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MiL and rudeness

(71 Posts)
HMTheQueen Thu 20-Jan-11 16:10:49

Okay - background.

MIL and FIL divorced when DH was about 5 years old. DH and BIL spent lots of weekends and holidays with FIL while growing up and had good relationships with both parents. FIL remarried, had two more children, divorced her, and has been with SMIL for over 15 years. MIL never remarried and I believe had a few short-lived romances, but nothing too serious.

DH and I met in 2002. We had DS in 2008. When DS was 7 months old DH died of cancer. Obviously devastating to the whole family.

Since DH died, MIL has been struggling quite a bit emotionally. She is currently on Anti-D's and I know she has recently been seeing a counsellor.

She is a very nice lady, but she is an inherently selfish person. She doesn't seem to think about how other people will feel about some of her actions - it's just about her. For example, she brought some food with her at Xmas to help with keeping my costs down - very nice gesture. But, BUT turning up with your own fucking butter and a half used jar of mustard is not nice and helping with the cost. It's fucking insulting to me.

Another example is when we visit her best friend of 25 years (DH and BIL grew up with her kids - they were all family friends together). I have gotten to know this family very well and I sort of think of them as my substitute family (I'm from Oz and that's where my family is). Anyway, we were going to visit the best friend and best friend invited MIL along for lunch. MIL says to BF that she doesn't want to seem ungracious, but if DS and I are going to go to her (MIL's) house for dinner she won't bother visiting BF when we are there. That seem really bloody ungracious to me! Basically she is saying, I'm coming to see them, not you, my friend of 25 years.

She does this sort of thing (insulting people unwittingly) all the time, but as she always means well, and she is trying to do things out of the goodness of her heart, no-one tells her she is being rude. My thinking is that someone should tell her, otherwise she will continue to insult and offend people. Also, if someone does happen to mention anything remotely negative about her actions, she gets very defensive and (I feel) pulls the 'Woe is me, my son died' card.

So to the current issue...

I am having a bit a get together next weekend for Australia Day. This is an annual thing. DH and I did it every year with our friends. After DH died, it has been a bit more of a friends and family thing, in that MIL, FIL and SMIL and BIL have come along too (and my parents as well the year DH died as it was around the time of the funeral).

This year, I sent a FB (I know, I know!) event to my friends inviting them for this year. I invited BIL. I did not invite MIL, FIL, SMIL etc as I want to get it back the way it was, with our friends as I feel I have been neglecting them a bit, and it'd be nice to catch up after the chaos of Xmas.

Anyway, BIL told MIL (not his fault, he wasn't to know I didn't really want her (or really her generation TBH) there). MIL sends me an email asking about the date/time of the party and can she come. In the same email she also asks if she should bring a pudding. So she has assumed she is invited.

I agonsie for a bit, and send her a nice email saying that I want it to be a friends and their kids kind of thing, but we'll see her soon. She sends back a one line email (v. unusual for her) saying fine, no problem.

Two hours later she sends another email saying that she understands that I want it to be my just my friends, but I should understand that my friends are her friends too! Then she asks me to send love to certain friends and can I take some photos of their baby.

This is the crux of the matter. They are not her friends. They are my (our - me and DH) friends. She happens to be the mother of one of their friends. She has taken on this persona as 'Aunty' to all of my friend's children (whether asked to by the parents or not) and is assuming some sort of 'friend rights' over them. I thought I had been nice about saying she wasn't invited, however, now she is making me feel guilty (whether deliberately or not I don't know) about not inviting her to my party.

So (mammoth) post almost over now...

What do I do? Do I tell her she is being unreasonable in trying to guilt me? Do I let it slide (like everyone has her entire life)? Do I not mention it at all? Do I invite her (please god no)?

I feel someone should pull her up on this, but shoudl it be me? If not me, who? Everyone else seems to accept that this is just how she is.

DS is her only GC, her link to DH and (I think) her main reason for living at the moment (hates her job, lives in rented house, has no pension, not much of a social life except for a few key friends). For the record, I would NEVER stop her form seeing DS - for starters he loves her so much - I just find it difficult to be around her personally.

So MN jury... help???

HMTheQueen Thu 20-Jan-11 16:11:54

Oh my god that is long! Sorry blush

FoundWanting Thu 20-Jan-11 16:16:40

Could you ask BIL to have a gentle word with her?

fel1x Thu 20-Jan-11 16:16:43

I think you are doing the right thing tbh and dont really need to do any more.
You've pulled her up on inviting herself anf nicely told her that its just friends so even though she is still trying to make you feel guilty, just dont let her! Reply and say 'of course I'll say hi to my friends from you' and leave it at that.
To tell her she is being out of order in trying to guilt trip you would be taking it too far I think, but to stay firm on the important things, like you are is just perfect!

HMTheQueen Thu 20-Jan-11 16:28:02

Found - BIL is a little bit too sappy to say anything. Occasionally he has, but it needs to build and build in him until he explodes... and currently he has no problems with her.

fel1x Thanks - I'm trying to stay firm, it's just so hard when I know she will be now mentioning to the extended family about how I didn't invite her to a party. It's not that I didn't invite her... I didn't invite lots of people... she just happens to be one of them. grin

redfairy Thu 20-Jan-11 16:36:01

I wouldnt take her to task over this. You've already pointed out that she is not invited and she has accepted this. Why not do as she says...pass on her regards and take a couple of photos for her. As you say life is pretty crummy for her so, she's on anti-D's so this wouldnt be such a big deal would it?

