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confused and sad

Started by ruthmom, August 12, 2013, 10:54:42 pm

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Hello I am new here.  I have conflicting feelings and would like to hear from other MILs grandmas.   I am a new mom.  I live close to my DH parents.   I love my MIL, she has extended out a welcome to me that is as loving as she is able to be.   She is a gift giver (not my style but hey in turn it teaches my daughter about giving and we give old toys away).   I am feeling resentful over some recent concerns and I feel guilty for this.   

On a recent shopping trip my MIL called my baby girl "stupid", "ugly", and "dumb".   To put it in context "only a stupid baby doesnt take a bottle" (she drinks from a cup now).  "When you get older you will need make up so you wont be so ugly"  This is very out of character and I stood up for my daughter.   Im a protective momma of course but I also want my daughter to know her grandparents.

Another concern is that MIL is a functioning alcoholic.  She works, is functioning in life, but drinks on every night off.  Its painful to watch.  We are not going over to grandmas because we dont know what grandma we will get.

I admit, I am sure I have come off as rude at her questions and when I stood up for those comments said to her.  I saw a quote on here about 'erring on the side of kindness'.  I want this..and I want this for my daughter. 

I have extended several invitations to my MIL to meet at a pool, library, or something in public.  We even made plans for last week and she did not show up.  My daughter is too young to understand disappointment in plans being made and not followed through. 

I want to accept my part in this and extended an invitation to go out to lunch and apologize and explain my feelings.  But I feel like its a catch 22.   She may be hurt that her interaction with her only grandchild has boundaries.   Any insights?  Anybody relate?  I dont want to bash my MIL, I love her as she is my husbands mother. 

With my own mom I can be clear and concise but with my own MIL its not that way anymore.   I dont want to shut her out but I also see years of ridicule and dissappointment for my daughter.  Who I know in time will decide what type of relationship she wants with her GP. 


I think the "red flag" words in your posting were - functioning alcoholic.  I love the "medium chill" method - "when they  are rude/ignorant - show no anger; when they are nice/loving- do not reciprocate".  In other words, you are distant and flat (as far as the relationship is concerned).  Tell them nothing, ask for nothing, and offer vacuous pleasantries. Medium Chill gives no appearance of withdrawal, so one can not be accused of giving another the cold shoulder. You are there, you're just not present in an emotional way.

And I feel when dealing with an alcoholic, this might be the best.  It takes a bit of practice as you learn to disconnect emotionally.  Unfortunately, your MIL will never be the "same" grandmother to your daughter as your own mother.  Trying to explain your feelings/emotions to an alcoholic (in my humble opinion) would be a waste of time and effort.  It is what it is.

Your daughter is your first priority.  As for the MIL, I would issue invitations very sparely; basically, letting her do the "inviting".  I also am wondering if I would only ask her to events that your husband will be present - honestly, I am considering if she would prefer not to be invited to "all girls" events.  Whatever, often the best course of action to take when one does not know what to do is to do "nothing".  And basically, that is what I am suggesting.  By the way, enjoy your daughter - they grow so fast.


Welcome R - If you haven't already done so, please go to our Homepage and under Open Me First, read the three posts there for new members. The Forum Agreement is especially important, so you can be sure WWU is a fit. We are a monitored Website.

In your last paragraph you mentioned concerns down the road. I don't know, but it may help to keep your focus current, since there are some glaring ones right now. For instance, we can't change the way others think and speak. Your MIL didn't actually call your daughter ugly, she thinks and expresses herself differently than you do and always will.

I have read many comments here that recommend Alanon for those whose lives require that they interact with alcoholics and I would like to pass that on. As I understand it, the situation is probably going to escalate. I don't know how you are going to set boundaries and limits but I can't imagine that it's not going to be necessary. Sending love...
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Nobody wants to get stood up. I think that alone says it all. Her first priority is alcohol, and your first priority is your child. You are right in every way in defending your child. I too would only meet up with her, if she does the planning and inviting.
The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.
            -- Michel de Montaigne


It's incredibly damaging to be told you are stupid, dumb and ugly.  My mother had an alcoholic friend when I was very little.  This woman was actually jealous of attention that my mother paid me when she was around us, and would be very nasty to me when mom's back was turned.  Even though I understand now that she was drunk all the time and had some serious emotional problems, when you're small you don't have that insight, and the words can have a big impact.  Your first responsibility is to your daughter.  If your MIL can't keep a civil tongue or is drunk around her, then she can't be around her.  It's not about punishment or being mean, it's about specific behaviors that it's not appropriate for your child to be around.  Would your husband be willing to talk to her about this, and tell her that these specific behaviors are having a negative impact on her relationship with all of you?
This too shall pass.  All is well.


Thank you all for the responses.  My husband has talked to her about her shopping addiction but not alcohol.  I agree with damaging comments and ive wondered about where she gets these thoughts.  I think its out of fear of losing her son but that wont happen.  He is her son and he is wise on the boundaries.  Boundaries for some i guess can be viewed as rejection. 

It will be slow and evolving.  thank you for reminding me i only have a choice for today.   I love her to it just stinks for everyone.  Alanon is a good suggestion.   


Welcome and bless your heart.  I agree with everyone.  There is no way I would let anyone say things like that to or about my child.  I do think this is a firm boundary that you need to establish now with her.  I know you want the relationship, so I would try to talk to her about it.  I would do it nicely, but firmly and tell her that you love her but you don't want anyone telling your child that they are stupid or ugly and that if she does that again, you will leave.  If she gets angry, sorry, but that's her problem.  To me, this is a no brainer that that behavior is unacceptable.

I realize she has issues (alcohol) but that doesn't give her a free pass to be mean.  And yes, let her make the plans from now on or if you are making plans, make sure it is something you would want to do anyway with your daughter and that if she shows, she does, but it doesn't change your day.

Did you tell DH about the comments she made?  And if so, what was his reaction?  I would like to think he thinks that is unacceptable as well.
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell


thank you all.  Well we are moving away in 6 weeks.  She is hurt and is giving away all the things she bought our daughter.  Its part of grieving I guess.  Im trying to see things from her point of view and I think its more like her expectations for being a grandma were to have her over at house a lot, and b/c of drinking we have drawn that barrier.  I hate it...i really do but uuugggh.  My daughter deserves to be loved soberly.  I verbally invited and text invited her to playtime with us.  No response yet.  We are going anyway.  T'hese next few weeks will be tricky as she has tried to be supportive but theb turned a 180.  Maybe distance will help.  I agree, i need to wait on her invites.