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Help me work out what was going on here with exMIL

(22 Posts)
sheswallowedafly Wed 08-Jul-15 10:44:48

DD's paternal grandmother (who hasn't seen her for 3 years now) said something really odd to her as a 1 year old that I've never forgotten.

Background is that XP (DD's dad) has had drug problems on and off since he was 16. He's now in his 40s. His parents separated due to mum's affair, and parents are still v estranged, this mainly coming from his mum who harbours a deep hatred if his dad and new wife. He can't maintain a relationship with both of them and dad and wife are frequently cut out of his life to ensure his relationship with his DM is ok. She's a jealous, controlling woman - even went as far as to seriously cut contact with him when DD was born, sending him a value pack of socks for Christmas that year (normally gives him v indulgent presents, cashmere jumpers, vouchers for michelin starred restaurants etc).

XP and I separated when DD was one and since then she has visited DD about seven or eight times, each time making a big performance or hand wringing and fake crying in front of DD when I am there, while shooting me genuinely malevolent looks when DD is not looking. Last time she got in contact through XP to request a visit, I said not until we have discussed this behaviour and reached a compromise that ensures DD will not be manipulated of confused by this behaviour. She has absolutely no grounds for hating me, but I suppose I am the latest "enemy" for her to play victim to. Most of her family recognise these behaviour patterns and have stated in touch with DD and I. DD's dad dropped contact with DD about 15 months ago. He has a history of being in sporadic contact throughout her life.

Anyway! Not sure if all of that is relevant but it does give some context to this:

When DD was bang on one year old, we visited her for a few days at her home. I was making her breakfast in the kitchen and DD had crawled over to the door and was making impatient noises at me. ExMIL walked up and swept her up, and walked out of the room with her. By this stage I'd finished making her breakfast and was walking a short distance behind her. She was saying the following to DD...

"she's so cruel to you, isn't she? Are you starving? Are you starving? Maybe we should starve you.. Maybe that wouldn't be such a bad idea".

I didn't say anything at the time but that moment is actually emblazoned in memory. I can't quite put my finger on it but the general subversiveness coupled with the fact she said it in a babyish, sing song voice has really haunted me!

Help me work out what was going on here? I know she wouldn't genuinely have been threatening to starve DD, but it was such an odd thing to say, never mind joke about.

Am I just being a bit bonkers obsessing about it when it was such a long time ago (DD is now 7!)?

NC for this as I have told one of two people about this before so if they are reading they will know who I am!

SurlyCue Wed 08-Jul-15 10:50:23

Maybe she thought baby was overweight?

Its exactly the sort of thing my mum would say to one of my dses before they could understand language. Entirely as a joke, say if one of them was gobbling up a spoon feed.

I think MIL clearly has issues but i think you are looking for something that isnt there with this specific comment.

Justmuddlingalong Wed 08-Jul-15 10:53:59

Putting all of her previous behaviours to one side, it sounds like a normal, jokey thing to say. 6 years on, I would let your obsession with her comment go.

sheswallowedafly Wed 08-Jul-15 10:59:16

Maybe I am reading too much into it then. DD was not even close to being a porky baby so it was definitely not that.

SurlyCue Wed 08-Jul-15 11:02:28

No i am not saying your dd was overweight. Just that maybe MIL thought she was, people have different ideas about what overweight is, especially maybe someone who isnt around babies much? Or cant really remember what her own babies were like at that age. I really wouldnt lose any more energy to this though. It really doesnt sound like a throwaway jokey comment.

sheswallowedafly Wed 08-Jul-15 11:06:50

I think it's probably popped up in my mind again because I recently had DD2...

Something in the way she said it almost sacred me that the same cycle of "divide and rule", and manipulation was already starting with her and DD. She has a long track record of demanding loyalty from others and requiring them to alienate others in order to have her attention, somehow. It's hard to explain!

