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To feel suffocated by MIL?

(76 Posts)
HeidiHole Sat 03-Nov-12 16:27:15

My PIL live on the next street from us. They moved there from about 200 miles away, 3 days before the birth of PFB 5 months ago. MIL seems to be obsessed with PFB. Obsessed in a way that no-one else in the family is (my Grandma/sister/mum/dad who all live close too)

Passive agressive if she doesn't see him twice a week and very openly offended if we use anyone other than her to babysit.

Once a friend had the baby out in the pram so we popped over to see PIL (without baby) and she went on about it to everyone. Never mind that we'd gone to see them, she kept going on about how we had come without the baby!

She keeps a mental tally of how many hours other people have spent with him, and wants to make sure she's never had less time than anyone else. She asks people how many hours they've spent.

Her own MIL lived 8 miles away from her when DH was growing up and she invited her once a year only. So its not like in their family they spent a lot of time with grandparents and expects us to do the same.

I'm a very unsociable person, I like to spend time just me, DH and DS (and so does DH) and am struggling with this new arrival in our lives. My parents live 2 miles away and I get on with them fantastically, have a brilliant relationship, but opt to only see them socially maybe once a month for dinner or something.

It isn't that MIL is bored, she has a circle of friends and an activity (ie book club, volunteering, orchestra) 4 or 5 days a week plus her and FIL love pottering in their garden.

I feel that when she had her family she rarely invited her parents, or PIL round, or visited them and got to just enjoy her baby and DH in peace. I'd like to do the same. In an ideal world we'd see them maybe once a month. The latest thing is that our cleaner has asked for a few more hours so we've said she can do some "mothers help" and look after the baby a few hours a week so I can get some things done. If we hadn't have been able to give these extra hours cleaner had to leave and get a full time job.

MIL was very upset to hear this (ie someone else with baby not her) and eyes filled up with tears and she didn't speak) AIBU to think there is a difference to having a professional relationship with an employee, who will be emptying dishwasher, tidying playroom, doing any odd jobs and I can tell her how I want things done with baby, to having my MIL in the house 4 times a week (who I don't feel comfortable dictating to and who obviously wouldnt be putting washing on etc like the employee would be) I like MIL I just don't want her in my house all the time - why can't she see that? I want some privacy.

I told my mum that cleaner (who is very responsible, trustworthy and been with us a long time and loves the baby) would be doing some 'mothers help' and my mum just said great, sounds perfect. No tears.

I don't know what I really am asking...just struggling I suppose with the suffocating feeling that this is MY baby, and I want some space. DH is at least in agreement with me but understandably hasn't yet found the courage to tell MIL to back off a bit as he doesn't want to hurt her feelings.

As it is we see PIL much much more than my Grandma/sister/Parents who all live within 2 miles as well and would love to see us more, they just dont get passive agressive when we're busy.

hiddenhome Sat 03-Nov-12 16:31:08

YANBU and need to think about becoming more assertive. Would you be able to explain this to MIL - she may become upset, but that's her responsibility. I'm unsocial too, so I can understand how you feel suffocated.

pjmama Sat 03-Nov-12 16:35:41

You and DH both need to talk to her about it. Yes, she'll probably get upset but that's not your problem. She is overstepping your boundaries and isn't going to figure this out on her own unless you draw some lines. Its lovely that she wants to be so involved and clearly loves your baby, but she's in danger of alienating you by being too full on. It won't get better on its own, so you have to tackle it as sensitively as you can.

Bunbaker Sat 03-Nov-12 16:36:04

Your MIL is being unreasonable, but I think you are being a little unreasonable as well.

Your parents live 2 miles away and they only get to see their grandchild once a month and you want to extend the same restrictions to the ILs as well. That's is a bit mean don't you think?

TwitchyTail Sat 03-Nov-12 16:37:39


Boundaries, boundaries. Talk to your DH and agree on limits that you are both happy with. Then get him to man up and broach this with his mother. (I'm a believer in people dealing with their own parents rather than dumping it on the daughter-in-law/son-in-law - much easier to deal with and forgive your own flesh and blood).

