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Help me push down my feelings for another holiday.


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*sigh*

 

 

It is not unexpected.  MIL is MIL, and I should not expect change from someone who has spent too many decades setting herself in her ways.  That said, I feel like she just doesn't get it. 

 

Most of her grandchildren live right in her area.  Our kids do not.  Sorry, our bad.  We've already been told it's our fault she can't remember birthdays because we moved so far away.  Yeah, well, PCS orders tend to do that.  And it's been a sticky situation ever since.  This year the 7yo called her on his birthday per her request.  We went to her area back and forth over the summer - she had no intention of seeing him at all during the month we spent there. We invited her (and the rest of the family) to spend Christmas here regardless because we knew their plans were marred by other events that went on.  She didn't even respond.  And now we're up to Thanksgiving, where the 18yo finally has learned how I've felt and coped over the past several years by pretending for him.  Actually, he and I had that out last year when MIL hung up on him last Christmas - this coming after that Thanksgiving where she promised to call him back as soon as she got to her destination (5 minutes away) to spend T-day with the family and she spaced.  I had children sitting in the living room with phone in front of them for a few hours waiting for her to call.  And it was a pretty meager holiday to begin with, with dh gone.

 

Anyhow, teen and I had a heart to heart while dh called his mom to wish her a happy Thanksgiving this year.  He told me that he was uncomfortable and to please try harder for peace.  I know how it feels to be caught in the middle so I promised him I would.............and then dh asked his mom if she wanted to talk to the boys.  Both in hearing range, looking at the phone expectantly.  And a firm, "No." came through the phone.  And one kid looked confused, and one told me, "nevermind.  I get it."

 

 

I'm tired. I'm angry.  I want her to feel how these children have felt.  I want her to have some sort of relationship with them, but she doesn't want one.  And I don't want her to be forced into one.  Because that leaves us at square one.  A relationship under duress isn't a relationship at all.  So saying something won't do a darn thing.  I just...........stew.   And if I blow up, that ruins everyone's holiday and runs the gossip mill that his family is fantastic at.

 

Help.  Help me figure out a way to make peace with this all.

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I have no advice but can commiserate.  I've had to completely distance myself from the IL's just to keep the peace.  I let my DH deal with them as he wishes.  Older kids have already realized the reality of things and have decided they prefer to keep their distance as well.  Younger children haven't figured this out yet and end up in tears each time.  I try to talk them through it while presenting a neutral front (not easy) but it's not my place to sour the nonexistent relationship.  Even though I know it's hard on the younger ones, I feel the need to see reality and not something I've created to try to sugarcoat life.  It really is better for them without IL's in their life but they each need to come to that conclusion on their own because I don't ever want them to grow up saying I poisoned the relationship.  Kind of a sucky situation but what can you do.  

 

Hopefully someone else can offer some practical suggestions. 

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:grouphug: :grouphug: :grouphug:  That is a tough situation for everyone. 

 

I have a couple of tough cookies in my extended family. I never wanted my kids to take the rejection personally, so I made sure to verbalize when they were too young to understand the dynamic on their own that the extended family member had issues that had nothing to do with them.  I didn't belabor the point or badmouth the individual, but just telling my kids to not worry or think they did something wrong if they were ignored seemed to satisfy them..  As the kids got older, they were able to better understand.

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I can understand not going after her to dump all your anger on her.  I don't understand continuing to build up expectations for a relationship.  I would make plans for your family with people that you love and love you back.  If dh wants to call her fine.  If she wants to call or visit, fine - be polite.  But I would not pursue it.  Most likely she won't pursue it either since that has been her m.o. all these years. 

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I can understand not going after her to dump all your anger on her.  I don't understand continuing to build up expectations for a relationship.  I would make plans for your family with people that you love and love you back.  If dh wants to call her fine.  If she wants to call or visit, fine - be polite.  But I would not pursue it.  Most likely she won't pursue it either since that has been her m.o. all these years. 

 

:iagree:

She has shown her true colors over and over.  She does not want a relationship with you or your kids.  That is reality.  (It sucks.  I know.  The past three years of my life have been spent mooning over relationships that I crave, but they didn't want me.)  The best you can do to protect your kids is to build a rich life for them that doesn't include any expectations of a relationship with her.  The more you try, the more you allow her to hurt THEM.  The best example to give them is to not be a doormat to her.  

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I can understand not going after her to dump all your anger on her.  I don't understand continuing to build up expectations for a relationship.  I would make plans for your family with people that you love and love you back.  If dh wants to call her fine.  If she wants to call or visit, fine - be polite.  But I would not pursue it.  Most likely she won't pursue it either since that has been her m.o. all these years. 

 

That is a fair point.  Half of my expectations have been because she has a great relationship with the rest of her grandkids.  They love her and adore her and spend oodles of time at her place.

I've been dealing with her behavior so long that it wasn't until last year that dh dropped his "that's just the way she is" way of thinking and modified it to "that's just the way she is with our family". She's been rather vicious to dh, too, in her sweet, southern, forgetful way.  She's the one who forgot to tell him his dad (her ex) died until we caught a conversation where they were discussing it on Facebook.

 

I wanted my kids to have one grandparent who wasn't nutty or dead. One. 

 

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It's so much hard to accept someone hurting your kids than to accept someone hurting you, isn't it?

 

I am not sure what I would do in your situation.  But I know what I would NOT do.  I would not let the kids expect much from her.  That doesn't mean that I would trash talk her, not at all.  Just that I wouldn't bring her up to them.  I am the kind of person who feels a pretty strong obligation to family, and I would probably lead them in making her some nice little Christmas presents or holiday cards, but I would mail them out without setting an expectation of a response.  I wouldn't call her with them, although I would accept calls.  And I would make it VERY clear to DH that he is not to EVER ask whether she wants to speak with any of us, whether we were there or not.  Never.  That is far less than helpful, and not his place.  You try, and he has to try, too.

