Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Family and Children => Topic started by: Slartibartfast on July 24, 2013, 03:39:22 PM

Title: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: Slartibartfast on July 24, 2013, 03:39:22 PM
This may end up being a bit long, but I'm frustrated as heck right now and since I've shared stories about my PA MIL on here before, I figured it was appropriate to include the next step in the saga . . .

(I'm not going to go dig out links, but for background: DH and I live in the same city as our ILs.  I love my MIL very much, and she's a kind and wonderful woman, but she also has a tendency to make PA comments for *ages* and she also believes I don't keep her dear boy's house clean enough to suit his needs.  Her dear boy and I don't see eye-to-eye on his willingness to clean up after himself (or lack thereof) but we love each other and it's just one of those things we'll probably always be a little bit at odds over.  Further background: I'm a stay-at-home mom to a not-quite-5-year-old and a 1-year-old, and I work from home as well when I can.  MIL believes this means I am 100% responsible for all cooking, cleaning, laundry, errands, etc, because that's what my FIL expects from her.  I don't know why she puts up with it - she works outside the home too!)

So this week: I was at a professional conference in a nearby city Wednesday-Sunday.  This conference moves around the country each year and this year it happened to be close enough to drive - it was a pretty big commitment (financially and timewise) for me to go, but I feel it was important for my career from a networking and an information standpoint, and I'm really glad I went.  I planned the trip several months in advance.  As part of that, I signed Babybartfast (not quite 5) up for full-day summer camp for the week, so DH could drop her off on his way to work and pick her up on the way home, and MIL agreed to take Bittybartfast to her house during the days while DH was at work.  DH was prepared to take time off if she didn't want to or if something came up (his job is pretty flexible), but she seemed happy to have some time just her and the baby.

I called home on Friday, just to see how things were going, and I found that:

1) MIL decided Bittybartfast would have more fun at our house instead of hers, so she stayed here all day Wed/Thurs/Fri instead of DH dropping Bittybartfast off at her home (this is despite the fact that she's bought tons and tons of baby gear to have "for when she'd be watching the baby," most of which she has never used)

2) Babybartfast "didn't want to go" to summer camp on Thursday, so MIL let her stay home all day and play

3) MIL kept Babybartfast overnight Wednesday and Thursday nights "so [DH] wouldn't be so overwhelmed"

4) MIL spent the three days poking around my house, doing my dishes, a few loads of laundry, picking up our bedroom (!), and complaining about how messy I [not "DH and Slartibartfast," but "Slartibartfast" specifically] let the house get

Then she spent half an hour complaining to me about how she was all worn out, how Babybartfast was driving her crazy all day Thursday (well yeah, she could have been at camp running all that energy off!), and how messy my kitchen/bedroom/house was.  Of course, she wasn't exhausted enough to actually ask DH to take time off or work from home, she was just exhausted enough to gripe at me about it.

So I got home, DH and I had a talk, and I once again tried to explain exactly why this bugged me.  From his point of view, if she wanted to offer to take Babybartfast overnight or stay at our house and do our dishes for us, he was fine with it - she offered, he was happy to pass off the responsibility, so what's the problem?  I think he kinda understands my frustration, now that he overheard some of her complaints about the kitchen, but the more I stand up for myself the more he tends to brush off any complaints I have about his mother as a "my wife versus her MIL and I'm staying out of it" thing.

The ongoing problem:

Some of my girlfriends and I are having a "girls weekend."  As the schedule happened, it's this coming weekend, i.e. a week after I get back from having been gone  :-\  I recognize it's not great timing, but I haven't had much "me" time in over a year (breastfeeding baby) and if you look at it like that, two personal weekends (one professional) over the course of 14 months isn't too bad  :P

When I agreed to go on this, DH decided he would do some combination of working from home and taking time off on Monday and Tuesday (while I'm gone), so we wouldn't have to ask MIL to watch Bittybartfast again.  Of course, now that she knows about this girls' weekend, she has plenty of PA comments about me gallivanting off, and she's already making plans for how she'll need to be here to watch Bittybartfast again.  Oh, and this time, *her* MIL (whom she doesn't get along with at all) will be coming along, because FIL wants his mother to visit.  Except he's a workaholic, so "visit" means "dump on his wife to entertain for a week while he voluntarily works 12-hour days, even though his mother is difficult to please and deaf as a post and critical of everything."  So MIL was kind enough to inform me that since she and Grandma will be spending the bulk of Monday and Tuesday at my house, could I please have the whole house cleaned and tidied, including the master bedroom and closets and such, because the closets were messy too?

Yeah, not happening - I've got a cleaning lady coming the day after I get back, so I intend to have things picked up, but a) I won't be here and b) I'm not going to scrub the toilets two days before the cleaning lady comes.

I would ask for good phrases to use, but I think I've worked through all the possibilities over the last few years and MIL is oblivious to every one.  She'll try to be better about things for a week or a month at a time, but she just can't help being how she is.  I recognize that yes, our house is on the messy side - but no, that's NOT entirely my fault, and moreover it's an issue DH and I should be allowed to negotiate with each other about without dragging other family members into it  >:(

I'm not going to say this is just a rant, because it's not - advice would be appreciated!  But think of this as another step in the continuing saga of Slartibartfast's MIL Who Won't Get A Clue.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: heartmug on July 24, 2013, 03:44:30 PM
She needs to start talking to her son about the state of "his" house.  Every.single.time she brings it up re-direct it to your DH.  On the phone?  Hand the phone to him.  In person?  "Oh you want to talk about the house?  I'll go get DH for you."  Refuse to engage.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: lkdrymom on July 24, 2013, 03:46:14 PM
If your DH is home Monday and Tuesday why does she need to be there?  I would have DH tell her that her 'assistance' is not needed and everything is under control. And while he is at it he might want to mention that one more comment about the 'state' of your home and she will be banned from it.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: ti_ax on July 24, 2013, 03:46:24 PM
Here's my suggested phrase:

MiL: "Dearest DiL, could you please have your entire house cleaned to suit me, including closets?"

Slartibartfast: "No."
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: LeveeWoman on July 24, 2013, 03:47:09 PM
The only thing to say to her is "(Oo, I just used a rude phrase that the moderators won't be happy about. )!" but that's not acceptable. This women is not kind nor is  she wonderful. She tramples boundaries left and right. I wouldn't allow her in my home ever again.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: Donovan on July 24, 2013, 03:48:50 PM
Your DH needs to call his mother and tell her that he is working from home/taking days off Monday and Tuesday and she doesn't need to come over and watch the kids.

Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: Tabby Uprising on July 24, 2013, 03:51:38 PM
I agree with the above posters and I'll add a suggestion of "Oh, did DH ask you to come down?  I'll let you two work that all out.  I'm tied up getting ready for my awesome girls weekend.  Woo-hoo!  Here's DH for you."  Pass phone to DH and let her hear you let loose with some follow-up "woo-hoos!"

Or just, "Oh, you don't need me for that.  Talk to DH."  Every time.  Don't engage in her fussing any more than you would your kids fussing.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: Slartibartfast on July 24, 2013, 03:55:06 PM
Here's my suggested phrase:

MiL: "Dearest DiL, could you please have your entire house cleaned to suit me, including closets?"

Slartibartfast: "No."

Yeah, that's pretty much what I said  ;D  (Well, I did mention that we have a cleaning lady coming Wednesday, so she doesn't decide she needs to clean the toilets herself  ::))

She really is kind and I do love her a lot - you'll all have to take my word on that part  :P  It's just . . . good LORD she needs to learn some boundaries!  DH is good at standing up to her when I'm around, because he can tell when I'm not happy and he's learned to run things by me first, but times like this when I'm gone are the times she makes "reasonable suggestions" and it never even occurs to him that her offers of help will come back to bite ME later.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: Pen^2 on July 24, 2013, 03:57:39 PM
She needs to start talking to her son about the state of "his" house.  Every.single.time she brings it up re-direct it to your DH.  On the phone?  Hand the phone to him.  In person?  "Oh you want to talk about the house?  I'll go get DH for you."  Refuse to engage.

This. Do not engage at all. Immediately, mid-sentence if you can manage it, stop any conversations that become about how you aren't living up to the sexist and unrealistic expectation in her head.

And as LeveeWoman says, I wouldn't have her in your house again without it being okayed by both you and your DH. Even if he doesn't want to accept that she's treating you monstrously, it's not a huge ask to say that you should both be aware and consenting of whomever comes into your house. MIL and MIL's MIL? Mega huge absolute no. And I think it's very wise of you to arrange it so that she won't be watching your children this weekend (even though she's trying to force you otherwise). Maybe a rule of "MIL only gets to watch our kids at her house," or something, can come into affect along with the "no-one comes into our house unless both DH and I are okay with it."
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: TootsNYC on July 24, 2013, 03:59:40 PM
Can you just stop caring about her comments about cleanliness and kids making her tired?

Just don't give a hoot. She thinks you should clean--who cares? She's not the boss of you, and you do NOT need her approval.

You might even consider saying that, "I don't look to you for approval on how my husband and I take care of our own home."

Or say, "No, I'm sorry, this is my house, and I do not want to ever again hear the tiniest criticism about whether you think it's clean or tidy enough. Not ever. In fact, i need to tell you that every time you bring it up, it damages our relationship. I adore you. Every time you harp on me, it makes me love you less. It drives a wedge between you and me. It drives a wedge between me and my husband. It makes me not want to have you in my home, it makes me think you shouldn't take care of our children--in fact, I especially don't ever want you to make any comment like that in front of our children. I don't want to ever hear you say these things again.
    "So if my home is not acceptable enough for you, then please don't come over. Then you won't have any reason to make these criticisms that are so damaging to our family. In fact, i think that it would be best for our family if you didn't come into our house for about a month. Because it simply creates too much strife. Maybe that will give you time to make your peace with the fact that my house is not yours to criticize. I need to go now."

I personally don't have a problem with her taking the kids for overnight; she arranged that with the Parent In Charge. I do have a problem w/ her complaining about it.


I would also have a HUGE problem with her not taking the oldest to camp. But then I wouldn't have necessarily pitched camp as "babysitting only" but also as "a chance to have fun and get some interesting, different, stimulating, educational stuff to do."
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: Amava on July 24, 2013, 03:59:45 PM
Here's my suggested phrase:

MiL: "Dearest DiL, could you please have your entire house cleaned to suit me, including closets?"

Slartibartfast: "No."

I agree.

Also, Slartibartfast, you need to first of all stop /caring/ what your MiL thinks and does about your household.
Tune her out, redirect her to your husband, and tell her no whenever necessary.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: lowspark on July 24, 2013, 04:00:28 PM
My first MIL didn't like me and no matter what I did that wasn't going to changes. I bent over backwards, I tried and tried. All for naught.

When I got married the second time I just decided that my ILs would either like me or not. But that I wasn't going to do anything different or try to be someone I wasn't in order to gain their affection.

In this case, I would just say, MIL, this is my house and this is the way it is. I appreciate your help coming over to take care of the kids but I am unable to make any additional accommodations for you. If that precludes you from coming over to help, then DH and I will handle it ourselves. If you do come over, I'll need you to keep your comments regarding my housekeeping skills to yourself.

In other words, you tell her to either accept you (and your house) as you are or stay away. I know it sounds harsh and you can say it politely, but there's no reason you have to make excuses for not doing things "her way".

And if she starts complaining you just stop her in her tracks. Sorry, MIL, but as I told you, this is how it is and I am not interested in hearing your assessment. If you can't come back to help, I understand. But the condition on you coming to my house is that you keep your comments to yourself.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: JenJay on July 24, 2013, 04:00:45 PM
When it comes to before, during and immediately after your girls' weekend all you need to remember is:

"I won't be home, you'll have to work that out with DH."
and
"I'm afraid that won't be possible."
and
"No."