To be fair to her, in some families, it's normal to be in and out of each others' lives and it may be that she genuinely doesn't understand a new mother needing her space. My in-laws, lovely as they are, are of this ilk ("family don't stay in hotels!" etc), and you can bet I'll be putting my foot down when I have my baby and they insist on coming to stay with us.

She'll get used to it. Good luck!

HeidiHole Sat 03-Nov-12 16:41:36

bunbaker we're just busy thats all. Both of us run a busy business (my parents and also me and DH) and the thing is we have LOTS of family close. I never see my DH in the week, he leaves for work when I get up and when he gets home he's on the laptop working until 11pm with maybe a one hour break for some TV.

At the weekends we have my parents, his parents, my sister, and my grandma who all would love to see us. We can't ignore my family and only see his just because MIL is passive agressive about it. Not to mention any time to see friends/go to pub/watch the football which is also on the list for weekends. The rest of the family understand 100% and don't want to get in our way, they dont take it personally.

HeidiHole Sat 03-Nov-12 16:43:14

twitchytail thats the thing, she's not like that at all. She saw her own PIL (8 miles away) once a year, thats the only time they were invited (as far as I know they all got on fine) and she saw her own parents (few hours drive) once a year too. They never came to MIL's house, always MIL drove up to see them.

She's not of that "family in and out of each others house" persuasion AT ALL.

BerthaTheBogBurglar Sat 03-Nov-12 16:44:41

YANBU at all, and time to get assertive. Don't let the tears get to you.

I think it is very very sensible to have someone other than MIL doing childcare.

And I think you should make sure you get to spend enough time with your other friends and family, and don't let MIL have the lion's share of your time just because she cries loudest.

Can you 'do' assertiveness? If you can, tell her that you don't spend a set number of hours with each person, there is no sharing out of your time. You spend time with the people whose company you enjoy. She has no "rights" over the baby. Point out that she made it very very clear that she doesn't value your company, only the baby's, so obviously that makes you not want to visit so much.

If you can't do assertive, then just back off. Don't visit. When she visits you, don't invite her in - say it isn't convenient. And when she makes passive agressive remarks, pretend you haven't noticed the "aggressive" part. Smile and ignore. You might want to cut it down gradually though - once a week, once a fortnight ...

JamieandtheMagicTorch Sat 03-Nov-12 16:44:52

I can totally understand how you feel. If this is not sorted, the feeling of suffocation could worsen.

She has a right to have different expectations and to feel disappointed once you point out what yours are, but ultimately you immediate family comes first. I'd try and get your DH to speak to her - maybe with you present as well so he can't be tempted to put this on to you (not saying he necessarily would, but it might be tempting if she becomes upset). I think asking her how she felt when she had her babies might help - if she says she wanted more help/contact you can say that you don't feel that way. If she says she enjoyed time alone with her family then you can say that that is how you feel. Listening might get her on side.

But don't be guilt-tripped

NotYouNaanBread Sat 03-Nov-12 16:44:59

I think YANBU to feel a bit guilt-tripped about her reaction to the mother's help thing because as you say, you can hardly expect her to have cleaned the kitchen & put the laundry away while you're out, but YABU to feel that her seeing her grandchild twice a week is a too much. Maybe get DH on board more? Pack him & the baby over to hers for the morning (day!) on Sundays so you can snuggle up with the Sunday papers & a box of chocolates. Consider the ways her enthusiasm is an advantage, not an invasion.

BerthaTheBogBurglar Sat 03-Nov-12 16:46:20

Oh well, you can get passive aggressive back then. MIL I know you only saw your PILs once a year, thats a great idea, should we do that too?

Maybe that isn't that passive grin

JamieandtheMagicTorch Sat 03-Nov-12 16:47:19

Tell her that you don't want her to have a childminder relationship with your DD because friends have told you they feel it puts too much pressure on grandparents and they feel they can't spoilt their grandchildren wink

TwitchyTail Sat 03-Nov-12 16:47:39

Heidihole, in that case, she's just a self-centred pain in the backside and your DH can stop worrying about hurting her feelings. Even better grin

JamieandtheMagicTorch Sat 03-Nov-12 16:48:08

... I agree about DH taking the baby over to her regularly

DameFanny Sat 03-Nov-12 16:48:33

She sounds like a loon - monitoring how much time other people spend with the baby ffs?