 

When I was a little girl, there were two women in our church who had lived through something horrid as children.  And they never got past it on any level.  They were mean and bitter for the rest of their lives.  So my little sister asked my mom why they were like that, and was told, they are very unhappy and it makes them want others to be unhappy, too.  It's actually pretty sad.  So she decided to make them cookies for Christmas to try to make them happy.  She did, and we all brought them over to them.  And you know what?  That is the only time I have ever seen either of them smile in a genuine way. It was quite remarkable, and quite pathetic.

 

Your MIL is doing this to herself.  She does not know how to be nice or she does not choose to be so.  Also, there are some people who almost seem to need to have an object of dislike in their lives, to vent their spleen on or to transfer their dissatisfactions to.  It stinks but it's pretty common.  You can be happy in spite of her if you let go any expectations and just focus on what you can do and be.  Maybe that will be cutting her off at some point.  Maybe it will be taking quiet satisfaction from showing kindness to her despite her being a jerk.  Maybe it will be a combo.  What can YOU be, that will make YOU happy/content/virtuous, despite her not being any of those things?  What can YOU do truly without any expectations?

 

She doesn't deserve your favors and she mustn't be allowed to 'set up' being hurtful to your kids.  You don't owe her kindness per se.  You get to pick.  Do that from a place of inner strength.

Edited by Carol in Cal.
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I agree with Jean.

 

I also think you need to talk to your DH about it - he cannot lay this in your lap to make better. That isn't right or fair. If he's uncomfortable with the lack of relationship that his mother has with his children, that's not really anything you can fix. 

 

But you do need to start the journey to letting this go (I do know that this is hard) so you can have peace, yourself. That will help your kids, too.

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You don't need her approval and when you really think about it...there's no value in it. You're certainly not going to change her and she probably isn't going to change or grow at this point. Just accept it. At least it's a narcissistic grandparent and not a parent, right? I just wouldn't bother with her at all and tell my DH to leave the kids out of it. She's rude and unkind...no more access. He can relate to her since he's all she seems to care about relating to. U

Poor guy....

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learn boundaries

learn forgivenss

learn to let go - you are seeing who she really is.

it will help your children if you aren't constantly hoping she'll give something she's not willing?/capable? of giving. 

my mil was always out of sight out of mind regarding us.  her dd who lives here - her children had frequent attention.  (incidentally - when those granddaughters married - they made sure she wouldn't be able to come to their weddings by doing destinations.)  I've spoken with others who said their mils favored their daughters children, and ignored their sons children.

 

 

I would strongly consider a "birthday calendar" - that has all the birthdays for the year. (tbh - her "forgetting" is likely an excuse.)  so she "wont forget" (wink wink, nudge nudge) next year. ... . . . . .

 

eta: and dh needs to recognize who his mother really is.

forgiving is not about putting yourself in her power so you can say "thank you may I have another" as she treats you and your children as if they are invisible.  it is letting it go so she doens't live in your head.   it is about being willing to protect your children from disappointment becasue she isn't going to give them what grandchildren deserve.

Edited by gardenmom5
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That is a fair point.  Half of my expectations have been because she has a great relationship with the rest of her grandkids.  They love her and adore her and spend oodles of time at her place.

I've been dealing with her behavior so long that it wasn't until last year that dh dropped his "that's just the way she is" way of thinking and modified it to "that's just the way she is with our family". She's been rather vicious to dh, too, in her sweet, southern, forgetful way.  She's the one who forgot to tell him his dad (her ex) died until we caught a conversation where they were discussing it on Facebook.

 

I wanted my kids to have one grandparent who wasn't nutty or dead. One.

 

Why does your dh want any kind of relationship with a woman who treats you and your kids so horribly???

 

My dh would never tolerate that kind of treatment. Your dh should be standing up to his mother. When she said she didn't want to talk to the kids, how did he respond? Why did he let her get away with that kind of nastiness?

 

Your MIL sounds awful, but your dh is at fault, too, because he's not defending his own wife and children.

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I can understand not going after her to dump all your anger on her.  I don't understand continuing to build up expectations for a relationship.  I would make plans for your family with people that you love and love you back.  If dh wants to call her fine.  If she wants to call or visit, fine - be polite.  But I would not pursue it.  Most likely she won't pursue it either since that has been her m.o. all these years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes!

 

On the DWIL board they call this "dropping the rope" and that is EXACTLY what you need to do. She has shown you who she is. Believe her. Stop putting your children's feelings at risk.

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Why does your dh want any kind of relationship with a woman who treats you and your kids so horribly???

 

My dh would never tolerate that kind of treatment. Your dh should be standing up to his mother. When she said she didn't want to talk to the kids, how did he respond? Why did he let her get away with that kind of nastiness?

 

Your MIL sounds awful, but your dh is at fault, too, because he's not defending his own wife and children.

 

Honestly, I have to give him grace on this one.  This is the way his mother has always been to *him*.  And being the oldest, he didn't see the great difference between him and his siblings until much later.  A lot of that is thanks to Facebook - she's quite open about loving on everyone else on there.  The relationship, what there was, has slowly fallen away as she doesn't share in any of his achievements or joy.  Not one word was said when he retired, let alone actually wanting to come. 

