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Started by AnnieB, August 30, 2009, 05:17:54 am

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August 30, 2009, 05:17:54 am Last Edit: August 30, 2009, 06:56:40 am by AnnieB
I thought I would post my latest blog post here... I had this big insight (it's halfway through, the thing about the Movie night out).. and since there are DIL's here, too (and nobody evidently reads my blog but me, lol) I thought I'd put it here for feedback!
Here's an awakening for me, as a Mother in Law. This comes out of work I'm doing in a non-MIL book, the not so big life, by Sarah Susanka (author of the not so big house).

The Big News from my self to me is, my DIL's do not have to and may not like me. May be they'll like me some of the time. Maybe they won't like me at all. Maybe they'll like me sometimes, and sometimes my welcome will wear thin on them. Maybe they don't want to spend their free time with me.

Holy crap.

And so? So what? What does that mean? Are they evil? Am I evil? I don't think so - I think it just means what it says. It is what it is.

From the reading and work I've done on the not so big life book came an epiphany - not everyone is going to like me. Not only that, even those that do like me aren't going to like me all the time or want to be with me as much as I want to be with them.

That may not be news to you, but it's news to me. I've always thought that if I worked hard enough, did everything right (even if I wasn't always "nice" -- i.e., if I was at least honest) I would be liked and admired for my goodness and other wonderful personality traits. But of course, that's not so.

This epiphany also turned on a light in the MIL - DIL portion of my brain. A while ago I came to realize that the reason my first MIL stayed in touch with me was not because I was someone she just couldn't get enough of (though she was really a kind and caring person, along with being funny, practical and keen), but because as the custodial parent for most of the time my son was growing up, I was the contact person. Staying in touch with me, being nice, remembering birthdays and including me in her yearly Christmas newsletter was also smart. This didn't stop after my son and his dad started spending more time together, because she didn't do that as a manipulative ploy. She also, I think, was trying to like me despite myself.

In any case, what now comes to me, as the light brightens or spreads out, is the realization that just because you or I are MIL's doesn't mean our DIL's necessarily like us. That was a shocker to me -- I'd always assumed my son's girlfriends, and then later their wives, just thought I was the most wonderful mother and potential mother in law around. Surely they enjoyed my wit and humor! They found my housekeeping methods amusing, if a bit unorthodox. I'd always thought if we hadn't met through my sons but through work, we might have been friendly co-workers.

Now, with this newly shed light, I'm not so sure. Because after a few years of the newness of it all have worn off, as a wife becomes confident that they are indeed the main woman in their husband's life, perhaps it isn't so necessary to try so hard to force herself to put up with a MIL's odd behavior, to her too personal or too impersonal behavior, to forcing herself to like someone who seems a bit.. incompatible.. to her.

As I roam around the boards and read books and listen to other MIL's, I do hear comments along the lines of "she isn't who I would have chosen for him, but..." or "I am trying to like her because my son loves her but..."

Guess what? The reverse may also be true. Just as we don't choose our children's spouses, they don't choose their spouses' parents. And yet most of our children's mates are going to start off trying to like us -- after all, we're the ones that spawned the person they fell in love with. There must be something about us that is related to the aspects of their partner that they love? And maybe they would like us, if we gave them enough reason and space. I have to ask myself - how much would I like any woman who seemed to be a constant presence in my life with my husband?

After awhile, wouldn't her welcome wear thin? And wouldn't it be possible that welcome would grow even thinner if I had to present on the outside some kind of externally glowing smile, in order to not upset my husband? Good God, I think I'd grow weary of it sooner rather than later!

In the midst of all this, my 2nd son had invited me to go to dinner and a movie one Friday night with his wife and himself. Keen, I thought - I had just dropped off my youngest at school and had no date, hadn't seen them in a month - they'd just been away spending their vacation with his dad and step-mom.

Then I read her post on Facebook, posted before he'd sent me the e-mail invite. "Looking forward to going a movie with my hubby Friday night" she'd written.

My new light flashed urgently, much as I wanted to ignore it. "Read that!!!" it shrieked.

"I read it, she's looking forward to the movie," I told myself.

"Read that, read that, read that!!!" it shrieked again.

I read it and sighed. "So?"