Your DH and MIL like to keep you in the middle but it can only work if you let them, so don't. What happens when you're gone is between them. If she chooses to blow off the activities you've arranged for DD then she's choosing to be exhausted. If she chooses to spend the afternoon cleaning then DH can thank her, you should ignore her complaints. When she makes comments about your home you should say "Ugh tell me about it. I do my best but that son of yours is a real slob! I refuse to spend all day cleaning up after him as if he was a toddler!"  :P
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: singingserpent on July 24, 2013, 04:06:47 PM
I would have been pretty upset she decided to pull your child out of camp. My kid did daycamp and it worked out to be about $12/day, so days we missed cost us that much since they don't refund on days you choose not to attend. Why did your husband allow her to make so many changes to a schedule you & he had agreed on prior to the trip?
As for your house, as long as you and your husband are paying the mortgage, her opinion on housekeeping is worth very little.  I do think you need to lay it out as a PP said that her comments on housekeeping are hurting your relationship with her. If your husband complains, well, he didn't want to get in the middle and you had to handle it as you saw fit.
She sounds like someone I wouldn't want to see very often or have over ever.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: whim on July 24, 2013, 04:10:13 PM
MIL: "you need to clean, blah blah blah."

You: "I'm sorry MIL. Since I will be out of town, I'm sure you meant to talk to your son about this. Honey, your mother would like to talk to you . ". Hand DH the phone.

Or
"I have a better idea. Why don't you stay out of my bedroom, closets, bathroom and personal space and then you won't have to see the mess And we will all be happy?"
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: TootsNYC on July 24, 2013, 04:17:33 PM

In other words, you tell her to either accept you (and your house) as you are or stay away. I know it sounds harsh and you can say it politely, but there's no reason you have to make excuses for not doing things "her way".


I like this wording, even, "MIL, I need you to either accept me and my house exactly as they are, or stay away."

And if she says something, you say, "Perhaps you need to stop coming into my house if it bothers you so much that you can't keep your opinions to yourself. I'll get your coat, and we'll see you at your house on Saturday."

Don't make it be nasty--make it be matter-of-fact. Your house bothers her, so she absolutely shouldn't come there. Just as, it's really slippery and icy outside, so she shouldn't go outside. It's for her own comfort.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: SPuck on July 24, 2013, 04:20:30 PM
She really is kind and I do love her a lot - you'll all have to take my word on that part  :P  It's just . . . good LORD she needs to learn some boundaries!

Your mother-in-law is not kind or sweet, she is a bull dozer and keep trying to roll over you no matter what. The only way to get her to learn boundaries is to enforce them. It is time to spine up and not deal with her games. Since you have already seemed to master the No it is time to erect walls in other areas. If she starts complaining to you over the phone hang up or hand the phone to her son. If she is is your territory complaining, tell her "Well mother-in-law since you don't like my home/children/life style, I guess you can leave." Then grab her items and lead her to the door. If you are out of your territory but she is still complaining grab yourself and children and leave. She will either get the hint or you are justified in seeing her less. Your aren't beholden to her in anyway, you don't have to put up with her.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: sparksals on July 24, 2013, 04:26:04 PM
Since this is a continuing saga of your MiL refusing boundaries and your dh continues to refuse to stand up for you to his.mother, I see this as moving from etiquette to a marriage issue.  Your DH needs to stand up to his mother and it appears he continues to dismiss your feelings on her deep boundary crossing. 
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: HappilyInsane on July 24, 2013, 04:29:07 PM
"Were you coming to enjoy some time with your grandchildren or to give my house the white glove inspection?"

"I'm sorry my closets were such a mess. Next time I come to your house, I will be sure to check out all your closets and drawers so I can get some ideas on making mine tidier."

I feel for you OP. My MIL can be the same way, but with her she truly thinks she is helping when she "cleans" my house. By "clean" I mean put things away where they don't go and throw out things we needed without asking.

My MIL once re-mopped my kitchen floor the day after I had done it myself. I was insulted that my cleaning wasn't good enough. A few weeks later she finally admitted she HAD to re-mop it because she let her precious granddaughter color all over the linoleum with crayons while she was busy "cleaning".  ::)
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: Slartibartfast on July 24, 2013, 04:31:52 PM
We have had the "take it up with my DH" conversation.  Almost every time now, actually - to the point where she'll start out her PA comments with "I know you're going to tell me it's [DH's] problem, but . . ."  And I really couldn't care less what her opinion of my housekeeping is - yeah, she's better at keeping her house clean, but I'm a LOT better with money and with child-rearing than she and FIL are and I happen to think those things are more important  ;D  (Seriously, if DH had any other personality type, he'd be a total spoiled brat . . . it's only bearable because he understands how screwed up my FIL's expectations for him were, and he's pretty much deaf to the kind of PA stuff MIL tries to pull.  For all I get annoyed with him sometimes, at least he's got reasoned opinions for the things he disagrees with me about instead of just parroting his mother.)  Her comments are mostly just difficult because I don't want to hear them and because she's usually right - the house IS a mess, we DO need to keep the kitchen cleaner, etc.  But they're arguments I'm having with DH already and I can't engage her without getting into "I totally agree with you but DH doesn't and here's a rundown of our marital troubles."  Which she most decidedly does not deserve to hear.

On top of all this (which I didn't want to put in the OP for fear of it taking more than a page to read!), Babybartfast's birthday is coming up on Tuesday.  We're planning family stuff Tuesday evening and a party for friends on Saturday afternoon.  I would rather just have our nuclear family on Tuesday, but the only way I can keep the entire extended family from showing up at her birthday party Saturday is to have them over on Tuesday (right after I get back) . . . which means if the house gets messy over the weekend, there's absolutely no way I can re-clean the house before the cleaning ladies come the next morning.  Search my previous posts for last year's Great Cake Debacle for some insight as to why birthdays make me twitchy around MIL  :-\
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: Slartibartfast on July 24, 2013, 04:34:07 PM
Oh, the thing I was coming back to say  :P

Getting this all out "on paper" helped me figure out what to say to DH.  I didn't want to call him at work, but I did send him an email outlining a variety of things (including a request that he and MIL work out some arrangement other than "MIL and Grandma ransack our house" while I'm gone).  He's not normally all that talkative a guy, and this isn't a conversation I want to have in front of Babybartfast, so maybe doing it over email will help.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: Curious Cat on July 24, 2013, 04:37:54 PM
Since this is a continuing saga of your MiL refusing boundaries and your dh continues to refuse to stand up for you to his.mother, I see this as moving from etiquette to a marriage issue.  Your DH needs to stand up to his mother and it appears he continues to dismiss your feelings on her deep boundary crossing.

I agree with this post and the one prior to it. Your mil isn't nice or sweet she's manipulating you and your dh and the longer it continues theore annoyed you will become.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: Zizi-K on July 24, 2013, 04:38:45 PM
My advice has specifically to do with her comments about her future plans: that she plans on coming over with her MIL while you're gone.

"Actually, we won't have time to do that cleaning before I return and I have a cleaning lady coming over when I'm back. DH and I have childcare arrangements all worked out, so you actually don't need to come over Monday and Tuesday. I know how much the kids wear you out, so you'll be happy to know that you're off the hook!" 

Hey, you're doing her a favor. : )

I would just approach her comments with a really nonplussed attitude. Oh, you think our lives and arrangements should be different? That's interesting... but that's not the way it works for us. Sorry.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: SPuck on July 24, 2013, 04:40:24 PM
We're planning family stuff Tuesday evening and a party for friends on Saturday afternoon.  I would rather just have our nuclear family on Tuesday, but the only way I can keep the entire extended family from showing up at her birthday party Saturday is to have them over on Tuesday

I am curious, why can't you keep your extended family from showing up on these dates?
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: Slartibartfast on July 24, 2013, 04:46:00 PM
We're planning family stuff Tuesday evening and a party for friends on Saturday afternoon.  I would rather just have our nuclear family on Tuesday, but the only way I can keep the entire extended family from showing up at her birthday party Saturday is to have them over on Tuesday

I am curious, why can't you keep your extended family from showing up on these dates?

Because MIL already told FIL, SIL2, and SIL1's kids (whom we rarely even see) about Babybartfast's party, apparently in a way which led to them believing they were invited  ::)  Luckily she didn't know the exact time (we're having it in the evening; she assumed afternoon).  I was able to explain to SIL2 that this is actually a party for 5-year-old girls; I'm just betting on SIL1's kids not bothering to come.  We haven't actually said anything about them coming over on Tuesday, but I'm expecting the ". . . what time should we be there?" call any day now.  I also expect that DH will want them there, and I don't mind *that* much (I wouldn't have invited them but I do enjoy MIL/FIL/SIL2's company) so even though we haven't extended an invitation I think I can count on feeding a larger group Tuesday.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: Sophia on July 24, 2013, 04:54:40 PM
Honestly, I think it is time to use the Dog Whisperer "Zzst" on her every time she starts talking about cleanliness. 

She already knows you don't want to hear it. 
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: CakeEater on July 24, 2013, 04:59:22 PM
OP, I'm 100% sure my MIL thinks of my housekeeping the same way as yours, and she has managed to say not a single word about her opinion in the nealy 8 years we've been married. So it is possible! She raised three kids, worked fulltime and did every scrap of housework herself. Craziness - but she's managed to never criticize our house (to DH or me, anyway).

I really like this plan:


Your mother-in-law is not kind or sweet, she is a bull dozer and keep trying to roll over you no matter what. The only way to get her to learn boundaries is to enforce them. It is time to spine up and not deal with her games. Since you have already seemed to master the No it is time to erect walls in other areas. If she starts complaining to you over the phone hang up or hand the phone to her son. If she is is your territory complaining, tell her "Well mother-in-law since you don't like my home/children/life style, I guess you can leave." Then grab her items and lead her to the door. If you are out of your territory but she is still complaining grab yourself and children and leave. She will either get the hint or you are justified in seeing her less. Your aren't beholden to her in anyway, you don't have to put up with her.

Oops, came back to say - MIL might be kind and wonderful in many ways. But kind and wonderful people don't go through your closets, and they don't ask you to clean your closets, for heaven's sake, before they come and visit. That is really rude and way over the line. I'd be absolutely furious if my MIL asked me to get my closets cleaner so that  they would meet with her MIL's approval when she brought her over at a time she wasn't invited or needed to do an inspection. That is utter madness - your DH must see how weird that is?
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: Slartibartfast on July 24, 2013, 05:02:36 PM
Honestly, I think it is time to use the Dog Whisperer "Zzst" on her every time she starts talking about cleanliness. 

She already knows you don't want to hear it.

This made me giggle and I will think of it every time she mentions something now  ;D
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: Venus193 on July 24, 2013, 05:04:33 PM
She demands that you clean your closets?  I say she needs to be put in Time Out (as in Of My House).

I think a moratorium on her visits is called for, including changing your locks and confiscating any keys she has.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: *inviteseller on July 24, 2013, 05:14:04 PM
You have been away..your husband and children are in the house, and the mess is your fault?  Do you have special powers to clean from a distance?  Do you have my former MIL???  I never did anything half as good as her and her son suffered, suffered I say from my lack of care!  ::)  Tell your husband that she is not to watch the kids at your house..period.  If he is not with you on drawing boundaries, then there is a problem.   And how is she going to watch a 5 yr old and a 1 yr old with her MIL??  And seriously, how does she know how 'messy' your closets are unless she was snooping????  She would NOT be allowed over unsupervised (by you because hubby can't be trusted to stand up to her) ever.  It is no wonder your DH doesn't do anything for himself...like my ex, mommy dearest did it and they have to be untrained and retrained.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: Hmmmmm on July 24, 2013, 05:18:32 PM
Your MIL's comments about your home are inappropriate but she is not the one who changed your kids' schedules.  That is all on their father. He is the one who allowed the 5 year old to skip camp since he is the one who was supposed tombe taking her. He is the one who allowed his mom to come to your home instead of dropping off the baby at hers. He is the one who allowed his mom to keep the baby overnight and obviously, he liked her cleaning the home while you were gone or he would have put a stop to it.

Since he seems to align with her more than you, I think you can either resign your self to the fact that she and your DH will do as they please while your away or don't go.  And if you do go, let her know your home will be in whatever state her son chooses since he is the one inviting them as guests.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: Slartibartfast on July 24, 2013, 05:20:03 PM
The closets she mentioned were the front hall closet (which is, indeed, a mess) and Babybartfast's closet (which isn't).  She better not have looked in our master bedroom closet or she might have found some things she wasn't prepared for  >:D  Her point was "What if the guests for the birthday party need somewhere to put their coats and purses and your closet is messy?" and my point is "It's July in the deep south - just who do you think is going to be wearing a coat?"
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: jedikaiti on July 24, 2013, 05:22:44 PM
Snarky says to give her a copy of Emily Post with a couple cute bookmarks stuck in appropriate places. "I saw this and thought of you!"
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: Slartibartfast on July 24, 2013, 05:33:32 PM
DH's email back:

Quote
It's not going to be practical to stall Grandma from ever coming inside till you come back, but I'm not fond either of kids being babysat at our house.