When I threw a fit over her forgetting birthdays, he stood up for all of us which is when it came out that it was our fault for moving so far away.  He doesn't want to play her pity party, but his temper is rising on this all, too.  On this phone call, he went into the other room and I'm guessing had a few choice words, because each kid got a "Happy Thanksgiving, send me your Christmas list." before she hung up.

 

But I don't want that.  I'd like to honestly tell her this,

MIL,

I wanted to share this with you.  When dh asked if you would like to talk to the boys, both of them heard you say no.  It really hurt them.  I'm not telling you this to make you feel bad.  I'm doing it more as a way for you to understand a small token of how they have felt for a long time - every holiday, really, when you don't want to talk.  This next year our family has decided to give ourselves the gift of peace.  There are things that we will not subject them to any more.

-there will be no more calling you on holidays/their birthdays.  They would love a call from you, though.

-we won't be sharing as much on social media.  The boys are getting older and deserving of their privacy.  What they choose to share is up to them.

There are ways that we use of keeping in contact with far away friends.  Dh and I both have Skype and Facetime and the little one can use them well. You can use them or call to talk to him and find out what he's up to. :)  And if we're in town, feel free to invite him over or out to do something with you.  The past few years have gone so quickly, and dh and I realized that you haven't really gotten to know him and what a great kid he is.  However, to give you your space, we won't be telling the little one any tentative plans to get his hopes up.  We'll keep him busy with a full schedule - a flexible one, in case you do want his company - but one where he doesn't feel like he's missing out.

Thank you for understanding where we're coming from.  If you want to discuss anything further please feel free to call.

 

I can't promise I wouldn't lay all the things out if she did call, though. :lol:

 

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Honestly, I have to give him grace on this one.  This is the way his mother has always been to *him*.  And being the oldest, he didn't see the great difference between him and his siblings until much later.  A lot of that is thanks to Facebook - she's quite open about loving on everyone else on there.  The relationship, what there was, has slowly fallen away as she doesn't share in any of his achievements or joy.  Not one word was said when he retired, let alone actually wanting to come. 

When I threw a fit over her forgetting birthdays, he stood up for all of us which is when it came out that it was our fault for moving so far away.  He doesn't want to play her pity party, but his temper is rising on this all, too.  On this phone call, he went into the other room and I'm guessing had a few choice words, because each kid got a "Happy Thanksgiving, send me your Christmas list." before she hung up.

 

But I don't want that.  I'd like to honestly tell her this,

MIL,

I wanted to share this with you.  When dh asked if you would like to talk to the boys, both of them heard you say no.  It really hurt them.  I'm not telling you this to make you feel bad.  I'm doing it more as a way for you to understand a small token of how they have felt for a long time - every holiday, really, when you don't want to talk.  This next year our family has decided to give ourselves the gift of peace.  There are things that we will not subject them to any more.

-there will be no more calling you on holidays/their birthdays.  They would love a call from you, though.

-we won't be sharing as much on social media.  The boys are getting older and deserving of their privacy.  What they choose to share is up to them.

There are ways that we use of keeping in contact with far away friends.  Dh and I both have Skype and Facetime and the little one can use them well. You can use them or call to talk to him and find out what he's up to. :)  And if we're in town, feel free to invite him over or out to do something with you.  The past few years have gone so quickly, and dh and I realized that you haven't really gotten to know him and what a great kid he is.  However, to give you your space, we won't be telling the little one any tentative plans to get his hopes up.  We'll keep him busy with a full schedule - a flexible one, in case you do want his company - but one where he doesn't feel like he's missing out.

Thank you for understanding where we're coming from.  If you want to discuss anything further please feel free to call.

 

I can't promise I wouldn't lay all the things out if she did call, though. :lol:

 

 

Actually, how about sending her that in a letter, text, or email?  She can then respond if and when she feels inclined.  Asynchronous communication has a lot to recommend it!

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Actually, how about sending her that in a letter, text, or email?  She can then respond if and when she feels inclined.  Asynchronous communication has a lot to recommend it!

 

I won't, because it will immediately be twisted and complained about to the rest of the family.  I'd have to "accidentally" send it to the entire clan so there would be no misunderstanding and that dh and I aren't the bad guys keeping her precious grandchildren from her.

 

 

BTDT.

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Honestly I would walk away. No more making the kids or yourself sit by the phone for hours. No more telling kids they have to make calls on their birthdays to someone who isn’t interested in taking to them. No more plans where you folks are in town unless its something you want to do anyways.

 

I know it’s hard, but your kids don’t need “just one not-crazy†grandparent. They will grow up just fine without the crazies in their lives. Let it Go.

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One of the things I've noticed in people who are treated badly by others is that they don't want to "make things worse". If this isn't you, please disregard. If it is though, I would say that things are already "worse". Sending a text or having a tense conversation won't make things worse, but will simply acknowledge the "worse" that is already there. As I see it, you have a few choices. 

1) continue as is and accept that she won't be in your kids lives or your life in any meaningful way. Truly accept this and don't expect anything on any given day

2) have the hard conversations that need to happen with her. Send the email (so you can prove your words later on if needed) or the text and lay it on the line. If she continues to be abusive to you and your kids (because that's what it is) then so be it. Accept that and move on.

3) Let past behavior predict future behavior and believe people when they show you who they are. Block her on Facebook so you don't have to see all the slights and hurts on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. Ignorance can be such bliss, especially with Facebook!! Stop trying to have a relationship with someone who has no interest. A blood relative is a blood relative. To have a title of mother, father, sibling, or grandmother you need to invest emotionally and physically. Right now she's a blood relative. That's all. Find other people to fill the titled roles in your children's lives. Adopt-a-Grandparent, friends who are already in your life that can fill that role....an invested person is so much better (even if not blood related) than an uninterested "place holder" that will only cause hurt. 

