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What is it with the food?

Started by Scoop, June 21, 2010, 06:26:07 am

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I would like to respectfully ask the MIL's here a question. 

Background first:

The IL's just came to visit for the weekend.  I think it went well, except for the last 5 minutes.  They had gone to the grocery store before leaving, because our bigger city has 'different' foods than they can get in their smaller town.  The reason they even came back at all was to pick up their dog, otherwise they would have just left from the grocery store.  So MIL walks in and hands me a grocery bag saying "This is for you guys".  In the bag was a package of smoked salmon (I've never had it and don't like fish, DH is just 'so-so' on it), a package of cheese (regular cheddar) and a loaf of fresh bread (okay, everyone likes fresh bread). 

It seems that MIL always HAS to leave us with food, or makes sure that we leave her house with food.

So my question is: What is up with the FOOD?

Before you answer, please know the following:
1 - We're NOT hurting for money, not even a little bit, not even close to a place where we would be hurting for money even a little bit.  Things are really GREAT for us.
2 - These were not food items that we would consider a "treat" - they were just 'groceries'.
3 - This was not a "dig" that we had not provided the kinds of food they liked, we had cheese (3 kinds!) and we had bread (fresh bread too).

It seems like this is a common denominator among DIL's who have MIL problems, maybe you can enlighten me on the "why's".


I think you may have answered part of the question with your #3.  Maybe they were just providing a thank you gift (like you do for a hostess) and since you served cheeses and fresh bread while they were there, they thought you would like it?  The addition of the salmon was probably just an idea on their end that they thought you might like it?

And I can tell you from my personal experience with my Mother, everybody leaves my Mother's with food.  Daughters, sons and DILS.  She knows that all of us can afford food, but it is a two-part thing on her end.  One - She feels she gave us a gift and it makes her feel good knowing she did something for everyone, and two - her and my father can't eat all the leftovers.  She was raised not to let food go to waste so loads us up with it so she doesn't end up throwing it away.

Also, I have given my Son and DIL food to take home with them before.  My son loves my homemade chili, so he always leaves with a big bowl of it.  My DIL likes it too so it is simply a gift.  I have also given them things that we have received that we don't like.  A friend made us a huge cake, and I didn't care for it.  So I loaded up half of it for my Son and DIL thinking they might like it and not wanting it to go to waste.  Told them to toss it out if they didn't like it either. 

Don't know if that's why your MIL does it, but I can say I have never felt there was a hidden agenda or anything when my Mother or MIL gives us food, nor have I ever given food to my DIL with anything other than thinking they might want it.  Just chalked it up as gifts.
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell


I can't answer for everyone else, however, from my perspective, It is a gift, also, my mother was raised during the depression, therefore, food was a comodity, and when people could help each other out, they'd give food....
apparently she likes salmon and feels that everyone else does to...
It makes mother's feel good to give a gift....if you don't like fish, then give it to someone who does and thank her kindly...
It's a different generation....people give what they can afford and have....it's a gift....they were at the grocery store so she picked up something just to say she cares....


Scoop...you did give me something to think about though.  My DIL can't cook worth a flip (by her own admission).  She was raised in a house where they went out to eat all the time and was never shown how to make anything.

I never thought about when I give her and my Son food to take home that she might think of it as anything but a gift....hmmm.
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell


Quote from: Pooh on June 21, 2010, 06:52:14 am
Scoop...you did give me something to think about though.  My DIL can't cook worth a flip (by her own admission).  She was raised in a house where they went out to eat all the time and was never shown how to make anything.

I never thought about when I give her and my Son food to take home that she might think of it as anything but a gift....hmmm.

yes, me to, it makes me think twice about giving anything but money...my MIL always sent food home with us, she was a fabulous cook and made so much extra so we wouldn't have to cook a meal...I mean she send a box of food home with us....which was very kind of her to do, and very thoughtful....but I've read many posts from DIL's who really don't understand this, or want it I guess? 


My MIL can't seem to come over to my house without a cooler full of food and drinks.  She may see this as a "gift", but it annoys me to no end.  Hubby and I are adults, and would like to entertain our guests.  I am a fabulous cook, and actually enjoy preparing and serving meals to my family (and other guests).  My MIL is trapped in the days when she use to travel around the city dropping off food to her two unmarried children.  My husband finally had to tell her (in a funny way) that coolers are no longer allowed!  When she comes to our house, we will cook!  This "rule" has been hard on her, because she is retired and would often see her visit as the main "activity" for the day.  She associates food with love, so now she brings by a certain loaf of bread I love and whatever fresh berries she finds at the farmer's market.  This is a great solution.  These seem more like hostess gifts, and not like she is trying to take over my job as the lady of the house.  This is an interesting thread, because several of my friends have the same situation with their MILs.  You have one side thinking they are doing something nice for the "kids", and the other side growing resentful that they are not given the opportunity to host the in-laws.