"Think!!!!" it screamed at me. "Remember the last movie you went to with them?"

A dim older light flickered off and on - yes, I recalled. My DIL had seemed distant and grumpy that night. I'd written it off to her being tired from a long work week, or maybe she and he had had some kind of argument. Whatever -- I shrugged it off.

"Seeeeeee?????" my bright new light flashed brightly at me.

"Hmmmm". I had to admit -- if I looked at this from a DIL standpoint - after spending two weeks with my husband's other parents (much as I enjoyed that), how would I feel sharing our first Friday night back home going out for a romantic dinner and movie with.... my Mother in Law.

So, I e-mailed my son and backed out -- you know, there are a lot of other things I can do. And we can get together another time - it doesn't have to be on their Friday night date night!

I thought back to my last conversation with that same DIL, in which she kept asking me about my social life -- did I enjoy being single, was I ever going to date again? Hmmmmm. Maybe she was trying to tell me something!

This insight certainly has given me something to think about and also some relief. I don't have to pretend to myself to like them all the time. If I can accept that they don't have to love me, then I can forgive myself for not auto-loving them. I can do my best because they married my children, but if I don't love someone my child picked as a spouse as much as I love my child, that doesn't make me the MIL from hell. What would make me that is if I thought I had to love my child's spouse, couldn't and then put the blame on him or her for not being lovable by my standards.

That aside, perhaps we can begin relate to each other as people.


August 30, 2009, 06:41:46 am #1 Last Edit: August 30, 2009, 06:52:20 am by AnnieB
Quote from: TamKat on August 30, 2009, 06:23:23 am
I hope both my DIL and Son grow-up quickly, because this is all so childish.  Sometimes I feel I'm in a sandbox playing with my son and my DIL smacks him out of my hand saying it's her toy!

ha ha!  I love that thought!  Yes, it's a novel...that's for sure!  That's why I have a blog I s'pose! ;D


AnnieB -

I was reading this post and my jaw just dropped! Wow!!! In a good sense of course!!! :D I love what you wrote. I love your reasoning - the way you describe your thoughts. I also had the joy of recognition. You go after the big picture and see yourself in it. But you also see the perspectives of others in it. I think that alone is a very admirable trait. You go girl!


Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Annie B,

I read your blog.  I did!  And the good news is, I don't think your DIL doesn't like you, AnnieB. You are a smart, thoughtful, interesting woman.   I think your DIL doesn't want to argue with you.  Especially about something from a month ago you know involved a big time "mixing up".  It won't clear anything up, AnnieB.  Its all he-said she-said warped-by-time and something she wants to put behind her.  This is a beautiful opportunity for you!

And I think its sad that for whatever reasons you equivilate not-arguing with not-being-close.  And without her willingness to argue with you, you refuse to participate with her at all. 

You said you have never before had to walk on eggshells around her.  You said you loved her.  You said you apologized to her,  but you did not mean it sincerely because you did not think what you did was wrong.  You said you know your DIL welcomes you into her home, for weeks of you like, to visit with her, your son and your grandson.

QuoteMy son assures me I'm still welcome in their home, as long as I don't bring up this issue. The real issue, to me, is that I feel as though my DIL doesn't care enough about me to talk to me about this…. just pretend everything is fine…. So, no -- I wouldn't feel welcome in their house under those conditions. Before, I wasn't walking on eggshells. Now, I wonder - if she won't talk to me about this, what other things have gone, or will go unspoken? In the back of my mind, I'll be wondering what she thinks I said, what she thinks I meant. I'll wonder what her family and friends think - I am suddenly the evil Mother In Law, intrusive and controlling, when that wasn't my intent at all.

QuoteMy DIL is not speaking to me so I wrote a letter of apology. I'd told my son I would do that - though I don't believe what I actually did was wrong,”... Mind you, I'm not expecting a reply of acceptance and some sweet and happy ending. What I was expecting was some acknowledgement that my message was heard -- even if the reply was "and I don't want to talk about it now", that would be a reply.

She’s turning down your invitation for “a good yelling fit” because you indeed want to “beat this horse”, way past the admittedly insincere “apology”, and that’s a relationship dealbreaker for you. Perhaps then she understood that was apparently not actually an apology at all.  The "aplogy" was merely an invitation to argue with her some more, about who said what about her marriage, some more. 

