It’s true, we can’t choose our family. Whether your in-law is a monster, witch, dragon, or all three. We have to accept them into our lives….or maybe we don’t?
When I started this blog, I vowed not to get too ‘personal’ during my rants. However, Mother-in-law dearest has well and truly PISSED ME OFF! Therefore, I have all this venom to shoot. Rather than shooting it straight into her face, I thought I would fire it into some harsh words, and have a good old fashioned RANT! I apologise in advance….this is going to be a LONG one!
To keep things balanced, I thought I’d start by saying a few nice things about her…
My mother-in-law is a very talented woman, there isn’t ANYTHING this woman cannot do. She was a successful Head-mistress for many years. Through teaching, she gained a huge amount of respect in her village, and beyond! Loved by many, it’s understandable why she feels so superior. In addition to her intellect and popularity, she is very talented at making things. Cakes, clothes, wood craft…you name, and she can make it! Some might say, she is the modern day Mary Poppins. However, it didn’t take long for the façade to disappear and reveal her true identity…
…The Wicked Witch of the West (country!)
They say first impressions are important. This couldn’t have been truer as my future mother-in-law let go of her flying umbrella and introduced herself. From the moment she laid eyes on me, I could see the disappointment washing over her. It was as though she’d just caught the cat eating the caviar off the kitchen counter. I guess it didn’t help that I was sporting a pair of hot pants at the time. Suddenly, I felt myself shrinking….down, down, down… until I was no taller than a grasshopper. As I made ‘small’ talk, I knew exactly what she was thinking…. “I can’t believe my darling boy is dating this girl….Please may this just be a phase he’s going through”.
It’s important to make a good first impression on your future in-laws. These first meetings are almost always remembered. So it looks like my mother-in-law is stuck with the image of a 19-year-old me in a pair of short, shorts! But never mind, why should you have to change who you are to fit into how you perceive your in-laws would want you to be? A word of advice, just be yourself. If they like you…WONDERFUL. If they don’t… it’s not the end of the world, and you might, over time, be able to change their perception. Unless you’re the daughter/son in law from hell, but that’s another rant in itself!
In the early stages of our relationship I knew that Mrs Perfect-pants and I weren’t on the same page….in fact, we were in a different book altogether! We couldn’t have been more dissimilar. She was prosperous and materialistic. On the other end of the spectrum, I didn’t have two pennies to rub together, and didn’t feel material possessions were all that important. Worlds apart, we struggled to build an authentic relationship. As she greeted me with two kisses, I plastered on my smile of fraudulence. Whilst we laughed over a cup of her finest Earl Grey, inside I was crying and secretly wondering “WHY OH WHY”, out of everyone in the WORLD, did she have to be MY mother-in-law”.
But why? you ask. I’ll tell you why….
My mother-in-law is one of the MOST judgemental and insincere people I have EVER met. As she flies around on her umbrella, singing sweet songs to the birds, and spreading happiness throughout her village, behind closed doors it’s a very different story. As she sits on her throne on an evening, blazing fire roaring, her Mary Poppins disguise is no longer and her true colours seep through. Suddenly, she is back-stabbing EVERYONE in the village, and so her self-gratitude grows and roars louder and prouder than the logs burning on that fire. CACKLE, CACKLE, CACKLE! That’s all you can hear, as my mother-in-law and her husband scrutinise everyone they have ever come in contact with. Let’s face it, no one could ever be as perfect as them. The sad truth is, in her pursuit of putting everyone else down, she is only healing her own insecurities. Everyone that truly knows her, loathe, and alienate her OUT of their lives. If only I could do the same.
Playing happy families.
As hard as it is, we learn to manage our monster-in-laws, and adapt to their quirky little ways. We even put on a plausible façade that we actually like them! Through gritted teeth, we try to make conversation with them, nodding enthusiastically as they speak at great depth about how to make BLOODY mango chutney! We smile and nod as we listen to their stories of how our husbands wet the bed until they were 9, or the time they got kicked in the face by a horse. “Yes, I remember you telling me, you’ve only told me ONE THOUSAND TIMES!!!” through clenched fists, we say “Oh, thank you so much for your advice”, as they tell us how to LOOK AFTER OUR OWN CHILDREN. We also tell our husbands how wonderful their mothers/fathers are, and how we feel like apart of the family. One big happy, fraudulent family.
