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Pls all come tell me my MIL is a wonderful individual, and I simply don't understand her - very long

(39 Posts)
NayFindus Fri 29-Mar-13 01:11:49

MIL has a problem with gifts, which makes family gatherings - birthdays, Christmas, weddings etc - increasingly hard. To give you some background: when dh and I met 10 years ago she invited us for Christmas dinner, so off I go choosing stuff I think she'll like and enter her home with dh (then dp) and 2 gifts. She looks from one package to the other, standing in her kitchen doorway cos that's where she was when we arrived, then back again, her face slowly going puce, and then hands clenched she shouts 'No! I give the presents! You don't give the presents - I GIVE THE PRESENTS!!! I might have walked in all smiley saying 'Merry Christmas', but apart from that, that was the entire conversation. Then about 6 years ago we were invited to dh's cousins for Christmas, dh, MIL and I, and MIL insisted that they didn't do presents, gifts were for children and they would be utterly embarrassed if we got them anything, so of course we didn't, they'd got us wine all gift wrapped and we were totally embarrassed. To make up for it I got them a little round rug as they were worried about computer chair ruining new wooden flooring. They were visiting MIL and dh and I were to join them after work, well we did but they'd already gone, not sure why as they usually stayed til 7pm and we arrived 4pm. 'What's that' MIL asks of rolled up rug in a bag so stupidly, stupidly I takes it out and shows her and she says 'I'll have it!' and grabs it off me so greedily that I'm knocked off balance a bit. And of course like a mug I just let her. When their dd was 2 and 3 years old, she said they didn't want anything because they were too busy to have a birthday party - they had birthday parties - and that besides she was sending a gift acrd 'from all of us'. When another of dh's cousins had cancer and asked for donations to cancer research she went nuts saying we couldn't donate because 'you don't ask for money, that's disgusting', but no we couldn't send her a nice Hermes scarf because she'd already sent a bunch of flowers from all of us. Then at some point she said to dh, about him sending the nieces of another, and closest cousin, birthday money every year 'why you give for them the money, you're making a fool of yourself. Do you know how much more than you they earn?' And dh completely assumed that this must have come from his cousin and that he had instigated it. Otherwise why would his dear old Mum be saying this? Cousin had no idea, whole family still p'd off and we had no idea till little comments such as 'oh the girls are so grateful for whatever they receive, no matter how small' last Christmas when we were over, we hadn't really realised until last year. So when dh clocked that actually his Mother was pulling the wool over his eyes as well, he was a bit gutted. You may have noticed from the above sentence that dh's Mum is foreign although dh was brought up here, so it's very easy for her to say they do things differently and for us to believe. But it's got to the point where we just don't want to do family occasions at all anymore. Obviously MIL hates me tremendously for stealing her precious one and only child, but it's pretty much impossible to gloss all this over.

Big family wedding this year of one of the nieces his Mum got him to stop sending birthday money to, we've agreed how much to send but dh is vehement he's not sending anything just yet and continually says he doesn't know what will happen before then. Birthday of other cousins daughter month before. Birthday of our daughter month after. We've agreed it would be best not to do birthdays anymore but don't know how to broach this. Even last year when the other cousins 2nd daughter had her 1st birthday she was telling me not to get them anything because she'd got a gift card but I said I'd got her stuff already, and I got them loads of stuff for Christmas but the damage is done.

How do we just bail out forever?

Gonna hit create conversation button before I can chicken out posting (again)

ScarletLady02 Fri 29-Mar-13 01:18:55

Erm....she sounds a bit bonkers confused

I'd be tempted to start buying increasingly weird and random presents just to see her reaction...

CocacolaMum Fri 29-Mar-13 01:20:59

Why don't you just not tell MIL about any/every gift you give. Its not really her business is it?

uniqueatlast Fri 29-Mar-13 01:22:32

I'm sorry but that is so hard to read without paragraphs.

I can't work out the problem. Buy gifts for whoever you like. It has nothing to do with your mil.

wannaBe Fri 29-Mar-13 01:23:42

buy the biggest most extravagant presents for everyone you can afford. except for her, for whom you buy nothing. The woman is a nutjob.

squeakytoy Fri 29-Mar-13 01:25:34

Why not speak to the cousins etc.. they must know how barking she is anyway..

StuntGirl Fri 29-Mar-13 01:35:16

Buy presents for whoever you like. Stuff the mother in law.

You do both know you're grown ups, right? Do what you like and ignore her.

Ozziegirly Fri 29-Mar-13 01:35:38

I don't follow why your mil has any say in who you buy presents for. Just buy people presents. Or don't. Wouldn't occur to me to discuss this with my mil.

NayFindus Fri 29-Mar-13 01:37:42

Sorry about the lack of paragraphs unique.

We're not at all close. Everything goes through the MIL as she is a total control freak and we only speak to the rellies occasionally. The last few years we haven't bothered listening to her and got what we like, just got on with it. But it all feels too little too late. I think they're clocking it's all a bit odd too, as they've started posting invites instead of going through MIL. They neevr used to do that.

But poor dh is under her thumb. She's been promising him a well expensive Apple computer since last year and I think she's making out it's my fault she hasn't got it because she said 'well wouldn't you like it' and I said 'I'll never get a go on it anyway'. It's not that he wanted it in the first place, it's that she was all 'oh I'm getting you this for your birthday' and now he's thought about where he's going to put it etc she's not bothering. She just likes using gifts to hurt people, that's how I see it. Dh sees her every week, she makes out she's helpless and can do nothing without him because she's scared everyone else she ever knew away.

