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
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.