MILs take note- many DILs really want to please you.  If you bring over all of these edible "gifts", you could be denying your DIL of something she desperately wants- the opportunity to demonsrate to you that she can run a home, she can cook, she can set the table, and she can take care of your son.  If a DIL is in this position, and the MIL is always sending food, it comes across as disapproval or a Passive Aggressive message that the MIL is the superior "wife".  I know that is not the reason behind the gifts, but I just wanted to offer another POV of how it can be perceived from the other side.


Ok, I guess I don't get it then.  I understand your post, but if you are saying you KNOW she does it out of love, and it is simply a gift, and you understand why she does it, why would you find it offensive?  I totally understand where two people can perceive two different things and have a misunderstanding, but if I read your post right, you do understand her perception, so I am totally confused.

Never said I was the brightest light bulb in the box  :P
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell


Because we have told her numerous times to STOP!  I want to entertain her to show MY LOVE of her and the family.  Why is my need to show love with food less important than her need?


Some of our most hilarious and frustrating family interactions have involved food. The Easter ham that my stepmother and dad "forgot" to bring, leaving my buffet without the main event; the hambone (seriously) that they showed up with the day after they told us we couldn't join them and stepmother's adult children for Christmas dinner because they thought of it as a "family time"; the horrified look on my stepmother's face when I handed them a packet of Thanksgiving leftovers to reheat the next day (those are the best, but she apparently didn't understand that tradition.)

As a young wife and mother who loved to cook but was frequently overwhelmed, any help providing food for the hordes was appreciated, with the exception of the hambone ("throw them a bone" totally fits there.) I'm not a control-freak when I entertain...I want people to feel welcomed and appreciated. We have friends who've immigrated from all over the world and they often bring us samples of their favorite foods to try, much to our delight.

I think most of our DIL/MIL problems come down to this: if you want to like someone, you are accepting and tolerant. If you don't want to like someone, you'll be intolerant and critical. Many DILs/MILs have decided ahead of time which path they'll follow. Unfortunately, I ended up with a stepmother and a DIL who chose the latter.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb


I think you hit the nail on the head Pen with the tolerant statement. 

Keepsonsmilin, I don't think your needs are any less important, I truly don't.  I just think we are all guilty of the "I and Me" statements too often.  I am guilty as well of doing this on occasion.  I have caught myself going, "I know she had good intentions....BUT" and that is where I am working on myself.  I should be wording this as, "She has such good intentions."  No "but", no "she should have", just simply take her at face value and be grateful.  And I do hear where you are coming from, I truly do.
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell


And I have always walked in to anyone's home, friends, family, my DIL, whoever with something.  I always ask what I can bring, and if they say nothing, I still bring something.  I'm not saying I'm right, but I was raised you never go to anyone's home empty handed.  It is never meant to offend or make any kind of statement.  Just an old school courtesy that I can't seem to shake.
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell


My foster mom, was the kind of person, who loved, loved, loved to give...however, she'd never allow anyone to give to her.  When Mother's day came around, she'd say to me, "no gifts now....before the day...and it was like a slap in the face....I mean it, it really hurt...and I told her that once...to give is really special, but sometimes you have to allow others to give to you...that to me, is very hurtful, to reject a gift....

Girls, we're older then you, which doesn't say, I'm better or more knowledgeable....what I'm saying is, we're trapped in our generation....of how we were raised...we mean you no harm, we just want to give the only way we can afford to give...sometimes, it's with food.

Can you imagine Emeral coming to stay at his DIL's home and she would reject his gift...or Julia Child's food gifts being rejected?  I love to cook, and have given away many zuccinni bread, and tons of other food gifts, like pies, cakes, lasgna....etc....I think sometimes, DIL's see these food gifts as something other then what they are...how hard would it be to be greatful and say thank you and give her a hug?  Is it more important to win? 

Food is a gift of love....when I grew up we were very very poor as was many families then...and it's just something we do...b/c we were raised that way, it's our culture....it's like going over to Afghanistan and trying to change they're beliefs to ours...it doesn't happen, it takes years of generations to change...and change in culture is a long drawn out change....