Saturday I'm thinking we can bundle everyone to the [children's museum] toy room, and Mom wants to go out to dinner, so that's plenty of interaction without bringing them to our house.
Sunday I'll take everyone to church, and we can have the evening without visitors.
Monday I'll deliver [Babybartfast] to her class and work from home with [Bittybartfast]. Mom wants to have a dinner with [Babybartfast] opening dad and grandma's presents, but I will insist they can wait to Tuesday.
Tuesday Mom and Grandma can pick up the kids in the morning, and deliver [Babybartfast] (which Mom is for some reason unwilling to do on Monday) and entertain themselves somehow with [Bittybartfast] on the town until [Babybartfast's] pickup, after which I can chaperone everyone at our house until you get back.

So yeah, sounds like a good plan to me, and having it worked out ahead of time will mean DH won't get caught by surprise if MIL suggests something later. 
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: CakeEater on July 24, 2013, 05:35:22 PM
The closets she mentioned were the front hall closet (which is, indeed, a mess) and Babybartfast's closet (which isn't).  She better not have looked in our master bedroom closet or she might have found some things she wasn't prepared for  >:D  Her point was "What if the guests for the birthday party need somewhere to put their coats and purses and your closet is messy?" and my point is "It's July in the deep south - just who do you think is going to be wearing a coat?"

But she didn't have a coat, being summer, so why was she even in that closet? We don't have any cupboards in our living area. When we have guests, they put their coats over the back of chairs, and their purses on the floor somewhere. No-one needs to be in anyone else's cupboards.

And if guests do need to put coats, hats, purses or gloves in a cupboard and it's messy, how does that affect them? Is MIL afraid they'll lose their belonging? Or is she afraid that they'll see the closet is untidy? And do what? Criticize you about your housecleaning? She's got that covered, herself!
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: LeveeWoman on July 24, 2013, 05:36:33 PM
What is she doing in your master bedroom?

And, why are you allowing her to further trample your boundaries by putting up with her inviting other people to your house?
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: CakeEater on July 24, 2013, 05:41:39 PM
It sounds a bit to me, OP, like both you and your DH actually feel bad, and maybe a bit guilty about your house being untidy and like you kind-of deserve the criticism, and that's why you've both let it go on for so long.

You know what? Even if your house is untidy, no-one should be criticizing. Even if I'm a bad cook, no-one should be criticizing. Even if I choose bad gifts, no-one should be criticizing. Even if I'm bad at managing my money, no-one should be criticizing.

You don't deserve the criticism. Do what you need to to get it to stop.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: QueenfaninCA on July 24, 2013, 05:50:42 PM
DH's email back:

Quote
It's not going to be practical to stall Grandma from ever coming inside till you come back, but I'm not fond either of kids being babysat at our house.

Sorry to say it, but I think your husband either needs to learn to stand up to mommy-dearest or not use her babysitting services.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: crella on July 24, 2013, 05:56:55 PM
What is she doing in your master bedroom?

And, why are you allowing her to further trample your boundaries by putting up with her inviting other people to your house?

This type of person is pretty unstoppable...a hydrogen bomb might work, but nothing on a smaller scale will ever give them a clue. MIL is like this (without the sweet side) and it was just a matter of putting up with it. Once you say 'No,I'm afraid you can't bring your friends over when you come next week' then she would go to the friends (who of course have already been invited) and says that I've said all manner of awful things about them and 'don't want them in my house'. There is no winning. The only thing to do is stand up for things you ABSOLUTELY can't stand, because their personality will never change, and you'll just beat your head off a wall for , oh about 30 years. The absolutes are worth fighting till you're in tatters over, very little else is.

That said, Slatibartfast , I think you should really be able to at least say that her remarks are unkind, and that 4 people messing up a house shouldn't have to cleaned by 1.  When I couldn't stand it any more I told my MIL that 'It doesn't look as if he was ever taught how to tidy up after himself.' Oops. Lost it a bit there....but oh, the constant nagging and 'hinting' is SO wearing.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: Outdoor Girl on July 24, 2013, 06:36:52 PM
OP, you are a much stronger woman than I.  Because I would have snapped long before this point and been starring as an extra in 'Orange is the New Black'.  And I don't look good in orange.

No advice except to ignore her comments as if she didn't say them.  So when she says, 'This room really needs cleaning', just carry on with whatever conversation you were having before she said it.  'Would you like one lump or two?'

Sugar.  I'm talking sugar.  Maybe.   >:D
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: Hopefull on July 24, 2013, 08:31:42 PM
OP I vaguely remember the cake incident so I searched and now I remember it all!! WOW this woman is something else! Time to make a united front with hubby!!

For those wondering here is the link:
http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=119002.0
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: Slartibartfast on July 24, 2013, 08:46:30 PM
OP I vaguely remember the cake incident so I searched and now I remember it all!! WOW this woman is something else! Time to make a united front with hubby!!

For those wondering here is the link:
http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=119002.0

Thanks for digging up the link - I've been reading back through it and I had completely forgotten that she got Babybartfast 1600 live ladybugs for her fourth birthday  ::)
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: NyaChan on July 24, 2013, 10:59:39 PM
Your MIL's comments about your home are inappropriate but she is not the one who changed your kids' schedules.  That is all on their father. He is the one who allowed the 5 year old to skip camp since he is the one who was supposed tombe taking her. He is the one who allowed his mom to come to your home instead of dropping off the baby at hers. He is the one who allowed his mom to keep the baby overnight and obviously, he liked her cleaning the home while you were gone or he would have put a stop to it.


This is what I was thinking as I read it.  He is the parent and he is the one who allowed it all to happen, presumably with his acquiescence.  That's on him, not her. 
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: jedikaiti on July 24, 2013, 11:01:27 PM
OP I vaguely remember the cake incident so I searched and now I remember it all!! WOW this woman is something else! Time to make a united front with hubby!!

For those wondering here is the link:
http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=119002.0

Thanks for digging up the link - I've been reading back through it and I had completely forgotten that she got Babybartfast 1600 live ladybugs for her fourth birthday  ::)

Keep a spreadsheet, update as needed, and drag it out ever time DH thinks MIL is not being unreasonable.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: Itza on July 25, 2013, 01:34:52 AM
"MIL dear, if my abode upsets you that much, I suggest you don't come. Don't worry, DH can manage. Thanks for understanding :) ."
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: lowspark on July 25, 2013, 07:39:08 AM
It sounds a bit to me, OP, like both you and your DH actually feel bad, and maybe a bit guilty about your house being untidy and like you kind-of deserve the criticism, and that's why you've both let it go on for so long.

You know what? Even if your house is untidy, no-one should be criticizing. Even if I'm a bad cook, no-one should be criticizing. Even if I choose bad gifts, no-one should be criticizing. Even if I'm bad at managing my money, no-one should be criticizing.

You don't deserve the criticism. Do what you need to to get it to stop.

This is a good point. You've mentioned a few times that yeah, your house/closet/whatever is messy.

But here's the thing. It's your house/closet/whatever. And you don't have to apologize for that to anyone. If a friend came in and did what MIL is doing, how long would you stay friends?

she'll start out her PA comments with "I know you're going to tell me it's [DH's] problem, but . . ." 

This is really perfect because she is now giving you advance warning that she's about to say something you don't want to hear. So stop her right there. Interrupt her. Every time.

"Whoa there MIL. It sounds like you're about to wonder into "criticize Slartibartfast" territory. Let's just end this conversation right here." And leave the room.

I think the only way to end this is to stop her from saying this stuff to you in the first place. You don't need a strategy on how to defend it or deal with it, you need to just put a stop to it.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: GratefulMaria on July 25, 2013, 07:46:54 AM
What is she doing in your master bedroom?

And, why are you allowing her to further trample your boundaries by putting up with her inviting other people to your house?

This type of person is pretty unstoppable...a hydrogen bomb might work, but nothing on a smaller scale will ever give them a clue. MIL is like this (without the sweet side) and it was just a matter of putting up with it. Once you say 'No,I'm afraid you can't bring your friends over when you come next week' then she would go to the friends (who of course have already been invited) and says that I've said all manner of awful things about them and 'don't want them in my house'. There is no winning. The only thing to do is stand up for things you ABSOLUTELY can't stand, because their personality will never change, and you'll just beat your head off a wall for , oh about 30 years. The absolutes are worth fighting till you're in tatters over, very little else is.

That said, Slatibartfast , I think you should really be able to at least say that her remarks are unkind, and that 4 people messing up a house shouldn't have to cleaned by 1.  When I couldn't stand it any more I told my MIL that 'It doesn't look as if he was ever taught how to tidy up after himself.' Oops. Lost it a bit there....but oh, the constant nagging and 'hinting' is SO wearing.

What we realized about my MIL is that getting her way is her priority.  There is no price she is unwilling to pay to be the one to define a situation.  She'll pay lip service to how family is the most important thing to her, but what that means is that controlling family is the most important thing to her.  Over the years (our sons are 20 and 23, DH and I are 50, she's in her late 70's) we have progressed from trying to appease her, trying to explain to her, trying to change her, to trying to avoid her.  We're being kinder to ourselves and have gained quite a measure of sanity and peace (thanks eHell!), share almost no news with her, and handle the one or two times a year we see her as business meetings.

She has said disparaging things about us to others, I'm sure.  (About DH we know for certain, because a family member of his sent him a copy of a letter in which she criticized the way DH was handling a job hunt.)  Even though the idea troubled us, we just let the situation play out or not.  It turns out that everyone in her life has ended contact with her.  She said as much to DH a few months ago, mystified at what had gotten into everybody, not even considering that she's the common denominator.  So it may take thirty years, but people will either get fed up with her, or they will be on board with her.  And the biggest relief in DH's life is in realizing that her opinion, and that of those like her, has no value or place in our home.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: TootsNYC on July 25, 2013, 07:49:30 AM
We're planning family stuff Tuesday evening and a party for friends on Saturday afternoon.  I would rather just have our nuclear family on Tuesday, but the only way I can keep the entire extended family from showing up at her birthday party Saturday is to have them over on Tuesday

I am curious, why can't you keep your extended family from showing up on these dates?

Because MIL already told FIL, SIL2, and SIL1's kids (whom we rarely even see) about Babybartfast's party, apparently in a way which led to them believing they were invited  ::)  Luckily she didn't know the exact time (we're having it in the evening; she assumed afternoon). I was able to explain to SIL2 that this is actually a party for 5-year-old girls; I'm just betting on SIL1's kids not bothering to come.  We haven't actually said anything about them coming over on Tuesday, but I'm expecting the ". . . what time should we be there?" call any day now.  I also expect that DH will want them there, and I don't mind *that* much (I wouldn't have invited them but I do enjoy MIL/FIL/SIL2's company) so even though we haven't extended an invitation I think I can count on feeding a larger group Tuesday.


Slarti, dearest--grow a spine!
(said with an affectionate smile)

Say to SIL, "Oh, sorry, MIL got that all screwed up. We're actually not having a family birthday celebration this year."

You are NOT obligated to keep your MIL from looking bad!




And because cut-and-paste gets annoying, please go read lowspark's very, very insightful post. She has some very good points.

-stop feeling guilty
-interrupt her when she says, "I know you're going to tell me"

(actually, that comment of hers shows that she does hear you, so you need to switch from the "it's DH's problem" to "I'm tired of hearing criticize me and complain about the state of my house. It's boring, and it hurts my feelings, so don't do it anymore." Feel free to use blunt language. Heck, feel free to sound a little upset.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: artk2002 on July 25, 2013, 09:19:50 AM
"I know you're going to tell me ..."

Response: So why bring it up, then? You know the answer already!

I agree with leaving the conversation at that point.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: Deetee on July 25, 2013, 10:01:26 AM
Adding my voice to the chorus.

First: Unless your house is an active health hazard that requires the intervention of professionals to protect the health of your children, it is no business of ANYONE what your house looks like.
You know the saying  when considering whether to say something that may hurt someone's feelings " Is it kind? Is it true?  Is it necessary?" This stuff may be tr true but it's not kind and it's not necessary. In fact it is mean and hurts your relationship.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: CharlieBraun on July 25, 2013, 11:36:02 AM
Since this is a continuing saga of your MiL refusing boundaries and your dh continues to refuse to stand up for you to his.mother, I see this as moving from etiquette to a marriage issue.  Your DH needs to stand up to his mother and it appears he continues to dismiss your feelings on her deep boundary crossing.

