Thursday, June 23, 2011

Is it really just me?

So, as I mentioned in previous posts, my BIL and SIL have been at the hospital since early yesterday morning after SIL's health scare. While they were there, MIL has been caring for my new nephew. Actually, for the past week since my nephew was born, MIL has been trading off nights with BIL to help care for the baby since SIL has been confined to the couch and unable to get up except to use the bathroom. As a result, MIL had had the baby the night before SIL's seizure and subsequent hospital stay and then all day yesterday, all night last night and all day so far today. And, since SIL may yet need to stay in the hospital another day or two, it looks like MIL will probably continue keeping the baby on her own for another day or so. (Yes, my FIL is there too but, when it comes to child care, my FIL is about as useless as a one-legged dog.)

So anyways, FIL calls up earlier to check in, update us on SIL's condition and chat briefly with ds to see how he's doing as ds has had a cold the past couple days. We chatted for a bit and then, at one point, I heard FIL kind of shout MIL's name and then the baby started crying. Somewhat alarmed, I asked if everything was alright and FIL kind of chuckled and said that MIL was nodding off and her head had fallen forward and she'd konked the baby's head with hers which had caused him to cry. At that point I said, "Why don't I come and get the baby and bring him here for a bit and give you and MIL a break?" FIL didn't even get it all out of his mouth before I heard MIL say, very nastily, in the background that she was FINE and could do it all by herself just FINE. When I tried to say something else, all FIL would say was that MIL was "made for this" and would be just fine. *roll eyes*

Is it just me or do you all find that something is seriously "off" with this woman - MIL - and her behavior regarding her grandchildren? If you really want to know the truth, I feel she's being a selfish, stubborn COW of a woman who would apparently rather risk putting a child's safety in jeopardy than let someone - me - step in and help out for a few hours and give her a break.

She was/is the same way with ds, especially when he was first born. Always wanting to be the one holding him and caring for him. If I'd let her, she'd have set up a full room for him at her house and kept him there 24-7 quite happily. As it was, I insisted on ds staying in the house with me and MIL usually sat around pouting. No matter how much she got to hold ds, it was never enough. And now with my nephew, she acts more like he's HER child rather than her grandchild and as if a known deviant or something is trying to take the child from her rather than the child's aunt who only wants to help give her a break for a bit. 

Once SIL is all recovered and she and BIL go back to work full time the plan is for MIL to take over daily care of the child full time, 7 days a week or more. I'm supposed to be comfortable with this?? I feel I should add here that I'm almost as much worried about MIL as the baby. MIL just REFUSES to admit that she's getting on in years and that there are things she just cannot do the way she used to anymore. Suffice it to say it's been many, many years since she had to take care of a newborn infant full time. Both her sons are in their 30's now and she's going to be 60 this year. And nothing against 60-something year olds either. It's just that UN-like some other 60 year olds, MIL is badly out of shape and, at last report, pre-diabetic (though since she refuses to change her diet and listen to her doctors, it's only a matter of time until she's full on diabetic, if she's not already). As any parent knows, it's hard enough taking care of a newborn when you're in your 20's or 30's but MIL insists she's just as capable - MORE capable actually, though she hasn't quite come out and said as much, but you can tell by her tone and attitude - as the children's parents and as she was when she was a new mother herself.

Ugh! I am just SO pissed off today with MIL's selfishness and stubbornness! To make matters worse, I log onto Facebook today and see this posted from dh's cousin (MIL's niece):

Aunt (MIL's name), you are an awesome Nana. Your daughter-in-law's are so lucky to have you as the mother of their husbands and grandmother of their sons. I can't think of a person I respect more on this earth.