You mentioned that you thought of MIL's BF as family and MIL has said she thinks of your friends as her friends so can you understand where she may be coming from?

perfumedlife Thu 20-Jan-11 16:40:11

Well, the way I read it, Mil could have been meaning her best friend should enjoy you and your ds alone in peace without her taking over, as she was getting to see you both later. I think that's understandable.
They have been friends for 25 years, I'm sure the friend knows exactly what she meant.

And if you think about it, you are taking on her best friend as your surrogate family. aAnd yet she is not welcome to be aunty to some friends of yours?

I think there is a bit of confusion between you. It's sad, you and ds are her link to her son. But I also don't think she should guilt you into inviting her. Older people sometimes think age bestows that right on them.

HMTheQueen Thu 20-Jan-11 16:42:44

red I know she's had it tough - raising two boys with little money and then one of them dying at the age of 29 must be heartbreaking. I will pass on her regards and take the photos, of course. I'm sure my friends will be pleased to hear she's thinking of them.

I just feel like she is trying to be in our lives too much. DH was always the one to 'have words' when it was needed, but since he died... no-one's really stepped into that void - and she's gone over the line a lot, with no one to pull her back and say 'whoa there'. Now I think she thinks she can say what she likes... but then, I don't know if she is even aware that she is being so rude and pushy!

Gah... this is so hard... this was meant to be DH's job... corralling his mother! smile

activate Thu 20-Jan-11 16:45:28

say OK

and ignore

TheVisitor Thu 20-Jan-11 16:45:46

I think it's a bit sad and that she's feeling sidelined and a bit useless. She may also feel that you're starting to shut her out by not inviting her when she's been invited in the past.

HMTheQueen Thu 20-Jan-11 16:47:28

perfumed thanks - very sensible advice. Best friend did think MIL was being rude... she pointed out to me how ungracious it was when telling me about the phone call... but again, BF is so used to it after 25 years!

Maybe I am being silly about the friend thing... I just feel, that these friends are my link to DH in his Uni and school days, so I don't want them taken away IYSWIM.

<petulant stamping of foot> grin

Although I must agree with you about her age bestowing rights... I think that she believes that as DS Grandma, she should be there for everything... sometimes, I want to do stuff with just us. smile

HMTheQueen Thu 20-Jan-11 16:54:38

TheVisitor (I thought you were only visiting while your site was down... decided to stick around huh? wink)

I get that she feels sidelined... but everytime she does this sort of thing (guilting me, insults etc) I feel less inclined to visit her. If I don't pull her up on it, we will visit less and less and then she will be sidelined. But I don't want to alienate her by pulling her up on it confused

And if DH were here, she wouldn't be invited to this party anyway. Family members only started coming after DH's death (especially just after DH's death while waiting for the funeral)... for the 6 years before that, family were not invited (and probably wouldn't have come anyway!)

WonderingStar Thu 20-Jan-11 16:57:19

HMQ - I am so sorry to hear about your husband.

I am with you on this. Literally as my DH died too and I found that after his death my (actually lovely!) PILs were pretty desperate to be part of "my" life. So while I understand that they want to keep in touch with DH's friends from school that they've known for a long time, I didn't see why they were so keen to suddenly get to know my friends, who they hadn't met before. They wanted to help me so much but couldn't seem to understand that it was very important for me to establish myself and my own new independent life.

Still now if I ever mention that I'm going out with friends, MIL will say "OOh anyone we know?" and if it is anyone they've ever met even briefly, will say "Give them our love". They have met one of my best friends a few times, but only in passing each time, and they ask so many questions about her and what she's doing and how her job is. I find it intrusive and odd. Ironically, they never volunteer much information about what they are doing and I often find out things like relatives getting married or having babies long after the event.

having said all that, things are now much better, we're all a bit less raw, they have eased up a bit, I am a bit less touchy. It's 4 yrs since DH died and I'd say it's' only in the last year that the improvement has come about. But then they have each other, loads of friends and lots to do - which is your MIL's issue.

The consequences of how they were, and how spiky I was too, is that I am now very guarded about telling them what I'm doing and who with. I have drawn back from them on most things, other than interaction with their dgs, who they have lots of time with, I have never restricted that except when he was tiny and again they were a bit overkeen to take over get involved.

THis is long too! I would advise trying to draw a gradual distance on all things except dgc. I think you are right to take back the party to what you want it to be. Stand firm, perhaps offer a day out with the dgcs the weekend after or something.

Good luck!

TheVisitor Thu 20-Jan-11 16:58:22

I thought I'd stay for a bit longer wink. Yeah, pull her up on it when she's being rude, and tell her that she makes it more difficult.

