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I know I'm being unreasonable about my MIL and am trying to get over myself-any ideas?

(50 Posts)
randomtask Fri 18-Sep-09 10:33:38

The background; DH and DSS lived with his parents after his first wife died which meant MIL forgot she was DSS's Nanny and not Mummy. We got married last year and it's been difficult as MIL hasn't coped with giving up her Mummy role to DSS and has interfered, causing us to be upset and DSS to be confused. DH has been amazing and spoken to her about it regularly and she then backs off for a little while then changes tactics.

We've bought a house and are doing it up before we move in. My Dad has been doing the bathroom/kitchen, FIL has been doing building bits with his boss. IL's were on holiday during the first week and MIL didn't react well when she found out my Mum had been helping during the first weekend. MIL asked if she could go in and 'wash down the woodwork' during the week when FIL was there. DH said yes (thinking she wouldn't do it) and it turns out she's been in 3 days this week (whilst we're at work) and started painting DSS's room. Thankfully the coloured paint isn't in the house so she's been sealing the plaster with white. The woodwork hasn't been cleaned or sanded so it's now been started in the 'wrong order' and we know she's just done this so she can tell DSS she has 'done his room' for him.

We know she means well but they're 'helping' tomorrow too which normally means MIL talks to you and you waste a few hours, then she naffs off leaving you to catch up and rush home to get DSS fed and in bed on time. We're also annoyed as we as DH puts it, feel we've been 'intruded' upon somehow, MIL has now told us what we need to do to our house (and thus we're feeling like it's not our home/project anymore) and FIL has somehow managed to get our spare door key off his boss.

Before you say it, I know she's meaning well, I know she's helping and we should be grateful, as DH said, it's just 'how' she's helping that's the problem. Added to this, I've just come off the pill so I suspect my hormones aren't right and really don't want to get annoyed or snappy with her tomorrow as I really do appreciate the sentiment, just not the reality of it.

Any ideas?!

diddl Fri 18-Sep-09 11:03:18

Why has she got a key to your house?

randomtask Fri 18-Sep-09 11:13:09

She doesn't have a key. Never been 'allowed' one. We've made sure it's never come up in conversation by giving DH's friend's our 'spare key' and if my parents need one we hand it over (and they always give it back asap). She's got in as FIL is working there so she's got access. FIL now has the key on his keyring as he and his boss couldn't find where they hid it the other day. I will make sure it's back in it's hiding place next week as my Dad will need it to do more work (we've made sure we only have 1 spare).

In fact when we went on honeymoon we left our key with my Dad to let in our wedding present delivery. By the time we came back, MIL had made some excuse to my Dad about needing it for something for DSS (who was staying at hers and hadn't moved his stuff in yet) and she'd been in, 'tidied up', left a food package, moved things about and once again, meant to be nice but actually just intruded. My poor Dad felt awful but hadn't known what to do...

WinkyWinkola Fri 18-Sep-09 11:16:11

Hmm. She might mean well. It might come across that way. But she also has her own agenda and her own needs that she's trying to meet. She's got some huge adjustments to make as have you all and it's a very tricky time. Hard for you all.

DSS did probably turn to her as a mother figure during his darkest times after his mum died. Does he still spend time with her and by that I mean, valuable time? Do you talk to him about what he wants from his relationship from his grandmother? How old is he? What is your relationship with him like? He's probably feeling really vulnerable too. Is that possible?

However, that's almost separate issue from your relationship with your PIL.

You need to get the key off your PIL. If it's important to you, then this is vital. It means that whilst they are helpful, kind etc they cannot simply come into your home whenever they feel like it.

Also, with the house thing, give her/them specific tasks to keep them busy. Don't be afraid to say it's not a good time for them to come over if you've got stuff to do.

This all sounds so delicate and tricky with massive potential for hurt feelings but at the same time, boundaries and 'start as you mean to go on' behaviour needs to be established pdq, I reckon to limit any damage.

Good luck.

randomtask Fri 18-Sep-09 11:27:15

Ah see this is what we tried in the first place. Dad had the 'new house' key and left it so FIL's boss could get in. FIL then mentions he has the key as they'd nearly lost it. I will be asking him for it to go back tomorrow as otherwise Dad won't be able to get in (the hole point of it being there).

MIL offered to do washing of wood work then told us she had done painting (and that FIL had bought a new sanding tool he'd be using tomorrow). My Mum asks what needs doing, MIL tells us what we need to do and what she's doing. As we're at work, she obviously took her opportunity to get involved whilst we're not there. Trying to persuade myself she's not being underhanded just helpful, but it's difficult.... DH spoke to MIL a month ago and explained this was a new beginning and our 'family of three' was going to settle in our new home and she would have to keep trying to adjust to being a grandparent (an ongoing conversation that leads to tears on MIL's part).

