Author Topic: "But that is the only time I have!"  (Read 12550 times)

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miranova

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« Reply #15 on: May 15, 2014, 12:37:13 PM »
Write down exactly the times that she can come to visit. Tell her when those are. When she says that doesn't work for her say "That's a shame. It would have been nice to see you this summer. Have you planted your vegetable garden yet?" Just change the subject, because you're done talking about a visit. She can't come when you're available, so she can't come.

I like this.  Give her the weeks the kids will be available and let her go from there.  I would also let her know that you've had summer planned since March (or whenever dates were worked out) and that next year you would be happy to add her to the calendar as long as she lets you know by February.

My mom would tell you that she has a right to ask and you have a right to say no.  Give her the free times and see what she does.  Unless she has booked non-refundable trips she may be able to rearrange.

Regarding the bolded, I would not do that. You already have a scheduling nightmare going on with the exes and I would not want to add to that.

Instead, though, what you could do is say that next year, as soon as the summer schedule is set, meaning after all the calendar wrangling with the exes is done, you can give her a list of available dates. That way she will have the opportunity to plan her own schedule around the grandkids instead of expecting the opposite.

I agree with this - she gets a COPY of your family's schedule AFTER the wrangling with the kids & the exes have been done - with a note that this is carved in stone and CANNOT be changed because it just cannot be changed due to having to negotiate the needs of THREE sets of parents.   It just cannot be changed at this point.

Yes, you guys are definitely understanding what she is not.  She has actually tried to call dh's ex before to try to get her to give up some of her own time with the kids or to ask her to change her mind about certain vacation schedules so she could see the kids.  MIL actually said to me that it "wasn't fair to her" that she could only see her grandkids when we have them.  I get that that must be a little frustrating, but I'm not the right person to complain to about that, since I only get to see my own children half the time!  I get that divorces affect more people than just the immediate family, I get it.  But those are still the facts and we all have to make our peace with it.

Dh very firmly asked MIL to never do that again.  It caused problems in an otherwise very amicable co-parenting situation that he and his ex have.  She understandably did not want phone calls from her ex MIL to discuss a custody situation that was already agreed on by the two parties who actually get a say in it.  This was years ago though, so at least it hasn't happened again that we know of.

miranova

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Re: "But that is the only time I have!"
« Reply #16 on: May 15, 2014, 12:39:06 PM »
Does your MIL know/understand your scheduling constraints?

We have told her, but I honestly don't think she understands, not really.  I think that she thinks we are just giving her excuses. 

Outdoor Girl

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Re: "But that is the only time I have!"
« Reply #17 on: May 15, 2014, 12:56:02 PM »
Does your MIL know/understand your scheduling constraints?

We have told her, but I honestly don't think she understands, not really.  I think that she thinks we are just giving her excuses.

Are there legal requirements, like custody agreements?  If she won't drop it, I'd bring that into play.  'If we don't figure out a schedule that works for all the parents and kids involved, we would be in violation of the custody agreements and potentially in legal trouble.  I'm sorry, but you will have to fit your visit in around the schedule that we are required, by law, to establish.'
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TootsNYC

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Re: "But that is the only time I have!"
« Reply #18 on: May 15, 2014, 01:03:20 PM »
This has been a problem for enough years that if she -wanted- to understand, she would have by now. She doesn't "see" anyone but herself (hence the long phone calls).

So I wouldn't spend any time trying to explain.
My strategy would be
-be sympathetic in tone
-be factual
-be silent (don't try to fix it); or, suggest that she could change some of her other plans, and then -you- do the "apply pressure by waiting hopefully for her to agree"
-be proactive in sending her the kids' schedule
-get off the phone.

Nuala

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Re: !
« Reply #19 on: May 15, 2014, 01:08:43 PM »
Quote
She has actually tried to call dh's ex before to try to get her to give up some of her own time with the kids or to ask her to change her mind about certain vacation schedules so she could see the kids. MIL actually said to me that it "wasn't fair to her" that she could only see her grandkids when we have them.  I get that that must be a little frustrating, but I'm not the right person to complain to about that, since I only get to see my own children half the time!  I get that divorces affect more people than just the immediate family, I get it.  But those are still the facts and we all have to make our peace with it.

Dh very firmly asked MIL to never do that again.  It caused problems in an otherwise very amicable co-parenting situation that he and his ex have.  She understandably did not want phone calls from her ex MIL to discuss a custody situation that was already agreed on by the two parties who actually get a say in it.  This was years ago though, so at least it hasn't happened again that we know of.

Wow!

What about ex's parents? When would she imagine *they* see the grandchildren?

Why do some grandparents seem to forget what kids' schedules are like? Even without the blended family situation, kids have sports and lessons and friends that they want to see. Not to mention projects that they need to complete for school.

We would visit MIL and co fairly often until the kids hit middle school, but then it became increasingly difficult to carve out time. And it was a situation where the road only went one way.