She rears her head now and again and I want to try and understand more about how she works, as I've no illusions that DD might well have a relationship of sorts with her in the future

DisgraceToTheYChromosome Wed 08-Jul-15 11:06:52

Not a joke. It would be with a normal grandparent, but your exMIL is a toxic narcissist. Her first instinct in any social situation is establish dominance by causing insecurity. It stuck in your head because you're normal, and normal people don't do this.

sheswallowedafly Wed 08-Jul-15 11:08:16

There is absolutely no way she or anyone could have thought DD was overweight - it definitely was not a weight related "joke". I think it was more to do with power in all honesty.

sheswallowedafly Wed 08-Jul-15 11:09:21

X post with Disgrace. This is exactly what has been bothering me.

popalot Wed 08-Jul-15 11:12:47

DisgraceToTheY has got it spot on. Make sure you are always in the room when she sees your DD so you can interject when you need to with 'granny doesn't mean that, she's just joking' sort of comments to protect your dd. Hopefully you won't see her very often as if she can only arrange through your xp and he's not been around for a while, you won't have to worry about her getting in contact.

Floundering Wed 08-Jul-15 11:14:39

I wouldn't bother keeping in touch esp if her father CBA. Stay in touch with the nice normal ones from that side & avoid the rest (grandma)

sheswallowedafly Wed 08-Jul-15 11:19:27

I've no doubt she will be around at some point. She will see no contact as "losing" and she is not very good at that.

Last year she actually turned up at my parents house asking them to "influence" me. She has created a whole fantasy that I don't allow her to see DD when in fact I have accommodated her every time (and even made her lunch), save for last time she asked when I said I thought we needed to discuss the previous visits first.

Luckily my DM politely told her she was fully aware of ALL the circumstances and that she was asking an inappropriate question. I then got in touch to say please refrain from canvassing my family. I haven't heard from her since but that only me and she is waiting until she can find a way of bypassing me somehow I think.

sheswallowedafly Wed 08-Jul-15 11:20:12

* only means

morethanpotatoprints Wed 08-Jul-15 11:20:55

I also have plenty of relatives who would say this in jest, but wouldn't think anything of it because there are no other issues.
I think your emil is vile by the sounds of it, but also agree this was probably not an issue, added to other things though I can see how it would appear to be.
could this have been the beginning of her rudeness to you, hence this is why you remember it.
if it was me and my dc didn't have such a tie to her I'd cut contact, you don't have to enable this. I know it's a shame but maybe your dd would be better off without an evil granny.

sheswallowedafly Wed 08-Jul-15 11:26:59

Yes I think you are right, it's the context which makes it stick out in my mind.

The family are a mess. She has two sisters and she and one sister are always ganging up and ostracising / excluding the third one (her allegiance switches so not always the same sister). They are in their late 60s!

Tequilashotfor1 Wed 08-Jul-15 11:34:37

Trust your instincts. You know when some one is being jovial or just a weirdo and I think a lot of women are expected to make ignore those feelings to appease some one else in the family when it's just not necessary.

You don't have to bend over backwards for anybody. If some one can't offer you the same amount of respect, stop offering it out.

It really is that simple

Floundering Wed 08-Jul-15 16:46:27

I've no doubt she will be around at some point. She will see no contact as "losing" and she is not very good at that.

Tough. She has no rights over you, or your daughter. She can stomp & shout all she likes but you do NOT have to see her or force your child to se her.

Relationships with ex's & their extended family are for the benefit of the child not the family, & from what you say this lot are toxic so why would you inflict them on your children??

You can fill your life and that of your DC's with happy healthy relationships from your family and other friends. Don't be guilt tripped into anything to do with this weird woman.

Too much like hard work apart from anything else- how exhausting her life must be keeping up that level of nastiness & drama!! grin

amarmai Wed 08-Jul-15 22:26:25

yes to trust your instincts. I'd stay clear of her.

sheswallowedafly Wed 08-Jul-15 23:36:45

Thank you! Yes its bonkers. My worry is equipping DD to deal with the if and when they do enter her life at some stage.

Having come from quite a straightforward family background I was totally blindsided by the behaviour I encountered and spent quite a few years in a massive spin, trying to navigate some pretty odd and subversive behaviours. Not fun, all in all.

amarmai Wed 08-Jul-15 23:41:44

i like role play and reverse role play to help dcs figure out what's good for them and practice resposes, defenses etc

sheswallowedafly Wed 08-Jul-15 23:46:00

That's interesting - and actually my DD is really expressive and theatrical so could be a useful strategy! wonder who would play the mad MIL

amarmai Wed 08-Jul-15 23:53:41

take turns-it can be fun!

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