Sunday, June 6, 2010


As you probably know if you have been around here for a while, things with dh's family can be a bit...well... of a challenge. My m.i.l. and s.i.l. have a gift for behaving in ways that really catch me off guard. I will be the first to admit that I really struggle - I don't want to be a nasty, unforgiving person and I pray about just leaving it all, not being hurt by it and/or trying to have a heart that is loving to them no matter what but I have a hard time winning that battle. It was frustrating for years before Pk arrived but that has put a whole new spin on things - behaviour that would have once been annoying makes me insane now because I don't want her to grow up aware of just how second class she is in the family compared to my s.i.l.'s kids and it's also hard to see dh being basically rejected and criticized by his mother and sister all the time (I have to say, my f.i.l. is a wonderful, sweet and kind man and our only issue with him is the fact that he doesn 't see how bad it gets sometimes).

We have been in a strange situation with m.i.l. for a while because for some reason, she is complete aloof from this pregnancy. When I was expecting Pk, she was all over me all the time and her obsession was that we were having a boy (despite the fact that everything medical was to the contrary). It was cloying and claustrophobic. S.i.l., on the other hand, was obsessed with the fact that she felt that I was making the biggest mistake of my life because I was emphatic about the fact that I didn't want to have family at the hospital as I was delivering - she was certain that I just didn't know what I wanted because I had never delivered a baby before and this would be the greatest regret of my life (was she ever wrong on that score - I can't imagine wanting anyone there with me during that experience other than dh). Anyway, this time round, my m.i.l. has expressed zero interest in the baby (other than a mild desire to take credit for the fact that he will be big - apparently, in her world, baby size is entirely determined by the size of your m.i.l.'s babies and that is a credit to her). My mother said at Christmas, she found it almost eerie - there was no mention of the pregnancy AT ALL. I don't know what the deal is, other than that dh and I have confronted the family about a few things over the last couple of years and maybe she is just angry.

Anyway, back to the current situation. We haven't really known whether we should call and let them know when the arrival was imminent or just leave it and let them know once baby arrives (but you can rest assured, whatever we do will be wrong). Yesterday morning, m.i.l. called. She first told dh to wish me happy birthday because she knew it was around this time (hey, we have only been together since 1991...) but she also needed us to know that if the baby arrives next weekend, she is busy and wouldn't be available. You see, she lives 2 and a half hours from us and next weekend, is coming down to visit s.i.l. for my nieces' dance recital on Friday night, Saturday afternoon and Saturday night. Let me add, s.i.l. lives less than 20 minutes from us. Does anyone else find it a teeny bit strange that she would be within that distance but needed us to know that there would be NO TIME AT ALL to stop by and meet her only grandson? Dh is right, it's probably better this way because she would come and all we would hear about was the recital and how it was the best one in the history of the world and that my nieces were so much more talented than any other child there but still, isn't is a bit weird that she wouldn't be even the least bit curious to meet her son's son? It's hard not to take that as a slap in the face.

As you all told me a bit ago, we are lucky to have such wonderful friends and really, this is about us as an immediate family, not about the larger extended group. I still find it weird, though and it's hard not to be hurt on dh's behalf.


  1. I would bet her remove is about her not getting her way and pouting about it in terms of how the family is working and you not talking with sil right now. (understandably, I might add.)

    The other? Honestly, I think she has issues with males. Her husband is acceptable to her by virtue of letting her walk all over him - he is sweet and non-confrontational, and used to her ways but never seems to call her on it or doesn't see it. She rejects her own son often and strongly favours her daughter. Her first and only grandson is getting the same already. It seems like a pattern, and may well go all the way back to the way her dad treated their family, which was no treat. All of which would suggest to me that she's responding to old hurt and rejection by hurting and rejecting.

    That may all sound a little pop-psych ow whatever, but honestly it's the first thing I hear in the ongoing pattern of her behaviour, and I'm not generally one to be all about people's behaviour and destiny being determined by their childhood.

    That doesn't make it any easier to bear, of course. I would let her carry on about the nieces a bit and do her doting, because it really costs nothing to let her have her moment and you never know, she may carry on about Pk to sil and drive her nuts! It would be just like her to play you guys off against each other. Call her on anything negative she says about your kids, though.

    I would also say that kids don't notice this stuff nearly as starkly unless it's blatantly unfair, and you can insulate her from some of it. I didn't notice until my Oma made some comment when I was in my 30s that she didn't think of me as her grandchild.

    Yes, you can't win, but here'[s one win - you won't have her driving you nuts in the first few days of your babe's life if he comes soon, at least! Take heart and know you are loved elsewhere and probably even by her, in her own perverse and limited way.

  2. I hear can say and do some of the most hurtful things. And the hurt is magnified because they are family and, by nature, they are supposed to care more than friends.

    Give it to God...breathe deeply and know that the ones who love and support you most will be there. It's so easy to waste our energy worry about the ones who let us down, but the reality is...they don't deserve even our wasted energy. We become drained and can't focus on the ones who do support and love us.

    Praying for you...

  3. Oh boy. It's hard to know what to do when no matter what you do it will be considered the wrong thing. We've had that issue with a family member as well. In the end, we cut off communications with them (they live provinces away anyway, and the only time they communicate with us is to put us down somehow, so we just won't bother).

    And I agree. I think I'd feel a bit slapped myself.