August 05, 2020, 03:49:42 pm


"Welcome to -- When adult children marry and leave home, life can sometimes get more complex instead of simpler.  Being a mother-in-law or daughter-in-law can be tough.  How do we extend love and support to our mothers-in-law, adult children, daughters-in-law, sons-in-law, and grandchildren without interfering?  What do we do when there are communication problems?  How can we ask for help when we need it without being a burden?  And how do our family members feel about these issues?  We invite you to join our free forum, read some posts... and when you're ready...share your challenges and wisdom."

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Topics - Pen

Grab Bag / As usual, acceptance!
July 16, 2017, 08:55:26 am
Good grief, I'm old enough to be considered elderly by some. Why can't I get a handle on my family issues?

I am still broadsided by feelings of envy, inadequacy, sorrow, anger when I hear about the wonderful things my stepmother/DF have done for her AC & GC when we have been completely left out. Trips abroad for all, family holiday celebrations, expensive, meaningful gifts, help w/home repairs, special trips w/GC, etc.

What's worse, my SM claims it's not true & says I'm at fault for not feeling like I'm part of the family & then minutes later reminisces w/my step sis about their great trip to Europe. Or claims to hate crowded family gatherings & then plans the annual gathering @ the lake (excluding us) while I'm present!

There are photos of her AC & GC all over the house, not one of any of us, not even the one family photo we were allowed to be in 15 years ago. There's a photo of my stepsister's puppy but not one of my kids.

I googled "narcissistic gaslighting" and checked off every symptom. My dad drank the kool-aid long ago. Just call me lucky, lol.

Other than that it's been a good visit  :P
As my DH gets older & more tired of working hard w/o much financial reward, the daily grind, home maintenance demands, etc etc, I am seeing my often grumpy FIL emerge. And I see both of these men in my DS's treatment of me (often rude, dismissive, putting me down.) My DS didn't spend much time around his GP, and my DH wasn't as grumpy when the kids were young - but enough must have been observed by DS to have given him permission, I guess. Or it's genetic, I don't know.

It's hard work to stand up for myself w/o causing backlash. Harder to accept it quietly, though. I am working on finding a way to let them know I will not tolerate that treatment any longer w/o creating defensiveness and more of the same.

DH is a good provider, hardworking and honest. He loves our disabled DD, provided massive support for DS through college, and loves his family above all else. However.....

Sooo....Mother's Day here in the States is this coming Sunday. It can be an emotional landmine for some of us if we're not careful. I've been working on my DS/DIL business for many years (thanks, Luise & Kirk!) and have come a long way. Apparently I still have some work to do - two steps forward, one back?

Usually Mother's Day isn't a big deal to me, but this year I've been kind of emotional lately and I think I need a plan. Anyone else?
Grab Bag / Thank you!
December 22, 2016, 08:33:21 am
Dearest Luise and Kirk,

Thank you for starting and maintaining this site! You have helped me grow and change for the better. You give me a safe place to just be with my emotions when things get tricky. You support, encourage, teach, and nudge when needed. I don't even want to think about what my life with DS/DIL would be without your loving guidance.

With gratitude and love,

I send all of my WWU friends good wishes and hope for peace and fulfillment in our lives.  :) :) :)

In a recent magazine article, Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) told a story about how her mom would always change the sheets and make the bed before leaving for vacation. When young Liz questioned why, since no one would be home, her mother replied, "It's a gift to my future self. She is going to come home tired and frazzled. I want her to have a nice, fresh bed to climb into." Or words to that effect. You can find it in O Magazine I believe.

I love the idea of giving a gift to my future self! I'm going to use this from here on, regarding exercise, good nutrition, facial care, picking up after myself, etc etc. I may need to repeat it as a mantra ("...a gift to future Pen, a gift to future Pen...")

We deserve it!
Helpful Resources / Chronic sorrow
November 17, 2016, 04:19:34 pm
Some of you may want to check out a diagnosis called "chronic sorrow." I found information online when I was trying to find help getting out of my sadness spiral regarding my disabled adult daughter. Most of the listed symptoms and feelings fit what I had been going through for 30 years.

It then occurred to me that having an adult child who rejects his/her FOO for whatever reason might trigger chronic sorrow for some of us. Perhaps if we can name it and validate it we can better heal from it. Just a thought.
Daughter in Laws and/or Son in Laws / Holiday strategies?
November 08, 2016, 11:07:58 am
WWU, it's that time of year again. If the holiday season is tough due to family issues, how do we cope? How do we find joy? I'd love to hear everyone's plans or solutions.

