Post # 1
I am 6 months pregnant and some of my MIL’s recent behaviors have me worried about how she’s going to act when the baby gets here. Here are some examples:
- She warned me early in my pregnancy that it’s obnoxious when people touch your belly without asking. Then the next time we saw her she did just that (and for the record 0 people other than Mother-In-Law have touched without being invited to do so)! She said, “Oh, sorry, this must be so annoying”….”Buttttt I’m the grandmother so I’m allowed” and then continued touching my belly. WTH. I actually don’t mind people rubbing my belly but I DO mind anyone other than Darling Husband thinking they are specially entitled to do so. I wanted to say, “Umm No you are not entitled because you are the grandmother. You are allowed because I let people touch my belly”. But of course I didn’t say anything.
- It was the first Christmas Eve/morning Darling Husband and I spent together this year. I volunteered to be the first to go with his family this year. Both of our families still do stockings despite everyone being adults. At Darling Husband house Mother-In-Law fills everyone’s except her own and Father-In-Law does hers. Christmas Eve afternoon she casually tells me, “Oh I should’ve gotten you a stocking… Next year.” So my first Xmas morning away from my family I’m going to sit there the only one without a stocking and watch everyone else open theirs. She knew weeks ahead of time that I would be there for Xmas. Did it seriously never occur to her while picking up stuff for her sons’ and husband’s stockings to get me one? And even if that were the case, why didn’t she just go to the gas station (yes it was open), buy a bag of candy, and stuff it in a sock last minute? I wanted to say, “I’m going to give birth to your first grandchild in 3 months. If you don’t want to feel excluded in that I suggest you don’t make me feel excluded now”. But like any polite adult I said it was fine not to worry about it. Thank God for Father-In-Law who later asked “where’s lalanono’s stocking?”. When Mother-In-Law responded that she didn’t get one he gave her a dirty look and put together a makeshift “stocking bag” with stuff he scrounged around the house and apologized saying, “we have more people in the family now, going to have to get more stockings”. I couldn’t have cared less what was in the bag, I just appreciated the gesture of inclusiveness.
- Showed me some bibs they got to keep at their house. It was cute and fine until she announced, “that means weeeee get to have her”. Um pardon me but nobody except myself and Darling Husband are entitled to “have” our baby. Why couldn’t she say, “so we’d be happy to watch her sometimes”? It’s one of those things that probably wouldn’t bother me by itself but in conjunction with the other things it’s like is she just trying to test me?
- Has suggested 3 times that we name the baby after her. I would’ve considered it if she didn’t suggest it herself but now it feels like it would be giving in to a demand. Read: she would feel even more entitled after the baby is born like she can tell us what to do. Also is it just me or is it self-absorbed to repeatedly suggest someone name their child after yourself?
- I let her listen to the baby’s heartbeat with my stethoscope. She said “awww that’s my baby”. I lightheartedly said that HER baby is in the kitchen (referring to DH). Not sure she understood what I meant and I didn’t want to make a scene so it ended there. If Mother-In-Law already thinks of my baby as ‘her baby’ while she’s still in my womb, what’s she going to do when she’s born?
- We took a family photo and Darling Husband put his hands on my belly which I thought was super cute (I always think it’s cute when he interacts with my belly in any way and he knows that). But then she decided to pose with her hands on my belly too, without permission, and it bugged the crap out of me. If she had just asked permission I would’ve said yes and probably would not have been bothered. It’s just that attitude of thinking she’s entitled that bugs me–makes me feel like she doesn’t respect that I am the mother.
I know most of these things on their own are not that big of a deal, just minor annoyances. But all together they’re just making me feel anxious about dealing with Mother-In-Law once the baby gets here. If Mother-In-Law feels entitled to touch my belly without permission, have the baby named after her, call my baby “hers” and proclaim that she gets to “have” my daughter while she is still in the womb, then how is she going to act when she is born? Is she going to feel entitled to snatch her out of my arms? To take her in the other room without asking? To invite herself over all the time? I understand that she’s excited for her first grandchild but it’s also my first baby and I don’t want to feel like someone is trying to take over my role as mom. Right now I feel like she would like me to birth the baby and then be out of the picture. Like I’m an incubator.