Is it worth talking to FIL and asking if he has any concerns about her? Maybe checking she's registered with a local doctor would be a start? How old is she? Could this be the onset of some sort of dementia or depression?

HeidiHole Sat 03-Nov-12 16:50:11

Thank you everyone, I will show DH this thread. He's been talking about getting assertive for a few weeks but its hard to do as MIL is genuinely a lovely person, it's like kicking a puppy!

He started saying "Oh couldn't MIL do that childcare maybe?" and can't 100% see my view that I don't want that relationship with her. I don't want her in the house that often, and I like having some jobs done at the same time by the employee! I like that I can say to the employee "no, please don't do xyz" whereas it's hard to say that to MIL without it coming across like you're questioning their parenting (especially as she's so sensitive)

I think we will start having DH go over there with baby alone for a few hours and ease off from there. The thing is that I want to see DH and baby too so packing them off isn't really a huge treat for me (ok a little treat if i have a box of chocolates like naanbread says!) smile

JamieandtheMagicTorch Sat 03-Nov-12 16:51:25

It's good he feels as you do. That's a brilliant start, so you can manage her together.

HeidiHole Sat 03-Nov-12 16:52:53

damefanny she is 60. Definitely no dementia/depression AFAIK. FIL has the start of dementia which is hard for her, I think worried about the future but she's out of the house a lot with all her activities (in fact her and my mother do identical 'clubs') she isn't sitting inside alone all day, nose pressed to the window. I get that she loves DS hes bloody gorgeous obviously I just feel smotherd and we're only 5 months in... we've got 18 years to go!

JamieandtheMagicTorch Sat 03-Nov-12 16:56:52

I think MIL would have been like this. Sadly she became ill when DS1 was a toddler, but i remember the look in her eyes when she first saw him. It made me very uneasy. I think she was "seeing" her own son in him and that was bittersweet. She was fundamentally not terribly happy and I think what she would have wanted was to live very near to us. I know I would have found that very hard, whilst feeling guilty

mrsmplus3 Sat 03-Nov-12 17:20:20

I was with you on this until you mentioned paying the cleaner to help with baby for a few hours instead of granny. I'm sorry, I know you prob don't want to hear that but I don't think that's fair. Infact I think that's you being difficult and not very nice to your mil which, trust me, will ultimately have a negative affect on all relationships concerned.
Why can't you have a chat with dh about your mil helping more but on your terms ie drop baby at her house a few hours a week to let you get on with whatever. That way she's getting her time with her grandchild and you're saving money and she's not in your house. Then you don't need to see her often other than drop off pick up and a quick cup of tea? Then just see her once a month as a family for dinner or outing at the park of whatever for quality family time? That could be a win win situation for you all? Especially the baby. I'm sure baby would rather be with granny than cleaner??

SpectralMissSpooky Sat 03-Nov-12 17:28:55

Why the hell should the mother in law get to donchildcare just because she's pouted and wept? The relationship with familychildcarebcan be crsp when the family member is not on tr same wavelength as the parents, an employee is a much better idea in this case.

Why is it so hard for some people to realise that grandparents have absolutely no right to dictate anything to do with their grandchildren? They are extended family, nothing more! If mum and dad would rather not have grandma pretending to be mum for one day a week, grandma should get a grip and deal with it.

TheProvincialLady Sat 03-Nov-12 17:30:29

I can see why you feel sufocated by MIL but in my opinion you are behaving badly towards her. IF she is genuinely lovely, your son will benefit hugely more from spending time with his grandmother than he will by a paid cleaner. As your MIL lives so close she could easily have your son to play in her own home and you could get on with chores. It sounds like a control issue to me.

SpectralMissSpooky Sat 03-Nov-12 17:30:34

Apologies for bad typing!

In your situation Heidi, if e looking at moving a couple of hundred miles away. I can't stand people who can't respect my space as my parenting choicessad

IneedAsockamnesty Sat 03-Nov-12 17:32:14

if you let a family member provide free childcare you then have to be willing to be greatfull to them and its always on there terms.


Teabagtights Sat 03-Nov-12 17:39:23

I think once a month is mean and a bit nasty.

If when my son has children and they lived close and said I could only see the child once a month I'd be pissed off.

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