Author Topic: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week... UPDATE #57  (Read 19285 times)

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Slartibartfast

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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.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2013, 12:53:55 PM by Slartibartfast »

heartmug

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Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2013, 04:44:30 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.
The trouble is not that the world is full of fools, it's just that lightening isn't distributed right.  - Mark Twain

lkdrymom

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Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2013, 04:46:14 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.

ti_ax

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Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2013, 04:46:24 PM »
Here's my suggested phrase:

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

Slartibartfast: "No."

LeveeWoman

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Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2013, 04:47:09 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.

Donovan

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Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2013, 04:48:50 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.


Tabby Uprising

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Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2013, 04:51:38 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.

Slartibartfast

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Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2013, 04:55:06 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.

Pen^2

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Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2013, 04:57:39 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."

TootsNYC

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Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2013, 04:59:40 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."

Amava

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Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2013, 04:59:45 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.

lowspark

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Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
« Reply #11 on: July 24, 2013, 05:00:28 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.

JenJay

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Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
« Reply #12 on: July 24, 2013, 05:00:45 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

singingserpent

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Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
« Reply #13 on: July 24, 2013, 05:06:47 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.

whim

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Re: My MIL is driving me crazy! Preparing for next week...
« Reply #14 on: July 24, 2013, 05:10:13 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?"