(is rather glad that her inlaws live miles and miles away wink)

BluddyMoFo Thu 20-Jan-11 17:08:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TheSkiingGardener Thu 20-Jan-11 17:16:49

While I do feel sorry for her, I also completely understand where you are coming from. I would stick to your guns over this party, explain that you want this to be a friend event not a family event, and that sometimes the 2 will overlap but not always. She sounds like she wants to crawl into your life to fill the huge gap in hers which would be very nice for her, but hell for you.

Sympathies as it's a tricky situation and good luck

eaglewings Thu 20-Jan-11 17:20:03

Stand firm but don't make an issue out of it. Pick a less emotive visit she can't join you for to bring up the subject again if you need to

deste Thu 20-Jan-11 17:35:10

If you had my MIL you would understand what rude really was. And she has never done anything nice to help anyone else either. I think you are being a little bit unreasonable.

diddl Thu 20-Jan-11 17:46:46

I think stand your ground, but not make an issue of it.

The loss you have both had must be unbearable and I can see why she wants to see you & her grandchild.

But she still has other family & friends as she did before & doesn´t need to be involved in all of your life.

You sound lovely to be considering her tbh.

HMTheQueen Thu 20-Jan-11 19:08:49

Wonderingstar Thank you. that is exactly what is happening. She is trying to keep the links she had, but also to foster more, into our lives, so she has more links with her son and GC. I understand it, but it makes life so difficult when we didn't have this much interference contact before.

I think you are also right... less info on what we're doing (apart from DS and his activities) and then she won't have so much to hang onto. It's nice (well not, but you know what I mean) to know other people have suffered the same and come out the other side with the relationship still in tact!

TheSkiingGardner crawl into our lives is what it feels like she is doing. It feels so invasive. I'm not particularly close to my parents, so I've never had that sort of relationship where you discuss your every movement with family. I understand she needs us, but I think she needs other people too... we can't fill all the gaps!

Thanks diddl... I need to hear that I'm lovely... TBH I feel a like a mega-bitch towards her sometimes... but then I remind myself that we lost DH too... she doesn't have the monopoly on grief.

WimpleOfTheBallet Thu 20-Jan-11 19:21:40

I jut think the reasons you give for considering her rude are pretty weak actually.

My Mum would do something like the butter/mustard thing...she wouldnt mean harm...she's naturally a thrifty person...brought up like that.

And the friend thing...mabe MIL wants time with her BF alone?

WHich is what you want for Australia Day isn't it?

I think you sound a bit paranoid really.

domeafavour Thu 20-Jan-11 19:30:41

I have read and re-read your op and I really can't see from your examples how her behaviour is that bad, sorry. I accept that there are probably a lot of other examples. I feel very sorry for her and I think that whilst you are saying you know she is having a hard time, I don't think you are fully appreciative. She lost a son and seems to be clinging on to anything she can that is linked to him. You lost your dh, but you still have ds and all your friends. I don't mean to be really harsh, I'm sorry. I think as nice as you are trying to be she is devastated that she doesn't seem to be included. I know I would be. And I have a lovely but overbearing mother and a mil that drives me insane, but if I think about how I would treat them in the circumstances you describe, I certainly wouldn't not invite them to a party they have previously been invited to.
You have to get this sorted so I would suggest you sit down and have a good old chat. Tell her how you are feeling, I think that's preferable to feeling pushed out and not understanding why. Good luck, I'm sorry you are going through this. X

HMTheQueen Thu 20-Jan-11 19:58:00

Thanks domeafavour I see where you're coming from. I suppose I have given weak examples here - they are just recent things that have gotten under my skin. You're right there are lots of other examples... but there's no point listing them.

The general point is that she fairly regularly insults or demeans people (not just me), but I do believe that she doesn't realise she is doing it. She just doesn't seem to think about how her actions will affect others.

I wasn't deliberately excluding her from the party - I've excluded lots of people - it just unfortunate that BiL mentioned it to her and she assumed she was coming. I don't want to appear cruel, I just want a little bit of normality back after a couple of turbulent years. This is just returning to the status quo that we had before DH died.

I think I will have to sit down with her, because if I don't I think I will end up pushing her out completely, as she just irritates me (no matter what she does - which I realise is mostly my problem not hers!

HMTheQueen Thu 20-Jan-11 20:01:14

Wimple - I understand the thriftyness side of everything, and I know MiL struggled for money as a single parent, so is trying to help. But bringing butter and mustard from Bristol to London for Xmas... does she really think that I don't have butter or mustard??

Maybe I struggle, because everything she says/does is meant with the best intentions, but she doesn't think about the repercussions for other people... just how she is doing a Good Thing that will Help. How can I be cruel and deprive her of an opportunity to see her DGS when she means well??

WimpleOfTheBallet Thu 20-Jan-11 20:04:50

How can bringing "second hand" butter have repercussions? Unless it's rancid.

I think Queen...and please don't think me insensitve as I do understand how bereavment...I think it's possible that having gone through such a terrible loss...yur life partner gone...that you might have lost some of the ability to laugh at these things.

To take them lightly...it strikes me as something one would laugh about..."OH crazy Nanny with her old butter" type of thing.

Well I would...how are things generally for you? You obviously have mates...have you another partner at all? Someone to have a giggle with?

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