 

 

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Honestly, I have to give him grace on this one.  This is the way his mother has always been to *him*.  And being the oldest, he didn't see the great difference between him and his siblings until much later.  A lot of that is thanks to Facebook - she's quite open about loving on everyone else on there.  The relationship, what there was, has slowly fallen away as she doesn't share in any of his achievements or joy.  Not one word was said when he retired, let alone actually wanting to come. 

When I threw a fit over her forgetting birthdays, he stood up for all of us which is when it came out that it was our fault for moving so far away.  He doesn't want to play her pity party, but his temper is rising on this all, too.  On this phone call, he went into the other room and I'm guessing had a few choice words, because each kid got a "Happy Thanksgiving, send me your Christmas list." before she hung up.

 

But I don't want that.  I'd like to honestly tell her this,

MIL,

I wanted to share this with you.  When dh asked if you would like to talk to the boys, both of them heard you say no.  It really hurt them.  I'm not telling you this to make you feel bad.  I'm doing it more as a way for you to understand a small token of how they have felt for a long time - every holiday, really, when you don't want to talk.  This next year our family has decided to give ourselves the gift of peace.  There are things that we will not subject them to any more.

-there will be no more calling you on holidays/their birthdays.  They would love a call from you, though.

-we won't be sharing as much on social media.  The boys are getting older and deserving of their privacy.  What they choose to share is up to them.

There are ways that we use of keeping in contact with far away friends.  Dh and I both have Skype and Facetime and the little one can use them well. You can use them or call to talk to him and find out what he's up to. :)  And if we're in town, feel free to invite him over or out to do something with you.  The past few years have gone so quickly, and dh and I realized that you haven't really gotten to know him and what a great kid he is.  However, to give you your space, we won't be telling the little one any tentative plans to get his hopes up.  We'll keep him busy with a full schedule - a flexible one, in case you do want his company - but one where he doesn't feel like he's missing out.

Thank you for understanding where we're coming from.  If you want to discuss anything further please feel free to call.

 

I can't promise I wouldn't lay all the things out if she did call, though. :lol:

 

 

Don't send this. Just stop. STAAAHHHHP. Drop the rope.

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She sounds like an awful person. Stop trying to please her. Stop trying to make her like you and your kids. Just stop. Move on with your life like she wasn’t there, because she isn’t. I’m so sorry, it sucks, but you just make it worse for yourself and your kids with expectations that she will ever change.

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*sigh*

 

 

It is not unexpected.  MIL is MIL, and I should not expect change from someone who has spent too many decades setting herself in her ways.  That said, I feel like she just doesn't get it. 

 

Most of her grandchildren live right in her area.  Our kids do not.  Sorry, our bad.  We've already been told it's our fault she can't remember birthdays because we moved so far away.  Yeah, well, PCS orders tend to do that.  And it's been a sticky situation ever since.  This year the 7yo called her on his birthday per her request.  We went to her area back and forth over the summer - she had no intention of seeing him at all during the month we spent there. We invited her (and the rest of the family) to spend Christmas here regardless because we knew their plans were marred by other events that went on.  She didn't even respond.  And now we're up to Thanksgiving, where the 18yo finally has learned how I've felt and coped over the past several years by pretending for him.  Actually, he and I had that out last year when MIL hung up on him last Christmas - this coming after that Thanksgiving where she promised to call him back as soon as she got to her destination (5 minutes away) to spend T-day with the family and she spaced.  I had children sitting in the living room with phone in front of them for a few hours waiting for her to call.  And it was a pretty meager holiday to begin with, with dh gone.

 

Anyhow, teen and I had a heart to heart while dh called his mom to wish her a happy Thanksgiving this year.  He told me that he was uncomfortable and to please try harder for peace.  I know how it feels to be caught in the middle so I promised him I would.............and then dh asked his mom if she wanted to talk to the boys.  Both in hearing range, looking at the phone expectantly.  And a firm, "No." came through the phone.  And one kid looked confused, and one told me, "nevermind.  I get it."

 

 

I'm tired. I'm angry.  I want her to feel how these children have felt.  I want her to have some sort of relationship with them, but she doesn't want one.  And I don't want her to be forced into one.  Because that leaves us at square one.  A relationship under duress isn't a relationship at all.  So saying something won't do a darn thing.  I just...........stew.   And if I blow up, that ruins everyone's holiday and runs the gossip mill that his family is fantastic at.

 

Help.  Help me figure out a way to make peace with this all.

 

I spent a lot of years disappointed that Granny didn't want to make an effort at a relationship.  Then I came to the conclusion that I am *grateful* that my children don't have to deal with the wench.  I think you're grieving a loss for an ideal---not the loss of the actual person in front of you.

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My only thought is that those PCS orders that took your family away from this may be the best thing that ever happened to you.

 

I am so sorry, especially for your children's sake, that there could not be a real relationship with their grandmother. It isn't something that can be forced though and it definitely sounds like it is time to stop trying to make it happen.

 

Go, live your lives, mourn what couldn't be and then be happy with all the good that you have together and away from a vampire relationship.

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I am in camp don't send - but you said you already know what would happen; there's no scenario in which you're not the bad guy. So listen to your brain instead of your broken heart. ((((HomeAgain)))

 

A Thank you to the refugees from the other forum: I predict that "drop the rope" will immediately be added to the hive lexicon!

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Don't send the letter.  It says "I am willing for you to hurt me and my children a few more times before I finally get the message."  If she calls or something and wants to know why you haven't been in contact with her or why you have stopped posting on facebook (seriously, get off facebook too! imo) or whatever, then say that the way she's treated you and especially your kids in the past, forgetting birthdays and not wanting to talk to them, has led you to conclude that the hope of a close relationship with her isn't good for them right now, thanks, bye!  etc.

