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should grandchild be a "treat" on grandmother's birthday?

(32 Posts)
MamaLaMoo Wed 25-May-11 16:16:20

I have thought long and hard about posting this and how to explain it. I am not sure if I am being a touch sensitive as relations with MIL are always civil but painfully (for me anyway) lacking in real emotional connection. I find her very hard going, sadly DH frequently does to. Anyway...

I am uncomfortable with my MIL stated suggestion for what she wants to do on her birthday. She wants to take DD aged 2 off for the afternoon possibly with SIL and presumably go into town, have lunch, eat ice cream, the details of this are missing. She and SIL have discussed this together and this was presented a fortnight ago as the thing they would do on the birthday day (a Saturday) which my husband is unable to attend as he is going to a wedding, children not invited. I am not going to the wedding as I had assumed I would look after DD and will be a couple of weeks off giving birth to DD2. I was not asked at any stage what I would be doing or think of any of this. I was not actually spoken to about it either, it was spoken to my husband with me present, most conversation with MIL happens like this. The ideas was mooted as a way of "helping me out" when DH was at wedding.

This is categorically not about helping me out, the birthday is in 8 weeks time and I am crippled with PGP right now. If she wanted to help she could visit this week and do a bit of shopping and vacuum the house. That is a sugar coating on what is a request for DD to be with her for the day as her birthday treat. MIL has suggested nothing else, no dinner in a nice restaurant, no trip out nothing else to do on her birthday or the day after when we can all attend. It is also clear from request that I am not invited to this afternoon out.

I feel instinctively that there is something wrong about having a little child be the sole treat for a grown up's birthday. What if she is feeling poorly or is a bit confused by grandma taking her off for the day/afternoon without mummy and gets ratty and upset? There is great deal of expectation being placed on her little head here to basically perform and give grandma a nice time. I feel she is not being seen as a little person in her own right, more as an emotional fix for MIL. And why am I not included?

Does this seem normal or am I seeing a demon MIL where none exists?

belgo Wed 25-May-11 16:22:19

You are over thinking this. They probably do think it will help you out - you will be heavily pregnant, your dh will be at a wedding, and they think that taking your toddler will give you a chance to rest, and I see their point.

And of course your mil will enjoy the company of her grandchild - why shouldn't she? It's not unusual for a grandmother to look after her grandchild for the afternoon and take her out for treats- that is part of the enjoyment of being a grandmother.

Has your mil never looked after her before?

It all sounds rather sad that you have this suspicious attitude towards your mil.

TobyLerone Wed 25-May-11 16:24:44

It sounds pretty innocent to me. I'd take it at face value and think that it is a treat for Grandma to have her precious granddaughter all to herself for a morning. I think it's sweet that that's what she considers to be a treat.

Then again, I don't know the back story...

CMOTdibbler Wed 25-May-11 16:31:03

I can quite imagine mil thinking 'mamalaloo won't want to be traipsing around when she's so pg and so uncomfortable, so rather than them saying they'll take me out, I'll have an afternoon with dgd, do some fun things, and mamlaloo gets a well deserved rest'. Unless theres a lot of backstory, I can't see the problem tbh - its not like she is expected to be the party entertainment or anything

StayFr0sty Wed 25-May-11 16:36:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

needanewname Wed 25-May-11 16:46:30

Sorry I think you're seeing problems where theere aren;t any.

I know that my mum would definitely see it as a treat taking her GC out for the day.

I think some people automatically see their MIL as the enemy and its such a shame.

MyLittleOwls Wed 25-May-11 16:48:24 MiL hasn't asked if that is ok? Just spoken 'through' your DH, the woman needs to learn some manners and quickly! It would be a no from me you are part of the family and she needs to accept that and include you.

More background is needed on this.

MamaLaMoo Wed 25-May-11 17:26:34

thank you for you postings, to give a bit of background...