If you've already celebrated your big holiday(s) this year, what worked? If it was a challenge, how would you improve your approach in the future? If your holidays are still ahead, and you had a tough go last year, what strategies will you use to give yourself comfort and joy this year?

Grab Bag / Storm in PNW
October 15, 2016, 11:51:27 pm
Hey Luise, thinking of you. Hope all is well with you and yours. On the news it looks pretty wild where you are. Stay safe!
Adult Sons and/or Adult Daughters / DS under pressure?
September 08, 2016, 07:16:37 pm
Hi, all...

My DS and I got into a little miscommunication-fueled tiff a couple of weeks ago. My feelings were hurt and I spent a few days throwing myself a bit of a pity party, complete with tears that sprang into my eyes from time to time (TV commercials that show happy families really get to me, lol.)

While trying to sort out what happened, I remembered the wise words I'd heard here and elsewhere regarding how many of our DSs react when they feel they are between the proverbial rock and hard place. I didn't know that a comment I made, kind of in jest, would affect my DS to the point he felt he needed to lash out at me, but I think that's what happened.

DS & DIL are heading for some big life changes soon. A couple of weeks ago DS called me and we had a long, grown-up talk. He asked for my input on a couple of things, expressed his desire for some help (labor, lol) from DH & I, etc. I didn't jump in and go overboard, but I did tell him we'd be glad to help if he needed it (the way good friends or those happy TV families might do, lol!)

Fast-forward a couple of weeks and his tone has changed. Cold as ice, very testy and prickly and argumentative. Whoa, dude...what's going on?

Perhaps he mentioned our good talk and our willingness to help to DIL and she was not thrilled. I don't know for sure, and we will not be likely to discuss it, but my feeling is that she doesn't want us anywhere near any part of their lives. She knows I am not an over-bearing MIL and that I do not want to give advice or offer opinions on anything, even when asked, but she is still adamant about leaving us out.

At first I was devastated, but as Luise says, it was because I had expectations! Granted, those expectations were based on his previous demeanor, but still... darn it, I allow myself to get swept in every time!! Now, although I'm still hurt and feel he needs to apologize and treat me with more civility, I understand that his behavior isn't against me as much as it's self-preservation for him.

I do not want to be another pressure on my DS; he gets enough of that at home. Now I'm working on being more aware of what might be going on so I don't get caught up again. It's a little like "walking on eggshells" w/o the low self-esteem that I often project.

It's very sad when we are reminded, again, that we are not really part of our adult children's lives. Some of us dream of a loving balance, helping each other, celebrating family events together, etc. I'm still working on those pesky expectations, my sense of fairness and my fear of abandonment. Thanks WWU for listening!
Hi, WW!

As my once every couple of years visit with my dad/SM approaches, I'm trying to pay attention to my emotional state so I can be cool, calm and lovingly detached. There is a lot of baggage there - in fact, my close friends who know our history (and were present for a lot of it) wonder why I spend the time and $$$ to travel all the way across the continent to see him when usually it is a less than fulfilling visit.

Am I making the effort in a weird attempt to insure my DS/DDD will still visit me in a couple of decades?
Am I simply of the "dutiful daughter" generation?
Am I still trying to get dad/SM to acknowledge and approve of me?

I noticed I was starting to get anxious, a little depressed and a bit insecure (about my weight, my finances, my aging face, etc etc etc. Yikes!!)

However, I've decided to limit my exposure this trip - traveling with a dear friend and planning a lot of sightseeing activities w/her and her DS, so I'm not able to spend more than a few hours in the presence of my dad and his wife. My SM might try to make me feel guilty and will more than likely talk badly about me to her AC...but it's about taking care of myself while honoring my dad.

How I wish it could be different! I pray my own AC don't feel this way about me!!

Am I nuts or what?  :P
I have to highly recommend Find the Good by Heather Lende. She is an author who writes obituaries for a small town paper in Alaska. She decided to spend time really listening to the stories and anecdotes people wanted to tell about their loved ones who had passed on. She wanted to treat every life as a wonderful journey with value, no matter who she was writing about...finding the good.

