Monday, June 9, 2014

MIL Saga: Part 9 - 2 Steps Forward, 2 Steps Back

I haven't talked about my MIL in a long time, but that's because there really hasn't been anything to tell in the past couple of years.  I think we only saw her once in 2013 (the annual family 4th of July party)...she skipped the girls' birthday party and my texts for numerous holidays, always with cute pics of the girls attached.  Justin was pretty annoyed when he found out I had been texting her, since he felt like the ball was completely in her court after no acknowledgement of any of our birthdays.  Given that I could go to her name in my phone and see about 10 consecutive unreplied to texts, I agreed to stop texting after Easter and that we would just see them at the 4th of July party and keep them on the Christmas card list. 

Imagine my surprise when she texted me on mother's day.  I was completely UNsurprised when Justin instantly called her in response.  He talks a big game, but I know he is very hurt that she doesn't make any effort with him or with the girls.  As usual, we overreacted to her effort and went all out.  I whispered to tell her that we would get her tickets to Adriana's dance recital for mother's day if she was interested, and we invited her to dinner the next weekend to pick the tickets up. 

If any of you have actually read through the MIL Saga in all of it's glory, you would know that I have planned approximately 25 meals for this lady that didn't work out.  She tends to reschedule plans at least 10 times before they actually happen, and on multiple occasions this was done with less than an hour notice.  This never really stops me from cleaning the house from top to bottom or from putting a lot of money and effort into the meal, because that's just how I am.  This was the first time that I cast aside my optimism and made something that would specifically work for leftovers, which worked out well because...

wait for it...

moments after walking through the door, MIL announced that they would be leaving to go to another family member's house in a half hour.  I mentioned before that she has health issues and tends to use those to explain her lack of interest in her kid and grandkids, but that excuse clearly didn't apply here.  It almost seemed like she intentionally planned to spend as little time with us as possible, despite not having seen us since JULY 2013.  So bizarre.  The kids were happy to see her since she came bearing gifts, and Justin was happy to see her because she asked to babysit once a month.  Maybe I'm a bitch, but this was not enough to make up for 4 years of her not caring, or even for the decision to not stay for dinner.  Because seriously, even if something was somehow lost in translation and she didn't realize we invited her for dinner, who doesn't agree to stay after realizing the table is set, the salad is out, and food is in the oven?  She and I just come from different planets. 

So anyway, she wants to babysit because parental supervision is apparently unacceptable. We had just been invited to a work thing for Justin, so we threw a date out there despite my misgivings about it.  We gave them the tickets, and said we looked forward to seeing them at the recital.

Would you be surprised if I told you we got a text that she didn't feel well a couple of hours before the recital?  Another $30 down the drain.  My mom a) also has autoimmune issues and b) had surgery the week of the recital, but you bet your ass she was there.  As she has been for literally hundreds of days in their lives.  Just sayin'. 

So this weekend was babysitting day...Justin got promises in advance that she wouldn't cancel, and she didn't.  There was one conversation that brought out the mama bear in me though.  MIL was asking about the bedtime routine and expressing disappointment that the girls were getting their bath that morning.  I could tell from Justin's end of the phone conversation that she was getting insistent about it, and my blood began to boil.  That might seem a little odd, but the thing that bugs me the most about the way she interacts with us is that when she DOES actually spend time with the girls, it's like she has this mental checklist of things that will create a "grandma moment" for her, and she always gets mad if the way I parent my kids interferes with her ability to have that moment (like me not letting my NURSING INFANT spend the night).  I just feel like she has not acted ONE BIT like a grandma, and I don't feel like I should have to alter my routine so she can check one off her bucket list and ignore us for another year.  Plus the kids have eczema and they have a complicated skincare routine, so no.  I'll bathe them myself, and you can do it after you have stayed in our lives long enough for me to trust that you do actually have one iota of maternal instinct in your body. 

It went FINE though, she didn't bathe them again or anything.  She did likely open some closed doors and look around (our bedroom for sure), but that is more of a me issue than a her issue (I am SUPER WEIRD about privacy and having people in my house when I'm not there always makes me anxious, especially if everything isn't 100% perfect).  So we now have one successful babysitting event under the belt.  Justin said if we get 5 more in a row, she stops being a free babysitter and starts being grandma.  I'm guessing it will only take 1 more for him, and probably 7-10 for me.  Not showing up for the girls' birthday was kind of the end of the line for me, to be honest.  I don't give a crap if she doesn't acknowledge mine, since there have been times I was late on hers (I lost my bday spreadsheet and J never remembers the right date).  Whatever, we are grown adults.  It bothered me a little when she missed Justin's, but mostly because it bothered him and because I'm a mom so I just can't imagine not getting sappy on that day.  But it really frosted my cookies when she missed the girls' birthday and Adriana's recital because THEY ARE JUST KIDS.  I just can't imagine being a grandparent who skips that kind of thing.  And if my illness was truly that debilitating, I would pick up a phone and send a gift.  And maybe a pony.  Because kids are awesome, and they deserve grandparents who are grandparents all of the time, not just when they feel like it.  (In case you are wondering, SFIL is present through all of this, he is just a man of few words - I really like him though). 