Thank you for expressing what I could not, and so very well.

This is not a MIL problem.  This is a DH problem, and this one is on him.

I'm frankly shocked at your OP where it was just "easier" on him to shove off his childraising responsibilities to his mother.  Being a parent isn't easy, and it's his laziness - sorry to be that blunt - is the root cause of this.  He's not "easy-going," he's a doormat to his mother and is allowing her to wipe her feet on you as well.

I know you need your girls weekend like anything - but I think you need to find another alternative to child care.  As in - your husband is 100% responsible for his children, without subcontracting it to his mother.

Wishing you all the very best.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: Eden on July 25, 2013, 11:46:22 AM
Since this is a continuing saga of your MiL refusing boundaries and your dh continues to refuse to stand up for you to his.mother, I see this as moving from etiquette to a marriage issue.  Your DH needs to stand up to his mother and it appears he continues to dismiss your feelings on her deep boundary crossing.

Thank you for expressing what I could not, and so very well.

This is not a MIL problem.  This is a DH problem, and this one is on him.

I'm frankly shocked at your OP where it was just "easier" on him to shove off his childraising responsibilities to his mother.  Being a parent isn't easy, and it's his laziness - sorry to be that blunt - is the root cause of this.  He's not "easy-going," he's a doormat to his mother and is allowing her to wipe her feet on you as well.

I know you need your girls weekend like anything - but I think you need to find another alternative to child care.  As in - your husband is 100% responsible for his children, without subcontracting it to his mother.

Wishing you all the very best.

I agree with all of this. Not an etiquette issue at all but a relationship issue.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: wheeitsme on July 25, 2013, 02:23:10 PM
DH's email back:

Quote
It's not going to be practical to stall Grandma from ever coming inside till you come back, but I'm not fond either of kids being babysat at our house.

Saturday I'm thinking we can bundle everyone to the [children's museum] toy room, and Mom wants to go out to dinner, so that's plenty of interaction without bringing them to our house.
Sunday I'll take everyone to church, and we can have the evening without visitors.
Monday I'll deliver [Babybartfast] to her class and work from home with [Bittybartfast]. Mom wants to have a dinner with [Babybartfast] opening dad and grandma's presents, but I will insist they can wait to Tuesday.
Tuesday Mom and Grandma can pick up the kids in the morning, and deliver [Babybartfast] (which Mom is for some reason unwilling to do on Monday) and entertain themselves somehow with [Bittybartfast] on the town until [Babybartfast's] pickup, after which I can chaperone everyone at our house until you get back.

So yeah, sounds like a good plan to me, and having it worked out ahead of time will mean DH won't get caught by surprise if MIL suggests something later.

And the nice thing about his plan is that it is HIS.  So if MIL has a problem with it and tries to change it, she's going to be dealing directly with the author of the plan. 

"Well I know Slartibartfast planned it this way, but I think we should do it this other way..."

"This was my plan, Mom.  And I'd rather not change it."   ;D
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: TootsNYC on July 25, 2013, 02:39:54 PM
One of his big arguments for them not being in your house is this:

"I'm working. I can't have people here--I can't concentrate. I'm OK w the baby, but I can't have anyone else here."

And

"If I'm not home, I'm not comfortable leaving other people behind in our house, so the days that I'm out of the house, you'll need to babysit at your place."
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: amylouky on July 25, 2013, 03:06:20 PM
the more I stand up for myself the more he tends to brush off any complaints I have about his mother as a "my wife versus her MIL and I'm staying out of it" thing.

You know, PP's have said just about all there is to say, but I just had to address this from the OP because it jumped out at me that your DH even HAS a "my wife versus her MIL and I'm staying out of it" thing.

Oh heck no. He needs to have your back. Actually, not even your back. She's his mom, he needs to be dealing with her.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: Petticoats on July 25, 2013, 04:09:52 PM
you need to switch from the "it's DH's problem" to "I'm tired of hearing criticize me and complain about the state of my house. It's boring, and it hurts my feelings, so don't do it anymore." Feel free to use blunt language. Heck, feel free to sound a little upset.

I really like Toots's approach. It calls MIL's attention to the fact that this long-standing pattern of her complaining (a) hasn't led to her getting the results she wants (that is, you making housekeeping your #1 life priority) and (b) damages your relationship because it hurts your feelings and frustrates you. Maybe ask her: "MIL, how many years have we been having this conversation? And has it ever gotten you the results you want? Every time you bring it up it hurts my feelings and ends with us both being frustrated." Maybe letting her know explicitly that she is not going to change you (or your DH) will help her have an epiphany.

Or she might take it as stubbornness. You'll have to make that call. :) Either way, I really feel for you.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: kckgirl on July 25, 2013, 04:54:30 PM
You could always try Dr. Phil's line. "How's that working for you?" ;) Really, have DH tell his mom to back off with the comments.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: Slartibartfast on July 31, 2013, 11:53:36 AM
UPDATE

Got home yesterday evening.  I called during the afternoon to let DH know we were close - and got MIL.  (At my house, while DH was at work.)  Which I thought we pretty clearly decided was NOT what we would do.

When I got home, DH and I had time for a talk before going out to dinner for Babybartfast's birthday (our compromise so we didn't have to have everyone at our house).  He thought he was doing exactly what we had agreed - Grandma wasn't at our house (she tagged along with FIL yesterday).  I guess I should have specified "I don't want MIL and/or Grandma at the house without one of us there."  It was a good talk, though, even though it was mostly me doing the talking (as usual).  He didn't realize how much MIL criticizes me behind his back, and he promised to be more aware of situations like that in the future.  He said I shouldn't be upset that he accepted MIL's offer of help while I was gone because I wasn't the one who would be here to deal with the kids, and I explained that wasn't the point - her "free" offer of help wasn't free because it always comes with strings later.  Now she'll feel we owe her a favor, and she'll also feel that she gets more say in how we raise the girls.  DH thought she was doing fine, but I pointed out that just that afternoon, MIL had told Babybartfast she could skip her nap (naps are NOT optional in our house - you don't have to sleep, but you do have to stay in your room and be quiet!) "since it's her birthday."  She never mentioned that to DH and probably wouldn't have told me if I hadn't happened to call.  Not surprisingly, Babybartfast tried to wheedle out of going to bed on time that evening "Since it's my birthday and I don't have to take naps anymore."  Yeah, not happening.

Long story short, we're imposing a "grandparent moratorium" the week before and after Babybartfast starts kindergarten, so Babybartfast can get into her new routine and MIL can't interfere with our parenting while we're trying to nail down a new normal.  DH has also promised to run every single Babybartfast-related conversation past me for a while - he really didn't understand how MIL takes his non-answers.  Conversations often go

MIL: "I think Babybartfast's room needs to be pink!"
DH: "I have no opinion and am not really listening anyway.  She does like pink."

And then DH goes away thinking absolutely nothing happened, while MIL goes away hearing "I now have permission to buy pink paint and new bedroom furniture for Babybartfast because my son said it's okay!"  And then I end up being "the bad guy" (and have to expend the emotional energy to intervene) when she shows up with buckets of paint because DH doesn't care enough about the color of Babybartfast's room to stand up one way or the other.  He's going to work on making sure she doesn't come away from any conversation with the belief that she's okay to go through with whatever thing she just randomly decided.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: Deetee on July 31, 2013, 12:45:21 PM
You keep saying this woman is nice and loving. I just don't get it.  She sounds suffocating. She sounds loving like a python squeezing the last gasp of air out of your lungs.

I'm glad to hear your husband is getting on board. But please don't think you are unreasonable. That level of involvement in my life would have resulted in a ban/ backing away/ serious distancing a loooong time ago.

If someone showed up to paint my kids room, I might flip (or I might not-I might think FREE LABOUR- but I reserve the right to flip out about that)
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: *inviteseller on July 31, 2013, 01:06:00 PM
Your DH is used to her and probably just tunes her out, plus if she is sneaky he will not hear her criticism of you or phrase it where he doesn't get it is a dig at you.  You just have to keep discussing the boundaries with him.  I don't think it is anything against you or for his mom, just cluelessness on his part.  My ex accepted his mom's behavior as normal and never understood why I would get so upset until both myself and his sister talked to him about how she treated me..smiling and lovey when he was around..evil when he wasn't.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: SPuck on July 31, 2013, 01:20:09 PM
And then DH goes away thinking absolutely nothing happened, while MIL goes away hearing "I now have permission to buy pink paint and new bedroom furniture for Babybartfast because my son said it's okay!"  And then I end up being "the bad guy" (and have to expend the emotional energy to intervene) when she shows up with buckets of paint because DH doesn't care enough about the color of Babybartfast's room to stand up one way or the other.  He's going to work on making sure she doesn't come away from any conversation with the belief that she's okay to go through with whatever thing she just randomly decided.

Did this part actually happen/is happening?
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: Slartibartfast on July 31, 2013, 02:19:35 PM
And then DH goes away thinking absolutely nothing happened, while MIL goes away hearing "I now have permission to buy pink paint and new bedroom furniture for Babybartfast because my son said it's okay!"  And then I end up being "the bad guy" (and have to expend the emotional energy to intervene) when she shows up with buckets of paint because DH doesn't care enough about the color of Babybartfast's room to stand up one way or the other.  He's going to work on making sure she doesn't come away from any conversation with the belief that she's okay to go through with whatever thing she just randomly decided.

Did this part actually happen/is happening?

No, the paint was a dramatization of the type of thing MIL seems to think is perfectly okay  ::)  She did buy Babybartfast a backpack for her birthday, though, right after a) I told her my parents were already getting her a backpack, and b) she SAW the backpack (not yet wrapped) over the weekend.  But since she had already bought one (she conveniently forgot my previous conversation with her, apparently) she decided she just had to give it to Babybartfast anyway, because it was sparklier than the one my mom bought.

So now we either have a duplicate or I have to go through finding out where my mom bought the other one and returning it.  And of course Babybartfast does indeed love the sparkly pink one, so putting my foot down about something this trivial (and I do realize it's trivial if you just look at this specific incident) would just make my daughter upset on her birthday  :-\  To make it more complicated, my parents are out of the country and out of email/phone contact for the next week or two, which takes us up to around when school starts . . .
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: kherbert05 on July 31, 2013, 02:55:53 PM
And then DH goes away thinking absolutely nothing happened, while MIL goes away hearing "I now have permission to buy pink paint and new bedroom furniture for Babybartfast because my son said it's okay!"  And then I end up being "the bad guy" (and have to expend the emotional energy to intervene) when she shows up with buckets of paint because DH doesn't care enough about the color of Babybartfast's room to stand up one way or the other.  He's going to work on making sure she doesn't come away from any conversation with the belief that she's okay to go through with whatever thing she just randomly decided.

Did this part actually happen/is happening?

No, the paint was a dramatization of the type of thing MIL seems to think is perfectly okay  ::)  She did buy Babybartfast a backpack for her birthday, though, right after a) I told her my parents were already getting her a backpack, and b) she SAW the backpack (not yet wrapped) over the weekend.  But since she had already bought one (she conveniently forgot my previous conversation with her, apparently) she decided she just had to give it to Babybartfast anyway, because it was sparklier than the one my mom bought.

So now we either have a duplicate or I have to go through finding out where my mom bought the other one and returning it.  And of course Babybartfast does indeed love the sparkly pink one, so putting my foot down about something this trivial (and I do realize it's trivial if you just look at this specific incident) would just make my daughter upset on her birthday  :-\  To make it more complicated, my parents are out of the country and out of email/phone contact for the next week or two, which takes us up to around when school starts . . .
Keep the 2nd backpack - By Winter Break the other one will be dingy and torn up. Give her the other backpack at the beginning of 2nd term - you can't find them then. She will love having a clean new backpack. I can't figure out how my students wear their backpacks out so fast when all they have to take to and from school is a homework folder, and 2 library books. We don't sent text books and such home.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: SPuck on July 31, 2013, 03:20:39 PM
(and I do realize it's trivial if you just look at this specific incident)

It isn't trivial if it is part of a larger pattern.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: weeblewobble on July 31, 2013, 03:30:02 PM
DH is taking the path of least resistance in every way except for when it comes to you.  It's easier for him to let his mother care for the kids and do whatever she wants in your house because 1) he doesn't have to take care of the kids and 2) he doesn't have to argue with his mother.  But he is more than comfortable with upsetting you, because he thinks that you HAVE to forgive him and compromise.  Yes, you DO have a say in how the weekend went while you were away because they are your children too.

