How honest should we be with one another? I ask this often and I sweat this is not an entire post about this subject: it’s going to lead to something else.

When you are at someone’s house and they serve you food, do you immediately say that it is salty? More than once? When asked how the meat is, do you reply “A little tough.”

Think about that- do you tell your host that the food isn’t good?

Now let’s add another variable: What if the cook is your Mother, and the one making the statement about the food is your Father in Law?

FYI- true story about my Father’s Day meal and the food my Mom took three hours to prepare. Let’s see, at the meal my FIL also told my Dad that the way he was treating his cancer was wrong. (No- my FIL is not a Doctor, nor is he in the science field at all. And no, he did not have cancer- so yeah- no frame of reference).

To add to his conversation, he also yelled at me. Nastily. Why? you ask. Because while we were at the table eating dinner I turned off the TV in the living room. He yelled  “Why did you turn that off? I was watching.” Nasty. In front of my parents- and you know- that doesn’t put them in an odd position at all. You know, my parents who can’t cook a meal nor know how to treat an illness…

Last night I had the pleasure of eating dinner with my Mother in Law. Look up passive aggressive in the dictionary- her picture is there…. She proceeded to tell me that no one ever tells her when my daughter wins anything. First off- usually posted on Facebook, which she has. Second off- I know my husband forwards her the pictures. And she’s going on and on about how she’s only the Grandmother, why should she know anything. To which I said to my Husband (rather loudly) “You don’t tell your Mother anything?” thereby extricating myself from the situation.

I also heard that the weather in Ithaca NY is the same exact weather as Washington DC because my MIL is a little (ha) annoyed that my Daughter is going to a Catholic college and though she is all accolades, she’s writhing that my daughter didn’t choose another college….(FYI- she didn’t talk to me for a month and a half after my daughter chose her school)

So Friday, which is already going to be emotionally laden for me will be made worse by the onslaught of family at the table. Good times. I know I am whining, but I don’t have the energy to deal with pettiness this week. I just want to watch my daughter graduate, and take pride in her accomplishments.

Why does family make it so difficult?

 

102 thoughts on “Take it to the Limit

  1. I hear you – my mom was the difficult one. How about a re-framing exercise? Let go of their unagreeableness and instead think, “aren’t I lucky my husband is so different from his parents?” Hopefully he is 😉 You could also think “I am so glad my husband and I broke that chain of negative behavior with our family”. You see where I am going with this. You vented in a safe place (always a good idea), now change the story.

    Personally my tongue would have been bleeding from all my biting….

    Liked by 4 people

    1. The worst part is, my daughter sees how they treat me. Don’t they realize that she’s formed an opinion about them by their behavior. In my daughters mind, she’s allowed to be mean to me, but don’t ever talk about her mommy…..

      Liked by 3 people

  2. It makes for some great stories. Hang in there…a couple more days. Congrats on your daughter’s graduation! She is going to be great! That is all that matters. She is happy with her decisions, so are you. Some people just aren’t happy unless they are unhappy about something. That should be their problem, not yours. But I understand.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. LA, I can’t say anything that you don’t already know or that you haven’t already heard. I’m glad you felt comfortable enough to say this “out loud” to us. At this point in my life I’m torn after experiencing times like this during my own marriage. Did I speak up then, for the sake of the family unit-no. I regret that, a lot. I know many say take the high road, or don’t rock the boat. And of course this is your daughters day-which to me is the biggest factor and nothing would ever convince me to speak out on such a special day.
    The person that I am now always wonders though, why do we remain silent amid abuse when it revolves around family? Why do we feel that we somehow owe them respect when they give us none? Would we overlook this abuse from anyone else? When is it enough so that we finally fight back and refuse to take it anymore?
    I’m sorry this is having such a negative influence on this special week.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. The baddest thing is my husbands unresolved issues with his family unit. He’s still in denial about how they affected him, and chooses the not rock the boat method because he was always the peacemaker. When I explode….which I do…he’s always saying can’t you just let this go, while he doesn’t realize how many times he’s made the statement. So I balance somewhere in the middle. But then I become passive aggressive with things like…at my daughters graduation dinner I’m ordering for the table and my fil only eats chicken Parm and grilled cheese and neither will be on the menu…..I know it’s childish, but yeah, there you go

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Strange how we allow inmates to run the asylum at times. Your post brought back sharp, unpleasant memories of family “issues” that erupted the week of my son’s high school graduation. It’s been six years, and if I allow myself to think about it, which I try not to, I can still let myself feel upset. Your daughter, you, and your husband are the stars this week. Try as hard as you can to stay focused on that, drown out any negative comments and deflect any passive-aggressive behavior. I left my southern childhood decades ago but the roots are still there and occasionally come in handy, as when we burst out, “Well, bless your heart!” in response to all manner of things. This cheery little phrase is really code for, “If I could stab you in the forehead with a fork right now, I would.” Hang in there and enjoy every second of graduation!

