Wednesday, July 23, 2008

7 months

It's now been 7 months since the blow up with my inlaws. And still no contact, for which I am grateful.

We saw my husband's brother and his family a few weeks ago - met in the middle and went to a children's museum. The good news is my brother-in-law has switched from urging my husband to sweep it all under the rug to supporting my husband in his decision. My brother-in-law is on the wagon, and thinking more clearly these days, so I think we have that to thank. About 6 weeks ago, BIL was bugging husband to come up and visit. Finally my husband asked, you spend all your time at our parents (he does, it's creepy - even spends the night, with his wife and daughter, at his parents house on weekends sometimes). If we come up there, how would we not see the parents? BIL responded, oh, you and WhichBox can stay at our house, and we'll take your daughter and ours over to the parents so Mom can spend time with her. WTF. I hit the ceiling on that one - Mother-in-law has absolutely lost any chance she had of spending alone time with my daughter.

The latest, according to BIL, is that MIL says she has said her piece and that's all there is to it and it's up to my husband to make the next move. You might remember, her piece was to say nothing at all. My husband wrote her back saying we needed to get things in the open and resolve things.

BIL knows I am pregnant, that it's a boy, and that we'd prefer he not tell his parents. We'll see how long that lasts.

Two weeks ago I was out to dinner with friends who know the whole MIL saga. I said I just didn't see a way out of this dilemma. At least not a way out that didn't ask too much of me. One of my opinionated friends asked what did I mean? Well, husband has great aunts who are quite elderly and ill. He'd want to go, if/when something happens. And then the baby - once they find out they'll probably want to be involved somehow. Friend just exploded at me - MIL had forfeited her right to be in our lives, the best thing was to keep contact cut off, this was ridiculous, we needed to stand our ground or else she'd continue to pull this shit, we could absolutely not cave or give in........

The conversation was upsetting, for a lot of reasons. My friend is right, I don't disagree with her. I guess the thing is this isn't entirely my decision. If it was up to me, hell yeah, we'd never see any of them again. But what to do when big things (like his aunts' potentially, and inevitably someday, passing?) happen in his family? My husband and I have had such a hard time, and we work hard to spend time together and be supportive of each other. So there's a funeral, and I refuse to go? And keep daughter home with me? Seriously, what's the right thing to do in that circumstance? (I like these great aunts, and hope they stick around a long time, but if it's going to happen is it bad I'm hoping for an October/November/December timeframe so I physically can't go??).

And, the crazy thing is how much husband's family puts up with this crazy behavior. Does my father-in-law miss his eldest son? Apparently not more than he longs for peace at home. My FIL is not bad, he's a victim, too. But he puts up with it.

I know family estrangements. My dad and his brother haven't spoken for years. Not many, about 5, but always had a strained relationship. My uncle is in bad shape, and while his crazy family is entirely unreliable, this may be the end for him. I honestly don't know if my dad would want to go to the funeral. Or if he would go, even if he didn't want to. My mom's siblings have had some degree of estrangement for the past 30 years, and while they are cordial and talk occasionally, exchange holiday cards and calls if there's big news, it's really nothing more than polite. Estrangements are hard on the family, especially on children.

My MIL is bad. Is she cut you out of our lives completely bad? Yes, my friends scream. Yes! Our counselors this past winter/spring said yes. I think it's not that clear cut. And not forever. But I do not see a way out, a solution, a path forward.


Mimi said...

Aw WB... don't feel bad about setting limits. And when the "if" happens with Aunties or whoever then you'll be able to decide. Heck if you already know what your wishes will be then just try to remember them when the time comes.

Your FIL sounds about as useful as my FIL from my 1st marriage. Everybody says what a good guy he is, a peacekeeper, not a hurtful bone in his body.. but bottom line is that if he isn't part of the solution then he is part of the problem. So is BIL, although maybe he's trying to figure out how to help with a solution. (He just has too many years of brainwashing to be effective right away?!)

Your friend and I would probably get along!

Wabi said...


I think your friends sound loyal and rightly annoyed on your behalf, which is lovely. But I agree with you about this not being quite as simple as they may think in the heat of the moment.

I have a great MIL, but a horrible stepmom. (Like your MIL, my stepmom is the stuff of legend, the type that couselors say to cut loose.) Once my brothers and I tried to cut out contact with her completely, but we also ended up discovering family factions and new problems when we did that. Having my father or cousins plead that we forget about my stepmom's ridiculous antics was nearly as vexing and disruptive to life as dealing with the actual miserable person directly.

So now we've compromised: We see my father with my stepmom in tow occasionally, but there are ground rules. 1) We always arrange to see them in group settings, so it's easy to keep direct interactions at a minimum. 2) We don't share any deep personal stuff with either my dad or stepmom anymore. This means stepmom has no dangerous ammunition for hurtful comments. 3) If stepmom manages to do or say something that DH or I find annoying, we have zero problem saying, "Well, look at the time, gotta go!" and leaving immediately.

Is it a perfect solution? No. We still have to deal with my stepmom's crap sometimes. But we deal with 85 percent less than we used to, and we still get to maintain pretty decent relationships with the rest of my family.

Good luck figuring out the next step.

CLC said...

I agree. It's not so cut and cry as much as that would be easiest. But I don't have any assvice, other than try not to think about the aunts passing and what you will do. You will know what to do when it actually happens.

niobe said...

Well, as you know, I have a somewhat similar issue with my own mother. Though, in my case, it seems like she's the one who's cut me out of her life.

It's very, very hard. Though, given your MIL's antics, it's probably harder for you than for her.

Lisse said...

I don't think you or your daughter has to go to the funeral even if your husband chooses to.

Somehow it needs to be made clear to your MIL that her past behavior was unacceptable. Otherwise she will labor under her injured illusions.