MIL never speaks to me directly, she says things like "would mummy let you have a biscuit?" to my DD rather than ask me directly. She also speaks about me in general conversation "[my name] will want such and such..." having never actually asked me what I want at all. Her response to finding out I had PGP was "there won't be any more children after this one then" said to my husband, she said nothing to me and offered no help which is not out of character as she has never offered any help. She has never taken DD out, and babysat her once in her own house, where we were staying, for 2 hours when DH and I went to see a film.

I had originally taken her suggestion at face value and tried to explain to her that she shouldn't shape her birthday plans around assisting me (if I actually needed it which I could hardly tell 8 weeks ahead of time) as I could call on my own mum for that if necessary. I felt uncomfortable that she thought she couldn't do what she wanted on her birthday with her own daughter and was planning things around me. Like I said this woman has never shown concern for me in this way before. After discussing with DH he thinks she is actually angling for afternoon with DD but dressing it up as help rather than asking directly.

She has a very indirect way of communicating even with her own children expecting them to mind read her and then getting upset if they don't, but of course she doesn't say she is upset, she does passive aggressive things like not answer her phone for 2 weeks.

MIL has spoken about arrival of DD2 in very negative tones in front of DD1, referring to dangerous levels of sibling jealousy and asking if we were going to put DD1 in nursery after DD2 arrived. I don't want her to tell DD1 that grandma is taking her away from mummy because mummy needs time away from her (DD1) before baby arrives etc and I also want the time before baby is born to spend with DD1, we won't have that special time when the baby is there. So it is very presumptuous of her to plan this and assume I will just go along with it.

The first time I ever met her was 1 year after DH and I started dating, we got the train (long journey) down to where she lives. She met us at the platform, ignored me, linked her arm through her sons turned away and walked down the platform chatting animatedly to him. I was so shocked she could have slapped me and it wouldn't have been any worse. It was only on the 4th time I met her she actually said hello to me as well as DH when she arrived. I did not set out to see her as the enemy.

usualsuspect Wed 25-May-11 17:30:39

I think it sounds like a lovely idea

Your MIL is your dds grandma after all ,not a stranger

MmeLindor. Wed 25-May-11 17:33:00

Ok, she sounds like a nasty piece of work and I can understand your hesitation.

At the end of the day though, an afternoon with her will not harm your DD and will give you a chance to put your feet up.

Try not to see it as anything other than MIL taking your DD our for the afternoon on her birthday.

EssexGurl Wed 25-May-11 17:35:42

My parents definitely see having their grandchildren to visit/stay as a huge treat. I think my mum would love to have them on her birthday. You are over thinking it. Also, not sure why MIL needs to talk to you as well as DH about plans. He is the father and so surely has a say in plans.

MamaLaMoo Wed 25-May-11 17:43:42

EssexGurl - I guess I feel that when discussing this in front of me with DH over a meal as she did, she could at least have turned her head and made eye contact with me and included me in the conversation instead of talking around me and referring to me as if I weren't there. That is just rude.

Of course DH has a say, but DH is not going to be there! So any arrangements about when they arrive, where they go etc need to be communicated to me not him. He will be 100s miles away in Wales at a wedding. Most couples do not have the sort of relationship where one presents a fait acompli to the other regarding some arrangement with their kids.

it appears MIL and SIL have been discussing this for a while and then told DH, I resent the way they all talk around me. Like I said in the OP, why am I never included?

Flisspaps Wed 25-May-11 17:44:15

With the background comments you've given, I wouldn't be happy to let a two year old go with her for the day.

The other option is for you to say to MIL 'what a lovely idea, where are we going?' and take yourself along too - MIL gets to see DD and you get to make sure that she's not telling DD that you're sending her away because of the new baby (or anything along those lines)

needanewname Wed 25-May-11 17:44:19

OK with a bit of back story I can see why you;re upset, but honestly she behaves like this beacsue the whole family allows her to.

She doesn;t sound like a nice and supportive MIL, you need to speak to DH about this as calmly and unemotionally as you have done here and let him know that next time she speaks to you through someone else that she shoudl speak to you directly.

This is not going toget any better whilst everyone allows it to continue. Sorry there is no magic wand to turn her into a great MIL, but I can understand your need to rant, so rant away!

needanewname Wed 25-May-11 17:44:42

Good idea Fliss!