This is the conversation you need to have with your DH.  He is being emotionally, physically and parentally lazy.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: rosiegirl on July 31, 2013, 05:05:02 PM
And then DH goes away thinking absolutely nothing happened, while MIL goes away hearing "I now have permission to buy pink paint and new bedroom furniture for Babybartfast because my son said it's okay!"  And then I end up being "the bad guy" (and have to expend the emotional energy to intervene) when she shows up with buckets of paint because DH doesn't care enough about the color of Babybartfast's room to stand up one way or the other.  He's going to work on making sure she doesn't come away from any conversation with the belief that she's okay to go through with whatever thing she just randomly decided.

Did this part actually happen/is happening?

No, the paint was a dramatization of the type of thing MIL seems to think is perfectly okay  ::)  She did buy Babybartfast a backpack for her birthday, though, right after a) I told her my parents were already getting her a backpack, and b) she SAW the backpack (not yet wrapped) over the weekend.  But since she had already bought one (she conveniently forgot my previous conversation with her, apparently) she decided she just had to give it to Babybartfast anyway, because it was sparklier than the one my mom bought.

So now we either have a duplicate or I have to go through finding out where my mom bought the other one and returning it.  And of course Babybartfast does indeed love the sparkly pink one, so putting my foot down about something this trivial (and I do realize it's trivial if you just look at this specific incident) would just make my daughter upset on her birthday  :-\  To make it more complicated, my parents are out of the country and out of email/phone contact for the next week or two, which takes us up to around when school starts . . .
Keep the 2nd backpack - By Winter Break the other one will be dingy and torn up. Give her the other backpack at the beginning of 2nd term - you can't find them then. She will love having a clean new backpack. I can't figure out how my students wear their backpacks out so fast when all they have to take to and from school is a homework folder, and 2 library books. We don't sent text books and such home.
Totally this.  Keep the backpack.  It will be used either when the other falls apart, or she can use it as a special bag for when she gets invited to sleepovers with friends. There are never too many backpacks!
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: Cami on July 31, 2013, 05:32:51 PM
DH is taking the path of least resistance in every way except for when it comes to you.  It's easier for him to let his mother care for the kids and do whatever she wants in your house because 1) he doesn't have to take care of the kids and 2) he doesn't have to argue with his mother.  But he is more than comfortable with upsetting you, because he thinks that you HAVE to forgive him and compromise.  Yes, you DO have a say in how the weekend went while you were away because they are your children too.

This is the conversation you need to have with your DH.  He is being emotionally, physically and parentally lazy.
I agree. I hate to say this, but you need to adjust your expectations about your dh and accordingly adjust how you handle these situations.  Given his propensity to choose the path of least resistance, you need to make sure your path is NOT the least resistant. You need to make it more difficult to ignore your needs and wishes than it is to stand up to his mother.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: jedikaiti on July 31, 2013, 05:38:20 PM
He didn't realize how much MIL criticizes me behind his back, and he promised to be more aware of situations like that in the future.

Have you considered discreetly recording some of those conversations for his education?
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: LeveeWoman on July 31, 2013, 05:58:37 PM
(and I do realize it's trivial if you just look at this specific incident)

It isn't trivial if it is part of a larger pattern.

And, from what has been posted now and on previous occasions, it is part of a pattern.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: Jaelle on July 31, 2013, 06:13:58 PM
Oh my. If my DH had any brothers, I'd think you were my sister-in-law. Right down to the DH "not getting in the middle thing" and the tendency to tune things out and have MIL go away thinking she'd gotten her way.

Things have gotten better, though. I've been trying to think about why and how so I can share. It was in part because DH started pointing out to MIL that he was an adult and she was really criticizing him too when she criticized our home and child-rearing, because he was a full partner in them. (She doesn't like it -- in her world, that's completely the wife's job while the man is the "provider" -- and I don't think she completely believes I'm not secretly behind it, but she did stop. At least in my hearing.)

Like her insisting she had to be at your house to watch the kids ... she's really calling him incompetent. How does he feel about that? It really got on my DH's nerves eventually and led to the above.

He still doesn't understand everything about the boundaries that bothers me (like MIL having a second birthday party for DS one year because we didn't quite do the first one by her traditional standards ... to him, it was "the more birthday parties the better!"). But we're working on it.

Good luck.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: Marbles on July 31, 2013, 06:16:37 PM
Your MIL sounds like my Grandma with the harping on things. I have found that Grandma does respond to direct language about Subjects We Do Not Speak About (my weight, the weight of anyone else in the family, my rel@tionship with my father). She has tried the "I know I'm not supposed to bring this up..." tactic, but I shut it down with a "Then why did you bring it up?" which changes the nature of the conversation from the forbidden subject to why she thinks the rules have changed.

We used to pay a local friend to babysit our kids, but I found that getting home to a litany of complaints about how hard it was got to be too much. Especially when the kids were doing normal baby/toddler things. It was much better for our friendship to not have her watch the kids. So, you might consider giving MIL a long break before letting her watch the kids again. Or, be more direct with her.
"I guess I'll have to come watch the kids."
"MIL, you complain every time you watch the kids. I don't want to hear bad things about my kids over and over. So, no, I don't want you to watch the kids while I am gone. DH will do just fine. Maybe once the kids are older we can try again."
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: Midnight Kitty on July 31, 2013, 06:25:18 PM
Slartibartfast,

I'm going to accept that your MIL has some other great qualities or you wouldn't describe her as a "kind and wonderful woman." I also accept that your husband must have some great qualities because you love him.  But ... the situation you describe, the things she says to him behind your back, and his laziness in dealing with her would have me screaming, climbing the walls, and probably committed to the nut house with the rest of the squirrels.

When you say "he tends to brush off any complaints I have about his mother as a "my wife versus her MIL and I'm staying out of it" thing," I see red flags.  He should be putting you and your family first and setting his mother straight as to exactly who decides what goes on in your house (specifically not her).  I don't think I would let her in my house after this: "So MIL was kind enough to inform me that since she and Grandma will be spending the bulk of Monday and Tuesday at my house, could I please have the whole house cleaned and tidied, including the master bedroom and closets and such, because the closets were messy too?" There is absolutely no reason for her to go into your master bedroom, let alone your closets.  Your husband, her son, should be the one drawing clear boundaries because she is his mother.  He should be protecting you from her backstabbing because he is your husband.

You are much more patient and forgiving than I am.  I give your props for that, but I don't think you should continue to be patient and forgiving.  If your husband won't stand up for you, stand up for yourself.  You deserve to be treated better than this, especially in your own home.

Supportively,
Midnight Kitty
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: JoyinVirginia on July 31, 2013, 06:33:09 PM
Just want to post agreement that you will need the second backpack at some point. Either the  first will break or get really dirty or she will get tired of it.
And good for you for your mil moratorium, good planning!
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: doodlemor on July 31, 2013, 06:41:19 PM
Slartibartfast,

I'm going to accept that your MIL has some other great qualities or you wouldn't describe her as a "kind and wonderful woman." I also accept that your husband must have some great qualities because you love him.  But ... the situation you describe, the things she says to him behind your back, and his laziness in dealing with her would have me screaming, climbing the walls, and probably committed to the nut house with the rest of the squirrels.

When you say "he tends to brush off any complaints I have about his mother as a "my wife versus her MIL and I'm staying out of it" thing," I see red flags.  He should be putting you and your family first and setting his mother straight as to exactly who decides what goes on in your house (specifically not her).  I don't think I would let her in my house after this: "So MIL was kind enough to inform me that since she and Grandma will be spending the bulk of Monday and Tuesday at my house, could I please have the whole house cleaned and tidied, including the master bedroom and closets and such, because the closets were messy too?" There is absolutely no reason for her to go into your master bedroom, let alone your closets.  Your husband, her son, should be the one drawing clear boundaries because she is his mother.  He should be protecting you from her backstabbing because he is your husband.

You are much more patient and forgiving than I am.  I give your props for that, but I don't think you should continue to be patient and forgiving.  If your husband won't stand up for you, stand up for yourself.  You deserve to be treated better than this, especially in your own home.

Supportively,
Midnight Kitty

POD

Slarti, I always greatly admire the advice that you give to others.  You need to step back and pretend that this thread isn't about you and your family, and think what advice you would give to the OP.

Someone recently said that her XMIL had said and done many things to alienate her from her DD.  I couldn't find the thread to quote.  When I read it I felt chilled, immediately thinking of your MIL and the shenanigans that she pulled last year about your child's birthday.  Your nasty, dreadful MIL is doing everything in her power to supplant you in your own family.  You need to recognize her for what she is, and deal.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: sparksals on July 31, 2013, 06:43:19 PM
DH is taking the path of least resistance in every way except for when it comes to you.  It's easier for him to let his mother care for the kids and do whatever she wants in your house because 1) he doesn't have to take care of the kids and 2) he doesn't have to argue with his mother.  But he is more than comfortable with upsetting you, because he thinks that you HAVE to forgive him and compromise.  Yes, you DO have a say in how the weekend went while you were away because they are your children too.

This is the conversation you need to have with your DH.  He is being emotionally, physically and parentally lazy.


I have to agree with all of this.

Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: sparksals on July 31, 2013, 06:45:04 PM
Slartibartfast,

I'm going to accept that your MIL has some other great qualities or you wouldn't describe her as a "kind and wonderful woman." I also accept that your husband must have some great qualities because you love him.  But ... the situation you describe, the things she says to him behind your back, and his laziness in dealing with her would have me screaming, climbing the walls, and probably committed to the nut house with the rest of the squirrels.

When you say "he tends to brush off any complaints I have about his mother as a "my wife versus her MIL and I'm staying out of it" thing," I see red flags.  He should be putting you and your family first and setting his mother straight as to exactly who decides what goes on in your house (specifically not her).  I don't think I would let her in my house after this: "So MIL was kind enough to inform me that since she and Grandma will be spending the bulk of Monday and Tuesday at my house, could I please have the whole house cleaned and tidied, including the master bedroom and closets and such, because the closets were messy too?" There is absolutely no reason for her to go into your master bedroom, let alone your closets.  Your husband, her son, should be the one drawing clear boundaries because she is his mother.  He should be protecting you from her backstabbing because he is your husband.

You are much more patient and forgiving than I am.  I give your props for that, but I don't think you should continue to be patient and forgiving.  If your husband won't stand up for you, stand up for yourself.  You deserve to be treated better than this, especially in your own home.

Supportively,
Midnight Kitty


Podding this one too.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: StarFaerie on July 31, 2013, 10:06:46 PM
(and I do realize it's trivial if you just look at this specific incident)

It isn't trivial if it is part of a larger pattern.

And, from what has been posted now and on previous occasions, it is part of a pattern.

I agree with this. Remember a snowflake is small, trivial and doesn't hurt anyone, but lots of snowflakes cause an avalanche and they kill.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: LifeOnPluto on July 31, 2013, 10:32:35 PM
(and I do realize it's trivial if you just look at this specific incident)

It isn't trivial if it is part of a larger pattern.

And, from what has been posted now and on previous occasions, it is part of a pattern.

I agree with this. Remember a snowflake is small, trivial and doesn't hurt anyone, but lots of snowflakes cause an avalanche and they kill.

I agree - Slarti, I recall your other posts about your MIL, and admire your patience! I would have been driven crazy a long time ago.

One thing jumps out at me. Every time your MIL rushes over to babysit your kids while you're away, she's really sending a message to your DH that he's incapable of looking after his own children. How can this not bother your DH?

Perhaps when you next speak to your DH, you can pitch it to him like this. He IS capable of being a capable parent and making the right decisions for his children. He doesn't have to palm them off to his mum all the time, or concede decision-making to her (when it comes to his own children). He shouldn't let her insinuate that - as a father - he's not a competent parent.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: Iris on August 01, 2013, 02:08:01 AM
DH is taking the path of least resistance in every way except for when it comes to you.  It's easier for him to let his mother care for the kids and do whatever she wants in your house because 1) he doesn't have to take care of the kids and 2) he doesn't have to argue with his mother.  But he is more than comfortable with upsetting you, because he thinks that you HAVE to forgive him and compromise.  Yes, you DO have a say in how the weekend went while you were away because they are your children too.