So I guess you’re all wondering why I am so infuriated by my mother-in-law? The nail was hammered into the coffin this past weekend. We had a wedding to attend and we asked her to look after the children. Any normal grandparent would do this, no conditions attached. Not my husband’s mother! As soon as she came to our door, I instantly knew she had a ‘bee in her bonnet’. She must’ve had an argument with her husband on the way and decided to target all her rage at us. She barged in all guns blazing… “Why would you leave us with such a mess?” she screamed. Baring in mind, I had spritzed the house from top-to-bottom, reaching every nuke and cranny, knowing fair well she’d be extremely fussy. “The bath is black” she exaggerated, “And the table HAS NOT BEEN CLEARED” she continued. “Well shoot me down, I didn’t clear the table”. With three messy children running riot, it is somewhat difficult to keep the house ‘just so’.
If the insults about my “not-so-domesticated-goddess” ways weren’t enough, she added insult to injury, as she went around cleaning what I had already cleaned. Now, perhaps I am over-reacting? But I feel this is disrespectful on a whole new level. People, rocks and glass houses spring to mind, as I take myself back to the time I lightly swiped my finger over her stairwell to find several YEAR’S worth of dust. A feather duster for Christmas, perhaps?
Anything you can do, I can do better!
Anything you can do, I can do better “Yes, I can”… “NO, you can’t”…and so the song trundles on like a broken record. The same broken record which may describe your mother-in-law’s unacceptance to admit that you are better than her at anything. You bake a small cake for your child’s birthday party, she brings an ‘all singing, all dancing’ cake, which quite frankly, puts yours to shame. You hide yours in the cupboard and stare green-eyed at her startling creation. You knit your new-born a blanket, she knits three. You try to get your baby to calm down, the mother-in-law swoons in, grabs the baby from your weary arms, sings them a sweet lullaby, and they fall instantaneously asleep…and so the record spins on!
Back to my story… The cherry was placed on the cake as she verbally attacked my husband, obviously forgetting he is a grown man. Dehumanising him into nothing other than a quivering wreck. Our hearts sunk, and neither of us wanted to leave our children with this Devil woman. “You obviously don’t want to stay here, so why don’t you just go home” I questioned. I thought the dragon was going to take the head right off my shoulders, as she fired insult after insult at us, until she reduced me to tears. Yes, that’s right! A grown woman reduced to tears because she was being shouted at like a child. Not even then, did she show an ounce of remorse, nor empathy.
There’s a song, and it goes “She’s as cold as ice”…
“We are doing you a favour, and you treat us like this!” she continued. You see, my husband’s mother loves nothing more than to play the victim. As she threw a bucketful of insults over us, she looked over to her husband, with a glint of satisfaction in her eyes. Deep down, she enjoys confrontation, in fact, she doesn’t just enjoy it – she thrives in it. When I sought guidance from her, as my marriage crumbled beneath me, she was mentally stirring up her bubbling cauldron, hoping things wouldn’t work out. When things gradually become better between my husband and me, her heart sunk, and she became even more malicious.
Routing for a divorce
Your wedding day arrives, and she’s already tried to poison you. As your husband gives his speech, you can see her in the corner of your eye, stabbing your wedding cake with a folk. For whatever reason, this woman doesn’t want you to have your happily-ever-after. Whether she feels you aren’t good enough or just doesn’t like you, you know that you aren’t in for an easy ride. So you’re adamant the mother-in-law hates you. The thing that will make her fret the most is to, enjoy a happy marriage, despite the obstacles she may throw, thrust or hurl, in your way. Don’t ever give her reason to stir her witchy cauldron, in fact, make that cauldron bubble up in her face!
My mother-in-law needs to get her ice-cold self on that yellow brick road in search of a heart. Never have I seen her show a bit of compassion, or humanity. Tin hearts aside, I often wonder why I let her strong opinions affect me so much. Why would I even seek advice from such a cold hearted witch? She seems to think her way of parenting is the only way. If we don’t follow her advice, she claims we “don’t look after our children that well”. If we ‘do’ follow her advice, she says it’s “not good enough”. We simply can’t win. “Well excuse me, SUPERNANNY, but did we ask for your opinion?” I’d be thinking, as I fantasise about taking that witch with a B to the ground.