It really made me think about how I want to be remembered by my family & friends. A lot of the petty, bitter stuff I worry about just isn't that important in the long run. Big Picture: I want to be known for my kindness, love, sense of humor, compassion and creativity; lots to work on there! Small picture - I really want to clean out my garage and my closets ASAP...and keep up with my pedicures. No one will want to deal with any of those things when I'm gone, lol.

Anyway, it's a fairly quick, curiously upbeat read considering the subject matter. I've fallen in love with the author, her family, and their little town.
Grab Bag / Plans for 2015
January 01, 2015, 03:59:05 pm
I don't like to make NY's resolutions, so I just make plans, lol.

This year I plan to commit, again, to health and fitness. I figure this is a good place to start not just for the obvious benefits but also for emotional and mental health. I can't do anything about my DS & DIL, I have no control over my DDD's outcome, and I have no say regarding my employment (it's up to the people at the top as to whether or not my department continues to be funded.)

The things I have control over are my physical/mental/emotional fitness, what I choose to eat, how much sleep I get, and how often I floss. So, those are the things I'll be concentrating on in 2015! Oh, and maybe scheduling precious time for creativity.

How about you?
DS just told me that DIL cannot like us because she sees us in competition with her FOO.

Many of you suggested that very thing on the site through the years, but it seemed far-fetched to me since DIL's FOO is wealthy, provides goodies and experiences beyond what we can do, spends much more time w/DS & DIL than we do, etc. etc. DH & I know we can't ever compete, so we've kept a low profile. However, something has always felt "off" to me. DH said it was just me being a typical jealous MIL and nothing was really wrong, so I tried to let it go.

DS essentially said that DIL wants her FOO to be first in DS's life and for his FOO to fade away...and it annoys her that DS insists on keeping up a relationship with us. Although I'm glad to have my intuition validated, it makes me sad. I guess I had still hoped that as DIL grew more secure in her marriage, and more comfortable with us, she'd see that we were just nice people who weren't into playing possessive games or inflaming drama.

This knowledge won't change the way we treat DIL. We will continue to be our nice, accepting selves and ignore her sometimes rude treatment of us. I think we'll be more relaxed around her, actually  ;) DS told us to not worry about spending a lot on her for Christmas (that's how this whole conversation got started in the first place; I asked him for gift suggestions.) He also said that her FOO gave him & their other SIL generic, cheap gifts every year so there was no reason to go out of our way to get something thoughtful for DIL! We'll give her a lovely gift, but not go overboard.

So we'll save a little time & money...not a problem! Right now I'm just glad that at this moment DS loves us & wants to maintain a relationship with us. And I'm not delusional. Whew!
Adult Sons and/or Adult Daughters / Taking my life back
November 24, 2014, 10:56:15 am
I first came to this site when DS was planning to marry DIL. DIL's FOO completely took over his life and shunned us. DS was trying to do the right thing for his relationship with his ILs and his marriage & we were put on the back burner. DS would call or come by while DIL wasn't around, so we knew he still cared about us, but we weren't "in the loop."

Enter the FB phenomenon. Again, I was left out (actually told by DS/DIL not to join.) I'd read here at WWU and other places about FB ruining relationships, so I heeded the warnings and stayed away. Missing the occasional baby shower or birth announcement didn't seem worth the risk of possibly being cut off completely by DS.

A couple of days ago a friend called asking if I knew about the passing and upcoming memorial service of another dear friend's mom since everything had been posted on FB. I would have been sad if I'd missed paying my respects. Right then and there I decided to take back my life! I am tired of not seeing what my family and friends are doing (we have relatives all over the world.) So, I joined FB. DS & DIL accepted my friend requests (DH encouraged me to get over my fear.) So far all is OK.

We'll see...


In the video clip she reminds us to practice "mini quests" (such as finding something beautiful, or some other challenge) every day. The article below it discusses family button-pushing. I especially like the quote at the end about "loving some people from a great distance."

Happy holidays :)
Another Mother's Day is here and my, how things have improved since I first found this wonderful site!

Are my AC more attentive, more loving, more giving than before? Heck no! However, I've changed my expectations and my attitude. Does it still hurt to have AC who don't dote over me? Heck yeah! But because I've changed my attitude by using what I've learned here, it doesn't bring me to my knees anymore. Do I still resent DS spending precious time & resources on his MIL (DIL & her FOO have become the main event) while I am lucky to get a quick call (or at most a quick visit) once every few of months or so? And never on Mother's Day? Oh, yes...I'm not going to lie, it still causes a bit of hurt and resentment.