Seriously?? Pardon my french but fucking GAG me with a spoon! Little does dh's cousin know that MIL has a bitchy streak about a mile and a half wide and has badmouthed said cousin many, many times behind her back - and quite viciously too, I might add -specifically with regard to the fact that cousin is a lesbian and she and her partner recently decided to have a baby via artificial insemination from an anonymous source. MIL talks about cousin like she's some kind of freak of nature and made a comment that 'at least there's something normal about her' with regard to the fact that cousin was the one to carry the baby. I was like WTF?? I told MIL that while cousin's choices were vastly different from the ones she and I may have made for our lives that I hardly thought that classified her as abnormal in any way. But, I digress. You get the idea. I'm half tempted to privately message cousin on FB and tell her that appearances aren't always correct or something along those lines but I figure it'd only hurt cousin and, at worst, she may pass along what I'd said to MIL which would cause bigger problems.

I just cannot STAND that everyone - MIL's own sons and dh included - seems to view MIL like she's some kind of martyred saint who can do no wrong when she's just like anyone else, with flaws of her own. Anytime I've brought up to dh my issues with his mother, no matter how politely and respectfully I phrase it, 99.9% of the time he comes back and says how I'm not seeing things right or how my views of parents are skewed by my experiences with N FOO, etc. In other words, I'm "over-reacting" or making too big a deal of nothing.

So I ask all of you - is it just me here or do you also see something very wrong and/or "off" about MIL's behaviors in regard to her grandchildren? I think it's one thing to be extremely fond of one's grandchildren and another thing entirely to have an unhealthy attachment to them and MIL would definitely fall into the latter group, IMHO. 

I remember when ds was just born and seeing how MIL acted towards him and feeling very threatened. It was like MIL viewed my child as hers and I often felt as if MIL was trying to have another go at motherhood via MY child. She even went so far as to call ds (dh's name) junior for the longest time. Granted, ds did look A LOT like dh when he was a baby but it was just creepy the way MIL would refer to him by that nickname and I always made a point to correct her when she did it. MIL would also buy a lot of clothes for ds that looked straight out of the 70's which was the era dh grew up in. Truly, I felt she was trying to re-create her experiences only with my child. To this day, it creeps me out majorly.

*sigh* I'm just in a bad mood now over this whole thing. I'm so grateful SIL is going to be okay but this thing with MIL and my nephew has just brought up a whole lot of bad memories for me.


  1. hmm yeah, those things are a little off and wrong. i think this is a case of people who haven't faced their issues and one of those things where other people call it 'quirks' and 'personality' and just brush it over as 'how she is.' i dont think its cause your views are skewed by nfoo. those kinds of issues bother me. it is a form of abuse and/or selfish neglect.
    it reminds me of how right now i'm living in a rented room in a house, and there's this lady and her daughter and her grandson that live here...and her other daughter came to visit with her little girl who's like 3. and at one point, the visiting daughter says to her little girl, i'm gonna fucking kick your ass! you little brat!
    and it was just, i thought it was an odd thing to say to a 3 year old girl.
    otherwise, i mean, she's a normal person.
    i don't know what to call these things...
    it's not narc. but it bothers me sometimes.
    i call it just average complacency.
    maybe at some point they'll grown and change, it's just happening very slowly.
    i think you'll be okay and you'll be able to work something out.

  2. DA, I am fascinated that I was just reading about this in one of my books on boundaries. The type of behavior shown by sons and relatives is Black/White or all-or-none thinking, a person is all good or all bad. It is a boundary issue to not recognize that there are many shades of gray. I have seen the behavior you are describing in my daughter's MIL. The MIL became very upset when I tried to do anything with their grandson. (The boy was my daughter's step son.) Any involvement on my part was viewed as a threat. It is not just you seeing that there is a problem. Unfortunately, pointing things out to others is neither popular or well received. I have learned that many times you just have to back off and allow things to progress. Good luck.

  3. It isn't only you! My NM has done stuff like that. I figured that as long as she wasn't doing any actual harm, then it would be less traumatic for everyone, except for me biting my tongue, but that wasn't new. At this point, probably all you can do is keep your eyes open and pick your battles.