GwendolineMaryLacey Wed 25-May-11 17:49:13

I would try to see it as a day out as well. However, I can understand exactly why you feel like you do and you are probably right. She does sound witchy and downright bloody rude. But I'm not sure there's too much you can do about it if your DH doesn't see a problem. The main thing is, will your DD have a nice time?

GwendolineMaryLacey Wed 25-May-11 17:50:39

Ooh, hang on a minute, just seen that your dd is only 2 and that the SIL is included. How is that working then? Maybe Fliss is right...

Playdohinthewashingmachine Wed 25-May-11 18:04:58

Sounds like you need to say "no thankyou, that's not convenient". If she persists that she is trying to help you, explain that your are enjoying your dd's company but having trouble with housework, and ask her to come and do the hoovering.

I'd start picking her up on every bit of rudeness. Be explicit. "When you talk about me to dh and don't look at me, I feel ignored. Please look at me when we are talking". It will probably feel rude/disrespectful to confront her like that, but you have to remember that her behaviour is appalling and needs to stop.

Or the old favourite "that sounded rude, MIL. Did you mean to be rude?".

Your MIL needs to realise that you are part of their family, you are as important and should be as valued as your dd or your dh. If she is not going to treat you like a human being worthy of love and respect, then she really shouldn't expect to spend much time with your dh, your dd, and you.

And your dh needs to refuse to allow the behind-your-back conversations. All he has to do is say "Mum, could you talk to MamaLaMoo about this please" followed by "no, I'm not talking about this, you need to talk to MamaLaMoo".

And actually, people who get upset with you by ignoring you for 2 weeks are great. Much better than the ones who want to yell at you or cry on you for hours ...

ChippingIn Wed 25-May-11 18:20:48

mamalamoo (did you choose this name for this thread?)

There are so many things going on here it's hard to know where to start!

Short reply -

- DH needs to man up and stand up for you and not allow his Mother to sideline you, if he wants to stay happily married. The first time she sidelined you at the train station you should have told your DH if he ever allowed her to do that again, it would be the end of your relationship.... but of course you can't go backwards. You can, however, tell him now that he needs to man up.

- You need to stand up for yourself with her. Don't allow her to talk 'around you'. Simply say, 'I am here you know' and 'Please don't presume to know what I would like' - thank you smile '

- Your DD is your DD. Don't allow her to write you out of the picture.

- She is never going to be your 'other Mum' stop waiting for her to treat you as another daughter, she clearly doesn't want to (and that is very much her loss!). She doesn't want to invite you along to her birthday because you are the evil cow who stole her son hmm and she isn't embracing having a DIL.

Have a think about whether DD will enjoy the day with her Grandma & Aunty - if she will, let her go for HER sake and you put your feet up for the day BUT if you think DD will be upset then say 'No, she' doesn't know you well enough to spend a day with you just yet, you need to see her more often and form a better bond with her first'. End of. Your DD, your decision.

At 2, she's really a bit young to understand what your MIL is bleeting on about with regard to the baby, it's all still a bit of an abstract thing for her just now, so don't worry too much about that. But it's something that needs stomping on when you are around for sure.

MamaLaMoo Wed 25-May-11 19:24:23

Flisspaps - good idea, I can see the merit in what you say

Playdough and ChippingIn - yes we do need to jump on this more consistently. I have had some long chats with DH about a related topic, MIL makes digs at me as an aside to the general conversation then seamlessly goes on to talk about something else and it takes a few seconds to register fully what she said, by which time the moment has passed. He is supportive of me and would take my side if any major fallout occurred and has said as much.

He has been raised by this woman, as has his sister, to never show confrontation or anger. That way she is never faced with anyone standing up to her. Their father, my DFIL (he is lovely) just retreated into himself and finally ended up so depressed MIL left him. He is much better now! DH even finds it hard when I express anger, in a completely appropriate way I must add, just a raised voice and more animated hand gestures in reaction to some event puts him really on edge. He is sufficiently self aware to be able to talk it through though.