You wrote how you're hankering for "a good yelling fit" and my guess is - she knows it and that's exactly what she doesn't want.  She doesn't need it, her marriage doesn't need it, and my guess is your relationship with her doesn't need it.  Maybe you need it, but I think that is personal for you, and arguing to prove your closeness, is not a need you should reasonably expect your DIL to fill for you.    I think that wanting that from her, as a sign of the strength of your relationship, might even be dysfunctional, by definition?

Your DIL, your son and grandchild have their home open to you.  It IS yours for the taking, if YOU want it.

AnnieB, my hope for you is that you can change your standards for proof of love.  Despite what your past tells you, willingness to argue, is not proof of love.  It is only proof of willingness to argue.


September 01, 2009, 06:09:39 pm #5 Last Edit: September 01, 2009, 06:50:59 pm by AnnieB
Again, Sassy -- I appreciate your concern for me but I think you are missing the point of what and how I am saying what I am saying and why I am saying what I am saying. 

I'm completely speechless (almost!) at what you've written about me -- it feels more like an attack than any kind of friendly advice.

One or two things might have some truth, but much of what you are doing is taking things out of context and turning it to fit your intrerpretation.

Please don't do that.  You don't know me, you don't know my situation.  You are accusing me of falsely apologizing based on so little information and your own ideas about who I am and why I did or said what I said, who I am, etc. that I feel like I'm on one of the sites where MIL's are hated.

You also on this one took a quote of mine and posted it completely out of context, leading others to think I was wanting to get into an argument with my DIL -- the title of my blog piece " Arguing with a Mother In Law isn't All Bad" used the term "arguing" because so many people are afraid that an adult discussion is an argument.  I don't want to argue with her, I want to be able to talk with her.   Not at her, or down to her, not lecturing, screaming, ranting.  I want to talk with her, like we've done before.   

And this piece is like a journal entry, in which I write out what I'm feeling at the moment.

My point is that talking about an argument isn't an argument, or doesn't have to be -- though even an argument can be the beginning of a discussion that can lead to resolution.

Just so others can understand, in your post you said:

"She’s turning down your invitation for “a good yelling fit”  and " You wrote how you're hankering for "a good yelling fit"    "   

What I actually said on my blog was: 

"But there is nothing like a face to face sit down to resolve a conflict, even if that were to mean it started out with a good yelling fit first."

Yours is a misquote, and if someone were to take it at face value, they would assume things about me that are not true.

The insincere apology is your interpretation -- I apologized for causing her discomfort, because that was how I felt at the time I wrote it.  It was sincere or I wouldn't have written it. 

I have no wish to get into a back and forth argument with you over this.  Please stop quoting, misquoting and analyzing my posts to death -- this isn't what we are all here to do.  We are each here, I believe, to work on our own issues.  We can learn from each other, but not by analyzing and judging one another. 

Matthew 7:3   "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?


Please, I hope we can learn from each other and not take everything as a slam against us personally.  I hope and pray that doesn't happen on this site. 

The site is such a treasure and we do have people on here in different stages of life.  We have DILs and MILs and we have a great deal to learn from each  one.


I don't think I took anything personally that wasn't personal -- and I have nothing against Sassy, I'm just asking her to stop in a direct but friendly way.


I too am learning so much, Prissy. Post after post makes me think and opens doors for me. I'm so grateful to all of you. We can't help but disagree but we can be respectful when we do, that's awesome! 
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


No, you did not ask for advice, but you did ask for feedback.  (In your first sentence.  But I won't quote you ;) ).

The feedback was based on the context of the story of your DIL.  That I thought she did like you, more than you knew or felt!  No, I don't know her - but you love her and before now it seemed to me she loved you, too, Annie!!  The taking at face value about mix-ups, arguing, beating horses, good yelling fits, apologies where you don't think you are wrong, are quoted because that's exactly where I thought you could try other ways to find peace with your DIL. 

