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Irrational hatred of MIL?

(62 Posts)
nectarina Tue 18-Oct-11 12:31:32

Please help, I've got my knickers in a twist about my MIL since the birth of my DD 6 months.
My relationship with her was always civil, although I found her profoundly annoying - she fusses constantly, and pulls guilt trips - if we go to stay and say that we're going out for the morning she moans that she doesn't spend enough time with us and make sure to be back in time for lunch. She even buys so much food before we come so that she can blackmail us into staying for extra time to get through all the massive lumps of sacrificial meat she's bought. Anyhow, I'm digressing.
After the birth of DD i was a bit anxious about seeing them as she was getting so excitied about seeing her - but I wasn't prepared for the grabbiness of MIL, taking DD out of my arms and not wanting to give her back - I've had to forcefully prise her out of her arms in order to bf.
But when I think of it, these are only small understandable annoyances, and I should be more understanding. This then leads to guilt because I feel bad about hating someone who is just a bit lonely...arghhh....
So we're talking about her coming to stay and I feel irrationally petrified. DH knows about it all and is very understanding as he finds her difficult, but of course he wants to see her and everything...
I suppose I want someone to tell me that things will get better with time, when DD is older and MIL less over-excited. At the moment seeing her holding DD makes my skin crawl. I need locking up don't I?

ItsMeAndMyPumpkinNow Tue 18-Oct-11 12:48:19

It doesn't sound like you hate your MIL, despite your thread title. It just sounds like you want to keep your DD in your arms, and hav eMIL hold her for only short amounts of time when the baby is not feeding, settling, or whatever.

So: can you establish a system where your MIL holding DD happens for only clearly defined lengths of time (eg. "Hello MIL, how nice to see you. Here, can you hold DD while I do XYZ? I'll take her back in 20 minutes to make sure she's settled/feed her/[insert othe raction as appropriate]", and if MIL tries to take DD when you don't feel comfortable about it, say "No, I want to keep her close to me for the time being.")? If you do this explicitly, how will MIL react? And will your DH back you up if she tries the guilt manoeuvre?

nectarina Tue 18-Oct-11 12:57:06

At times i have told her that i'll keep her with me for the mo - mil the just keeps asking until i can't say no! DH has said no himself, so its not just me! I can be assertive with her, but it makes things awkward after and i can't stand the tension. But i do hate her, i go from seething hatred to guilt alternately.

nectarina Tue 18-Oct-11 13:00:08

I think she wants to assert her right as GM - as soon as she's got dd she'll leave the room with her or go round to the neighbours. I just think its nOthing to get upset about, so why do i feel so bad?

Inertia Tue 18-Oct-11 13:38:41

You're getting upset because it's a perfectly natural reaction to want to keep your baby close , where you know she's safe and you are on hand to feed her and meet her needs. Your MIL shouldn't be taking your baby out of your arms, nor refusing to give her back nor taking to the neighbours without your permission- WTF?

You need to be very explicit about how it's going to work in terms of caring for your daughter- and you need to have an agreed plan in place with your DH so you are backing one another up. Pumpkin's idea of setting a time is a good one.

ChippingInToThePumpkinLantern Tue 18-Oct-11 13:46:00

Is DD safe with her? If she is, I would try really really hard to relax about it. I understand how hard it is for you, but as long as DD is safe & happy then you are bringing your DH's Mum a lot of pleasure and that's a nice thing to do for someone who is lonely.

If you can't, you can't and you or DH will just have to keep saying 'No, not at the moment' and if it gets far too much you will have to say that it's upsetting you and if you can't sort it out you wont be able to visit her/have her visit.

It's nice that she's not on your doorstep, but it does also mean that she probably misses you all a lot and tries to get in as much time with you all when she is with you.

DoNotHaveAClue Tue 18-Oct-11 13:53:35

I think you are upset because it might feel as though she is trying to take over the mother role and pushing you out - I guess that feels a bit creepy too as your DH is the father.

She is being silly because is she can't play ball, you'll probably end up withdrawing and she will see even less of her.

Is she observant enough to notice if you start to do that now ie if she is too pushy, make your visits less frequent. It might be worth a try.

usualsuspect Tue 18-Oct-11 13:55:56

Poor grandma sad

moscow Tue 18-Oct-11 14:05:50

sorry if it sounds a little harsh OP, but wait until you want some nights out with DH, then maybe it'll be a little easier to make use of grandma?

Yes, they are small understandable annoyances, she is not doing anything that any other doting grandma wouldn't. I would give my right arm and leg and the left ones too if it meant my late parents could have still been alive when I had my two and I could have made them grandparents. Why not cut her some slack.