This is the conversation you need to have with your DH.  He is being emotionally, physically and parentally lazy.


I have to agree with all of this.

I agree as well. I don't think anything will change unless you make disagreeing with you the HARD option.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: Gyburc on August 01, 2013, 05:37:42 AM
No, the paint was a dramatization of the type of thing MIL seems to think is perfectly okay  ::)  She did buy Babybartfast a backpack for her birthday, though, right after a) I told her my parents were already getting her a backpack, and b) she SAW the backpack (not yet wrapped) over the weekend.  But since she had already bought one (she conveniently forgot my previous conversation with her, apparently) she decided she just had to give it to Babybartfast anyway, because it was sparklier than the one my mom bought.

So now we either have a duplicate or I have to go through finding out where my mom bought the other one and returning it.  And of course Babybartfast does indeed love the sparkly pink one, so putting my foot down about something this trivial (and I do realize it's trivial if you just look at this specific incident) would just make my daughter upset on her birthday  :-\  To make it more complicated, my parents are out of the country and out of email/phone contact for the next week or two, which takes us up to around when school starts . . .

Slarti, I don't think this is trivial at all. I'm sure you've realised this already, but this is a repeat of the birthday cake issue. MIL decides to 'one-up' the special thing being arranged for Babybartfast's birthday, counting on the fact that you don't want to upset your little girl and so you won't protest. This time, though, it isn't just your feelings that might be hurt, but your parents' feelings as well. I'd be really mad if my MIL did this to me and to my Dad.

For this specific issue, can you make the pink sparkly backpack the 'good' one to be used on special occasions, and your parents' one the one she will use for school? But there are several bigger issues, aren't there, and I agree with the PPs - I think you need a whole new strategy to deal with your MIL, and it may well involve you being the 'scary' DIL.

(((Hugs)))
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: Cherry91 on August 01, 2013, 05:48:45 AM
So MIL was kind enough to inform me that since she and Grandma will be spending the bulk of Monday and Tuesday at my house, could I please have the whole house cleaned and tidied, including the master bedroom and closets and such, because the closets were messy too?

Apologies for being late to the party, but this section bugged me so much I had to comment.

The above could be a post entirely on its own - does your MIL not realise that she's basically copping to not only snooping through your cupboards but intending to do it again?!

Personally, if keeping her out of the house altogether isn't an option, I would look into installing a lock on your bedroom door.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: bopper on August 01, 2013, 09:27:42 AM

Totally this.  Keep the backpack.  It will be used either when the other falls apart, or she can use it as a special bag for when she gets invited to sleepovers with friends. There are never too many backpacks!

OT: We got the kids Lands End backpacks in 1st grade and they lasted half way through high school (even then they were still good...they just wanted something new!)

You could use the second backpack for sleepovers/travel or something.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: cheyne on August 01, 2013, 01:26:21 PM
Your MIL is a master at manipulation!  She intentionally bought the "Sparkly Pink Backpack (SPB)" and gave it to Babybartfast so that BBF would prefer it to the backpack your parents bought.  MIL knew that BBF would prefer a SPB and that you would not "deny" BBF her preference so MIL gets her way again.  Your MIL is not above using BBF against you, and that is a real problem.  A nice (sane) person would not use a 5 year old girl to "get back" at her mother!

I would not let BBF use the "SPB" for school, period.  Put it away and use it when BBF (eventually) goes to MIL's house for an afternoon or overnight.  You can tell BBF that MIL's backpack is for trips to grandma's house.   

 
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: jedikaiti on August 01, 2013, 01:27:51 PM
That is a brilliant idea.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: asb8 on August 01, 2013, 01:32:28 PM
I agree, I would not let BBF use the sparkly backpack.  At all. Give it back to MIL with a blunt 'you know my parent's are giving her one, don't ruin their gift.' Otherwise you will just teach MIL that she can go around you directly to BBF and that you won't stand your ground because you (rightfully!) don't want to upset your daughter, who has nothing to do with any of this. She'll just keep giving the inappropriate treats/presents/privileges directly to BFF to circumvent you, knowing you will let her keep them now that she's seen them.

Give the backpack back and every time she tries to go around you, stand your ground. Grandma says you can miss the nap? Too bad Mommy outranks her. Grandma gave you ice cream? No sugar in the afternoon (generic example here) and into the freeze for dessert it goes.  BBF will learn pretty quick who's rules take precedence.

Of course, this only works if your DH is also onboard and backs you up.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: Slartibartfast on August 01, 2013, 01:47:21 PM
I agree, I would not let BBF use the sparkly backpack.  At all. Give it back to MIL with a blunt 'you know my parent's are giving her one, don't ruin their gift.' Otherwise you will just teach MIL that she can go around you directly to BBF and that you won't stand your ground because you (rightfully!) don't want to upset your daughter, who has nothing to do with any of this. She'll just keep giving the inappropriate treats/presents/privileges directly to BFF to circumvent you, knowing you will let her keep them now that she's seen them.

Give the backpack back and every time she tries to go around you, stand your ground. Grandma says you can miss the nap? Too bad Mommy outranks her. Grandma gave you ice cream? No sugar in the afternoon (generic example here) and into the freeze for dessert it goes.  BBF will learn pretty quick who's rules take precedence.

Of course, this only works if your DH is also onboard and backs you up.

It only works if she does it in front of me.  When DH or I are there, she's very good about following our rules (or asking us first, if it's something she's not sure we'd say yes to).  So she'd never suggest missing a nap or getting surprise ice cream without checking with us discreetly first.  It's just when she's the one watching Babybartfast and she's using her own judgement that she tends to stretch the limits  ::)  If we said "Babybartfast must have a 60-minute nap, staying on the bed, with no toys, alone in the room with the lights off," she'd have no problem doing it.  Same with "no sugar ever."  But those are two rules we're context-sensitive about - Babybartfast needs a nap for 1-2 hours, except it doesn't always have to be at exactly the same time and she doesn't *have* to sleep and she's allowed some types of toys (books, mostly) but not others (iPad) and if we have something else scheduled she misses a nap occasionally and if she's in the right sort of mood, it's fine.  I just can't trust MIL to come to the same conclusions about where on the scale things fall as I do.

I will say, at the restaurant the other night, Babybartfast opened each present, then enthusiastically ran to the person who gave it to her and gave them a big hug and told them thank you.  That was all MIL's influence - I certainly would have encouraged the same behavior, of course, but apparently MIL had given her a little talk earlier in the day about appropriate birthday behavior and it stuck.  So she's not all bad, just manipulative and lacking in common sense  ::)
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: Midnight Kitty on August 01, 2013, 01:57:00 PM
apparently MIL had given her a little talk earlier in the day about appropriate birthday behavior and it stuck.  So she's not all bad, just manipulative and lacking in common sense  ::)
I don't have children, so I might be reading this wrong, but my impression is that your MIL is, once again, assuming the parental role.  Did MIL think that you and your DH have not taught BBF manners, so she needed to remind her to behave appropriately?
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: asb8 on August 01, 2013, 02:23:11 PM
I agree, I would not let BBF use the sparkly backpack.  At all. Give it back to MIL with a blunt 'you know my parent's are giving her one, don't ruin their gift.' Otherwise you will just teach MIL that she can go around you directly to BBF and that you won't stand your ground because you (rightfully!) don't want to upset your daughter, who has nothing to do with any of this. She'll just keep giving the inappropriate treats/presents/privileges directly to BFF to circumvent you, knowing you will let her keep them now that she's seen them.

Give the backpack back and every time she tries to go around you, stand your ground. Grandma says you can miss the nap? Too bad Mommy outranks her. Grandma gave you ice cream? No sugar in the afternoon (generic example here) and into the freeze for dessert it goes.  BBF will learn pretty quick who's rules take precedence.

Of course, this only works if your DH is also onboard and backs you up.

It only works if she does it in front of me.   When DH or I are there, she's very good about following our rules (or asking us first, if it's something she's not sure we'd say yes to).  So she'd never suggest missing a nap or getting surprise ice cream without checking with us discreetly first.  It's just when she's the one watching Babybartfast and she's using her own judgement that she tends to stretch the limits  ::)  If we said "Babybartfast must have a 60-minute nap, staying on the bed, with no toys, alone in the room with the lights off," she'd have no problem doing it.  Same with "no sugar ever."  But those are two rules we're context-sensitive about - Babybartfast needs a nap for 1-2 hours, except it doesn't always have to be at exactly the same time and she doesn't *have* to sleep and she's allowed some types of toys (books, mostly) but not others (iPad) and if we have something else scheduled she misses a nap occasionally and if she's in the right sort of mood, it's fine.  I just can't trust MIL to come to the same conclusions about where on the scale things fall as I do.

I will say, at the restaurant the other night, Babybartfast opened each present, then enthusiastically ran to the person who gave it to her and gave them a big hug and told them thank you.  That was all MIL's influence - I certainly would have encouraged the same behavior, of course, but apparently MIL had given her a little talk earlier in the day about appropriate birthday behavior and it stuck.  So she's not all bad, just manipulative and lacking in common sense  ::)

I hate to say it but it sounds like the scenarios when you or DH aren't present need to be few and far between.  It sounds more and more like she is trying to undermine your (you and DH) roles as parents.  Between treat giving and behavior modification, she's covering all bases.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: girlmusic on August 01, 2013, 02:56:29 PM
It only works if she does it in front of me.  When DH or I are there, she's very good about following our rules (or asking us first, if it's something she's not sure we'd say yes to).  So she'd never suggest missing a nap or getting surprise ice cream without checking with us discreetly first.  It's just when she's the one watching Babybartfast and she's using her own judgement that she tends to stretch the limits  ::)  If we said "Babybartfast must have a 60-minute nap, staying on the bed, with no toys, alone in the room with the lights off," she'd have no problem doing it.  Same with "no sugar ever."  But those are two rules we're context-sensitive about - Babybartfast needs a nap for 1-2 hours, except it doesn't always have to be at exactly the same time and she doesn't *have* to sleep and she's allowed some types of toys (books, mostly) but not others (iPad) and if we have something else scheduled she misses a nap occasionally and if she's in the right sort of mood, it's fine.  I just can't trust MIL to come to the same conclusions about where on the scale things fall as I do.

I will say, at the restaurant the other night, Babybartfast opened each present, then enthusiastically ran to the person who gave it to her and gave them a big hug and told them thank you.  That was all MIL's influence - I certainly would have encouraged the same behavior, of course, but apparently MIL had given her a little talk earlier in the day about appropriate birthday behavior and it stuck.  So she's not all bad, just manipulative and lacking in common sense  ::)

I suggest very clear and consistent directions would go a long way here. So what if you two decide to do things differently when you are in charge? As the parents you can make adjustments and exceptions where you see fit, but GMIL should follow a clear set of steps/procedures each time. Your child won't be hurt by the consistency - and you still have the opportunity to say "GMIL, the baby was up really early this morning so please try to get her to nap for 2 hours instead of 1 today."

For instance, my mom watches our son once a week and she knows to take him to the potty once per hour, feed him dinner and give him a bath. Do we always do that each night? No, it depends on the circumstance but we are the parents so we determine what and when those circumstances are.

Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: SPuck on August 01, 2013, 03:49:24 PM
Slartibartfast, I'm confused on where you stance is with your MIL. You posted several legitimate concerns about your MIL, but in most of your later posts you are making excused for her behavior. It doesn't matter how nice or sweet a relative appears, if they are trying to undermine your parental authority there is a problem.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: NyaChan on August 01, 2013, 04:24:17 PM
It only works if she does it in front of me.  When DH or I are there, she's very good about following our rules (or asking us first, if it's something she's not sure we'd say yes to).  So she'd never suggest missing a nap or getting surprise ice cream without checking with us discreetly first.  It's just when she's the one watching Babybartfast and she's using her own judgement that she tends to stretch the limits  ::)  If we said "Babybartfast must have a 60-minute nap, staying on the bed, with no toys, alone in the room with the lights off," she'd have no problem
I will say, at the restaurant the other night, Babybartfast opened each present, then enthusiastically ran to the person who gave it to her and gave them a big hug and told them thank you.  That was all MIL's influence - I certainly would have encouraged the same behavior, of course, but apparently MIL had given her a little talk earlier in the day about appropriate birthday behavior and it stuck.  So she's not all bad, just manipulative and lacking in common sense  ::)

I get what you mean by this - my grandmother is often toxic to both her children and often her grandchildren.  She drives us crazy sometimes.  But she is also the person who painstakingly spent time teaching me to read in two different languages and kept a special tin of candies just for me for when we had tea time.  Very few people in the world have no redeeming features.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: gmatoy on August 01, 2013, 10:40:27 PM
(and I do realize it's trivial if you just look at this specific incident)

It isn't trivial if it is part of a larger pattern.