NayFindus Fri 29-Mar-13 01:38:47

Thanks for replying by the way folks. It's nice to feel it's not me that's nuts for a bit.

ScarletLady02 Fri 29-Mar-13 01:38:48

Ooooh she sounds like fun grin

YouTheCat Fri 29-Mar-13 02:03:03

Just tell her, you will buy for whoever you want. She already doesn't like you anyway.

Or don't say anything and do what the hell you want to anyway.

SquinkieBunnies Fri 29-Mar-13 03:51:58

She sounds like a total nutter, and she's trying to keep some sort of control over her darling Ds by alienating you and him from the family and making herself look better as the only one who sends cards and presents.
Seeing the cousins are sending invites directly to you and your Dh now I'd just stop telling her anything, don't mention who you have sent cards or gifts too and make sure the cousins know to continue to send invites to your Dh directly.
Watch out she may get wind of you both receiving information from the cousins directly and starting trying to put a stop to it, or try to refuse invites for you before the invites even go out.
What culture is she from, I'm sure there are Mums on here who can give you some ammo when she says it's not in our culture you can have a come back ready. Rude isn't in most peoples cultures and that's what she is being.

TheRealFellatio Fri 29-Mar-13 04:13:49

She sounds nuts. But perhaps she is from a country/culture where presents are not the norm? But perhaps your DH and his cousins etc have all been brought up here and so they do things the British way which make the MIL look bonkers, but perhaps back in the mother country everyone does it that way?

I live in a forrin place and I've often heard western expats complaining that they've invited Arab or Indian/Pakistani children to birthday parties and they've not bought a present, so I don't know whether it's a Muslim thing?

TheRealFellatio Fri 29-Mar-13 04:14:29

There were too many perhapses in that post. blush

DumSpiroSpero Fri 29-Mar-13 04:16:51

Sorry - your MIL's a control freak!

Mine is a little like this but nowhere near as bad. She tends to buy DH and his brothers presents from each other at Christmas and birthdays (less so now they're all married), and will often buy a very generous gift but then go on and on and on about how/if/when/by whom is it being used.

She is very hmm about the fact I am in touch with my younger BIL and his family on FB - she really doesn't like being out of the loop.

I just take no notice and do what I like anyway. She's not my biggest fan, I'm certainly not hers - so be it.

Would it be worth contacting the nieces/their parents to explain there has been a miscommunication in the past and clear the air?

HildaOgden Fri 29-Mar-13 05:26:21

She's a control freak,simple as that.And whatever you do,it won't please her.You just can't win.
So the best advice is to do whatever you feel is instinctively right for you in each circumstance.If you feel like sending a present,then do.

It's your life,not hers.Take back control of it.

NotYouNaanBread Fri 29-Mar-13 05:59:42

She is ddesperately trying to control her whole family, which is entirely up to her - you can't prevent that, but your husband needs to stop enabling her.

LovesBeingWokenEveryNight Fri 29-Mar-13 06:07:33

Very strange but if you are looking to understand her it does sound as though she needs to be involved all the time and in control. Is she scared of being left out and not needed? Is it usually this way where she is from? What about when gifts are to be given to her?

MsAkimbo Fri 29-Mar-13 06:49:19

Yep, she's a control freak. And I have to laugh because she sounds like my grandmothers. Do you mind if I ask what background she is?

Havingkitties Fri 29-Mar-13 06:56:12

She sounds completely nuts and quite rude.
It seems you've changed everything for her and it hasn't made any difference, so just do whatever makes you happy and what you would normally do. You can't stress about presents or not hold birthdays because of one person. She needs to learn to grow up.

My MIL is Sri Lankan and sometimes can go off on one for no particular reason. But just because she's Sri Lankan is no excuse for being rude (she's lived here for about 34 years!) She's not stupid as your MIL is not too and they are a grown adults who needs to realise the impact of there behaviour on the family.

I think your going to have be tough for your own sake.

twooter Fri 29-Mar-13 07:00:29

I think you need to have a conversation with the cousins re presents and what you plan to do - either buying or not.

DublinMammy Fri 29-Mar-13 07:05:30

She sounds incredibly difficult and controlling/crazy. Just make your own arrangements and decisions without involving her in everything.

Oh, and tell your husband to buy his own computer then she can't keep dangling it in front of him...

uniqueatlast Fri 29-Mar-13 07:20:14

Is there one cousin in particular that you get along with better? Then you could explain the history to them and decide what you would like to do with regards to gifts. In my family we only give gifts to our own parents and the kids (ie not my bil, but yes to my nephew and vice versa) otherwise it just gets too expensive.

Maggie111 Fri 29-Mar-13 09:07:08

She's loopy for sure - just stop talking to her about anything to do with anything present related. If she's going to be at the same event you are - post a present ahead of time. For example don't turn up to the wedding with a card and a cheque in case she gets the hump and refuses to let you hand it over - post it on your way to the venue direct to their house.

For Christmas, send things to whoever you want, post a parcel ahead of time - explaining that you don't want it to break in the journey or that your house is a bit full.

Just totally ignore the mother in law but agree with whatever she says - then do your own thing!

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