As for DSS, he's perfectly happy with us (and me) and gets confused/upset when MIL starts 'acting up'. MIL picks DSS up from school (unfortunately we haven't found an alternative) and he stays there on Friday nights. That was to give him continuity but TBH, has caused problems as they keep him up late and she's even slept on the sofa with him. He's 8 years old and we're in the process of me adopting him.

diddl Fri 18-Sep-09 11:29:09

I think the hard thing is that once you give one set of parents access...

randomtask Fri 18-Sep-09 11:33:53

That's why officially neither do. There was one key for Dad (the plumber) and FIL's boss (the builder) to use so it was left where they both knew where it was. That way, no parent had a key (my Dad wouldn't dream of taking it, he's always left it in it's place). We have no issue with mine having one but wanted to be fair. Once the work is finished, the spare key will go to DSS's godparents.

diddl Fri 18-Sep-09 11:49:16

I´m struggling to understand how FIL got hold of the key.

WinkyWinkola Fri 18-Sep-09 11:52:47

Randomtask, you are in a really tricky situation. I feel for you! I feel sorry for your MIL and DS too for the big change and adjustment.

I don't really have any advice apart from being consistent in love and kindness for your D(S)S and kindness also for your MIL but being firm with her too?

Maybe the step parenting and adoption boards might also help?

randomtask Fri 18-Sep-09 11:55:36

Key was left under a plant pot in the garden as agreed by my Dad and FIL's boss who's doing the building work. Dad's on holiday. Two days ago FIL and his boss couldn't find the key, then found it where it should have been. So then FIL announces he's got the key on his key ring (I assume so they can't 'lose it' again). I suspect MIL said 'well why don't you keep it X so that you and your boss have access and it's not there for someone to steal'. FIL is daft and does as he's told.

Buda Fri 18-Sep-09 11:59:32

I think with regard to the painting your DH just has to be honest with her and say "I know you meant well Mum but you said you were washing down the paintwork. In fact you painted DS's walls when we didn't ask you to or need you to."

And then I think he needs to talk to FIL as well and say "look I know this is hard for her but you need to help me keep her in check. This is my new home. Mine and my wife's. We need to know that it is ours and mum coming in an doing as SHE wants is not helping."

Tortington Fri 18-Sep-09 12:01:13

oh no! i am usually the first one to jump on the 'bloody mil' train. Whilst i completely understand that you need to be alpha female in your new family, i also understand that mil must have played a huge role in her grandsons life after his mother died and i know you are trying desperately to give her some leeway and i think thats the right thing to do.

I think this is about control. If she could 'help' with dss but you control the envronment. So take her shopping for stuff for dss room. let him know that nan decorated it - who cares! tell her that you think its great that she decorated his room and ask her opinion about things.

once you are in your new home and have the keys back it will be better.

Tortington Fri 18-Sep-09 12:02:49

and if he sleeps on the settee with nan on a friday night and gets grumpy the next day - live with it - its not ideal but so many children should be so lucky to have so many people that love them so much.

randomtask Fri 18-Sep-09 12:04:08

I've already posted on adoption and step parenting for other related things. TBH, people seem to just think I'm unreasonable as my MIL is trying to help/needs help (and I suspect because DH's brother died when DSS was born so she's tried to over compensate).

MIL had a year to get used to us 'getting married' and has now had a year getting used to us being married but unfortunately, she's spent most of it trying to ignore things or make DSS regress so he's not 'old' (has been known to bring out his baby toys and congratulates him when he blows his nose etc).

I've so far managed to be consistent in my love for DSS and in some ways my MIL, I just hope I can remain calm. I really do feel for her (and care for her), I just wish she didn't affect my family. One of her moods means, DSS gets worried which means DH can't sleep or talks in his sleep which means I'm tired too! DH has to do the 'being firm' as she wouldn't react well to me-she's not really a girls girl IYSWIM.

DSS's mum used to have problems with her so at least I know it's not me and in some ways know we'd still have problems even if DSS hadn't lived with her!

StewieGriffinsMom Fri 18-Sep-09 12:05:11

Message withdrawn

diddl Fri 18-Sep-09 12:13:57

Well, if she wants to do her grandson´s room-let het.

It seems a little as if you are both fighting over him.

She´s perhaps worried of losing him to you.

