Hello all - am hoping that I wasn't rude, but if I was, how can I handle this situation while remaining polite?
MIL has always been paranoid that we ignore her calls - when we had an answer phone we discovered that she would quite literally ring every few minutes until we picked up (often the phone was ringing as we got in the door). Once she left a message saying "I've been calling, I know the children have school tomorrow so I can't believe you're not in" (we weren't in!). We don't usually ignore the phone, and we mainly keep in contact with her by phone as we don't see her often.
She does however have a terrible habit of calling us during our dinner. We eat roundabout the same time each evening and we have repeatedly told her that we're in the middle of dinner when she calls and have suggested she calls earlier (we eat late) but she usually tries to carry on whatever conversation she's been planning on having instead of saying "Oh sorry, will call you back". If we say "Sorry, we're in the middle of dinner, we'll call you afterwards" she sometimes gets very upset and goes very quiet and does a bit of a snarky 'well I'm sorry for ringing' which because we know her, we know she's annoyed or upset but it's the sort of phrase that in the right tone of voice would be completely innocuous.
Last night she called, and we decided not to pick up and let the phone ring out. We'd call her after dinner. Phone went again, this time from a withheld number but we were sure it was her, we ignored it. She rang from her mobile. Then a moment later the phone rang for a fourth time so I decided to answer (because it was very disruptive and DH was getting really cross). I may well have sounded slightly irritated when I said 'Hello?' (tried to keep it out of my voice but I was annoyed so it may have come through). I wasn't 100% certain it was her, but when she said 'It's me' I didn't greet her warmly as I would normally have done, I just said 'Oh, we're in the middle of dinner. We'll call you back'. She apologised then said 'I just want to speak to DH for one minute'. I know that it's never one minute with her and I also didn't want her to get the idea that if she called multiple times from multiple numbers that we'd pick up eventually. So I said 'I'm sorry MIL, but he's just eating dinner, I'll get him to call you back as soon as he's done'. She went very quiet and said in a very frosty tone that she was so sorry for calling and hung up.
I hate to upset her, and I really hate that she's now mad at me and probably thinks I'm stopping her from speaking to her son but I'm also annoyed that she tried to catch us out by calling from different numbers and withheld numbers (she's done it before) because she thinks we would pick up if it wasn't her. That's not true - we don't want to speak to anyone in the middle of dinner!
I'm also annoyed that she doesn't respect that we either can't or don't want to answer the phone and rings until the phone rings off and then instantly tries again.
Do you think I was rude by not greeting her as I normally do on the phone - she must have picked up that I was annoyed from that?