Wednesday, February 18, 2009

BlogShare 2009

Last year, I discovered BlogShare, in which participants send in an anonymous post and it gets posted on someone else's blog and they, in turn, post a post by someone else in the BlogShare group. I obsessively read every post and thought it was just the coolest thing ever. So this year, I decided to participate. The post below was not written by me. It was written by someone else in the BlogShare group. I wrote a post for BlogShare and it is posted somewhere else. I hope you enjoy and please visit -R-'s blog for more information and a list of all the participants.

I discovered this letter on my computer recently. It was written in late 2006, but each time I re-read it I get as angry as if it had happened yesterday. The relationship my husband and I have with his mother has deteriorated rapidly over the last few years, and this letter that I wrote - but never sent - after a particularly bad encounter shows the issues pretty clearly. Well, some of them, anyway. I don’t think the others can be summed up in fewer words than War and Peace. For the purposes of using this as a post I added a few comments - [bracketed] - for clarification. And names have been removed, obviously.

Dear Mother-in-law:

Before your son and I got married, you told me that I should let you know if you ever did anything to upset me. You said that you didn’t want me to resent you the way you have always resented your in-laws. That being said, some things have happened recently that make me very angry and resentful, and I feel that they should be brought out into the open. I have always thought it better to talk about and air my concerns anyway, rather than stew about them silently.

First of all, I understand that you are upset that I never apologized for the Couch Incident. I think there have been a lot of misunderstandings surrounding that event. My intention was certainly not to hurt your feelings – my reaction to the damage [OH MY GOD WHAT HAPPENED TO MY NEW COUCH?!] would have been exactly the same if there had not been anyone sitting on the couch at that time, or if it had been my own mother sitting there. I certainly was not implying that you had anything to do with it, nor did that thought ever cross my mind. I would think you should know me well enough by now to realize I would never intentionally hurt anyone’s feelings like that. I am not in the habit of apologizing unnecessarily. However, I am sorry that you were offended.

I feel that I should let you know what damage has been done to your relationship with your son. He is very hurt by the way things have been going between the two of you lately. He feels like you don’t care about him at all anymore. I’m sure it has not been your intention to hurt him, much as he has never intended to hurt you. He would certainly never admit it to you, but he was very upset by the events surrounding his birthday. The whole “birthday visit” was obviously a thinly veiled ploy to come and see your grandson. And speaking of which, couldn’t you have sent a birthday card to your own son, when you managed to mail a card to your grandson for no reason at all? That card to Grandson arrived the day before your son’s birthday, and it certainly seemed a slap in the face that he never received a card at all. Not to mention a gift. Obviously the gift isn’t the point but it was hurtful for Husband to suddenly not receive one (when you always have given a gift in years past), especially when he found out that his brother received a gift in the form of concert tickets.

If you feel unwelcome in our home, I apologize for that. I don’t ever want anyone to feel unwelcome. Possibly because we don’t get the chance to invite you to visit we are caught off guard when you come. Perhaps this is simply my interpretation of events (as I am only finding things out as Husband tells me), but it seems to me that I am always merely informed that you will be coming - usually the day before [and one time I was notified of your unexpected arrival while I was in the freaking SHOWER] - and consequently feel unprepared. I have always been somewhat of a planner in that regard, and I don’t deal well with last minute changes of plan. I’m happy to host you in my home when I have the time to prepare for it. Making plans well in advance also eliminates the confusion and frustration caused when you want to come up here but we have already arranged to be elsewhere.

I additionally feel that we are owed a measure of respect in our own home, something that was evidently not displayed this weekend. I don’t feel that it is proper to come into your son’s house and start berating him. [I do not actually recall the specifics of this outburst as I was not present, but do remember that it was unprovoked and completely unwarranted.] I understand that you are his mother, but this gives you no right to talk to him that way. In fact, as a mother, I cannot conceive of ever belittling my own son in that manner. I know that you would never tolerate that sort of behavior in your home. Husband is a lot more tolerant than me, that is for sure. Which I imagine is the reason you don’t start such “discussions” in my presence.

