Post # 1
Needing some advice from bees who struggle with their MILs since having children!
To try and keep a long story somewhat short, my husband is an only child and his dad passed away over ten years ago, so my Mother-In-Law is on her own, retired and obviously all of her focus is on us. She is not a fundamentally bad person, however she is EXTREMELY intense and full on, the kind of person who you tire of being around after all of 5 minutes. It’s hard to explain – a combination of being highly opinionated and set in her ways as well as being really difficult to just sit and chat with as she only has two settings: either longwinded monologues or INTENSELY grilling / questioning the other person which is just incredibly unpleasant and really exhausting. Her worst quality would be that she can be incredibly opinionated and latch onto a particular issue where she holds a different view and just keep pushing and pushing and pushing… you get the idea.
In the past I’ve felt disappointed about not having a Mother-In-Law who I find enjoyable to be around, but I’ve always been friendly and polite and allowed my husband to pull her up on her behaviour whenever she was being particularly pushy or unreasonable (I’m very lucky in that I’m not married to a doormat. His mum drives him even crazier than me and he is very strong and firm with her which makes life so much easier than those poor women whose husbands are subservient to difficult MILs).
Just over a year ago we gave birth to a beautiful baby girl and Mother-In-Law is obsessed, but OVER THE TOP obsessed. Gets restless if 3 or 4 days pass and she hasn’t seen her grandchild. Can’t carry on a normal conversation around baby, as she just completely loses her mind and goes absolutely silly to the point where she actually behaves outside normal social boundaries and my family, myself and my husband find it really difficult to even spend time with her. She wants to tag along to every swimming class, every gymbaroo, you get the idea. It’s coming from a good place but it’s so suffocating and overwhelming.
The crux of the matter is that I’m feeling extremely overwhelmed by how having this woman’s grandchild makes me feel like I’m so completely bound to her now. My husband works away 50 percent of the time and I feel the weight of this woman’s intense neediness and obsession with my daughter so heavily. I am trying to do the right thing and so far all year I’ve made sure she has been able to see her grandchild at least once a week, I never stop her from holding her / taking photos etc etc etc. This post is more about the intense feelings of resentment towards her that I’m feeling and how it’s like a weight on my shoulders that I will need to deal with her all the time for at least the next decade if not the next twenty years.
Is there anyone who can give me some advice on how to manage these feelings of anger and resentment that I have to share so much of my daughter and life with someone I find intolerable? Or is there anyone that was in a similar position but maybe things improved as your kids got older? I’d be so grateful because I feel guilty for feeling the way I do, but this woman just irritates me beyond belief!!!
Post # 2
Your mil is under the impression that she is a third parent, you say your Darling Husband is not a doormat but clearly he has not set firm boundaries. You or He need to tell her to back off and that you Darling Husband and baby are a nuclear family.
Post # 3
She has very unrealistic expectations as her role as grandma, most grandparents do not lose their cool after going 3 days w out seeing the baby.
Post # 4
You shouldn’t feel bad for these emotions you are experiencing, it is happening because this woman is violating your boundaries. Luckily, like you mentioned, your husband is on your side.
Maybe you should try to take a break from Mother-In-Law for a few weeks and let your husband take your child to see her when he can. You aren’t obligated to spend time with her in his absence.
Have you checked out Dealing with In-Law Nation or All In The Family? Lots of women go there for issues like these. You might benefit from lurking the forums a bit.
Post # 5
floormonsterthom : Your Mother-In-Law needs to build a life of her own. It’s s not necessarily easy, but very satisfying. For all involved. Perhaps you could identify if she has any interests or skills that would help her develop frienships and participate in other activities /events other than your own nuclear family.
Post # 6
fiver : I’ve never been entirely sure what IS reasonable regarding how often she should get to see her grandchild. What’s normal? It would be my personal preference to only have to see Mother-In-Law every few weeks, but I get the feeling that’s maybe unfair to her, which is why I’ve allowed weekly visits.
Would love some opinions on that.
Post # 7
dentalbee : I WISH I didn’t feel obligated to spend time with her in my husband’s absence – and before we had a child I never used to worry about it, but would it be wrong to not have her seeing her grandchild for weeks at a time?
Also thanks for the tip, I will check out those forums!
Post # 8
floormonsterthom : every few weeks would be very reasonable to me, and it sounds like to you too- what is normal is what You and Darling Husband decide. MILs feelings are not your responsibility, if you keep going how you are it will only be more difficult to set boundaries as she becomes used to getting her way. And you will become more and more resentful, now and in the future when you look back at how you allowed Mother-In-Law to dictate Your family.
I know you said your Darling Husband was on your side and doesn’t like his mom much either and I really hope it’s true because I’ve seen it happen where you try to set boundaries and Mother-In-Law cries and complains to her son and suddenly your Darling Husband turns on you and says you’re the problem etc etc she just loooves being grandma, etc. Please go check out DWIL they can provide language you need to back up your concerns.
Post # 9
you can set firm boundaries regarding how much time you spend around her when your husband is away at work. She doesn’t have the right to see your daughter any and every time she wants to. Some grandparents only see their grandkids once or twice a year so she is very lucky. This is not her child. She raised her child and now it’s is your right to raise and bond with your child. No more visits when your husband is way working. No she can not come to swim lessons and play groups. Tell her you will happily text her updates when you have time. So what if she gets mad or her feelings are hurt? Your mental health, your marriage and your relationship with your daughter is more important than her hurt feelings. I just don’t understand grandparents who think their wants supersede parent wants and needs. I am learning that No is a complete sentence.
Post # 10
Is there mistrust of the Mother-In-Law with the baby? If not, would it be possible for you to have the Mother-In-Law watch your Dirty Delete for one afternoon a week? Perhaps Mother-In-Law could arrange a book group/story time or something to take her to. Either way, it would give her time to bond with the child (which is probably what she wants) without you having to put up with her, and it would give you some time in which to get something else done, either in the house or for yourself.
If she’s not dangerous, I would find it unfortunate for her to only see the baby once every few weeks. Many people wish they had more time to know their grandparents, and it will breed less ill will from Mother-In-Law to allow her to see her grandchild. I am NOT saying you need to do whatever the Mother-In-Law wants, whenever she wants, just that perhaps finding a compromise might be better than cutting her off abruptly.
Post # 11
Boundaries seem needed. I think pretty much anyone would be having a hard time in your shoes. All these activities she wants to be a part of are not normal for her to tag along to or invite herself to (unless you want her there and ask her). My in-laws see my son maybe 3 times a month (they live about 20 minutes away). My parents see my son most days for maybe an hour or two (they live around the corner and I call them frequently to invite them to play with him. He is 16 months old and exhausting to entertain all day). They don’t get upset if they don’t see him for a while. I fully expect this level of visiting to decline hugely once he is in school.
I think your husband needs to talk to his mom and explain that her enthusiasm is appreciated but y’all need space to be your own family. Maybe set a weekly visit or two that are time limited (maybe time it so that nap time will force her to leave).
Post # 12
i would try and find a middle ground. maybe not having her come visit me but i visit her so i can leave when i want to. annndd telling her she overwhelms me. just be honest because it wont really matter she is going to bet bothered anyway, might as well be heard
Post # 13
Get yourself to DWIL right away–just Google it. They will help you. They have seen it all, they will care about you, they tell the truth.
Do not let your mother-in-law babysit. Ever. She already thinks she’s your child’s parent. Don’t see her unless your husband is there, in the room, paying attention, setting limits on and entertaining his guest.
This is not your mother-in-law’s grandchild. This is your baby. Your baby. The language matters.
Baby has needs; you have needs; grandmother has only desires, which are not really important. You, husband, and baby are a nuclear family. Mother-in-law is extended family, an outsider; she doesn’t get to live half her life at your house, taking up all the time and space and baby-ness. You only get this baby-time once; don’t give her half of it and let her ruin the other half.
You do not have to please this woman. The more she pushes, the less you have to spend time with her. You don’t have to spend much time with people you don’t like (for good reasons–she’s not likeable). Work it back to once a week, once every two weeks, once a month–see how once a month feels–maybe once every six weeks is better. (Never is good, too.)
Google DWIL. Now. Read the sticky and copy your post here onto a new thread.
Post # 14
I do not think it is unreasonable for you to set boundaries with your Mother-In-Law that work for you. It sounds as though, if she were a different kind of person, you would be open to her spending quality time with your daughter, but she’s very needy and her presence is not so much helpful for you as it is an obligation you have to fulfill. That isn’t sustainable and you aren’t responsible for filling her days just because you gave birth to her son’s child. I think you should pull back from the weekly visits. Grandma needs to find some other activities to occupy her days. And if entertaining/occupying her is anyone’s responsibility – it’s her son’s.
I think you need to figure out what your preference would be and then find a way to balance that with what her preference clearly is. Maybe you can do 1x a month for a while? Or maybe you wouldn’t be so bothered by her if you were able to implement some boundaries around the conversations you have with her- you don’t need to sit and listen to her diatribes and you don’t need to answer her questions.
It’s sad because she sounds like she’s probably lonely- but if she isn’t doing anything to address that (and neither is her son), why does it become your responsibility? That’s not fair to you.
Post # 15
Thanks so much for your responses – you’ve all given me a lot to think about. I’m realising that I’ve been allowing guilt / my perceived ideas of my obligations to get the better of me.
For now, I’m going to cut back the visits to once a fortnight, which I feel comfortable with at this stage. (It sure beats having to deal with Mother-In-Law at least weekly!!)
Down the track I know I’ll be okay with leaving my daughter with Mother-In-Law and as people have said, this will probably help. I’m just not there yet and neither is my daughter – she still bursts into tears initially every time we see Mother-In-Law. The fact that she reacts like this just goes to show how full on this woman is, as after a year of such regular visits you would think she’d be comfortable around her Mother-In-Law by now!
Grandparents and the rights that they have regarding their grandchildren is just such a grey area for me and I can see from your responses that cutting back the visits to something I’m more comfortable with is not being unfair or unreasonable.
Hopefully this will help ease the pressure for now! I will have a look at the DIL forums you’ve recommended also.