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I agree with not sending that message to her, but actually doing the things you state you will do.

 

I also agree that it would be good to get off social media in whatever way necessary to avoid seeing her stuff and to keep her from seeing yours. I personally have a number of people blocked, and I only follow a fraction of folks I am friends with. I just don't have time to follow all their "likes," and I sure as heck refuse to let their posting cause me any angst. The people who care know my phone number.

 

One set of grandparents here chose to be uninvolved in my children's lives. We found grandparent surrogates in who have stood in the gap and have long term, meaningful relationships with each of my children. I never talked down the inattentive gp's but didn't make excuses for them, either. My kids are now all old enough to understand. It was hurtful, though, and still is, when I find myself dwelling on it. But I choose not to dwell on it.

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OP, don't send it.  Nothing good will come of it for anyone.  Let it go.  Walk away.  Hold up your head and live your lives without trying to please or accommodate her anymore. 

 

Some family members can be very disappointing in their inability to be rational, kind human beings.  

 

*Sigh.*   :grouphug:

Edited by klmama
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*sigh*

 

 

It is not unexpected.  MIL is MIL, and I should not expect change from someone who has spent too many decades setting herself in her ways.  That said, I feel like she just doesn't get it. 

 

Most of her grandchildren live right in her area.  Our kids do not.  Sorry, our bad.  We've already been told it's our fault she can't remember birthdays because we moved so far away.  Yeah, well, PCS orders tend to do that.  And it's been a sticky situation ever since.  This year the 7yo called her on his birthday per her request.  We went to her area back and forth over the summer - she had no intention of seeing him at all during the month we spent there. We invited her (and the rest of the family) to spend Christmas here regardless because we knew their plans were marred by other events that went on.  She didn't even respond.  And now we're up to Thanksgiving, where the 18yo finally has learned how I've felt and coped over the past several years by pretending for him.  Actually, he and I had that out last year when MIL hung up on him last Christmas - this coming after that Thanksgiving where she promised to call him back as soon as she got to her destination (5 minutes away) to spend T-day with the family and she spaced.  I had children sitting in the living room with phone in front of them for a few hours waiting for her to call.  And it was a pretty meager holiday to begin with, with dh gone.

 

Anyhow, teen and I had a heart to heart while dh called his mom to wish her a happy Thanksgiving this year.  He told me that he was uncomfortable and to please try harder for peace.  I know how it feels to be caught in the middle so I promised him I would.............and then dh asked his mom if she wanted to talk to the boys.  Both in hearing range, looking at the phone expectantly.  And a firm, "No." came through the phone.  And one kid looked confused, and one told me, "nevermind.  I get it."

 

 

I'm tired. I'm angry.  I want her to feel how these children have felt.  I want her to have some sort of relationship with them, but she doesn't want one.  And I don't want her to be forced into one.  Because that leaves us at square one.  A relationship under duress isn't a relationship at all.  So saying something won't do a darn thing.  I just...........stew.   And if I blow up, that ruins everyone's holiday and runs the gossip mill that his family is fantastic at.

 

Help.  Help me figure out a way to make peace with this all.

 

I think you do the traditional card, the mandatory DH/MIL phone call, and leave it at that.  They are those distant relatives (physically and emotionally) with whom a real relationship won't exist.

 

I suspect this is horrible on your DH.  I feel so sad especially for him, even more than the boys because the boys never knew a close, loving relationship with them.  And DH is probably constantly disappointed in them.  They are losing so much and don't even know it. :( 

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Stop putting time, energy, and emotional capital into a person who does not reciprocate. Sharing genetic material does not excuse bad behavior. You wouldn’t (hopefully) let a friend do this to you, don’t let “family†do it. Stop making the birthday phone calls. If Gma wants to talk to the kids on their birthday, she can call them. Don’t sit around waiting for Gma to call. Gma has show you who she is, like other poster’s said, believe her.

 

Some families are created by shared genetics. Others are made by choice. Choose better for yourself and your kids. You deserve it!

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Why does your dh want any kind of relationship with a woman who treats you and your kids so horribly???

 

My dh would never tolerate that kind of treatment. Your dh should be standing up to his mother. When she said she didn't want to talk to the kids, how did he respond? Why did he let her get away with that kind of nastiness?

 

Your MIL sounds awful, but your dh is at fault, too, because he's not defending his own wife and children.

 

 

I have seen phrases of this sort thrown around a lot and I would love to respectfully address it. She is the woman who gave birth to him, raised him, etc.  It isn't like he's deciding not to return the call of a casual coworker.  This is his mother.  For my DH, even though his mom had become impossible to deal with, she was a fantastic mom to him as a child and that is a very painful thing to reckon with.  It is hard, it is painful.  Even if it needs to be done, it will be a hard, long process for the son/daughter.  We can walk away from these painful relationships but the process is tough and complicated.  DH did walk away from his parents but there were many "mistakes" made in the process.

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I won't, because it will immediately be twisted and complained about to the rest of the family.  I'd have to "accidentally" send it to the entire clan so there would be no misunderstanding and that dh and I aren't the bad guys keeping her precious grandchildren from her.

 

 

BTDT.

 

 

Your MIL sounds so much like mine  You are smart not to send it.

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Don't send anything. 

 

Don't make any effort to communicate with her.

 

Do not allow anyone (DH) to pressure your kids to communicate with her.

 

If she attempts to communicate, respond if you have the time to spare, otherwise ignore her.

