Thanks for all of the responses, ladies. I never expected to get so many, but I’ve read all of them and it’s been really helpful!
What stands out to me after reading everyone’s posts is that people who have a good/positive/trusting relationship experience with their Mother-In-Law seem to be ok with the things I mentioned, while those who have not had such a good relationsihp with Mother-In-Law would also be bothered. I guess when you have a good relationship with your Mother-In-Law you tend to trust her as a good influence in your child’s life… whereas her presence/interaction feels like more of a threat or source of annoyance when the relationship is not so great.
I appreciate the fact that a lot of people think I’m being overly sensitive — I can see that and am trying to guard against it and not make a big deal of things that don’t need to be a big deal. (And I haven’t “reacted” to the things I mentioned in my post other than internally.) I still have hopes that my relationsihp with Mother-In-Law will be fairly solid and workable in the future because I actually have seen improvements in the 2 years I’ve been married. Still, based on her past behaviors I know it’s also possible that I may never have the close relationsihp that I would have loved to have with a Mother-In-Law and may always have to have my guard up for setting boundaries.
I appreciate the fact that a number of you mentioned it’s difficult to know whether I’m being overly sensitive without having the full details/background of my relationship with her. It’s rather difficult to summarize. You could perhaps look at some of my posts from a couple of years ago if you wanted more background, but just to give a brief synopsis here, suffice it to say that it’s been a bit difficult to build trust in my relationship with her because she can be bossy and manipulative and has a temper (and at other times she is seemingly warm and genuine).
The types of things that have been a struggle with her have sometimes been subtle/mainpulative. E.g.,
– Telling Darling Husband that it was customary for the Mother-In-Law to come and view and given an opinion on the bride’s wedding dress prior to the wedding. I honestly didn’t mind if she saw the dress, so I agreed to her coming over and was pleasant to her. The next time I saw her, she made a big deal about sharing (in front of Darling Husband, Father-In-Law, etc.) how NO ONE had been allowed to see HER dress prior to the wedding and it had been a top secret. She then went on and on about how MOTG dress (for my wedding to DH) was a top secret. I honestly didn’t care about the dresses… but I was definitely bothered by the fact that she was trying to play some weird oneupmanship game.
– Mother-In-Law has lost her temper at me at random times — it’s really difficult to address issues with her. She and SIL had a mantra that they repeated over and over when I first married Darling Husband — “A closely-knit family is difficult to join”. They would tell me, with false sympathy, “It must be sooo haaardd for you to become a part of this family, because a close knit family is difficult to join”. I tried to make efforts to join. When staying at their house, I told Mother-In-Law I would love to help her and SIL with grocery shopping when they next went out, and she said, “No you wouldn’t! Shopping is boring!” (Telling me how to think/feel). When I brought over home-baked goods, Mother-In-Law put them in the cupboard for the duration of my stay for several days, until right before I left and they were stale, and made a big deal about how everything SIL had baked (which ahd been served days ago) had been eaten, but Darling Husband would have to be the one who at what I had baked. When I eventually tried to talk to Mother-In-Law about working on making a close-knit family less difficult to join, and pointed out some efforts I was making to join in and invited her to be more receptive, she literally went into a rage and lost her temper, including yelling, stomping like a child, etc. She said how dare I question anything, how dare I say anything was bothering me after all she has done for me (???), how dare I ruin a pleasant day when she wants a perfect day (???) — none of her rants was on topic at all. I stood up for myself in that conversation and remained calm while she lost it, and she later called me an apologized for losing her temper (which I’m sure plenty of people would never have done) and our relationship has improved since then. But that episode did prove to me that Mother-In-Law can be really difficult to discuss problems with on a rational level. She only seems to be ok when “all is pleasant”.
– Mother-In-Law tends to say bossy or unkind things with a smile on her face so it’s sometimes difficult to know when she’s actually joking or when she’s being serious. (And if you respond thinking she’s serious, she can always fall back on, “but I was only joking!”). That’s why the “I’m putting my foot down” comment about DH’s and my nickname for our baby raised flags with me.
– When Mother-In-Law said, “Next year you will have to go on a trip (to a foreign country) with us with your new baby” and I said, “I’m not sure whether we’ll be travelling with the baby that soon — we’ll have to see how things go because I’ve heard it can be a challenge” — She responded, “It is NOT difficult to travel with a baby, it’s EASY”! (with a smile but also with strong emphasis). In this sense it can be tough for her to respect other people’s opinions.
Anyway, despite all of this there are things I like about Mother-In-Law — we have some common interests and sometimes have fun together. I do make an effort to call her and she calls me, we visit and have some good chats. But I’m not sure I completely *trust* her yet because she can be unpredictable and a bossy/manipulative. So I will keep making an effort and have no intention of keeping her out of the baby’s life at all as I think she will really love the baby — but I do have concerns about boundaries and feel probably more sensitive to her exuberance and over-enthusiasm than would people who have a good relaitonsihp with their Mother-In-Law.
Thanks agian for the replies… I think if anything it helps me to know when to just let something go and not worry too much about it… When to recognize an actual red flag versus my being extra sensitive due to the difficulties of the relationship.