My MIL did things like this. Here is the thing: it is the equivalent of spitting in the faces of your parents. DO. NOT. LET. HER. GET. AWAY. WITH. THIS!  Take it away from Your daughter, give it back to your MIL and tell your daughter why you did this. You will not let your daughter be bullied, why would you allow your MIL to be a bully to your parents?

Okay, maybe I'm still holding a grudge over Barbie clothes made for my younger sister when I had spent months making a complete wardrobe for a special Christmas present. I sent them, but it ruined my desire to ever make anymore.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: tasryn on August 02, 2013, 10:55:26 AM
Sorry for being late to the party but this reminds me so much of my MIL I couldn't resist. Like has been mentioned before, people of this nature are often very loving people. They really are nurturers and caretakers and put a lot of stock on their ability to see themselves as good people on how much they are helping others. But like my MIL, sometimes that ability to be seen as a nice person deteriorates into controlling behavior because you can't be a good person helping others if no one is asking for help. So you start pushing to help even if it's not asked for, you go around other people's homes looking for things to improve so you can "help", you take that person not being there as a way to improve things around the house such as cleaning or tidying up and yes that also involves "helping" the children sometimes by directly counteracting what the parents want for that child.

Of course with help also comes the ability to control others because the more people rely on you for help the more power you have in their lives. Eventually you start to be unable to perform basic tasks without them (my FIL can't fill up his own gas tank or use an ATM so my MIL has to do it as her way of "helping"), you involve them in every decision you make about everything from which dentist to use to what carpeting to put in your living room as they can offer advice which becomes intrusive eventually because although it's great to involve someone once or twice in a decision as they can offer meaningful advice, you don't want to involve them every time but that's what it becomes.

The only thing that works with my MIL (and yes I am the one that posted on the forum a few weeks ago about my ILs not coming to my daughter's party as they weren't invited to come on the actual birthday as it was immediate family only) is to involve her in our lives as little as possible. I stopped telling her about things that needed fixing or being done as she would jump in and do them without asking. We bring our daughter to see her often but not necessarily every week and I prefer to do it at their house so that we can leave when we want and they can't go through our house looking for help. I have started to refuse help even in cases where she didn't ask if we want it (i.e. "I'm going to wash your sheets while you're away. I tell her in these cases that I'm fine instead of thanking her because I didn't know how to tell her that I didn't need that done). The ONLY thing that works is to create boundaries and involve her as little as possible. The more info she has, the more she inserts herself into our lives. The more she is in our home, the more she can suddenly start to help when it's not necessary. I still have a long way to go. It probably sounds cruel to involve her a little less in my daughter's life than she was before but I remind myself that this is the woman who reads through her children's personal emails without their knowledge and who cleaned my home and rearranged my garage without my permission. Perhaps it's better to not have such a manipulative, controlling and boundary disrespecting person in her life. Sometimes just because someone holds the title of grandparent doesn't mean they are always the best influence or are able to be the best teacher about how to live life.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: Midnight Kitty on August 02, 2013, 12:22:11 PM
Like has been mentioned before, people of this nature are often very loving people. They really are nurturers and caretakers and put a lot of stock on their ability to see themselves as good people on how much they are helping others. But like my MIL, sometimes that ability to be seen as a nice person deteriorates into controlling behavior because you can't be a good person helping others if no one is asking for help. So you start pushing to help even if it's not asked for, you go around other people's homes looking for things to improve so you can "help", you take that person not being there as a way to improve things around the house such as cleaning or tidying up and yes that also involves "helping" the children sometimes by directly counteracting what the parents want for that child.

Of course with help also comes the ability to control others because the more people rely on you for help the more power you have in their lives.
This describes my mother to a "T".  She says she is welcome to visit with [all these peope] because she is needed and so helpful.  Yeah, she'll help herself take over your life until she decides everything that enters your body, including what medications you should not take, what natural supplements you must take, and which foods you should not eat and which you must eat.

Perhaps it's better to not have such a manipulative, controlling and boundary disrespecting person in her life. Sometimes just because someone holds the title of grandparent doesn't mean they are always the best influence or are able to be the best teacher about how to live life.
This is the decision we have been forced to take because my mother's fury at not being able to control me from 2,500 miles away had me shaking and I almost had a stroke.  She thinks she knows best what is needed for my health when what I need to be healthy is her not interfering with my life/body/health.  Of course, she does these acts out of love and sees my rejection of her advice as rejecting her. Sigh.  She says she cannot stand by and watch the people she loves self destruct by eating wrong/drinking alcohol/smoking anything, so she is forced to take control ... for their own good! :P
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: gmatoy on August 02, 2013, 10:11:31 PM
(and I do realize it's trivial if you just look at this specific incident)

It isn't trivial if it is part of a larger pattern.


My MIL did things like this. Here is the thing: it is the equivalent of spitting in the faces of your parents. DO. NOT. LET. HER. GET. AWAY. WITH. THIS!  Take it away from Your daughter, give it back to your MIL and tell your daughter why you did this. You will not let your daughter be bullied, why would you allow your MIL to be a bully to your parents?

Okay, maybe I'm still holding a grudge over Barbie clothes made for my younger sister when I had spent months making a complete wardrobe for a special Christmas present. I sent them, but it ruined my desire to ever make anymore.

Okay, after I posted this, I called my mother read what I had written about my MIL and in tears told her how when I told her about this, she told me that "your MIL is just trying to be nice." I told my mother last night about how hurt I had been and that I felt "gaslighted."  It has been a very long time, but my mother apologized and told me that she should have trusted my instincts!

I am sorry for hi jacking this thread; however, that post and the phone call to my mother may have saved me years of therapy!
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: DoubleTrouble on August 03, 2013, 08:10:03 PM
Sorry for being late to the party but this reminds me so much of my MIL I couldn't resist. Like has been mentioned before, people of this nature are often very loving people. They really are nurturers and caretakers and put a lot of stock on their ability to see themselves as good people on how much they are helping others. But like my MIL, sometimes that ability to be seen as a nice person deteriorates into controlling behavior because you can't be a good person helping others if no one is asking for help. So you start pushing to help even if it's not asked for, you go around other people's homes looking for things to improve so you can "help", you take that person not being there as a way to improve things around the house such as cleaning or tidying up and yes that also involves "helping" the children sometimes by directly counteracting what the parents want for that child.

Of course with help also comes the ability to control others because the more people rely on you for help the more power you have in their lives. Eventually you start to be unable to perform basic tasks without them (my FIL can't fill up his own gas tank or use an ATM so my MIL has to do it as her way of "helping"), you involve them in every decision you make about everything from which dentist to use to what carpeting to put in your living room as they can offer advice which becomes intrusive eventually because although it's great to involve someone once or twice in a decision as they can offer meaningful advice, you don't want to involve them every time but that's what it becomes.

The only thing that works with my MIL (and yes I am the one that posted on the forum a few weeks ago about my ILs not coming to my daughter's party as they weren't invited to come on the actual birthday as it was immediate family only) is to involve her in our lives as little as possible. I stopped telling her about things that needed fixing or being done as she would jump in and do them without asking. We bring our daughter to see her often but not necessarily every week and I prefer to do it at their house so that we can leave when we want and they can't go through our house looking for help. I have started to refuse help even in cases where she didn't ask if we want it (i.e. "I'm going to wash your sheets while you're away. I tell her in these cases that I'm fine instead of thanking her because I didn't know how to tell her that I didn't need that done). The ONLY thing that works is to create boundaries and involve her as little as possible. The more info she has, the more she inserts herself into our lives. The more she is in our home, the more she can suddenly start to help when it's not necessary. I still have a long way to go. It probably sounds cruel to involve her a little less in my daughter's life than she was before but I remind myself that this is the woman who reads through her children's personal emails without their knowledge and who cleaned my home and rearranged my garage without my permission. Perhaps it's better to not have such a manipulative, controlling and boundary disrespecting person in her life. Sometimes just because someone holds the title of grandparent doesn't mean they are always the best influence or are able to be the best teacher about how to live life.

Holy cats, you have just described my mother.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: SPuck on August 03, 2013, 08:20:23 PM
Perhaps It's better to not have such a manipulative, controlling and boundary disrespecting person in her life.

I feel this needs to be emphasized.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
Post by: Elfmama on August 03, 2013, 11:37:44 PM
OP I vaguely remember the cake incident so I searched and now I remember it all!! WOW this woman is something else! Time to make a united front with hubby!!

For those wondering here is the link:
http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=119002.0 (http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=119002.0)

Thanks for digging up the link - I've been reading back through it and I had completely forgotten that she got Babybartfast 1600 live ladybugs for her fourth birthday  ::)
I am now pouting because I didn't get a ballerina-dinosaur-astronaut-biker cake for MY birthday.  (Or any cake, for that matter.)
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: Slartibartfast on August 03, 2013, 11:40:16 PM
Kind of a non-update today:

We had Babybartfast's party and it went really well.  MIL came (which was nice, since it let me do more hostessing than I would have been able to do if I had been having to chase down Bittybartfast the whole time) and Niece/Nephew/SIL2/FIL/anyone else MIL happened to bump into in the last month didn't, which was also nice.  The kids all had a blast, I gave them all way more sugar than they normally got at home, and they all came out of it excited to be "princesses."

MIL was pretty well behaved - other than calling an hour before the party and only-half-jokingly asking if it was too late to rent the neighborhood clubhouse instead  ::) she really did do some helpful stuff and I didn't see her do anything I would have disapproved of.  She brought outfits for the girls to wear but didn't fuss when I pointedly presented the outfit to Babybartfast as "You can pick what you want to wear for your party; Grandma brought this and this or you can choose this other thing from your drawers."  (Babybartfast was more than happy to wear what MIL brought - their tastes both run to sparkly and froofy.  Doesn't work for me, but seems to look great on 5-year-olds and 70-year-olds alike!)  She did grumble once or twice about being sick of Bittybartfast, but since DH immediately swooped in to scoop up Bittybartfast the first time and I did the second time, she stopped commenting  >:D  I'm hoping if we keep doing that long enough (we've been trying for months), she'll stop complaining . . .
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: nayberry on August 04, 2013, 07:20:02 AM
Kind of a non-update today:

We had Babybartfast's party and it went really well.  MIL came (which was nice, since it let me do more hostessing than I would have been able to do if I had been having to chase down Bittybartfast the whole time) and Niece/Nephew/SIL2/FIL/anyone else MIL happened to bump into in the last month didn't, which was also nice.  The kids all had a blast, I gave them all way more sugar than they normally got at home, and they all came out of it excited to be "princesses."

MIL was pretty well behaved - other than calling an hour before the party and only-half-jokingly asking if it was too late to rent the neighborhood clubhouse instead  ::) she really did do some helpful stuff and I didn't see her do anything I would have disapproved of.  She brought outfits for the girls to wear but didn't fuss when I pointedly presented the outfit to Babybartfast as "You can pick what you want to wear for your party; Grandma brought this and this or you can choose this other thing from your drawers."  (Babybartfast was more than happy to wear what MIL brought - their tastes both run to sparkly and froofy.  Doesn't work for me, but seems to look great on 5-year-olds and 70-year-olds alike!) She did grumble once or twice about being sick of Bittybartfast, but since DH immediately swooped in to scoop up Bittybartfast the first time and I did the second time, she stopped commenting  >:D  I'm hoping if we keep doing that long enough (we've been trying for months), she'll stop complaining . . .

what????   she was sick of your other child???   *deep breathing to squash evilnay down*

evilnay would have handed her her bag/coat/etc and told her to get the $^!"^$^"% out of my house!

polite nay, would have hissed at dh to tell her to get the  $^!"^$^"% out of my house!


Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: asb8 on August 04, 2013, 11:03:04 AM
I really hope when you say "she did grumble once or twice about being sick of Bittybabyfast" that the she you mean was the birthday girl and not Grandma.  Because while a an older sibling complaining about their younger sibling is completed understandable, Grandma complaining is not.