Let's give your MIL the tiniest bit of credit for coming to you instead of expecting you all to pack up and travel to her.

But I will agree with those who suggest you give her the dates that will work for you with no JADEing.

Good luck!

Coley

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Re: "But that is the only time I have!"
« Reply #20 on: May 15, 2014, 01:11:29 PM »
Oh, my goodness. Your MIL is my mother. She has done exactly what your MIL did -- contact my ex to convince him to give up some of his time with DS so she would have the time when she wanted it. And I asked her to stop out of respect for his time with DS. And she refused to stop doing it. And that resulted in a severe limiting of contact with her several years ago. She would not respect the boundaries and make the best of the time she got (just like the rest of us have to!), so the consequence was less time with DS.

Since I was divorced, I have heard incessant whining from my mother that I am keeping DS away from her. She believes this because she doesn't get him whenever she wants him. She seems incapable of understanding that because his parents have to split his time in half, that means we all get less time. It doesn't mean she gets one-third or even one-fourth. Essentially, she has created a self-fulfilling prophecy because of her carping, complaining, and manipulating. She made herself very unpleasant about a situation that was already complicated and difficult. I took a hard line about it, so now she does in fact get much less time with DS.

I agree with PPs about giving your MIL the summer schedule and saying, "This is when the kids are available. Let us know which of these weeks will work for you." If she balks and refuses to budge on her end, then, "Well, I know that's disappointing. It's too bad it won't work out this summer." If she continues to harp about it, "Yes, it's too bad it won't work out." And the garden bean dip ... I like that idea, too.

She may not like this, but you would be politely standing firm on your boundaries.

Minmom3

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Re: "But that is the only time I have!"
« Reply #21 on: May 15, 2014, 01:30:57 PM »
OP, it sounds like you have an immediate family now of 7 people, plus the 2 ex-spouses.  That makes 9 people who HAVE to be accommodated before any grandparents are accommodated...  9 vs. 1...   Have you bluntly laid out those numbers for her yet?  Other than that, I agree with PP's who have said to tell her of the openings that exist, and let her do as she wants with those time slots.

I feel for you.  I never had to go through that, and I'm very grateful I didn't.
Mother to children and fuzz butts....

mime

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Re: "But that is the only time I have!"
« Reply #22 on: May 15, 2014, 02:41:21 PM »
I was thinking similar thoughts to Minmom: the kids' parents come before the grandparents. That's you and DH, your ex and his ex. Frankly, MIL has to come in line after a list of more important people. For her to think her schedule is more important than her grandkids' mothers and fathers is a bit... special.

I like the PPs suggestions of saying something like "Here are the days when the grandkids will be home. Gee, I'm sorry to hear it doesn't fit well with your plans. Let us know if anything changes for you."

On the bright side: it is nice that your kids all have so much family that wants to be a part of their lives. I hope they appreciate that despite the headaches, either now or when they're older!  :)

lowspark

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Re: "But that is the only time I have!"
« Reply #23 on: May 15, 2014, 02:46:16 PM »
Does your MIL know/understand your scheduling constraints?

We have told her, but I honestly don't think she understands, not really.  I think that she thinks we are just giving her excuses.

I think that sometimes the custody arrangements are something you can't wrap your head around unless you're living it. They're usually not all that straightforward to begin with, and then when you have to work out scheduling for the summer & holidays, it can be even more difficult for an outsider to grasp.

However! It's not really important for her to understand the nuts and bolts of it. It's only important for her to understand that
a) you don't have your kids all the time
b) there are times you don't get a choice in the whether you have them
c) even when there is some flexibility, it's still not totally in your control

At this point, I think it's beyond trying to explain it or trying to make her understand. In your situation I think I would just say, Look, I know it doesn't make sense to you but this is the way it is. You can keep fighting windmills or you can accept it and work with it.

To be honest, I wouldn't really care if she thinks we're making excuses or being deliberately difficult or whatever. Let her think what she wants. She is causing her own frustration at this point. Whether she likes it or not, whether it's your fault or exes' faults or the fault of the alignment of the stars really doesn't matter.

And that's why you don't JADE.
These are the weekends we are free this summer. If you can come on one of them, great! If not, oh well.
I think it's one of those lather-rinse-repeat situations. You just keep saying, this is when we are available and that's not going to change.

She'll either catch on or continue to be unhappy till the kids grow up.

TootsNYC

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Re: "But that is the only time I have!"
« Reply #24 on: May 15, 2014, 02:48:59 PM »
Quote
I think it's one of those lather-rinse-repeat situations. You just keep saying, this is when we are available and that's not going to change.