 

Take deep breaths whenever you are tempted to try again. Practice good self care and give yourself both the space and permission to be upset about it, without giving in to the temptation. 

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You cannot expect someone to do something they’ve NEVER done. This is a relationship that doesn’t exist but the parents think it “should†because she has it with other people. That doesn’t make it exist. At this point the parents are doing as much harm to the kids as the grandmother by repeatedly raising the kids expectations. WHY would they sit them in a room staring at a phone or ask within the children’s hearing if they want to talk to them when the answer can possibly be no? Grandma is limited. She won’t change. The parents CAN stop setting these kids up.

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Why does your dh want any kind of relationship with a woman who treats you and your kids so horribly???

 

My dh would never tolerate that kind of treatment. Your dh should be standing up to his mother. When she said she didn't want to talk to the kids, how did he respond? Why did he let her get away with that kind of nastiness?

 

Your MIL sounds awful, but your dh is at fault, too, because he's not defending his own wife and children.

her dh grew up with this.  this is his normal.  it requires a lot of self-realization to realize how inappropriate his mother's behavior is, and even more, to  refuse to tolerate it.

 

 

I spent a lot of years disappointed that Granny didn't want to make an effort at a relationship.  Then I came to the conclusion that I am *grateful* that my children don't have to deal with the wench.  I think you're grieving a loss for an ideal---not the loss of the actual person in front of you.

 

this.  it is grief.  it is the loss of a dream as it is smashed by reality of what is.

 

OP, you can't change her.   you can hurt your children by continuing to try to make her have a relationship with them and  and spend more days of sitting next to the phone waiting for her to call. (that smacks of desperation).  no catering to demands THEY call HER on  THEIR birthdays! -   YOU are facilitating them getting the message,  grandma isnt' interested in them, and mom keeps exposing them to that.   don't do that to your children.

 

do NOT send a letter/text/email/etc.  ask yourself - are you going to "talk about it", or DO IT?   as you learn about boundaries  (townsand and cloud.  please read up.)  with this type of person, you learn to  "not talk", . . . "just do".   that will take back your power, your self-respect, and your children's sense of security in the adults around them.

incidentally, that is the ONLY language people like this understand.

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If you were having this conversation with me in real life, this is what I would say to you in a matter of fact tone of voice.  Be sure to read it in your head in a matter of fact tone of voice.

 

*sigh*

 

 

It is not unexpected.  MIL is MIL, and I should not expect change from someone who has spent too many decades setting herself in her ways.  That said,

Nope.  Say nothing more.  That's right and it's enough.  She isn't going to change.  Stop wishing, dreaming, scheming, hoping, fantasizing, thinking about and longing for change.  You've been doing this too long already.

I feel like she just doesn't get it. 

Of course she doesn't.

 

Most of her grandchildren live right in her area.  Our kids do not.  Sorry, our bad.  We've already been told it's our fault she can't remember birthdays because we moved so far away. 

Stop listening to her nonsense.

Yeah, well, PCS orders tend to do that.  And it's been a sticky situation ever since.  This year the 7yo called her on his birthday per her request. 

That's weird.  The birthday person doesn't make the call on their birthday, the well wisher does.

We went to her area back and forth over the summer - she had no intention of seeing him at all during the month we spent there.

So don't expect to spend time with her.  She doesn't want to spend time with you guys because she's not normal. 

We invited her (and the rest of the family) to spend Christmas here regardless because we knew their plans were marred by other events that went on.  She didn't even respond. 

So don't expect to spend time with her.  She doesn't want to spend time with you guys because she's not normal.

And now we're up to Thanksgiving, where the 18yo finally has learned how I've felt and coped over the past several years by pretending for him.

That's not healthy coping.  There's too much pretending going on. You may need to see a professional counselor about healthier coping strategies, realistic expectations, boundaries, and modeling healthy behavior for your children.

Actually, he and I had that out last year when MIL hung up on him last Christmas

Then there's no reason for anyone to communicate with her on the phone.  She's rude and unreasonable.  It's unreasonable to expect anyone to talk with her over the phone anymore. You can reconsider it when she has a long track record of being polite to your family members. Stop the phone calls.

- this coming after that Thanksgiving where she promised to call him back as soon as she got to her destination (5 minutes away) to spend T-day with the family and she spaced.
 
Why would anyone who has dealt with her in the past have expected her to follow through?  That's not realistic.  Again, please seek out some counseling.

I had children sitting in the living room with phone in front of them for a few hours waiting for her to call.  And it was a pretty meager holiday to begin with, with dh gone.

There is no reason anyone should sit a living room waiting for a phone call for a few hours-especially from someone who is rude on the phone, hangs up on people, and doesn't call when she says she will.  Again, please seek out some counseling.
 

Anyhow, teen and I had a heart to heart while dh called his mom to wish her a happy Thanksgiving this year.  He told me that he was uncomfortable and to please try harder for peace. 

Why is your husband telling you to try harder for peace?  You should be telling him that.  Peace is not being involved with a toxic person.  Peace is engaging in relationships only with people who want to be in a relationship with you. Peace is being perfectly OK with someone who has been awful not wanting to see you. Peace is talking on the phone only to people who are polite and reasonable. Peace is within your grasp if you just let go of this madness.

I know how it feels to be caught in the middle

Is your family of origin as dysfunctional as his?

so I promised him I would.............and then dh asked his mom if she wanted to talk to the boys. 

So he set up his kids to be hurt by his toxic mother?  He's been sent clear signals (see your description of the situation above) that she doesn't want to talk to them and even if she did she'd be rude. He needs to seek out professional counseling for healthier coping strategies, realistic expectations, boundaries, and modeling healthy behavior for your children.