Don't let your guard down Slartibartfast.  Just because she behaved (kinda of) once, doesn't mean she won't revert to her old behavior when it suits her.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: Slartibartfast on August 04, 2013, 01:32:27 PM
I really hope when you say "she did grumble once or twice about being sick of Bittybabyfast" that the she you mean was the birthday girl and not Grandma.  Because while a an older sibling complaining about their younger sibling is completed understandable, Grandma complaining is not.

Oh, this is pretty constant for her - she makes little half-PA comments (usually after voluntarily spending time with the girls) about how they're running her ragged or how she's ready for a nap.  She doesn't mean any of them, I think, but I really do try not to presume on her on the rare occasions I really did ask her to provide babysitting.  So for the last six months or so, every time she says something about how she's overwhelmed, DH or I step in and take over and don't let her change her mind.  She's doing it less often, now, so I think she's starting to learn that we're sick of having to guess whether her comments are just a ploy for sympathy, a real gripe, or just her being bored and wanting to say something.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: GreenEyedHawk on August 04, 2013, 03:54:17 PM
I'm also late to the party but i think Tasryn's post is very insightful.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: CakeEater on August 04, 2013, 04:17:31 PM
I really hope when you say "she did grumble once or twice about being sick of Bittybabyfast" that the she you mean was the birthday girl and not Grandma.  Because while a an older sibling complaining about their younger sibling is completed understandable, Grandma complaining is not.

Oh, this is pretty constant for her - she makes little half-PA comments (usually after voluntarily spending time with the girls) about how they're running her ragged or how she's ready for a nap.  She doesn't mean any of them, I think, but I really do try not to presume on her on the rare occasions I really did ask her to provide babysitting.  So for the last six months or so, every time she says something about how she's overwhelmed, DH or I step in and take over and don't let her change her mind.  She's doing it less often, now, so I think she's starting to learn that we're sick of having to guess whether her comments are just a ploy for sympathy, a real gripe, or just her being bored and wanting to say something.

I suspect it's nothing to do with the kids at all, but about, 'Look how much work I put in to help you guys out - I'm exhausted from all the work!'
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: bopper on August 04, 2013, 05:00:56 PM
I think some people have a hard time dealing with little babies because they are not very interactive.
But your strategy is a good one...always assume PA people are telling the truth and act accordingly.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: CharlieBraun on August 04, 2013, 07:08:49 PM
Sick of one of the grandchildren....

PA digs.....

Stealing thunder from the "other" grandparents.....

.
.
.

and this is a person you describe as "nice?"

SB, I really, genuinely, worry for you.  If this person is your yardstick of "nice," then I wonder what it would take for you to classify someone as "not nice."  And that concerns me.

Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: Nemesis on August 05, 2013, 02:29:53 AM
I really hope when you say "she did grumble once or twice about being sick of Bittybabyfast" that the she you mean was the birthday girl and not Grandma.  Because while a an older sibling complaining about their younger sibling is completed understandable, Grandma complaining is not.

Oh, this is pretty constant for her - she makes little half-PA comments (usually after voluntarily spending time with the girls) about how they're running her ragged or how she's ready for a nap.  She doesn't mean any of them, I think, but I really do try not to presume on her on the rare occasions I really did ask her to provide babysitting.  So for the last six months or so, every time she says something about how she's overwhelmed, DH or I step in and take over and don't let her change her mind.  She's doing it less often, now, so I think she's starting to learn that we're sick of having to guess whether her comments are just a ploy for sympathy, a real gripe, or just her being bored and wanting to say something.

You're being too nice. And Grandma is being a narcissistic brat.

My mother does this a lot as well. Her "martyrdom" mode will kick in and she'll start to say how Angel makes her SOOOO tired, and how she needs SOOO much rest after spending an hour or two with Angel. It's just a passive aggressive ploy to make you feel guilty about how much energy she's had to spend, and you're supposed to play your part by grovelling to her. Or fawn over her. Or tell her over and over again how GRATEFUL you are for her help.

She's not being nice. She's being helpful and playing Grandma when it suits her, and turning everything into herself. It's not about you, your DH, or your kids. She probably does love the kids but with a narcissist, it's almost always about herself - what a great grandma she is, what a great MIL she is, what a caring mother she is and how EXHAUSTED she is becoming by a GOOD person to everyone. In short, she's a martyr.

How I handle my mother? Just tell her, "Oh since Angel tired you out so much, I'll give you a break and not come over next week." Or "Oh, you're tired? I see. We'll go home now and give you your well deserved rest". If she's at our house, I'll hand her her bags, open the front door and say "I guess you better go home to rest. I'll see you next week". And then no matter how she protests, we go home, or I'll insist that she leaves. She's learned not to make such comments to me.

And about being helpful - I have learned that genuinely helpful and caring people do not try to forcefully help others and then use passive aggressive comments to force expressions of appreciation for their efforts. It took me a long, long time to learn the difference between true love and care, and drama-queen martyrdom love and care. I hope you learn to see the difference too.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: tasryn on August 05, 2013, 05:39:26 AM
Just wanted to write back as this last post about the difference between truly helpful people and "martyrs" is very, very true. Genuinely helpful people are there to help when you ask and they don't expect anything in return except a simple thank you. They don't ask for excessive compliments or ways to justify their martyr behavior. If someone is expecting that, then they aren't being genuinely helpful. They are helping to fulfill a need within them and because that is the case then you aren't obligated to have to do that for them. Also, it doesn't make you a bad person to push back and say no. Just because help is offered doesn't mean you have to take it and it doesn't mean it is always appreciated when something is done for you that you didn't ask for. And you should never have to justify not wanting help for any reason even if it is just that you wanted to have the experience of doing it yourself. The biggest breakthrough for me besides saying no is to stop feeling guilty. I don't feel like a bad person for pushing back anymore because this behavior was having an effect on my marriage and my family and no one's behavior should have that kind of power over you.
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: Sophia on August 05, 2013, 12:04:53 PM
If I were you, I would do many things.  But, one there is one that hasn't been mentioned. 

You KNOW she is going to try to one-up the things you or your parents do.  So, lie to her about gifts.  In the future, figure out something that your kids could use but no one else is getting.  Then tell MIL that you or your parents are getting it. 
Then, if she gets that, then no problem.  If she says anything you can say, "Well, it is good thing we/they changed our mind since you deliberately tried to one-up it"
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: wheeitsme on August 05, 2013, 04:21:45 PM
Sick of one of the grandchildren....

PA digs.....

Stealing thunder from the "other" grandparents.....

.
.
.

and this is a person you describe as "nice?"

SB, I really, genuinely, worry for you.  If this person is your yardstick of "nice," then I wonder what it would take for you to classify someone as "not nice."  And that concerns me.

I'm not entirely comfortable painting people like the OP's MIL with a broad brush of, well, all the names folks are calling the OP's MIL.

One of my grandmothers was like this.  Incredibly narcissistic.  Outside of her narcissism she could be very nice.  And she loved us. We all knew her for who she was and interacted with her accordingly. 

People can be incredibly complex paradoxes. 

The OP has said the the MIL/Grandmother is generally nice (outside of certain behaviors that drive her crazy - and rightfully so).  And the OP is very clear on those specific behaviors.  I'd guess that giving the OP advice on how to deal with those specific behaviors would be more productive that trying to convince the OP the her MIL is nasty.

YMMV

Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: Midnight Kitty on August 05, 2013, 05:06:52 PM
The OP has said the the MIL/Grandmother is generally nice (outside of certain behaviors that drive her crazy - and rightfully so).  And the OP is very clear on those specific behaviors.  I'd guess that giving the OP advice on how to deal with those specific behaviors would be more productive that trying to convince the OP the her MIL is nasty.

YMMV
Speaking for myself, it was difficult for me to recognize my mother's manipulative, narcissistic behavior for a long time.  She was so sure of herself and of people's appreciation for her help that I felt like a bad daughter for objecting or even not appreciating when she did something her way which I did not want her to do in any way.  I spent a long time reading other people's stories before I recognized that I wasn't out of line, she was.  Even as a 50+ y.o. adult, it is hard for me to think of my mother as "wrong."

It was a relief to realize that her behavior was not *normal* parenting.  I can not change her, but I can change the way I react to her.  The first and most important step was to protect myself from attack.  But ... as long as I was telling myself that she was a nice, loving, generous mother, I would not be prepared to defend myself and would continue to be surprised by her malicious, manipulative behavior.  In fact, she is partially the inspiration for my sig line - Look things in the face and know them for what they are.

YMMV
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: wheeitsme on August 05, 2013, 05:36:39 PM
The OP has said the the MIL/Grandmother is generally nice (outside of certain behaviors that drive her crazy - and rightfully so).  And the OP is very clear on those specific behaviors.  I'd guess that giving the OP advice on how to deal with those specific behaviors would be more productive that trying to convince the OP the her MIL is nasty.

YMMV
Speaking for myself, it was difficult for me to recognize my mother's manipulative, narcissistic behavior for a long time.  She was so sure of herself and of people's appreciation for her help that I felt like a bad daughter for objecting or even not appreciating when she did something her way which I did not want her to do in any way.  I spent a long time reading other people's stories before I recognized that I wasn't out of line, she was.  Even as a 50+ y.o. adult, it is hard for me to think of my mother as "wrong."

It was a relief to realize that her behavior was not *normal* parenting.  I can not change her, but I can change the way I react to her.  The first and most important step was to protect myself from attack.  But ... as long as I was telling myself that she was a nice, loving, generous mother, I would not be prepared to defend myself and would continue to be surprised by her malicious, manipulative behavior.  In fact, she is partially the inspiration for my sig line - Look things in the face and know them for what they are.

YMMV

I'm not disagreeing with knowing who/how someone is.  I think it's a major key to relationships. 

In our case, we all knew who/how my grandmother was.  We protected ourselves from her narcissistic behaviors.  But she could be, and often was, nice.  A good example is that we appreciated when she was generous with her things, because that was hard for her, but we didn't expect her to be overly generous because it was not in her nature.  She wasn't mean or parsimonious, just not generous. 

And she would storm the battlements and tear anyone to shreds who attacked her family (and only part of that was tied to her narcissism  ;) ). 

Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: BabyMama on August 06, 2013, 11:31:41 AM
I really hope when you say "she did grumble once or twice about being sick of Bittybabyfast" that the she you mean was the birthday girl and not Grandma.  Because while a an older sibling complaining about their younger sibling is completed understandable, Grandma complaining is not.

Oh, this is pretty constant for her - she makes little half-PA comments (usually after voluntarily spending time with the girls) about how they're running her ragged or how she's ready for a nap.  She doesn't mean any of them, I think, but I really do try not to presume on her on the rare occasions I really did ask her to provide babysitting.  So for the last six months or so, every time she says something about how she's overwhelmed, DH or I step in and take over and don't let her change her mind.  She's doing it less often, now, so I think she's starting to learn that we're sick of having to guess whether her comments are just a ploy for sympathy, a real gripe, or just her being bored and wanting to say something.

My mother does this as well. She will keep DD (coming up on 6) for the entire day, and later make PA comments about how exhausted she is. But then she'll keep her overnight/into the next day, insisting that it's fine. She just wants you to know how much wooooooork she's putting forth.  ::)
Title: Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57
Post by: JenJay on August 06, 2013, 01:11:25 PM
I really hope when you say "she did grumble once or twice about being sick of Bittybabyfast" that the she you mean was the birthday girl and not Grandma.  Because while a an older sibling complaining about their younger sibling is completed understandable, Grandma complaining is not.

Oh, this is pretty constant for her - she makes little half-PA comments (usually after voluntarily spending time with the girls) about how they're running her ragged or how she's ready for a nap.  She doesn't mean any of them, I think, but I really do try not to presume on her on the rare occasions I really did ask her to provide babysitting.  So for the last six months or so, every time she says something about how she's overwhelmed, DH or I step in and take over and don't let her change her mind.  She's doing it less often, now, so I think she's starting to learn that we're sick of having to guess whether her comments are just a ploy for sympathy, a real gripe, or just her being bored and wanting to say something.

I suspect it's nothing to do with the kids at all, but about, 'Look how much work I put in to help you guys out - I'm exhausted from all the work!'

Exactly. And I bet the response she's looking for is "Oh, MIL, you're so wonderful. Where would we be without you?!"

I think you're handling that perfectly, SB, definitely one for the "Giving P/A people what they want" thread!  ;)