For all that I love the cut-and-paste, I think this might be one of those "say it once, and then stop talking--in fact, get out of the convo entirely" situations.

miranova

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Re: !
« Reply #25 on: May 15, 2014, 04:45:18 PM »
Quote
She has actually tried to call dh's ex before to try to get her to give up some of her own time with the kids or to ask her to change her mind about certain vacation schedules so she could see the kids. MIL actually said to me that it "wasn't fair to her" that she could only see her grandkids when we have them.  I get that that must be a little frustrating, but I'm not the right person to complain to about that, since I only get to see my own children half the time!  I get that divorces affect more people than just the immediate family, I get it.  But those are still the facts and we all have to make our peace with it.

Dh very firmly asked MIL to never do that again.  It caused problems in an otherwise very amicable co-parenting situation that he and his ex have.  She understandably did not want phone calls from her ex MIL to discuss a custody situation that was already agreed on by the two parties who actually get a say in it.  This was years ago though, so at least it hasn't happened again that we know of.



Let's give your MIL the tiniest bit of credit for coming to you instead of expecting you all to pack up and travel to her.


Well....we still get pressure to send the kids up there for "a couple of weeks" every summer.  The amount of pressure has decreased over the years, but it started out as an absolute expectation.  1.  We don't have a couple of weeks to spare them.  2. Gee thanks for wanting to see us, not just the kids.  3.  It's a 2 day drive or at least 6 plane tickets to get them there (no way am I putting FIVE unaccompanied minors on a plane alone).  4.  We did all go to see them one summer, including the 4 day round trip of traveling by car.  It was rough.  Very rough.  And it wasn't enough.  She cried when we left and made the kids feel bad.  We had been there over a week. She told them she wished they could just move up and live with her.  Ugh.  It will be a long time before we do that again.  She didn't seem to appreciate that we spent our only family vacation that year driving to her.  There are so many stories I could tell from that trip but I digress.....And as my SIL reminded me: "that wasn't a vacation".  Yep.

Also, they come done here for several months in the winter so I really feel like she gets a lot of time with them then.

PastryGoddess

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Re: "But that is the only time I have!"
« Reply #26 on: May 15, 2014, 08:08:54 PM »
feel free to print this out and post it on your mirror or fridge.  I can make it bigger if you want. :D

You are not a bad person, you and DH are good people trying to do the right thing by your kids and exes.  MIL is all sorts of unreasonable on this subject

JenJay

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Re: "But that is the only time I have!"
« Reply #27 on: May 15, 2014, 08:49:53 PM »
I like the idea of writing down the dates we are available before she calls.  I'm sure you are right that I could work on my sympathy.  I have to admit I don't actually feel a ton of sympathy, because I do feel she creates this situation by overbooking herself with all of her friends (which of course is totally her prerogative, but makes it hard to feel bad for her).  But I could try, it might help the conversation.

That's exactly what I was going to suggest - go on the offense. Be ready for her call and say "Hi! So I understand that we're going to try to coordinate a visit? We're free on these dates..." When she whines that she's only got the three weeks you counter with "I'm afraid those won't work for us. We have to arrange vacation with the kids other parents first and foremost and those weeks are already booked, the kids won't be around. Are you sure This, That or Other time won't work?"

You can feel sympathy without letting it turn into guilt. "Gosh, MIL, I'm really sorry that we don't seem to have any of the same weeks free. I know the kids will be disappointed if you don't make it out for a visit. I'd be happy to keep a few alternate weeks available for another month or so if you'd like to try to move some things around."  ;)

I'mnotinsane

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Re: "But that is the only time I have!"
« Reply #28 on: May 15, 2014, 09:55:02 PM »
I like the idea of writing down the dates we are available before she calls.  I'm sure you are right that I could work on my sympathy.  I have to admit I don't actually feel a ton of sympathy, because I do feel she creates this situation by overbooking herself with all of her friends (which of course is totally her prerogative, but makes it hard to feel bad for her).  But I could try, it might help the conversation.

That's exactly what I was going to suggest - go on the offense. Be ready for her call and say "Hi! So I understand that we're going to try to coordinate a visit? We're free on these dates..." When she whines that she's only got the three weeks you counter with "I'm afraid those won't work for us. We have to arrange vacation with the kids other parents first and foremost and those weeks are already booked, the kids won't be around. Are you sure This, That or Other time won't work?"

You can feel sympathy without letting it turn into guilt. "Gosh, MIL, I'm really sorry that we don't seem to have any of the same weeks free. I know the kids will be disappointed if you don't make it out for a visit. I'd be happy to keep a few alternate weeks available for another month or so if you'd like to try to move some things around."  ;)

This is a key phrase.  Remind her that you are not the only ones who are 'busy'.   

Marbles

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Re: "But that is the only time I have!"
« Reply #29 on: May 16, 2014, 03:36:49 AM »
Yep. Don't let her blame you for her being busy the rest of the summer.
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I'd sympathize, and leave an open statement about her changing her plans.
"Yes, MIL, it's a shame you're so busy. If you could have out [Week, week, or week] we'd have loved to see you."