Argh.  I am being too harsh, right?  I keep reading this over and going back and forth between "UGH, just let her give them a freaking bath next time, you asshole" and "UGH, I am just so over this, it's too little, too late."  So if you have been with me for a while and are familiar with the saga, let me know if I'm being a dick or if my feelings are appropriate given the history.  I think I have lost perspective.  But I can tell you that I will continue to keep the door open and to keep pushing Justin to be the bigger person, because I was raised that family is family and I would never want to be the one getting in the way of her relationship with J or the girls.  Even if I'm ranty or pissy sometimes. 

16 comments:

Doing My Best said...

You are TOTALLY APPROPRIATE!! And I admire you for continuing to try and allowing her to be a part of your daughters' lives!

Kara Keenan said...

Oh man. MILs. So we also have a complicated relationship with Frank's Mom. When we first started dating, she refused to learn my name and called me "her" for two years. Nevermind the fact that she was on Town Wide Parent Council with my Mom and I'd played soccer with her daughter for YEARS. Then, she thought we were rushing things when we got married in 2000 and tried to complicate things by attempting to serve my FIL with divorce papers on the morning of my wedding day. My husband talked her out of doing this, thankfully, because MY GOD would that have been a distraction. After we stared having kids, she basically stopped talking to us. I'm not sure why. But there's no interest what-so-ever in us or our children. She is constantly posting on Facebook about things she's doing with our nieces and nephews, but until Mother's Day, she hadn't spoken to us in two years. On Mother's Day, we called Frank's sister to wish her a Happy Mother's Day, and it turned out my MIL was there. So my husband spoke with her for about 10 minutes. For the first time in two years. It's ridiculous. So I get your MIL saga completely, and can totally relate.

Laura Diniwilk said...

GAH, that is all sounding familiar (but even worse), Kara!!

Elizabeth said...

You're totally not overreacting, she's AWFUL. my MIL FLIES IN from Michigan to CA for Eli's birthday every year.

Erica said...

This is hard. I never had aMIL, she was dead before I met my husband. It's so strange what this lady is doing to you guys, ugh.

JEN said...

My MIL complains that she doesn't get to see our kids, but when we beg her to visit, she naps on the couch all day and ignores them.

Lacey said...

Your actions are totally appropriate and even I'd even go as far to say EXTRA forgiving given the length and depth of this saga. I was actually surprised that you still do as much as you do to try and include her.

Not an asshole at all for the bath thing either. If she steps up into the grandma role, then sure, she can do grandma things that alter the kiddos regular routine. But she's no where near that yet.

CAN NOT believe she showed up and said she had plans to be elsewhere in 30 minutes! Who does that? So crazy!

devan said...

You are not being a dick, but she certainly is!

Jo said...

Ugh, so sorry you are having this experience. I feel for you all, but I can't imagine how your husband handles this when this is his own parent behaving this way. I really lucked out with my MIL. In fact, your post reminded me that I should tell her more often how grateful I am for her so I just sent her a message.

Swistle said...

Her behavior is the kind of behavior that makes me happy the phrase "I can't even" is already invented. What did people do at times like this, before that phrase?

Jessica said...

I'm pretty impressed with you for keeping the door open. I'd like to think I'd do the same for my husband, but reading about her behavior is making my blood boil.

Nicole Tully said...

Giiiiiirl, I could write a book (a freaking 1000 page doozy!) on MIL drama. Consider yourself lucky that you only have to see yours once a year.
Sorry…that's not very helpful. My only advice is to remind yourself that it's her, not you, and you are doing your best to make it work. It sounds like she's a real peach. My MIL is a total nut job, but of the "I need to be with my son and his family every freaking second of every freaking day and if you don't like it I will act like a freaking 2 year old and throw a tantrum" variety. Maybe if your MIL and my MIL combined forces they would create one NORMAL MIL? Shudder.

Erica said...

Ooof. I find all of this entirely infuriating for you. But also fun for me to read about because I like little hit of vicarious outrage now and again. (Sorry.)

Navigating the Mothership said...

You are being appropriate. She is inappropriate. I get Justin's vulnerability with it, too. It's hard and sad for your little girls.

Do you ever look forward to the time when you little ones turn to you and basically say "WTF was going on with Grandmas?" and you can then let them in on the grown-up side of things that you protected them from all those years? Or maybe that will be all traumatic for our kids. But then again, maybe not. I found it refreshing when my mom validated my feelings that my Grandma was a cold and bitter lady (dad's mom, didn't see her much).

Anyway, hang in there with all this and trust your gut and vent here as need be :)

Navigating the Mothership said...

(I do have spelling ability. I just...yeah. Let's blame the baby :)

Anonymous said...

I stumbled upon your blog after a search for IT cosmetics and I just kept reading, diet coke in hand. It's like reading about my life, except I still live in Ohio.

I've got two girls with very different personalities (but older one like me), the smart/cute dilemma, the rosacea/eczema combo, and sadly the same MIL.