Thursday, August 11, 2011

Dear Mother-in-Law,

I wish I knew how to say this to you in real life. Maybe some day you will find this posting and realize it's me. Maybe I'll print it out & give it to you.

But I think it's time it's said.

I just can't figure out how to say it, without making things worse.

You have to stop asking FireMan to choose between his wife and his mother.

Perhaps you have short-term memory loss, and therefore keep forgetting that he puts everyone on speakerphone when they call, so I actually hear your phone conversations. Or perhaps you don't care. But I have heard you do it.

I have heard you try to guilt him into choosing you over me. And on one occasion, I actually heard you try to guilt him into choosing you over his daughter.

I have tried to give you the benefit of the doubt. I can't imagine how hard it must be for your children to grow up and leave the home. And FireMan is your youngest, he was your momma's boy. There is a special attachment there.

But you have crossed, and are continuing to cross, a line.

He loves you. You are his mother. There will never be another you. I will not replace you. I could not. You are his mother.

And he is no longer a boy. He is a man. A husband. A father.

He has obligations of his own, to his own family, his own wife, his own daughter, his own home... than can, and should, take precedence over his obligations to his parents.

It's part of becoming an adult. It's Biblical.

And yes, I find it super-hypocritical of you to profess to be the Christian that you do, to even preach the Word on occasion, and yet in your own life turn a blind eye to this Biblical principle - that when a man becomes married, a husband's first priority is to his wife.

I do not appreciate you putting him in the position of having to choose. I can't imagine having to choose between honoring my parents, or honoring my husband. It must be a horrible, terribly difficult place you are putting him. Because he loves us both, wants to honor us both.

Which is why, this past time, I have tried, really tried, not to be angry with him. I am not succeeding right now, but I am trying.

When he tells you that he cannot do something for you - not something life-saving, not something urgent, not even something otherwise primarily important, but merely what is convenient for you, what you want - when he tells you that he cannot because he has prior obligations... it is not okay for you to continue to brow-beat him, whine to him, guilt him, or otherwise manipulate him until you get your way.
That is not okay.

That is not the actions of a loving, caring mother toward her son.

Whether those obligations are indeed to me, his daughter, or even to anyone else, for you to place your wants above your son's need to help people (a truly admirable quality), and then to play off of that need and use it to manipulate him into doing your bidding... is despicable.

When he tells you he cannot move an appliance for you because he has a prior obligation with me, it is not okay for you to brow-beat him for 10 minutes, finally scolding him, making him feel like a bad son.

When he tells you he cannot help you at your house on the specific day that you like, because he has to work, it is not okay for you to ask him to take off work. Repeatedly. He has a family to support.

When he tells you he really shouldn't do {insert random chore} for you on your requested date, because he hasn't seen his daughter all week and would like to spend a couple of hours with her, it is not okay for you to beg and plead and whine until he finally agrees.

When you are sick, it is not okay for you to send your husband to work, then call your son and ask him to come take care of you. And when he says that he can't, because his wife & daughter are also sick, it is not okay to get into a who's-sicker contest, trying to guilt him into leaving his ill wife & daughter alone at home, to come take care of you, when you sent your healthy husband off to work. That is not okay. And for the record, it's a little weird. (thank goodness I won the who's-sicker contest that day).

You & I used to get along. Things started going downhill when FireMan & I got engaged. Worse after we got married., Worse when I got pregnant. And have just been bad since FireGirl was born. I have reviewed my actions over-and-over again. I'm pretty sure I didn't change. Pretty sure. You know, other than becoming your son's wife, and your granddaugther's mother.

I feel like you may have some major jealousy issues. Perhaps you are still not comfortable with the idea of there being another woman taking a priority position in your son's life. Sometimes I even wonder if you see FireGirl as a threat, mostly because I can't figure out any other reason why a (grand)mother wouldn't want her son spending time with her granddaughter.

I have tried to be nice. Tried to be accomodating. And it always seems to backfire, always seems to be taken the wrong way. So I finally stopped trying, and started avoiding you.

Mostly because I was really getting the vibe that you really didn't like me. At all. And I didn't know why. And no matter what I did (you know, other than marry your son & birthe the granddaughter you always wanted), you still didn't like me.

But honestly... the more I learn about you... the more I see (mostly just from observation, since I'm avoiding you) how you treat your son my husband... yeah, I don't really like you anymore either.

He may be your son, but he is also my husband.

When you brow-beat, guilt, and manipulate him... you are doing that to my husband. And it pisses me off.

When you make he-who-adores-his-mother, feel like a bad son, just because he doesn't bend to your whim... you are doing that to my husband. And it pisses me off.

When you slide in little insults, shots to his self-esteem, I assume in a conscious or sub-conscious effort to retain your superior position over him so you can continue to manipulate him... I see you doing that... to my husband. And it pisses me off.

I am really trying to not get angry with him anymore when he chooses you, mostly because I am really starting to see you for who you are, and I feel bad for him.

But I do still have needs. He still has responsibilities & obligations to me, his wife, and FireGirl, his daughter, and our home. And it is up to him to realize that and tell you 'no'. Even if you are his mother.

So I am trying not to be angry with him.

But I also know, from his own words, that his relationship with you was a hindrance to his first marriage. And he acknowledges this. And I see him trying to change the pattern in his marriage with me.

But you are a strong matriarch, aren't you?

But here he is again, and his relationship with you, and your ability to control him, is causing arguments in his second marriage. Hmmmm... what could be the common denominator?

Do you not want him to have a successful marriage?

Do you not understand that, God willing (only due to age), you will die before me, and he will be left without you, and only with me & FireGirl?

Wouldn't it be better for him, for you to do whatever you can to help him nurture his relationship with his wife & daughter, instead of trying to get in-between us?

Stop it. Just stop.

You have an able-bodied husband of your own. You have another able-bodied son, who I have heard you refuse to even ask (maybe he's learned to say 'no'?) for help, in the midst of you guilting my husband. And, quite frankly, for many things, you have the money to hire a handyman.

Or, I don't know... as a compromise, when he says he has something else to do, could you maybe just say "bummer, maybe some other time?", and work out a later date or time that is convenient to all of us, instead of everything having to be done at your whim? Could you just not try to make him feel guilty for growing up and being a man, for having a job, and af amily, a wife, and a daughter, and a home of his own to take care of? Could you just do that?

Just a crazy idea.

- Signed,
  Your Daughter-in-Law, a matriarch in her own right

1 comment:

  1. Well said...I had similar issues with my husband's first wife. When we first got married, she played the "we have kids" card to get him to come over for whatever reason. That was a hard one to make him see that she was using the kids to be able to see him. Glad those days are over!