LapsedPacifist Tue 18-Oct-11 14:07:48

It's perfectly normal for a GM to want to hold and cuddle and fuss over a new grandchild. There is nothing unreasonable or sinister about her motives. Honestly. Grandparents normally DO love their grandchildren, no?

If your hormones (and that's all it is) are making this really uncomfortable for you at the moment, then pop DD in a sling. Say it's necessary to because she has colic/is teething/ any other plausible excuse/ and DD will howl otherwise. That way MIL won't be too offended and you can limit how much "grabby" time she has.

2rebecca Tue 18-Oct-11 14:08:45

Maybe try being a bit honest with her and tell her that it makes you feel stressed and anxious when she keeps going on about wanting to hold the baby and can she relax and be less pushy about things. You could also tell her that in the past you have been unhappy about her not being willing to give your daughter back to you when you asked or disappearing to her neighbours with her and that it would help your relationship if you didn't feel you were fighting with her over your daughter all the time.
In this age of freezers her food excess is easy to deal with
"we told you we were only coming for 2 days, you'll have to freeze it"
I've never stayed with someone for longer than planned just because they had overshopped. Overshopping is common if you aren't used to catering, she'll learn how much to buy eventually. Make sure in future when staying you stress how long you are staying for and to remember she bought too much last time.

DuelingFanjo Tue 18-Oct-11 14:12:20

As DH is on your side over this I think make sure he is there to grab the baby back if you need him to.

Taking her to the neighbours is just awful imo, and leaving the room with her is rud too.

Blueberties Tue 18-Oct-11 14:17:04

To keep asking and nagging when you've said no is very odd.

Blueberties Tue 18-Oct-11 14:19:52

It's pretty awful when you're a new mum and made to feel unhappy. She doesn't remember what is was like to have a babe in arms I think. If you say anything she will be very miffed and hurt and you;ll feel so guilty it will be worse than before. I foresee this ending with fewer visits from you tbh.

MsGee Tue 18-Oct-11 14:30:00

I was like this at the start with my MIL. It was an inexplicable need to keep DD close.

My over protectiveness, combined with MIL (natural) desire to be part of DD life and (again, natural) forgetfulness about how it feels to be a new mum created a bit of a perfect storm.

DD is now 3.5 and is adored by and adores MIL. I am still over-protective but my focus is on helping them to develop their relationship - which is a joy to watch. MIL in turn accepts that DD needs her mum but loves Nanny and also that really she hasn't a clue how to soothe / discipline / clean shitty knickers when it comes to DD and is therefore happy to be involved rather than take control.

If I could do it differently I would have let her in a lot sooner. Life would be much easier if it hadn't taken 3.5 years to get here.

KatieMortician Tue 18-Oct-11 14:36:15

I sympathise with the grabbing. My DM has a tendency to ignore everything she is told/asked and carry on regardless (I remember her pulling off DS's blanket when he was a baby to wake him up after being told to leave him and then complaining because he was ratty hmm).

The best thing to do, IME, is to move your boundaries as far as you are able and be very clear when she is getting close and when she crosses them. It will be good practice for when you DD is a toddler.

nectarina Tue 18-Oct-11 14:40:50

Thanks for all your replies, I feel better already. I have to add that I've been with DH for 14 years so you'd have thought that I'd know how to deal with it! I think it is a combination of 14 years of her fussing and my new and strange hormones (I don't like blaming things on the hormones, but I was totally not prepared for how it all feels!)
Its probably the guilt trips that I find the hardest to deal with - she constantly sighs when things don't go her way, never saying anything that you could deal with, but letting you know that you've really upset her. I think I have to deal with the fact that we will disappoint her from time to time, but try to relax enough to give her a good relationship with DD. This is of course something that I really want.
Thanks again for your input.

mercibucket Tue 18-Oct-11 14:48:52

It does sound like a 'new mum' hormone thing - throwback to our animal instincts! I was the same but luckily mil doesn't like babies so it wasn't an issue. Never felt it with my own mum but no-one else could go near. How about going out for a quick jog or walk and asking mil to look after her for 15 mins then you don't have to watch and can count it as 'me time' - being knackered will take your mind off it!

PenguinArmy Tue 18-Oct-11 14:55:59

My MIL was like this, taking her to other rooms despite me saying she needs a feed and that's why she's crying. However, now that she is 19 months things are a lot better. Mainly because DD can make it clear that she isn't happy so they can't force things on her in the same way (they are still not allowed to give her dinner unsupervised). Don't get me wrong the overbearing and the ignoring of me still happen, but I can relax disappear into another room and what keeps me going is that I can see they will have a great relationship. In fact what upsets me is that if MIL listened to me about what DD likes and doesn't like, admits she gets tired etc. they would have a even better relationship. Believe it or not I actually laughed when MIL said she had given DD a fruitshoot (for some reason she thinks DD is missing vital nutrients by only drinking water)

Like Kate we set a few clear boundaries like make sure you put her down after she's been up at X hours if you haven't done so already (it's always at X). We pre-prepare her finger food lunch (so she can't force spoon feed her) and then leave them to it (normally to take her to the park and town). Although the last time we were there for dinner FIL tried to force feed her and DD physically stopped him from getting the spoon near her mouth and FIL got the message. We ignore random junk food, not changed nappies etc.