I want my daughter to have a good relationship with all of her grandparents and I myself want to be happy to have Mother-In-Law visit rather than dread it and feel threatened. I even considered inviting her to one of my growth scans, just to be a nice person, but after the behaviors I described I’m not feeling particularly inclined to do that at this time. I don’t think Mother-In-Law is a bad person, after all she raised the man I decided to spend my life with, but I’m worried about boundary issues. I would like advice both on how to set boundaries without being mean and on how to stop feeling so defensive/threatened about this (I think I’m right in feeling a little anxious about it, but not as much as I do). And I think it will be easier to do the sooner I start. I’d prefer not to involve my husband if possible. Here are some examples of boundaries I’d like to establish:
- Please at least in the beginning wait to be offered to hold her (and I will offer). Don’t just snatch her up.
- If she cries and you can’t console her after a few minutes, please give her back to me.
- Remember that we have very limited space in our home and the first few weeks after baby is born we will be establishing breastfeeding and I will be recovering from childbirth. If you would like to visit, please keep it to a few hours (she lives driving distance). IOW don’t expect to spend the night especially now that the guest room is the nursery.
Any advice is appreciated!
Post # 2
lalanono: I think this should come from your husband. And yes, these rules need to be stated. She sounds like the Mother-In-Law that will be IN YOUR DELIVERY ROOM!!! AND telling you what she feels you are doing WRONG as a mother. Noooo!! Darling Husband needs to set these rules for his mother to respect his wife.
Hugs bee… I feel if Darling Husband doesn’t talk to his mother now… momma bear will later.
Post # 3
I agree with BrideK2Wings, it needs to come from your husband.
That sucks, if we have children I’m actually looking forward to how involved his mother wants to be. But she is also super aware of boundaries and is always worried she’s intruding (when she stays for a night or two, once a year).
And why would she be wanting to spend the night when she is within driving distance??? It would be nice to have her there to take care of the baby so you could get a full nights rest once and a while, but that boundary just struck me as an odd one for having to be stated… Although maybe not surprising considering the stuff she’s been doing.
Post # 4
Take control now, please don’t wait until your daughter is born! Continue your lists of boundaries, including how/when/how many visits, handling of the baby, feedings, etc., etc. Do make sure your husband is on board, and before your baby arrives, have him tell those boundaries to your Mother-In-Law. Emphasis on tell, as they should not be open to discussion. It doesn’t seem like your mother would be a problem, but let your Mother-In-Law those boundaries apply to everyone!
Post # 5
lalanono: I agree with previous PPs. You need to make sure your husband is on board. Tell him how you’re feeling and that it’s bothering you. And yes, continue to make a boundaries list and then have him speak with his mother and father about it in the same room. If he just talks with her, then it can be misconstrued. So make sure your Father-In-Law is there as well. If they don’t respect your boundaries that you’ve clearly laid out, then you can say something directly when the offence happens. ‘Excuse me Mother-In-Law, but I asked that you not grab my daughter out of my hands. Please hand her back to me’.
Post # 6
lalanono: why is it that you’d rather not involve your husband? He is the exact person who needs to take the lead in this.
Post # 7
I am going to go against the grain and say this: as a fellow April mama, we don’t *really* know what we’re in for. There are probably going to be days when you will be glad to have the freaking mailman take her for a while if it means she will JUST.STOP. CRYING. For this reason, I would be very careful about setting absolute rules too early on, especially before she’s even here and people have had a chance to react. There may come a point where you will very much WANT her to spend the night, or to take the baby even when she is crying.
I am not disagreeing that she’s being overbearing. But she’s also not doing anything that’s questioning or going against your parenting, or harming your child. She’s excited, and my honest opinion is there might be some pre-existing tension going on here that’s colouring your opinion. Other than the stocking thing, yes it’s overboard, but she hasn’t done anything awful.
Post # 8
I really recommend you buy her one of the great books about becoming a grandma. Many are excellent about respecting boundaries and this fact that best practice and medical opinion have changed since they were young. You can wrap it up prettily and give it to her as a gift with good grace. Hopefully she will read it and absorb.
Post # 9
lalanono: Meh. These are all normal grandma excitement things. I think you’re making it a bigger deal than it has to be.
Post # 10
My Mother-In-Law is very excited about her first grandchild as well and I do feel there is the potential for boundary issues after my little girl is born (I’m 36 weeks). I’ve just sat down with Darling Husband and told him my expectations and the boundaries I’d like to set once our daughter comes home – I’ve made it clear to him I don’t want Mother-In-Law in the delivery room at all, no visitors for at least 1hr after birth so we can bond, limited visits the first week when Darling Husband is off work and bonding with our child and that, while I don’t have a problem with her visiting, it can’t be all the time and she needs to give us a heads up she’s planning on stopping over. Darling Husband understands my rules/boundaries and has agreed that IF any of those issues arise he will address them with her since she is his mother. I found having that convo with Darling Husband really put my mind at ease because we are now on the same page about what we want as first time parents and I know that he will manage the situation if there is ever an issue.
