- 4 years ago
I posted a few weeks ago about some problems with my Mother-In-Law (“MIL thinks of me as incubator”). If you already read that then skip down to #6. Otherwise here is the background. Thank you in advance for taking the time to read/respond–it’s long lol. I am 6 months pregnant with my first baby who is also the first grandchild on both sides. My Mother-In-Law has two sons and has been a stay-at-home-mom/wife since my husband was born 25 years ago. Normally my she and I get along fine, I think she’s a good person, and I think the feelings are mutual (or at least I used to think). Lately she’s done quite a few things that have bothered me:
1. She calls my baby “her baby” or “our baby”, as if she is the mother, instead of a grandmother. In fact, in my 6 months of pregnancy she has never referred to the baby as her grandchild or grandbaby, has not yet decided on a grandma name, and says she still feels uncomfortable thinking of herself as a ‘grandmother’. I’m not fond of people other than Darling Husband calling my baby their baby, but maybe I need to lighten up?
2. Touches my belly without asking every time I see her. I don’t mind when other people do this; they’re usually just being excited. But the first time Mother-In-Law did it, she told me, “Sorry, it’s so annoying when people touch your belly like it’s not your body… but I’m the grandmother so I’m allowed” and continued touching my belly without waiting for my response (which would’ve been that it was okay). Her attitude: I-dont-care-if-it-bothers-you-I-will-touch-if-I-want makes me feel like she’s trying to lay claim to my baby or test me rather than just being excited like everyone else. Incidentally this is the only time she’s ever referred to herself as a grandmother, convenient huh.
3. It was the first Christmas Eve + morning my husband and I spent together (first Xmas married!) and I volunteered to go with his family this year. They have a tradition of opening stockings together Xmas morning. Mother-In-Law does everyone’s stockings except for her own and Father-In-Law does hers. She knew I was going to be there but didn’t get me a stocking. Told me on Christmas Eve, while all the stores were still open and she still could’ve went to get one, “Oh I should’ve gotten you a stocking… next year I guess”. I said it was fine and not to worry about it—but secretly I think at best she didn’t care to include me and at worst she purposely left me out. I don’t know what she had to gain from doing that—one would think that now would be a better time than ever to make me feel included.
4. Makes comments about what she’s entitled to. For example, instead of saying something like, “I’d be glad to help babysit sometimes,” proclaims “so iiiii get to have her (the baby) sometimes” in a pushy tone. Why does she feel like she needs to be aggressive about it? I had already said I would ask her to babysit sometimes but the pushier she is the less I want to. Should I just ignore pushy comments or is there something I can say to disarm them?
5. Has repeatedly suggested we name the baby after herself. I can’t imagine suggesting someone name their kid after myself even if it was my grandchild—I would be flattered if they did, but I wouldn’t suggest it. But maybe I’m the odd duck and most people don’t find it weird to do such a thing?
6. Per some of the responses to my first post on here, I figured maybe I am just being overly sensitive and even if not maybe going out of my way to make Mother-In-Law feel included would help the situation. So I invited her, along with my mom, to one of my growth scans that Darling Husband couldn’t go to. My mom encouraged this and even offered to drive Mother-In-Law. The first thing out of MIL’s mouth was asking my mom if this is the first one of my ultrasounds she has been to as well (it wasn’t, but my mom didn’t see the need to share this with Mother-In-Law and managed to avoid answering). Friendly conversation? Maybe. Competing? More likely. At the end, Mother-In-Law rubbed my belly (without asking of course) and said to it, “remember, I’m the favorite” in front of my mom. Thankfully, when I talked to my mom later she said it didn’t bother her, she thinks Mother-In-Law is just insecure. It bothered me though—I think it was blatantly rude to my mom! Do you think my mom is right? I’m not going to bring that incident up with Mother-In-Law now, but if she says something like that again should I say something in the moment? Or is it not a battle worth fighting?
I know none of these things are tragic but they make me think she’s going to be over-the-top when the baby is born trying to assert her dominance. I have compassion for the fact that her entire identity the last 25 years has been “mom” and that it may be hard transitioning to grandma, especially when she has to share that role with someone else. But the pushier she is the more defensive I feel, and I want to look forward to MIL’s visits not dread them because I feel as if she’s trying to compete with me or my mom and/or thinks she is entitled to do whatever she wants with the baby regardless of my wishes (like her attitude with the belly touching).
Any thoughts on what to do or say to help Mother-In-Law relax and realize she is not the mom or the favorite grandmother, she is A grandmother, and in fact grandmothers (plural!) can be just as important as the mother but in a different way? And how to indirectly let her know the less pushy she is the happier I am to involve her and vice versa? I’d like to keep my husband completely out of this as I try to avoid saying anything negative to him about his parents. On the other hand, any advice how to help myself not get so worked up about MIL’s comments and actions?