Also the questions that get repeated over and over again, get met with the exact same answer (massive worries about DDs weight, food, sleep...)

ShroudOfHamsters Tue 18-Oct-11 16:06:18

Good advice here - about the guilt tripping, a tactic I've sometimes found to be useful is the wilful misunderstanding and the passive threat to not do x at all then (so MIL misses out) - let's say you stick to your plan to leave on day X, MIL sulks because she wants you to stay longer:

'Don't take this the wrong way MIL but would it be better if we didn't come so often? I can see that you're trying not to be upset but it seems that us coming down xx times a month/year really stresses you (kind smile) - you so often seem upset when we're here, perhaps a bit of distance would be best?'

-'You so often seem upset when it's mealtimes when we're here. Perhaps it would be better for us to eat out?'

All this of course assumes that you don't feel able to be straight with her... that would be better:

'MIL, I appreciate that you're disappointed that we're leaving/eating out/not coming until next week - but I don't think trying to make us feel guilty helps things, I really don't. It just makes us feel manipulated and if anything makes us want to stay away, which is a shame. Please stop reacting so childishly, it would be a shame to drive a wedge.'

Angel786 Tue 18-Oct-11 16:14:27

Op, I TOTALLY feel your pain and you are not being irrational. I posted something v similar yesterday about my mil who grabs dd at every opportunity at the moment we see them every week and I think the only way it will work is if we cut the visits down as after every visit I'm left v upset (tearful most of the time, sometimes just angry) as guess what? I q like seeing my dd too.

mathanxiety Tue 18-Oct-11 16:59:10

I like the sling idea. Also like the idea of telling her that you feel much more comfortable with your DD close by.

I am really shock at the idea of her taking off to the neighbours with your baby or even leaving for another room. She is taking the piss imo. A vote here for being quite brazen and saying "Where are you going with my baby? Oh no no no, you can't do that. Sit right back down and keep me company", or words to that effect. Just spit it out. The sky won't fall.

Another way to deal with it is to ask her about her own days as a young mother, how things were done in the old days, her fondest memories of motherhood, favourite recipe for blah blah -- most people love to talk about themselves, so you might be able to root her to the spot

Your options are to challenge her looniness and get over your guilt, or live with your frustration and stress. I think once everyone knows where everyone stands, and once she understands you are not going to be taken advantage of, you will be happier. But you have to grow a bit more of a backbone.

It's perfectly normal for you to want to have your baby where you can see her and under your own wing. Those new mother tiger hormones are there for a very good reason. She is being unreasonable and about as sensitive as a human rhino. Stick to your guns here. She will recover eventually.

nectarina Tue 18-Oct-11 17:47:12

I've got a feeling that it's bringing back something hormonal for MIL - when I was pregnant we got on well, she would tell me all about bringing up babies, being pregnant and everything, but since the birth she doesn't really want to talk about anything. Nothing exists but holding DD. She took loads of photos of her and not one single one with DH holding her, its like he doesn't exist anymore.

I think I totally need to challenge her - and tell her that I feel uncomfortable, whilst giving her time with DD alone.

Angel786 Tue 18-Oct-11 17:55:15

It's weird how a gc can totally change dynamics isn't it. I got on well with in laws pre dd. They were mildly annoying but loved em to bits. Since dd they ignore me and dh, which doesn't hotter me, but ado my sil. I feel bad for her as she doesn't have kids, and it's hard for her parents to be so obsessed with dd.

nectarina Tue 18-Oct-11 18:06:37

Shroud i think this is perfect

'MIL, I appreciate that you're disappointed that we're leaving/eating out/not coming until next week - but I don't think trying to make us feel guilty helps things, I really don't. It just makes us feel manipulated and if anything makes us want to stay away, which is a shame. Please stop reacting so childishly, it would be a shame to drive a wedge.'
I'll say this i think.
The thing is i'm quite an assertive person, and mil thinks i'm a dragon, so i think this is why she tries on the sad face/sighing. She's spent a lot of her life fitting in with other people in a martyrish way and finds any assertive woman very difficult.
I think its never been pointed out to her that the way she is with DH and me wants to make us visit less, not more. Which of course is the opposite of what she wants, so its a bit of a vicious circle.

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