I am going to go ahead and let Grandson stay with you while we go on vacation, because those plans have already been made, but please know that my frustration with recent events has given me reason to reconsider. After all, if you will be so hateful to your own son, who is to say you won’t lose your cool with Grandson some day and do the same to him? I cannot allow that to happen. And there is the respect issue in this situation as well. I feel that you have been very disrespectful of me in the way that you care for my son. I recall the very first time I left him with you – your dismissal of my carefully written tips and instructions with a wave of your hand. How distressing for the wishes of a brand-new mother to be so callously ignored in regard to her [9-month-old] baby. It isn’t as though I didn’t trust you, but that action was disrespectful and I found it hurtful. Even now, I am well aware that you do not make Grandson sleep in a separate room when he comes to visit as is the custom at home. This troubles me in that it shows an egregious lack of respect for me, as his mother, when you do not even try to follow along with the routines that I have in place for him. I am a fairly relaxed, laid-back person, but I do get very upset to know that you allow him to sleep with you (and presumably the dog), a break in his routine that causes behavioral disruptions and complications when he returns home. Yes, you are the grandmother and therefore entitled to do a fair amount of spoiling him, but dismissal of routines and contradiction of our feelings is (in my opinion) totally crossing the line. I feel that we need to define some boundaries for the good of our future relationship, and I must apologize for not doing so earlier.

I have to admit that I am so angry right now that my hands are shaking and my heart is pounding. How dare you hurt MY husband. It kills me so see him so upset, thinking that his own mother doesn’t love or even care about him. This is what your actions have demonstrated to him of late, that he is merely the gatekeeper to your grandson, an obstacle to be overcome on the way to the child you truly love. Well, you know what? Grandkids are a privilege, NOT A RIGHT, and you seem to have forgotten this. I will protect my son and will do what I have to do in order to spare him the emotional turmoil and pain that has been caused his father.

Your [incredibly pissed-off] Daughter-in-law


3carnations said...

That's a really good letter.

My MIL does things very differently from us, and that is part of the reason our son has never been left with her.

Also - The pop-in visits? Ugh. It took about a year to get hubby's family to stop doing that. It finally stopped when hubby's brother showed up at 10:00 at night when we were already in our pajamas and headed to bed. We didn't answer the door. 10 minutes later he returned. Hubby answered the door. Asked if everything was okay. Brother said yes. He told brother we weren't prepared for company right then, as we were going to sleep. Hubby and brother's relationship has never been the same. I feel badly about that, but I think we were in the right.

Allie said...

Oh, we live too far away for pop-ins. And everyone pretty much knows they aren't okay. I would not be able to handle that at all.

Tess said...

That seems like the kind of letter that WOULD make you feel better, just writing it.

This is just sucks. I don't know what else to say. In-laws. Blech.

Dating Trooper said...

I'm saving this letter because I know I will have to write a version of it someday to my own mother - if I ever have kids. It got me all mad and it hasn't even happened to me yet! Good to know we all share common problems. Well done.

Alice said...

i obviously don't know the poster or the full situation... by MY GOODNESS it seems as though this daughter-in-law (and her husband!)has put up with a lot. i can't believe anyone thinks pop-in visits are acceptable. and the disregard for her parenting style! i realize these are pretty common issues to have with inlaws.. but still. doesn't make them less frustrating.

Courtney said...

Oh no. I can't believe she ignored your list of wishes on how to take care of your child with a flippant wave of the hand. HELL no. That is not okay.

Sra said...

The worst part is how she told you to tell her if she ever pisses you off, but then doesn't even try to be respectful. What a load of B.S.

-R- said...

I could have written this same letter. Well, the mother-in-law hasn't been allowed to watch my son alone yet, but I have seen her disregard, and in some cases undermine, the parenting of my husband's brother, so I am totally expecting it. UGH.

Andrea said...

That is so big of you to not send it! And like everyone else, pop in visits are almost never ok!

Stacy said...

My MIL is also certifiable and actually delights in pitting her children against each other. Thank the bebe jeebus we don't have kids and she lives in Hawai'i now.

It felt good to write this, right? Stick to your guns and don't let her mow down your husband. I went to battle and won; now we have no contact and it is blissful. I'm not saying that result is right for you, but present a united front whilst remaining cool and tactful (wins every time).

Good luck!