- 8 years ago
- Wedding: July 2010
FMIL has permanently frozen my FI in her mind as an inept, self-centered 12-year-old. Every time he tries something new or something he once failed at, she has to bring up some story about him failing in the past or being rude or something. She’s always fretting and worrying and thinking he’ll do idiotic things and fail utterly. It would never occur to anyone but her that he would even imagine doing some of these things. I hope I’m not reading too much into these things; I don’t think it’s intentional or conscious.
Examples:FMIL and her new husband got us a used lawn mower for our yard. They came over and as FFIL showed FI how to work the mower, FMIL told me a story about how when FI was 12 or 14 he offered to mow the lawn if she’d pay him, so he went out and mowed a single circle in the middle of the yard, and then stopped, leaving the mower there. And she was laughing as she told this story, and it is amusing, but it seemed like a part of her was truly worried he would seriously do the same thing again, to his own yard. The more I thought about this the more it bothered me. What I thought of later was the fact that at the time FI was probably at least 40 pounds overweight. It probably would have been physically difficult for him to mow a yard. And who was the one who kept buying him 8 cans of Coke a day for 6 years or more?
When she had me alone during the weekend she was visiting for my shower, FMIL asked how FI is in church. He goes when he’s visiting our family, but not by himself or just with me. He behaves like a normal, rational adult, of course. She told me that when he was a little boy, FI was simply terrible in church. He would bang his head on the pew, kick the pew in front of him, slouch, sulk, etc. Did she honestly think that her 25-year-old, engaged, gainfully employed, home-owning son would behave like a four-year-old in a church? Beyond that, it was a good conversation, because religion was an issue in her first marriage, and I think it’s good that she know how FI and I have resolved that situation for ourselves, but still. She even mentioned offhand how terrible FI was in church over dinner with my parents on a Sunday when the topic of church came up. She didn’t go into the details, but I thought it was worse in a way because my parents were there.
In July or August last year, FI moved back into his mom’s house, and I think she was worried he’d be there forever. Obviously that was not true. We had just gotten engaged! FI’s roommate had decided to get his own place, and he didn’t want to sign a lease to live by himself for a year and pay higher rent. He told her that the reason he was moving back was to build up savings to buy a house, and we bought the house 3-4 months later. When I thought about it, the funny thing was that as far as I knew, she didn’t have a problem letting him move back after graduating, and that was much more of an open-ended thing. Maybe the difference is that the second time she was a newlywed. I don’t know.
The worst part about all of this is that it seems to cast me in this motherly role over FI. Like I’m someone who can commiserate with her about how hopeless he is. It’s like I’m the one who has to keep him in line now and so she needs to inform me of his past failures and weak spots. And I’m also supposed to inform her about FI’s failings, even, which I’m never going to do. I’m sure he was a jerk growing up, and I definitely sympathize with her for having to put up with him. He’s told me stories, and having seen him at his worst, I can imagine what he must have been like at 12. But still, she needs to get the message that he’s grown up!
What do you think, hive? Is this malicious? Or is it just an FMIL in denial that her youngest son is grown up and capable? Is it because his being an adult makes her feel old, so she wants to keep him in a child role so that she can feel young, as well as smart and capable in comparison to him? Or am I just making this up and reading too much into innocent remarks and anecdotes? Any ideas for dealing with this behavior if FI and I just can’t take it anymore?