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Italian MIL

(8 Posts)
samoa Wed 14-Apr-10 15:06:25

I have to get this off my chest, as I cannot speak to my husband about it because it usually ends up in a fight angry. I am Nigerian/Australian & DH is Italian & we are living in Rome for the moment only 10 minutes walk from his mother. My MIL was not that bad, she wasn't coming round to the house all the time or being invasive. But now that has changed since our DD is born. My family we all live in different countries and so I am not so used to being around family all the time. Even when in my family, although we love each other very much, we also like our space.

This started basically straight away when I came back from hospital. Must mention that my mother came from Canada for 6 weeks to help me because I had a c-section. Basically my MIL has been coming around everyday and just being there. At the beginning because I was obviously BF a lot MIL would just sit there and stare and ask me every 5 minutes whether she was still eating. When DD would stop eating my MIL would stand up straight away and take DD away from me. This got me fairly upset because i felt that I had only the right to hold my DD when I was BF and because my mother, who lives in Canada and this is first grandchild (MIL already has 5), was not being given the chance to hold her. On my 3rd day of being home the baby blues hit me and I just wanted to spend tiime with the baby and have space. so i went to the bedroom to lay down with DD. Within the space of an hour my MIL came in 3 times to ask if she could have the baby. I told her quite clearly that i wanted to spend time with my DD. When the hour came to BF my MIL just sat there watching me a& afterwards asking if she could hold her again, I said no. my mother was in the kitchen cooking for my DH and me, trying to give me space as she could see that I was about to crack up. In fact it did get too much for me and I started crying desperately, I was hormonal and this was my first child so I just wanted to spend time getting to know her but instead I had my MIL there all the blood time just staring. Whilst I was crying in front of her she did nothing, just stared. My mother came in to help me and once I had calmed down a bit she said to my MIL that she was going for a walk because she could see that my DH and I needed space (hint hint). My MIL did not get the hint and just sat there for another 2hrs whilst I cried.

I have been left extremely angry and bitter about this for 2 reasons:

1) I needed space with my baby and my MIL made me feel that I had no right holding my baby unless i was BF. My mother was helping us in the house and MIL was doing bugger all but just sitting in front of me whilst I was BF and waiting to hold the baby!
2) Siince my parents live in Canada, this is their first grandchild and we only see each other twice a year, I thought that it was only right that they should also get a little space to spend with her.

My DD is now 8 weeks old & MIL still coming nearly every bloody day is going to make me explode! If I talk to my DH he says that his mother is getting old now and his father died more than 10 years ago. There is nothing I can say to that. But I need my space and time with my baby! I don't know what to do and need help because I am feeling extremely claustropobic and I want to enjoy my time with DD.

Let me just add that I come from an extremely multicultural family. My father and his brothers are mixed race (Nigerian Welsh) and have all married women from different backgrounds: Australian, Somali, and Brazilian. But this is the first time I am being faced with a major cultural clash.

Thanks!

marsiettina Wed 14-Apr-10 18:42:20

Don't want to read and run, but want to send my support for you.
Of course you have a right to spend time with your baby and it is a special time to bond with your baby.

How long does she come for each day?
I don't think it is a cultural clash, more that she thinks she knows best as she has raised children before.

Will write more later, but my children are distracting me, so need to go.

marsiettina Thu 15-Apr-10 20:30:58

If you cannot speak to your husband about his mum have you tried to write down your feelings or simply let him read this message you have put on here(if he reads English).

I find it is always a balancing act with inlaws (especially if you have a good relationship with your family), as you understand they are your husband's family, but at the same time they are in your life only by marriage and not by choice.

I am fortunate that my inlaws live in Italy, while we live in England, so I really don't have the inlaws who come round every day.

Try to not let this matter stress you, as this is the time to enjoy your baby.

EndangeredSpecies Thu 15-Apr-10 20:42:49

Totally know where you're coming from samoa. You need to sit down and have a heart to heart with your MIL, forget DH and what everyone else says.

The situation you describe is very similar to what I went through 6 years ago when my daughter was born: first grandchild, ILs coming round EVERY day totally unannounced, plus DH's gran who lived downstairs, unwanted advice by the shovelful... my Eng. friends who've also had babies here have had similar experiences. I didn't have the heart--to-heart, just seethed inwardly for weeks after the birth, then just hit the roof one day and we had a huge row. Since then MIL seems to have realised that she has to give me space, and we now get on very well.

There is a BIG cultural difference, many (but not all) Italian families are extremely close and tend to live in each others' pockets a bit. Being there for the mum at the time of a birth is normal: even if it is literally just "being there" and doing very little other than getting on your nerves!!

Could you try telling her that you appreciate the support but that in your culture/family women are left to find their own postnatal routine and call people if they need help. It is very hard to find the right balance but you must do it now rather than later.

MimsyStarr Thu 15-Apr-10 21:41:23

Firstly congrats on your new baby. Sorry you are having these worries.

My family background is Italian-Aussie so I can get a sense of where you are coming from. I think your MIL is being a bit slow on the uptake, and it is time for your husband to have a chat with her. But I think she is just wanting to be there in case you should need her. Could you perhaps make up some small errands she could run for you, to get her out from under your feet but she could still feel she is doing something to help? Or cook something special for you/your DH that she would have to cook at home in her own kitchen?

Hope things improve for you soon.

Pleiades45 Mon 28-Feb-11 20:32:53

I'm from an Italo/English family, and I would agree with MimsyStarr that you should try to direct your MIL getting her to do things which would help her state of mind and keep her out of your way. If you said that whilst dealing with the baby, you were finding the day to day running of the house hard and DH really appreciates a home cooked meal, she might take over this chore.

I think Italian families can be intense. One members problem is everyone's, their joy is also everyone's. I suspect she's trying to share your situation and I guess she's a proud person who doesn't want you to think that she's going to do any less for you than she would her own daughter. I think she's trying to be close and support you.

As I said, Italians can be intense, my English mother never really adapted to it all. You need to find your balance with your MIL and do remember that most Italians are baby crazy! Talk to your husband about the best way to to suggest to MIL that you don't have visits every day. If you can keep her sense of pride intact then you'll get much further.

nailak Mon 28-Feb-11 20:38:50

remember its not just you that has to adjust to cultural differences it is mil as well who has to realise some mothers want space as that is not norm in her culture.

also i know someone who when baby was 2 days ols her mil told her why dont you just givr bottle so we can all get a chance to hold her!

giveitago Fri 27-May-11 14:47:57

Erm best of luck - you don't need to justify yourself to her but you'll probaby need to fight.

I had all this with my mil (from same country) - she's not a saint and she's gone from being a mad bitch to directly big victim mode but hey - it's your child - she can just back off - how you make her do it up to you - but she needs to back off.

My mil didn't and she's paying the price as ds finds her very hard to handle and keeps his distance.And it's all down to her. Sad because she dragged us all down with it but years on people can see her for what she is.

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