Also, she didn´t forget she was Nanny, but she was probably put in the role of Mummy.

randomtask Fri 18-Sep-09 12:15:49

Buda - I think you are right, it's just a shame DH needs another conversation with his Mum. He has them in front of FIL normally but FIL is weak and will never say no to her. He spent over a year at dance classes he hated without telling her and only told her when I was there (as DH's girlfriend of one month) as he knew she wouldn't kick off in front of me. DH has already told both of them (before we bought it) that our new home was ours and we were going to be a 'normal' family...

Custardo - It's definitely about control I'm afraid. MIL has already bought him stuff for his new bedroom (before we'd even had the paperwork through and incidentally that he doesn't like) and we've made sure that my IL's have been along to look at the house and tried to involve them that way. I've also made sure the things we have bought I've shown her. TBH, I'd rather do what I want but, I know most of this is a need to be involved so we try to 'guide' it as best we can.

It won't improve once we're in a new house unless she wants it to. In the last year she's bought DSS velcro school shoes (he has laces) as they were 'waterproof' (even though his laced shoes were too) then told him off when he's not wearing them. DSS even sometimes asks if clothes match at weekends as Nanny tells him off if they don't. sad Unfortunately it's rarely about DSS these days and more about MIL.

As for the sofa incident, they didn't fit on and DSS felt 'not quite right' about it. We've spent every weekend for a year having no quality time with DSS as we work during the week and he's tired/grumpy all weekend due to Friday night. DH has finally spoken to them about it and he's of the opinion DSS doesn't stay there after we've moved into the new house if the problems are ongoing (DSS gets upset by Nanny's 'issues' anyway)....

Tortington Fri 18-Sep-09 12:17:04

quite rightly if it isn't what dss wants then you are absolutely doing the right thing

diddl Fri 18-Sep-09 12:21:02

You definately need family time now and no sleeping over.

randomtask Fri 18-Sep-09 12:21:13

StewieGriffinsMom-we're considering not leaving any coloured paint in the house and leaving it in the one we're currently living in. She may get there tomorrow and find it's the lovely blue that it was meant to be but the paint isn't there....

Diddl - she is worried about losing DSS but so far all her behaviour has done is upset him. He now talks about her as though she's nuts and that's the last thing I want. I want him to have a Nanny who makes him feel loved, supported and happy. Generally he feels responsible for her emotions and worried about upsetting her constantly. It's very difficult and I tend to tell him to do as he wishes and remember Nanny will love him whatever (whilst sometimes biting my tongue and lying saying she didn't mean what she'd said/done). Poor lady though, the happier he gets at home (and with me) the worse she gets. I don't know how to get round that.

randomtask Fri 18-Sep-09 12:27:02

That's the worst thing. DSS wanted to paint his room and now Nanny has started it. If we paint it with him tomorrow she'll get in the way and tell him he can't do it properly. The hole point of DSS's bedroom (which is going to be like a seaside with sea/sky walls and sand carpet etc) is that it's his room and he's meant to be in charge of it, we're just helping. So, we tell him how to start (and help) and then when he gets bored we finish it for him!

I agree with DH that he shouldn't stay there after we move. DH would like it to be a school holiday treat and that would suit me much better. Suspect the shit will hit the fan when that happens though.

Whenever DH and IL's have their 'chats' MIL always tells him she understands, tells him I'm great and doing really well/she's really impressed with how I'm 'coping' and then goes back to normal and ignores everyone elses feelings...

diddl Fri 18-Sep-09 12:54:41

Hadn´t realised DSS wanted to do his room himself.

Perhaps that might have to be started & finished when she´s not there.

Or, she´s really going to have to be told that DSS is doing it with your help.

randomtask Fri 18-Sep-09 13:08:10

I think that tomorrow morning when the IL's arrive (with DSS) I will say 'now X do you want to come up so you can decorate your room like you wanted to' but suspect MIL will try to help still. The whole idea was we'd do it when they weren't there but, they won't go away and are now going in when we're at work! Hopefully they'll not come on Sunday but I've actually asked a friend to come and help tomorrow in the hope that MIL will talk to him and leave us alone blush.

I suspect her main issue with it is DSS and I thought up our idea for his bedroom and she wasn't involved. But, she's his Nanny and doesn't live there-the problem is how the hell we'll get that into her head as we've failed for the last year. My normally positive DH now comes away from their conversations wondering how long it'll be this time and I hate him being so miserable and guilty that it's his Mum who causes the problems.

diddl Fri 18-Sep-09 13:12:13

You´ll have to get the key back tomorrow.

I would avoid DSS´s room if possible, then do it Sunday-making sure they´re not coming.

And if DH comes back upset, perhaps you all need a break from each other for a few weeks.

Buda Fri 18-Sep-09 13:16:48

TBH honest I think you will have to be a bit tough tomorrow about the decorating. Just keep saying to her "DSS really wants to do it himself and I have promised him he can".

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