesOfHay Sun 24-Mar-13 21:31:23

Ok, winkywonka, to put it differently, your mil wasn't great. She is now. She has your child a day a week. Get over it, talk it through if you need to, or make other arrangements. However, part of being an adult, and a parent, is recognising that no_one's perfect all the time. I've done things I shouldn't have done, as we all have, and I hope they won't permanently be held against me.

If the op has nothing in her relationships, past or present, that she regrets then I guess her stance is fine.

If, however she's a bit imperfect like the rest of us then ffs grow up, move on and forgive in the way you'd like to be forgiven.

WinkyWinkola Sun 24-Mar-13 21:38:23

Well, it would seem to me that the op has tried to move. She encourages the gp/gd relationship etc, tries to be polite etc. As a result, she sounds like someone who is thoughtful of others, rather than stamping her little foot at the first sign of people not doing or saying as she wants.

Thus, doesn't it appear to be something a little more complex than just a matter of growing up? Something perhaps more than childish petulance? It could be.

Mashedupbanana Sun 24-Mar-13 21:56:31

I suppose it's not easy to forgive when they haven't even acknowledged that the way they behaved was unkind. I would have said something at the time but until Dp discussed it with them I thought they weren't mentioning the baby's arrival as perhaps she'd had a late miscarriage or something and didn't want to get too excited too soon. By the time I knew the real problem, it was too late to discuss as baby was very close to coming.

I wish we could have a conversation where I say what they did really hurt and they apologise and we move on. My fear is that they think it was an appropriate was to treat someone having children out of wedlock and if I broach it, they may not apologise and the relationship may get worse.

They no longer have dd once a week (my work moved) but that's not really relevant as yes they would help out with childcare if we asked.

Fair enough, it is a bit of a non issue, they are now nice enough but I am still struggling with it and I'm sure i hurt their feelings by not including them as much as they'd like, especially as I think they are oblivious as to the reason behind this.

It will probably all rear it's ugly head again when we have next baby - perhaps it will be a good in road to discuss the past and may improve things (hopeful, but doubtful)

SanityClause Sun 24-Mar-13 22:00:10

I do get where you are coming from.

When I told my mother I was pregnant, she was less than ecstatic. When I questioned her about it, she said it was because she was sad that my grandmother was dying, so she couldnt be happy about anything, and that she was sad as my DSis was TTC, but had not been successful, as yet.

Maybe the grandmother thing was fair enough. But saying she was sad for my Dsis sounded to me like she would've welcomed news of her child, but not mine.

That really hurt me, and I find it hard to come to terms with, even now that DD1 is 13.

Forgiveness is fine, but it's hard to set yourself up to be hurt again by someone, in that way.

ceebie Sun 24-Mar-13 22:02:44

Your MIL has been really, really rude. What I'm going to say below doesn't change or excuse that, but I just wanted to put across some food for thought.

Several people have said "different generation, different values". Have you thought about those values when the older generation were growing up, how very deeply shameful it was to fall pregnant outside wedlock in those days? I appreciate that most people have moved with the times but for some people it's so deeply ingrained, it's hard for them to get over.

My cousin fell pregnant out of wedlock and whilst her parents were delighted, other family members were disapproving, particularly one aunt and uncle. Several years later, a family secret was revealed which shed light on this. The aunt and uncle had had a child together before they were married, and had been forced to give the child away - they had no choice in the matter, it was simply not considered an option for them to keep the child. They went on to marry and have 2 more children, who only found out about their sibling when they themselves were in their 40's. So, it turns out that they weren't so much disapproving, but that the pregancy brought back a lot of hurt.

I'm not saying your MIL went through that kind of experience, but those are the attitudes that her parents and her community would have drummed into her. Yes, she should be fully aware of changing attitutes and be keeping up with the times. I can't justify her rudeness in the least. But I hope maybe you can see her comments as possibly being more from her upbringing than her actual views of you.

I struggle to understand how she could think that not having a name was embarrassing. My only suggestion would be that it was another way of her expressing her general embarrassment about the whole situation.

As for what you should do - no I don't think you should try to forget about it. For most of us, it's really, really hard to discuss how comments or actions have hurt us. And it is worthwhile considering whether the issue is worthy of being discussed or not - are we making a mountain out of a molehill, or is this something really important for the health of a relationship? In this case, it's about a really key relationship - your DP's mother and DD's grandmother, and someone you used to get on with and who would like to have more involvement with your family. It really is a relationship worthwhile trying to fix.

At the end of the day, really only you and your DP can decide how best to deal with it. My advice would be that both of you should sit down and talk to her (and your FIL?), and tell her/them that you really want to move forward and put the past behind you but in order to do so, you really need to talk about how their actions hurt you at a time that you really needed their love and support.

I wish you all the best for whatever choice you make. Please come back and tell us how you get on. And enjoy your lovely non-pink slide!!!!

ceebie Sun 24-Mar-13 22:09:28

Xpost.

I understand your fear that if you broach the subject and they defend their actions rather than apologise, it could worsen the situation. However, sometimes you have to take risks. If you are not accusatory or confrontational, but explain that you want to fix the relationship and move on, hopefully they will not get defensive and should listen to your views. Would it be better for DP to discuss it with MIL as it's his mother?

Samvet Sun 24-Mar-13 22:18:07

You need to decide: mention it or move on. I get a little jealous about these threads as my MIL is an alcoholic who you wouldn't trust to care for a plant let alone a child. I'd love one i could meet for coffee/gave a toss about DC.
I personally would count my blessings and accept they were brought up a certain way and things were different. The slide thing too - if your dd grows up knowing grandparents care then who cares? It is more than many children have.

50BalesOfHay Sun 24-Mar-13 22:25:21

Whats the slide thing?

ceebie Sun 24-Mar-13 22:30:41

This started as a thread about a pink slide from MIL in AIBU until the OP realised that the issue wasn't the slide, it was the rudeness when pg and when DD was newborn. So she started a new thread.... Ta-daaa!

Mashedupbanana Tue 26-Mar-13 12:40:43

Thanks for the input.
Sanity - I can see it being the same in 13 years for me too.
It's almost as though the logical side of me is saying get over it but I think there is deep instinct to protect your baby even when in the womb and their rejection of this tiny person brings out some kind of response that isn't easily controlled.

Thanks for your advice Ceebie too.

I think for now I will just continue to try and not think about it and be nice and if any discussion around that area arises I will try and discuss it more fully.

I've never had a relationship which was fine (just small talk but nice enough) and then changed like this. At the moment, everything MiL does or says annoys me, and I know of she had done / said the same things before the pregnancy they wouldn't have and I suppose I don't like the person I feel I am when I'm around her - on the outside I'm very cordial but on the inside I'm sneering at the daft things she says and at her tacky tasteblush

Do you think you can ever go back to liking someone again once you go right off them?

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