Both in hearing range, looking at the phone expectantly.  And a firm, "No." came through the phone

Of course she did.  She doesn't want to talk with them.  If I had decided to let her talk with them on the phone ( I wouldn't have) I would've prepared them for her not wanting to talk with them.  That would've been kinder. 

.  And one kid looked confused, and one told me, "nevermind.  I get it."

Yes.  He gets it.  She doesn't want to talk with you guys because she's not normal.

 

I'm tired. I'm angry.  I want her to feel how these children have felt. 

Why would you and your husband subject your children to letting her make them feel bad?  Again, please seek out counseling.

I want her to have some sort of relationship with them,

Why? She's been awful.  Why would someone want an awful person who has consistently treated her children badly to have a relationship with them?  This is not a rhetorical question.  It's a very important question. It's The Question.

but she doesn't want one.

Right.  She has consistently shown she doesn't want a relationship with them.  Why are you trying to force, manipulate, conjure, and encourage one?  How could that be a healthy relationship with your kids?  It can't.  Why would someone want their children engaged in an unhealthy relationship with their awful MIL?  Why would your husband want that for his kids with his awful mother?

And I don't want her to be forced into one.

Then don't force it.  Don't do anything to encourage it. 

 Because that leaves us at square one. 

Yes.  Square one is: MIL is a terrible person who shouldn't be interacting with your family. She doesn't want to.  Leave her alone.

A relationship under duress isn't a relationship at all. 
No, it's not.  Stop trying to create one.  Stop encouraging one. Just. stop.

So saying something won't do a darn thing.

No, it won't.  Walk away.

  I just...........stew. 

Why?  You know she isn't willing to have a relationship with your family. Accept it.  Stop being right in your own mind that she should want a healthy relationship with your family.  She should and you are right, but being right isn't solving the problem. She. doesn't. want. it. Accepting that she doesn't want a relationship will.

 And if I blow up, that ruins everyone's holiday

No.  Blowing up is appropriate when someone (MIL) does things that harm innocent people (your family.) The problem is that you aren't doing what you need to to end it, so you and your husband are allowing her to ruin things for everyone.  You have the power-use it for good. Stop calling and inviting.  Stop expecting things that aren't going to happen.

and runs the gossip mill that his family is fantastic at.

Of course they are.  It's clearly a dysfunctional family through and through.  Step away from the crazy. 

 

Help.  Help me figure out a way to make peace with this all.

You can't fix this insanity, you can only protect your family from it by establishing healthy boundaries.  That means walking away from the relationship that she clearly doesn't want.  If you can't be at peace with getting a toxic person out of your family's life to protect your loved ones from emotional abuse, then again, seek out professional counseling.

 

 

That is a fair point.  Half of my expectations have been because she has a great relationship with the rest of her grandkids.They love her and adore her and spend oodles of time at her place.

Every relationship stands on its own. Her being nice to the other grandkids doesn't have anything at all to do with her being awful to your kids. Stop fantasizing about what you imagine might be and start dealing with what actually is.

I've been dealing with her behavior so long

So you've known how terrible she is for a long time.

that it wasn't until last year that dh dropped his "that's just the way she is" way of thinking and modified it to "that's just the way she is with our family".

So he refuses to see reality and deal with it appropriately in a timely way.  You'll have to do it.  Start by telling him that if HE wants a relationship with his mother, then HE can do it on his own (calls, going to see her) but that you aren't going to continue to allow someone to harm your children because that's your role as a parent.

She's been rather vicious to dh, too, in her sweet, southern, forgetful way.  She's the one who forgot to tell him his dad (her ex) died

That's insane. What a terrible person.  Was his dad in your husband's life? 

until we caught a conversation where they were discussing it on Facebook.

Social media is supposed to contribute to your life, not detract from it.  If MIL talking about the other grandkids visiting and being loved on and deaths being announced on social media before immediate family can be notified is going on, then stop following those people. My SIL died last week.  Immediate and extended family were notified before any FB announcement happened.

I wanted my kids to have one grandparent who wasn't nutty or dead. One. 

Not everyone gets a grandparent who isn't nutty or dead.  Those who don't get it should simply move on and find fulfillment in something else.
 

 

 

Honestly, I have to give him grace on this one.  This is the way his mother has always been to *him*.

We prosecute women who allow the man in their life to physically abuse their kids and we don't justify the man's behavior with, "that's how his parent was to him"  If it wouldn't be tolerated for physical abuse, it shouldn't be tolerated for emotional abuse. Holocaust survivors, who have been through hell on earth don't go around harming others because of their childhood experiences in the camps-quite the contrary.  Plenty of them are exceptionally kind, generous, altruistic and philanthropic because of their experiences in the camps.  They know what it is to be treated as badly as humans have ever been treated and so they abound with sympathy for others. 

And being the oldest, he didn't see the great difference between him and his siblings until much later.

Not sure what being the oldest has to do with that, but it sounds like the two of you have seen enough to know better before now.

A lot of that is thanks to Facebook - she's quite open about loving on everyone else on there.  The relationship, what there was, has slowly fallen away as she doesn't share in any of his achievements or joy. Not one word was said when he retired, let alone actually wanting to come.

Of course not.  She didn't do it in real life, so why would she on FB?

 When I threw a fit over her forgetting birthdays,
If she had forgot my birthday I'd be thrilled and cross my fingers hoping she'd forget me entirely so I never had to deal with her again.

he stood up for all of us which is when it came out that it was our fault for moving so far away. 

Moving away was good first step. Step #2 is deciding to cut off the relationship with her because she has clearly shown she doesn't want one.