I can't tell you how it hurts, you don't have to use the food gifts...you can take them home and thow them away if you'd like, however, to reject a gift given is like a slap in the face...however please know, I can also understand your point of view.

it's a no win situation....so sad....


See?  I would totally understand if she had picked up something 'special', something that was a treat for us, or something with some kind of connection - I just don't get why she feels the need to give what is essentially "groceries".  Although, now that you call it a "gift" it sort of makes sense, MIL is notoriously bad at gift-giving.  She really has no clue what other people like/want.

As for being gracious about it, I can't always be.  I don't want to waste food either.  We used to do a 3 city tour at Christmas and there was no way I was showing up at my Mom's with MIL's leftovers in the car, trying to find room in her fridge ect.  Nuh-huh. 

It comes down to the expression "If you're not doing it FOR me, you're doing it TO me."  So if I've asked nicely for "no more groceries" and MIL continues, then she's doing it *TO* me and that's not right.  I don't have to accept something from MIL if she's just doing it to make herself feel good, especially if it makes me feel bad.

Again, I want to point out that, with my MIL, it's not a question of a bottle of wine, some pastries, or any thing that might be considered a 'treat' for either DD or DH (never mind me), we're talking about things like a jar of seafood sauce, no shrimp, just the jar of sauce.  If what she was bringing had any kind of "connection", AT ALL, I would be cool with it.

Now, I have another question, you guys know that my MIL and I clash because we're very, VERY different.  So these things that she does, should I take them as a hint for what she wants us to do at her house?

Should we bring food?  We don't because I have issues with food safety over 4 hours in the car.  However, we have brought them 'treats' like a whack of catfish that *I* certainly wasn't cooking, but they LOVE.

Should we not let the dog sleep on their guest bed?  MIL said that they had an awful night on Friday, because they kept forcing the dog to sleep on the floor.  I told them that I certainly didn't care if the dog slept in bed with them.  She's a clean little dog.  Our own clean little dog sleeps with us (under the covers!).

Should we be stripping the bed and putting our linens on the washing machine?  I know that I prefer to change the guest bed on my own agenda, so please, just make the bed and don't worry about it.

I don't even know how much of a chance we have for a good relationship, we're exactly opposite, so that she drives ME crazy and I'm sure that I drive HER crazy.


June 21, 2010, 10:17:50 am #13 Last Edit: June 21, 2010, 10:25:13 am by cremebrulee
You drive me crazy just reading this....LOL....

You are very strong willed, and you want things done the way you want them done...
that's ok...however, I can see why you both clash....she is probably somewhat strong willed to..you see, men do marry women, who remind them of their mothers...not in all cases...and please understand, I'm just guessing here...I could be wrong all the way around...and I know you won't hesitate to tell me so...LOL

so, you asked, I'm being honest, no ill will in the least....but it can't be your way all the time...do you want to get along with her only on your terms?  It will never work that way, you have to give sometimes...and allow her to have her way to....

if she wants to strip the guest bed clothes for you, then let her, what is the harm, she thinks she's helping  you...allow her to....it might make things a lot easier if you allow her to be helpful to you....not everyone thinks and feels like you do about these things....and if you can understand that, and don't always need to win, you'll be fine....

the thing is, a lot of this stuff is small stuff, compared to the big stuff....and it sounds to me, like your pretty annoyed with her, which also, she picks up on....it's like she already knows...b/c you'll project that negativity towards her....because you want to....you sound like you don't like her...has she done something really nasty to you or hurt you? 

It's like tension that is always there....awful...and she wants to see her son...

Do you have children?

Granted, ok, I agree, she may not be the best gift giver...but so what, really?  She gave you some salmon, which you don't like...file it and make no buts about it....yanno, more then anything else in the world, your husband would love it if you two got along....she sounds like she is very unaware of what is going on around her own little world....sorry to say....however, you can make it or break it....

does that make sense?


Totally makes sense, that's why I'm here.

Yes, I'm strong-willed and I know that DH picked me because I'm strong-willed, like his Mom.

I know that I can't win all the time.  But I also don't think she should win all the time either.  I've been trying to find the balance where I don't feel taken advantage of, and she doesn't feel 'hurt'.  It seems that she's only happy if I roll over completely, and I just can't do that anymore.  However, I understand (now) that I don't have to aggressively hold my position either.  So yeah, I'm still working on it - thanks to you guys!

I know that my MIL will never be the MIL of my dreams, she really doesn't have it in her (that was a hard lesson for me).  We've never had a major incident, but we are really too different to reconcile.  The best I can hope for is to interact on the "acquaintance" level.