He is worried something, some nameless, ill-defined very bad thing, will happen if MIL is confronted. He has told me how he and his sister were a bit trying one day as kids and his mum just screamed at them, sat down and necked G+Ts for the rest of the afternoon till their father came home. They were never "trying" again. She lives alone and has no friends or social circle at all where she lives and hasn't done for the 6 years since she left FIL. There are only two people she talks to, DH and SIL. She has completely fallen out with one of her sisters and is in occasional contact with the other. She is totally emotionally dependent on her children. This fear of some terrible consequence keeps them all repeating the same pattern. SIL has said in her opinion MIL will never change even if confronted, DH has discussed it with her, and so we shouldn't bother trying.

And I am guilty of being too polite. I so do not want to be cast as the evil DIL who stirred up the hornets nest. But as I have said to DH, if she starts speaking to DDs like this I will not hold back, and DD1 will soon be at an age to understand MIL is being rude to me. I come from a very blunt speaking, emotionally expressive and loving Irish family who could not be more different. But as poor, irish immigrants in the 50s my mother's family adopted a shut up and fit in policy and has possibly viewed the English middle-class as their betters. What I mean is we were raised to be too deferential and polite outside the family.

Playdohinthewashingmachine Wed 25-May-11 19:42:03

Ah. The reason you would pick your MIL up on her behaviour is not to change her. Your SIL is entirely right, it is likely she won't change. The reason you would do it, is for your benefit. So you and your dh remember that MIL is being outrageous and you don't have to take it.

You can't change her but you can change the way you react to her.

You would also do it for your children's sake. Otherwise they will grow up thinking it is ok to behave as your MIL does.

Get your Dh to counselling. I've had all of 8 sessions about my mother, and it's made the world of difference already. Last session I talked through my fear of the nameless bad thing that will happen if I allow my dcs to "show off", and I've realised there is no nameless bad thing. Walking on air all week.

I do understand your desire not to confront her though. I'm like your dh - brought up not to rock the boat. So I'm just not seeing my mother at the mo (which is very very nice!).

Playdohinthewashingmachine Wed 25-May-11 19:46:08

Concentrate on your dd. Much much easier to get this sorted out now than when your children are older and having some kind of relationship, however horrendous, with your MIL. Stir up that hornet's nest now! Don't wait ten years till you can't take it any more and do it then ...

Let's face it, your MIL already does regard you as Awful DIL, doesn't she?

needanewname Wed 25-May-11 20:12:53

Agreed that you will not change your MIL but if you don;t stand up to her what are you showing your children?

frazzzled Thu 26-May-11 07:11:18

IMHO you are lucky to have the help, a break before arrival of new baby sounds lovely, book in for a pregnancy massage that day and relax! Try not to over think things, majority of relations with In laws (mostly dh side) are fraught! I've come to accept, like pp has said can't change them but can change how to react and behave. Sometimes just not worth the energy, knackered enough as it is! Take care

Octaviapink Thu 26-May-11 08:29:02

I disagree with those who say you're overthinking it. My MIL has a similarly possessive attitude towards my daughter who's also 2 (poor DS doesn't get a look in) and it REALLY gets my back up. When MIL is here DD doesn't get a moment to herself, and she's actually quite a private person - likes playing in her room and having space to make up games, but MIL is in her face the entire time and DD gets frantic. I end up trying to distract MIL rather than my toddler! She's here every six weeks and would be here every weekend if I let her. I think she's bored, basically, because she's certainly not this interested in her own children. I wouldn't mind so much but the only things she can think of to do with DD are shopping and feeding her biscuits. We were out to lunch a few months ago and she was feeding DD sugar lumps out of the bowl while I was in the loo.

All of which is a long way of saying I think you need to stand your ground a bit. If your MIL wants to take DD out for the afternoon, it has to be for a limited time (back by 4pm, say) and you have to know exactly what they're doing. I agree that it's pathetic someone should be reliant on a two year old to give them a good time, but I think you just need to pity the emotional neediness while still making the stipulations that will make you comfortable with it.

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