  4. Yes, I think there is something a little off with this woman. I have read a few posts about her and have thought to myself she seems a little enmeshed or something. Sounds like the kind of boundary crossing MIL the women on DWILs would love to rip apart. I don't trust her.

    Totally not saying your MIL is also a Narcissist (I don't like to throw that diagnosis around), but I have a little theory about my own mother's obsession with babies and small children. I believe children actually feed my mother's narcissism. It's sick, but as you know, babies love anybody who takes care of them. They are social creatures by nature and love to flirt. NMs feed off of this unconditional attention. I saw my mother do it with my step-sister's children. As soon as those kids hit the age of 5-6, it was as if they ceased to exist to her. I always wondered why my mother stopped all contact with the kids when they got older. I figured it out one Christmas, though, when she made the comment to me that she didn't know what to get L's kids because it seemed like they didn't like her anymore and didn't appreciate her gifts. Really?! A 5-year old doesn't appreciate your stupid Christmas gift and you get all butt-hurt about it?! I think what happened was the 5-year old got sooo many toys that year and only played with the favorites on Christmas day. NM's gift wasn't one of the favorites. Also, the age of 5-6 is about the time when kids start to have their own opinions about creepy people. And they start to voice their opinions.

    So, yes, some people have an obsessions with babies because they boost their self-esteem. Again, not saying your MIL is a Narcissist, maybe she just has low self-esteem. I definitely see a pride thing with her refusing help with the baby, too. Not wanting anybody to take away the one thing you are good at in life is also a symptom of low self-esteem. Like I said before, I don't trust that woman.

  5. @ Motherless Child - I don't know that I'd label my MIL as having full on NPD either but there's definitely something WAY off about her. Her over-attachment to her sons and their children is SICK, to say the least. I think it's less about feeding off of them though - at least where the grandchildren are concerned - than it is about attempting to re-create that period in her life when her sons were little. She has this sick obsession with being a mother and with both of us DIL's having boys, it's like MIL has gotten two replacement baby boys to have in place of her own two sons who have now grown up.

    I remember when ds was very little, MIL was always buying him the ugliest stuff that looked straight out of the 70's. She even used to call ds "(dh's name) junior" for a long time. It occurred to me early on that MIL was trying to re-create my dh as her baby in my ds. On a bit of a side note, heaven forbid anyone say the child looked anything like ME, his mother. Good grief. In those instances, both MIL and FIL would insist strongly, "Oh no! He looks JUST like (dh's name)!" Guess I was just the breeder/incubator for THEIR grandson! *eye roll*

    Ever since the new baby has come along though, MIL hasn't been over here ONCE to visit with ds. DS mentioned to me yesterday how he likes going over there to visit but he really wishes his nana could come to HIS house and visit like she used to. It was clear to me at least that while he likes the new baby, he misses that alone time with his nana. Apparently (and I gathered this through some skillful questioning), MIL is always going over to BIL and SIL's to be around the baby. It angers me as well as making me sad for ds. I mean, really. MIL can't even take some time when ds is visiting over there to spend with HIM and ONLY him?! Why the hell do I even bother sending him over there then?

    I talked with dh about it last night and told him flat out that I think his M's obsession with her grandchildren - the new baby in particular - is just plain ole SICK and unhealthy and that I thought it very sad and disturbing that she seems unwilling to pull herself away for just an hour or two to come visit ds here at his own house and give him some one-on-one time. Dh suggested when I speak to MIL today that I mention it to her that I spoke with ds yesterday and tell her what he said and suggest she try to come over here (WITHOUT the baby in tow) at least once a week. School will be starting in just a few more weeks and then it will be a non-issue as ds will be busy for the main part of the week. But, until then, it would be nice for MIL to show ds she still cares just as much for him by making the effort. Sadly, I'm not expecting it to go over well and fear that MIL is going to put up a huge fight. It's going to be like telling an addict they have a problem and suggesting rehab. There's going to be that panic in her which, again, is the whole problem.

    *sigh* I'll let you all know how it went after I speak with MIL.