If you are just looking to learn more about the best ways of communicating with your DIL, and not to re-hash that night, that is a beautiful thing!  I do sincerely hope that is something that your son did not tell you is also an "off limits" topic with her if you visit.  (I read that it was the issues of that night that were, so I misunderstood).  I confess....I would love, love, love if my F-MIL asked me how to relate better!!  :-* 

If my F-MIL asked my fiance and me that, and listened, she would be in our lives the way we need her as family to be!  Just to Be Family.  Not as a surrogate parent, because we are adults now.  Not as my most intimate friend, because she is not.  Not as our relationship interloper, because that is not healthy.   Not as the person who tells my boyfriend's aunt and grandmother things about his fiance that aren't true.  But simply as the intelligent, dynamic, creative, interesting, loving but complicated force who single-handedly raised my boyfriend to be the amazing man he is, that she is.  She is OUR FAMILY, and it breaks my heart that we have to keep a distance.  I cry as I write this.

I read about Luise not being invited to her late son's wedding and I cry.  And I don't want to be the DIL that caused pain and problems for a single mother and only son.  Some days I am clear on this and others I wrack my hands asking HOW did this happen again. Did I try everything?  The RSVPs are coming back now, and the arrival of each one tests my clarity.

I know I have a plank in my eye. That is exactly why we sought counsel with our minister, why I sought Luise's site out, and why I came here months ago, and why I come back here.  The advice you gave me, based on how you learned to deal with your own mother,  is what I printed out.  I sincerely apologize for causing you discomfort.

*bowing out of the discussion*


September 02, 2009, 06:30:06 am #10 Last Edit: September 02, 2009, 06:34:24 am by HappyDays09
Hey Sassy, how did you do the green bar thing?  It reminds me of something...
  OH YEAH.  Listen to this.  Here I go again: me me me. Sorry but it is different.

  After my dil brought up a parking lot thing ON HER VERY ALL OF A SUDDEN PUBLIC MYSPACE PAGE where she noticed me and accused me of ignoring her and "poor innocent child" which made me sound like I did something mean to baby?? She and a couple of her friends discussed.  Calling me bipolar.  Mentally ill etc.
   I replied on MY Myspace.  Defending myself again!  (If she saw me - where was her saying hello?   She knew for certain I kept my head down to avoid her?  Was I looking for keys?  Checking receipt?  Does she really believe I give a care who is in the parking lot?  I did notice her suv parked near my car and sat there wondering if she saw me in the store.  So NO.  I didn't really notice anyone in the parking lot??)
  Well, if you went to the place where you can reply to blog on her all of a sudden public Myspace page,  A HUGE ORANGE PAGE SHOWS UP with the word:  LIES.    directly in the center, and that's all?! 
  How did they/she/him do that?  Just wondering. 
  I am not that internet savvy.  At all.  Still learning.  But the entire page was bright orange.  Then the word:  Lies.  ????   

How is it done?  Thanks.  :)


Sassy!!!  Please don't bow out of the discussion!!!  We need you!!  I cherish everything you say.  We need each other....I need to learn. PLEASE STAY WITH US!!


Wouldn't it be just this particular item?  Doesn't sound like she is leaving. 
  Just not going to discuss this particular case.  Right?  Hope so.


September 02, 2009, 06:59:42 am #13 Last Edit: September 02, 2009, 07:05:41 am by AnnieB
That was my reading on it -- just this particular topic -- but I agree with Prissy,  no need to leave...

(and yes, I did ask for feedback  on this particular blog post--not the ones that were used ..so we could again get into some lengthy discussions and debate also what is meant by "feedback" but you already have my response to that  ;D


Well, my eyes are so old that I can't read what is inside the green band. Would yellow work?  ;D

I think you are all amazing! I mean that! We don't know each other and yet our e-family has become a very viable and treasured part of my life.

When we read another person's post, it comes in through our own filters and we process it from our own experience. Of course we are going to make assumptions and misinterpret. How could we not? And when we respond the reverse must be true.

What is so priceless here is how we are able to back down when we overstep and how we are able to take exception when we feel we need to.

I honestly believe that the backbone of this space we have created for each other is mutual respect. I don't don't know how the rest of you do it, but when I start to feel reactive, I rethink my position and almost always find I have slipped into "you" statements. I can stand behind "I" statements...my "you" statements can quickly become judgmental and since I don't really know you, can be way off base.

For me, this applies online and off with strangers and intimates. To some degree we never know another. And again, for me at least, getting to know myself has been tricky.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama