Need Advice for MIL — The Bump
March 2016 Moms

Need Advice for MIL

Warning... LONG! Lol

My husband agrees just as much with me that she is crazy, but I am curious how other daughter-in-laws would react to a situation like this. 

So my mom / friend got together to plan and host my baby shower. They did a very cute "Baby It's Cold Outside" theme, had a hot cocoa bar, soup bar, lots of planning involved. I made the invitations and included on the back "Hosted by -insert mom's name- and so and so" ... I was about 27 weeks when these invitations were sent out, and at this point had not even been offered any help from my MIL, which is FINE and understandable, I didn't care a bit because she takes 24 hour care of my SO's grandma who is bed-ridden and has Alzheimer's and has even forgotten how to speak/eat, so she very much has her hands full. She asked so little about it, she didn't even know the date of when it was. I just thought she was completely busy and uninterested. 

so I sent out invitations (obviously she doesn't need one, but I know some people like to keep stuff as keepsakes) and she threw a HOLY FIT that her name was not under the Hostess. 

In short, what she said was:
My mom and I planned this all along to not include her and just want to keep her from "the baby" (has never called him by name, she told us she had hoped by now we would have changed it.)
We wanted to humiliate her 
She said she hated me and my mom and always will 
Her son is not the man she raised him to be for not taking up for his mom and she was glad his grandpa wasn't alive to see him act this way (my husband is an ER physician and treats me like absolute gold and has the biggest heart.. she has so much to be proud of him for so this really hurt me the most) 
She would die and go to hell before keeping that invitation 
Next time she sees my mom (my insanely sweet mom who couldn't be mean to anyone) out she was going to "whoop her". 
Said it should just be understood that she was a host. 
I will get my payback one day for what I did to her. 

(NOTE: she was in charge of throwing my household shower, and backed out 2 days before, because it just "wasn't a good time to have one". She is extremely flakey.)

My SO, his siblings and pretty much everyone told her she was acting crazy and if she was so determined to "host" she should've shown interest earlier or hosted her own (we are from two different towns = two different sets of family friends).

She did actually end up coming, and acted like nothing had ever even happened and even asked my mom for a "grandma picture" .. She brought 4 HUGE bags of gifts, and said any big stuff we didn't get, she would buy. I didn't even want to accept her gifts I was still so mad at her. My husband and I do very well financially, and do not need any help from her because she feels guilty for how she acts. (She flipped around Christmas time too over something silly and to make up for it probably bought us $800 worth of gifts)

So since the shower she has tried to call me 4-5 times, and i just don't want to answer. I have tried 5 years to have a relationship with her, and everytime I think it's normal, she ruins it with some sort of flip out like this. Her apologies are meaningless at this point because she never ever makes an effort to do any better or have a functional relationship. My husband has already told her she will not be babysitting our son alone, EVER, but we will not "keep her" from him and she can come see him whenever she wants to. 

I am so done trying with her at this point, she is exhausting and just a negative human being overall. She still wants to be in our son's life but I don't want her to ever have the chance of treating him poorly like she does her own son, and me. She has made it so awkward at this point. How would you respond from here on out? My husband wishes he could cut her out, but being his only parent, he can't nor would I ever ask him to do that. Just not sure how to handle her wanting to be grandma of the year. 

Re: Need Advice for MIL

  • Sorry you are dealing with this.  Just a couple things in her defense, and there really aren't many.  Like you said it does sound like she has her hands full caring for her mother, and perhaps your mom should have reached out to her to see if she wanted to co-host the shower since it seems like planning one herself would be more than she can handle with what's on her plate.  That's about all I have 'in her defense.'
    She actually sounds a lot like a person in my family who has multiple personality disorder and it has been very, very hard on her children.  I guess moving forward it's going to be up to you and your husband to find a balance of keeping a (emotionally) safe distance for you and your kid(s) while still allowing them to have some kind of relationship.  Normally I am the type to give advice to 'be the bigger person' but since I've dealt with someone similar I know that it actually doesn't benefit anyone to continuously forgive her childish behaviour and act like it never happened. I don't have a solution, what works for us with the particular family member is just limiting our time, phone calls/texts (when she's on a rampage they come fast and furious and she feels they are ALL an emergency) being kind and friendly when we see her but certainly never relying on plans that involve her and trying really, really hard not to take it personally when she gets in a bad mood.  When she wants to be in a bad mood there is truly nothing anyone can do about it, she will find something to throw a fit about even if everything is going just fine.  

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  • There's not really a lot that can be said about someone like that after the fact. I think that for the sake of objectivity it would have been nice if your mom had reached out and offered to include her as a hostess from the start though. I get that your mom might have been doing all the work but sometimes sucking it up and putting someone's name on an invite for the sake of peace goes a long way. all of that being said, she has NO right to say all of those things and act that way. 

    I don't have quite a similar situation but MIL has said some pretty snarky and mean things about my family in the past and I've honestly never been able to move past that. Like if you're not a big enough person to be nice to people that matter to me I don't really need that in my life. 

    I would suggest not cutting her out but just keeping her at a distance. Obviously you don't have to leave your son with her alone or overnight or anything like that. You can simply include her where necessary, go visit on occasion, etc. It will be HER loss when she misses out on a truly loving relationship with her grandchild. 
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  • Nope. Boundaries. That is crazy. My grandma passed from Alzheimer's in my mothers home. My MIL has a super rare form of dementia FTD-ALS and FIL passed in 14. So I do get it causes stress on a family.  No amount of care giver stress can excuse this childish behavior. And IF you all throw her a bone and let it be the excuse then you also need to consider stepping in to get her help caring for her mother - if she is acting like this to you I guarentee she is stressed/crazy with her. 
  • I appreciate everyone's feedback! In my mom's defense for not asking, her and my MIL have no relationship whatsoever due to her acting this way before. My mom is very, very sweet and has welcomed my MIL into our home numerous times/occasions, only for us to hear from her afterwards of how my mom "invites her over just to basically rub it in her face that she has a nice house and wants to make her feel bad about her own house." She can't take a nice gesture as what it is, she always thinks it's becausr she someone is out to get her. If my mom had asked her for help, she would have said something along the lines of "I know she only asked me because she thinks I can't throw one myself".. And would have caused the same kind of scene. That is her exact attitude. 
  • Wow they sound very similar! My MIL is supposed to be on medications (anti depressants, bipolar meds, etc) and doesn't take them. All your advice sounds like what we have planned to do already.. Certainly not rely on her for anything, but to include her in plans and if she chooses to participate and be NICE doing so, then I will be nice during . But as far as mending the relationship and trying to have a normal one, I won't do it. I just hate it for my SO because she really gets to him. 
  • 2-Step2-Step member
    edited February 2016
    My MIL has some mental health issues that make her hard to deal with at times. After years of weird encounters what has worked for us is to maintain boundaries. Her issues are her issues, period. We invite her to things, we don't make special accommodations. If she is upset over something irrational we simply don't acknowledge it. Luckily she is not confrontational, but she does like to complain about her problems in a way that makes people think they need to try to fix them. We've learned not to engage in that. We see her for events if she shows up. If she doesn't and has a sob story of why we say - oh wish you could've been there and change the subject. It's been much better since we've set these boundaries. We spend time with her as a family while we are in her presence and don't leave the kids with her for more than an hour or two in the afternoon at our own house because that is what we feel comfortable with. Our kids love her and they have a great relationship. The only way we can maintain that is by not giving her too much power or control over our emotions or our life. We've given up on trying to help her and it's created a much more healthy dynamic between us. It's somewhat detached, but it's the only way sometimes to remain in contact with someone that has those types of issues without dragging yourself through an emotional roller coaster on a regular basis. 

    ETA: I also had to work on not constantly bitching about her to DH. It just made him feel awful for her stressing me out and me feel awful for making him feel bad about his mom. Try to stay emotionally detached from her and focus on what makes the two of you happy. 

  • I WAS in a similar boat so I feel for you - my mom lives far far away but when she does visit does not have a relationship with my MIL because of the crazy and totally irrational way she used to treat me... She has said some extremely hateful things to me for reasons unknown and although we are on good terms now (Which I'm thankful for) it has taken a long healing process for me to be around her and trust her... I'd echo what other people have said, it's emotionally draining to feel too much so try to detach yourself as much as possible ( hard if husband is on the fence and stuck between knowing she's nuts but still being a son) and even if you are not religious I heard something that really struck a cord with me that I had to remind myself of when my feelings would start coming back out... Christ didn't need an apology in order to forgive people, he just did. That's kind of my mantra when it comes to that whole situation, I am the bigger person because I can rise above it and smile and carry on being the good person that I am.. Even if you are shouting at me calling me evil :) would I love a "sorry" one day? Sure !!!! But it's probably not going to happen... In the mean time... Keep your head up, keep your heart strong :) good luck ! 

  • I would do like others have said.  Invite her to events, be polite and civil, but that is it.  However, I would make an exception any time she threatens physical violence against someone.  For example, once she said she was going to whoop your mother, my husband would have told her she would not be allowed in their home then.
  • Sigh. Some people are just bat shit crazy. Sounds like your MIL has trouble keeping her emotions in check. She got pissed and lashed out - childish, stupid, selfish, all of the above.  She lost her mind in a fit of rage. However, it seems like she's gotten over it and is trying to make an effort and that's a hell of a lot more than a lot of other bat shit nut jobs would have done.  She's definitely in the wrong. However, 
    relationships and family life are hard enough as it is without the added external drama from in laws. If she's making an effort, I'd play along as along as she's not doing anything destructive. In the end everyone's lives will be easier.  Sounds like you're already making steps in that direction so good for you! MIL lost her temper with me once and I never thought I'd ever be able to forgive her for some of the stuff she said, but we worked past it and now we have a super close relationship. She sometimes jokes that I'm her favourite child.  Anything is possible.
  • I am sorry you are going through this. I am in a similar situation and can understand your frustration. I wish I had advice to offer, but all I can say is that you have done nothing wrong and it sounds like you have lots of supportive people in your corner.

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