I do think its premature to set boundaries with her right off the bat, unless a specific issue comes up (like she mentions being in the delivery room or something). As a PP mentioned, while she is over the top you don’t necessarily know for certain that there will be major issues and what those issues will be until you face them. Take it on a case by case basis, make sure you and hubby are on the same page and he is willing to step in and talk to her if/when she becomes overbearing and overinvolved.
I think if you attempt to establish strict boundaries before baby is born, bringing up a bunch of hypothetical situations, she is going to be offended that you are making the assumption right off the bat that she is going to be unreasonable and I think that taking the lead yourself and not involving your husband could backfire because it will be much easier for her to get mad/fly off the handle with you compared to her own son.
Post # 11
The behavior sounded mild but questionable until her repeated requests to name the child after her…what nerve!
Your Darling Husband needs to talk with his mother and set boundaries. Yikes!! Good luck
Post # 12
lalanono: Yeah I think she is just being super super annoying because she is excited. I know it bugs you but I think it is harmless. Just be firm from the get go with who handles/watches/babysits the baby and when and you should be just fine
The stocking thing however, is completely and horribly RUDE! How could she just totally exclude you!!!!! What an ass!
Post # 13
Overjoyed: You have a good point. There are two reasons I’m reluctant to involve my husband:
1. I feel badly putting him in a position where he has to tell off his mother. I already did it once this pregnancy albeit for a good reason: we wanted to keep the news only among family until after my 20 week scan because I was concerned about miscarrying. Come to find out she told her friends who told their kids who told my sister who alerted me. I still hadn’t told my grandmother or brother so I was less than impressed. When we told MIL/FIL that I was pregnant we specifically asked they keep it a secret. Eventually we said it was okay to tell family. I guess Mother-In-Law assumed it was cool to tell anyone after they told DH’s side of the family. Didn’t bother to ask us. When my sister texted me I showed Darling Husband the text and said, “please tell your mom to stop telling people and tell her friends to keep quiet before my family finds out through the grapevine”. He immediately did and she did apologize and kept quiet the rest of the time until we made it public. So he was great about it that time, and she responded well, but I don’t want to make it a common occurence that he has to tell off the person who raised him, ya know. Keep it for the big things.
2. I feel like overarching issue is that I feel she doesn’t respect my position as mom. I’m worried putting Darling Husband on her won’t make her respect me anymore, it will just make her resent me for pitting her kid against her. If I set boundaries myself then perhaps she will gain respect for me. Also DH’s brother has a girlfriend that Mother-In-Law blatantly doesn’t like and anything her son does badly she blames on the Girlfriend. For example, when they were half an hour late on Xmas eve Mother-In-Law said, “I think she (the gf) is just trying to keep him (BIL) from us”. No evidence whatsoever to support this, she just assumed it was the gf’s fault. I don’t think she dislikes me as much as she does BIL’s gf but I’m sure I’m still blamed for anything that comes from my husband so even if I do have Darling Husband say something she will assume it’s me anyway. And in that case I might as well just say it myself nicely.
Post # 14
I think her behavior is annoying but I don’t see a need to set boundaries yet until they actually come up. My Mother-In-Law has some similar annoying habits (calling my Dear Daughter “her baby” but at least she usually uses “grandma’s baby”) and sometimes sort of snatches her right away (as soon as she arrives she wants the my Dear Daughter all the time). Also badgers us to go on vacations/weekend trips with her which I go if feasable but otherwise decline (are you paying lady??). As annoying as it is, it is pretty mild in the grand scheme of things. Eventually you will be happy for someone to entertain your child while you can sit and watch and relax. I am still annoyed by stuff my Mother-In-Law says/does sometimes but she is still a good person and isn’t purposefully trying to interfere, she’s just excited. So I just let go of the annoying crap because it’s not worth it.
When a specific scenario or situation comes up, I would address it then. If something happens you don’t like, you definitely need to address it right away but there is no use borrowing trouble when you’re still pregnant and nothing has actually happened.
Post # 15
saratiara2: I agree with you on just waiting to see.
OP, I would enlist DH’s help in maybe letting your in laws know what kind of visits you would like directly after the baby is born, but I wouldn’t worry too much about anything until the time comes, and I would also keep in mind that you might change your mind (I did!), and that’s okay.
I don’t blame you for being annoyed, but it does sound like she’s just excited. Definitely don’t name the baby after her though; I agree that it’s weird to demand that!
Oh, and your Father-In-Law sounds very sweet, getting a makeshift stocking together for you.