He doesn't want to play her pity party, but his temper is rising on this all, too. 

Her bad behavior is fuel for his fire.  He can't stop her bad behavior, but he can stop interacting with her.  That way she can't throw fuel on his fire. When he or his family interacts with her he is handing her a bottle of fuel and standing within dumping range of it.  If someone has  history of throwing fire while you're burning, don't give them fuel and stand close to them. You stay away from them.

On this phone call, he went into the other room and I'm guessing had a few choice words, because each kid got a "Happy Thanksgiving, send me your Christmas list." before she hung up.

So an empty, forced gesture pleases you? Do you think your kids are able to see it wasn't sincere?

But I don't want that.

No one wants forced, empty gestures.  Better nothing than a fake.

  I'd like to honestly tell her this, (I'm going to translate what you say into what I see.)

MIL,

I wanted to share this with you.  Let's continue this madness.

When dh asked if you would like to talk to the boys,  When my husband set my boys up to be hurt by your nastiness,

both of them heard you say no.  It really hurt them. I let them hear your predictable nastiness loud and clear.  Of course it hurt them.

I'm not telling you this to make you feel bad. I think I'm going to make you see it my way (but you haven't so far.)

  I'm doing it more as a way for you to understand a small token of how they have felt I'm doing this because my expectations are unrealistic and I want to continue in this fantasy

for a long time far longer than it ever should have gone on.


- every holiday, really, when you don't want to talk. Every holiday I disregard every clear signal you have consistently sent that you don't want to talk with us but I keep insisting on it for reasons I don't understand.


This next year our family has decided to give ourselves the gift of peace.  There are things that we will not subject them to any more.
-there will be no more calling you on holidays/their birthdays. (Good.)

They would love a call from you, though.I tell myself they'd love a call from you, but that can't possibly be based on their actual experience with you, it's likely an unrealistic expectation they get from me and your son.

-we won't be sharing as much on social media.  The boys are getting older and deserving of their privacy.  What they choose to share is up to them. Privacy is a policy that should've been in place from the beginning, but better late than never.

There are ways that we use of keeping in contact with far away friends.  Dh and I both have Skype and Facetime and the little one can use them well. You can use them or call to talk to him and find out what he's up to. I'm creating a face to face way for you to be awful to my kids by pressuring you to talk to them when you've told us point bank that you don't want to.  (Husband: "Do you want to talk to them?" MIL: "No.")   You clearly don't want to talk to them over the phone, so I'm offering you a way to tell them directly or show them though body language and tone that you don't want to talk to them because continuing this madness is, for some reason, important to my husband and me.

:)  And if we're in town, feel free to invite him over or out to do something with you. You don't want to even talk to him over the phone, so I'm going to pressure you to take him away from our supervision and be alone with him even though you've been awful to all of us since your son was a boy.

The past few years have gone so quickly, and dh and I realized that you haven't really gotten to know him and what a great kid he is. You clearly don't want to get to know him based on your past behavior, so I thought begging/pressuring you to do it will somehow make you want to do it for real.

However, to give you your space, Giving you actual space would be leaving the ball in your court to see IF you want to have a relationship before proceeding,  but I'm going to tell you all about the Skype, Facetime and pick up my kid options and call it giving you space.

we won't be telling the little one any tentative plans to get his hopes up.  We'll keep him busy with a full schedule - a flexible one, in case you do want his company - but one where he doesn't feel like he's missing out.
Thank you for understanding where we're coming from. You have clearly never understood the negative affect you have on my family by failing to follow through on what you will say you will do, but I'll thank you for something you have never and are unlikely to ever do because continuing in this is madness is acceptable to us for some reason.

If you want to discuss anything further please feel free to call. Because your history with my family members on the phone has been awful, but we're telling ourselves that sending this email will change things.

 

I can't promise I wouldn't lay all the things out if she did call, though. :lol:

 

 

I won't, because it will immediately be twisted and complained about to the rest of the family. 

Yes.  You know they're dysfunctional. You can't reason with dysfunctional because dysfunctional isn't motivated by reason.

I'd have to "accidentally" send it to the entire clan so there would be no misunderstanding and that dh and I aren't the bad guys keeping her precious grandchildren from her.

You should keep the grandkids from her. She's a toxic, emotionally abusive person who has consistently shown and explicitly stated she doesn't want to talk to them. 

 

BTDT.

 

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I wouldn't necessarily be believing all the loving grandma Facebook stuff, people like that love to parade their wonderfulness for the applause but it's all an act. You guys dodged a bullet by moving away, stop trying to jump in front of new bullets!

*hugs* I do get how hard it is.

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I'm sorry.  She clearly has lots of problems, and you've made the effort and that's that.  There will be no reasoning with her.  Now it's time to put up the boundaries and walk away.  Starting today.  Find people who love you back and are an encouragement to your children.  Those are the people who will have lasting, positive impact on your children -- not one dysfunctional grandma.

 

Plus, your walking away from it will help your kids learn how to put up healthy boundaries as well.

 

:grouphug:  :grouphug:

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I wouldn't necessarily be believing all the loving grandma Facebook stuff, people like that love to parade their wonderfulness for the applause but it's all an act. You guys dodged a bullet by moving away, stop trying to jump in front of new bullets!

*hugs* I do get how hard it is.

 

THIS!!!!!!!   I don't know  how many times I've chatted with people with a toxic parent, who love having grandkids for bragging rights, tell all their friends about their wonderous grandkids and the things they do with them - and the parent is left wondering what the heck they're talking about because they were NOT things that happened in real life.

 

 

and HOMESCHOOL MOM - I agree.

 

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