The thing is, children need to be loved unconditionally. As a parent, my child could do the most stupidest of things and I would still love them no matter what. However, my husband’s mother only ever loves her children if they fit into her ideals. If they step out of line or do something she doesn’t agree with, she disregards them until they do conform to her ideals. I guess this is where we isolate the most. The photo albums paint a very different story to how things really were. The Enid Blyton-esque image they portray were anything but the truth. I might not have the money she worked herself into the ground for. However, my children are happy, healthy and non-resentful.
Did I ask for your opinion?
The mother-in-law arrives and suddenly all your hard-working parenting skills go out the window. Granny has her own set of rules. The kids either run riot, or are too scared to flinch. What upsets you the most, is the way she gives you parenting tips, or says “Here, this is how it’s done”. Remember; YOU are the parent, she is the grandparent…don’t allow the lines to get blurred. After all, a mother knows best….what’s that? I said a MOTHER knows best, NOT GRANDMOTHER!
There’s no denying my mother-in-law has done a great deal for us. She has helped us financially and looked after our children. She even paid for us to go on a holiday. Though, I wish she hadn’t when it turned out to be the HOLIDAY FROM HELL. Being the control freak she is, she dictated the entire holiday from start to finish. One day in and being in close proximity to this crazy woman was enough to drive me to insanity. By the end of the week, I had prepared a noose… Okay, so that was an over-exaggeration. However, we spent the majority of the holiday walking around supermarkets and tidying…surely, all these things we could do on our home turf? One day, she really pushed the boat out, and we went to the beach. Alas, we could relax…or not! As we laid on the Portuguese sand, my husband got out his book. Suddenly, the ground begun to shake beneath us, and out came a roar “Don’t you think you should be playing with your children?” Heaven forbid, we rest on our holiday.
THOU SHALL be doing things constantly.
THOU SHALL never rest.
THOU SHALL not have fun.
The woman doesn’t stop, she just keeps going, pacing around like the energizer bunny. I get tired just watching her. I secretly hope her batteries would run flat. After we had done 10 rounds around a Portuguese supermarket, we had the privilege of sitting down for a brief coffee, and letting the kids eat ice-cream – the highlight of our holiday. After a week in her company, and on the brink of a breakdown, I was more than happy to go home.
How to deal with being in a close proximity to difficult in-laws.
One of the hardest issues we faced, is having to be in close proximity to our mother-in-laws. Whether it’s a weekend spent at her home or having them over to stay. The eggs shells are around us, and we dare not step one foot out of place. CRUNCH… It really is a case of putting on that same façade and playing happy families. Avoid confrontation at all cost by offering to help around the home or keeping things ‘just so’. A sock on the floor could turn a potentially tolerable weekend away into a weekend from hell. Don’t make the woman mad, especially if she’s slicing carrots in the kitchen, with a big sharp knife!
It’s not just on holiday…her draining presence leaks into every social event we share together. Weddings, birthdays, Christmases, MUST be done HER way, and hence, any piece of excitement has been demolished. If it isn’t over-dramatizing, or scolding the children for poor pronunciation, it’s yapping at them for having fun. Heaven forbid, they have any FUN. She runs her house like a military campaign. If you sit down, it’s frowned upon. If you look at your phone, she tuts. If my husband sparks up a cigarette, suddenly she has asthma! My daughter, gave her a little bit of attitude once, and she slammed a box of crayons repeatedly on the table, I didn’t think she was ever going to stop. The monster from within was escaping, she was ready to combust…
In all seriousness, one of these days, she really is going to implode. POP…all over our front room, the slobs that we are, would just kick her remains under the sofa and forget she was ever there. As harsh as it sounds, we sometimes wish she wasn’t in our lives. The misery she has caused over the past, god knows how long. However, she is in our lives, always will be in our lives, and we must accept the monster within. I need to accept her as the mother of my husband and the grandmother to my children (because 1 out of our 3 children, really does adore her!).
Accepting the monster from within
It’s time to stop spitting venom, see past the bad things (we all have our faults!) and accept each other into our lives. These parents aren’t going anywhere, and unless you run for hills, then you can do nothing but make peace. As hard as it is to see, amidst all the animosity, these people aren’t going to be around forever. You need to make the most of them whilst they are still around. Perhaps in smaller doses if they drive you to insanity. As much as I dislike my mother-in-law, I feel I am now (after shooting my venom!) able to move forwards, and accept her for who she is…A bitch. (Just kidding)
Or if all else fails, I might shove that box of earl grey up her mango-chutney making arse!