BUT, the good news for those of you who are new here and still raw and reeling from their AC's uncaring actions, is that it gets better. It takes time and it takes some hard work, but one day you'll wake up w/o that achy, despairing feeling and you'll know you've turned the corner.

Because of the support and wisdom I gained here, I decided to take better care of myself. So taking Pooh's lead, I started watching what I ate and exercising. As I lost weight & gained fitness, that lead to more confidence and the ability to join DH in some sports activities that I'd been too insecure to participate in. We then found our relationship rekindled (after years of putting it aside unconsciously due to child rearing, work stress, etc.) which lead to planning our own activities instead of basing all our celebrations and vacations around what the AC might deign to share with us. I am secure in the knowledge that I have always been, and continue to be, a caring, loving, good mom. I made mistakes, said awkward things at times, but never wavered in my love of and commitment to my kids and their needs.

No, it's not what I'd envisioned when we decided to have kids. It's not easy to have co-workers and friends ask how my Mother's Day (or any holiday for that matter) was and then have to listen to all their stories of a wonderful day spent in the loving company of adoring AC & their spouses. However, it's waaaayy better than it was when I arrived on Luise's virtual doorstep years ago, full of sadness, confusion, rage, pain and a deep sense of loss.

As they say in recovery circles, "it works if you work it." This year I've requested a day at the beach & a lovely picnic instead of waiting to see what someone else will plan. AC will be invited to join, but DH & I will have a blast whether they are there or not. Here's to finding our way to a special Mother's Day, however we choose to spend it!
Grab Bag / Amusing tweet!
September 30, 2013, 07:01:56 pm
On 26 Sep, Stephen Colbert ?@StephenAtHome tweeted:

Scientists now say adolescence lasts until age 25. To which 25-year-olds responded "No it doesn't! GOD! Get out of my room!"

Boo-hoo. I spent the day recently with an old friend and heard many stories of how wonderful her DD's FILs are and how fun it is to include/be included in both FOO's celebrations & get-togethers which they do constantly. Happy as I am for my dear friend, I feel sorry for myself and my DH & DD, and also feel bad for feeling sorry for myself and not being purely happy for my friend. I know, what a cycle.

These triggers are going to zing me constantly unless I go into complete isolation. I've been working on acceptance but am frustrated because I'm not completely over this stuff yet. None of our friends can relate since they all have family around and see/communicate with their AC regularly. I know they don't mean to make me feel bad by asking about DS or telling me about their AC/extended families. Sometimes it feels as if DH & I must have really messed up, since no one else in our circle is having this problem (although they've sometimes had other issues with their kids.)

On days like today, with celebratory picnics and other gatherings happening (Independence Day here in the States), I wish DH & I had a family or group of friends to hang with. (We do have an event to go to later, but it's just the two of us in a crowd of 20,000 of our dearest friends, lol.) Our "real" friends are busy with their families and forget/don't really care that we're alone, and it isn't their responsibility to make up for our lack of family, IMO.

It's not like DH & I are sitting around all depressed and eating cup-a-soups in our underwear or whatever, but it feels like something's missing or like we're missing out on the big fun everyone else is having...and then I immediately go to "what's wrong with us that we have no family/AC/friends to hang with" and so on. Another cycle I perpetuate.

So, boo-hoo. It's a Pen Pity Party today. I thought maybe I needed a good cry and a dose of gratitude so I rented the tsunami movie "The Impossible" with Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor. I did tear up quite a few times but no major waterworks. Geesh, I'm a hard case these days. Now that I see this written in black & white I realize how much worse it could be and I'm glad my AC are healthy and thriving in their lives and that DH & I have a great life together. I'm just a bit lonely for some family support and some social interaction, I guess.
Grab Bag / New year, new start
January 01, 2013, 09:45:17 am
I'm not big on New Year's resolutions, but I do like to take advantage of the fresh, new calendar for a little attitude adjustment as needed. As the days get longer and the stress/excitement/disappointment of the holidays fades away, I dig out my affirmation cards and try to face each day with a smile and a spring in my step. Nothing has really changed in my life, lol...same old family, same old job, same old issues...but a positive attitude (even if I have to fake it 'til I make it) carries me along.

What's ahead for any of us? We don't know everything that's coming our way. Kind of a delicious mystery, eh? Let's be prepared with a healthy body, mind & spirit :) Happy New Year!