Saturday, May 30, 2009

Tales from MIL-land--Got One?

"S" commented in my last post that she wasn't sure what my relationship with my MIL has been like. I guess it would give context to my last rant if I explained. T. and I have been together for 15 years, so I have a long relationship with MIL, and we have always been fairly close. Over the last few years, I've definitely seen less of her, but there was a time when she was around all of the time. Boundaries have always been an issue, because she. . .how do I put this. . .she doesn't see a need for them AT ALL, anywhere in her life. I love her dearly, and so appreciate that I don't have a MIL that is mean and evil, but she does drive me (and T.!) crazy sometimes. Here are just a few highlights which I think will illustrate her lack of boundaries over the years:

As a gift, she once gave T. and I a night at a B&B, lingerie, champagne, and massage oil. From my MIL, this is creepy, no? Thoughtful, but creepy.

I once came home to find that she was trying to be "helpful," and had done the laundry at my house (a lovely gesture, to be sure, and much appreciated). Except, she had somehow manage to locate, wash, and string across the basement to air dry every piece of lingerie that I owned. I was completely mortified.

She IS very helpful, and on another occasion, decided to surprise us by cleaning our house for us. Another lovely gesture, since we both work a ton. We arrived home, thankfully, just in time to prevent her from embarking on a reorganization project in our bedroom. She was sincerely offended that we wouldn't allow her in our bedroom. . .just didn't understand why we wouldn't want her poking around in there.

And then there are all of the times when I've come home to find that she's completely rearranged/redecorated rooms in my house, the time she asked me to watch her two cats, and decided she was going to leave them with me forever because they were better off with me, etc. She really is lovely and she means well, but sometimes it's a little hard to carve out space from her, as she sees nothing as "private."

T. and I had a long talk last night about it. I guess I'm upset not so much about her inquisitiveness as I am about how that infringes on my own efforts at self-preservation. If something were to go wrong with this pregnancy, I wouldn't want to discuss it with her. I wouldn't want her to know. I wouldn't want her to acknowledge it. Part of this is that she in the past has seemed unable to understand that I don't feel about things how she feels about things, and that makes such conversations with her unpleasant. Part of it is that I just want to deal with the bad stuff on my own, without the burdens of family expectations. For me, people knowing just makes it harder. We agreed that if she brings it up again with him, he will tell her that while he understands that she might be excited by the possibility of having a new grandchild, unless and until we get to that point, this is a private matter that we plan to keep between ourselves. I am quite sure this won't go over well--she has gotten very huffy in the past when we have tried to respectfully take this tact with her.

Lollipop had a good point, too, about whether that's how my MIL actually wanted to find out that we were pregnant, in response to being asked. I'm really disappointed that she did this, not only because of everything I've already mentioned, but because I had what I thought was a really exciting plan for how I was going to tell her. Out of everyone that we'll tell, I was most excited about telling her, because I knew how thrilled she would be (especially since my own mother will probably be only lukewarm, at best). I feel like a deflated balloon now. What's the point in a grand plan, if she already knows?

Since almost everyone has a MIL, I'll bet there are some great MIL stories out there. So, what's your most challenging moment with your MIL? Your best story?


S said...

I'm glad you posted this; it really gives perspective to your previous "boundaries" post.

To be fair, out of my parents and DH's parents, my mother is the one actually most like what you describe. She thinks nothing of coming for weeks-long visits and hanging things on the walls without asking while she's visiting.

I have to say, reading your post made me grateful once more for my MIL. To be fair, we have only been married for six months, but my DH and his parents have a very healthy adult relationship with appropriate boundaries.

My MIL and FIL are HUGELY invested in the idea of our having a child because my DH is an only child who didn't marry until age 35. They even know that we have been TTC for over a year without success and have moved on to intervention.

But to their credit, they do not pry and are extremely respectful of our privacy.

Nit said...

Wow...I agree your MIL does not understand boundaries! Crazy...

I also understand your desire to deal with the bad stuff alone...

My MIL is actually good...maybe because she's all the way across the country and we only see her a couple of times a year? :)

JamieD said...

Yikes - that would make me nuts as well! Hubby and I are lucky in that both sets of parents live over an hour away from us so there are never any unannounced visits.

The hardest thing about my MIL is I always feel like she's telling me what to do. She will lecture me on the proper way to prune a rosebush when my rosebushes are beautiful and guess how many she has? NONE.

I have already gotten a lot of "Well, when ~I~ was pregnant . . ." stories which I always want to interject with "In 1970" but it doesn't matter. Hubby and I both know will it will get worse when the baby gets here.

Everday I thank my lucky stars that Hubby's sister has the bigger house so when the visit they stay with her.

Anonymous said...

Oh wow, totally boundary-less MIL here (and you won't see me posting this on my OWN blog because I don't trust that the blog hasn't leaked to her already).

Best boundary-invasion story was when my dh and I won a vacation to Cancun (yes, that was awesome) for 7 days when my son was just 8 months old. My inlaws graciously offered to stay with my son, and ended up doing all sorts of helpful things around the house while we were gone (they added extra supplies of laundry detergent, toilet paper, and completely babyproofed the house for us!). However, my MIL decided my bills needed reorganzing and...

We had to handle it carefully, since they had done us such a big favor. But, let me tell you, any financial info gets hidden when they come to visit from then on!

BTW...Definitely set your boundaries NOW with gets trickier when you throw grandkids in the mix!


sadie607 said...

Wow I don't think I could handle it if my MIL did those things I'm such a private person and having anyone else do my laundry or go through my room especially a MIL not good.

I actually don't have a really good MIL story. We get along really well, we have a better relationship than I have with my own mom.