    Liked by 5 people

      1. Anne Lamott has a hilarious riff on pronouncing the word “great” with a southern accent: “gright.” She isn’t southern, but she has written about chanting “gright” in difficult situations and as a riposte to people who are driving her crazy. “Innit gright?” You might try that this week as well, to add to the disorientation. For instance, to someone whinging about salty food or supposedly tough meat you could say, “I think it’s jes gright.” Have fun! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow. I feel like you just wrote a post about my life with my in-laws. They hate me. Always have. We’ve been married 27 years in September (together 30 in October) and I think they, well, at least my mil, are still holding out hope my husband will leave me… I feel your pain! I’ve completely separated myself from from them recently and life is so much easier but I hate it for my husband. Praying you are able to tune out the hatefulness and enjoy the day. ❤️

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Oh My God. Totally identify. Married for 25 years, my mother in law wishes she could split us up. Most of the time I just try to smile when I have to and stay away from her the rest. But I will say that this last weekend, for my mother’s 80th birthday, which they were invited to, MIL finally went postal. She claimed I had insulted her when I hadn’t actually said anything to her. It was while we were leaving her house the day before the party and then, in retaliation, without saying she was upset, she just didn’t show up to the birthday and she “made” (her daughter is so co-dependent) her daughter and son in law and kids not go as well. There were two tables vacant at my mother’s party because of this–I have no words–and her manipulations. She told my son “Susan was rude to me.” I said “Leo I didn’t say anything, you and Andrew were right there, you saw it.” He concluded that MIL is becoming literally demented. I don’t think so. I think she meant to do this. Meanwhile, no matter what I did or said, how could she insult my mother over it, because my mother never did anything to her?

      Still reeling three days later.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. What is with MILs? I have made it my mission to be friends with my DIL. I never want her to feel about me the way I do my MIL. In fact, I call her and introduce her as my Daughter In Love because I want her to know we love her. She’s one of us and I want her to know it!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. That is so very true in my Mails case. She always has to be center of attention. She actually ran off and left crying one time when she felt slighted because my daughter didn’t make a big enough deal over being at a performance. My daughter went straight to her hugged her and thanked her for coming and then had to go with out really speaking to the rest of us there because she was only allowed so much time before she had to get on a bus. Literally, she left crying. We we’re all out of town, we all gathered there for it and she left without telling anyone by because we didn’t ooggle over her…

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Right? And my daughter had been away from home for 6 weeks and wanted to say hi to us, her parents, but knew her grandmother would be like that so she tried, and didn’t speak to any other family, my mom, sister, me… Because she knew we would all get it and she still got mad and left. Told my husband that she didn’t care or make a enough deal that she was there… One and only thing of my daughters she had ever been to at that point… We are all over it.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Oh my, I am so sorry. What is it with MILs? I’ve made it my mission to make friends with my DIL as best I can. I never want her to feel about me the way I do my MIL. in fact I call her, and introduce her as my Daughter In Love because I want her to know we love her like one of our own.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I feel the same. We are now in the process of getting a daughter in law (son is engaged) and I want her to know that we will never tolerate anyone mistreating her at a family function!

        Liked by 1 person

      6. I don’t blame you! That’s insane! Unfortunately, I know all too well how this can happen, and it’s so frustrating!

        Like

  6. Discreet noise canceling earbuds might help….my FIL was an angry bully. I used to get sick just thinking about spending time in his house. He, who never graduated from h.s., went AWOL from the army and was dishonorably discharged, found fault with anything a female did or attempted to do. We were all stupid and only good for a couple of things. I stopped going to family events which caused some trouble for my husband. Only after FIL got really sick did he become more human. It was really sad to see him battling cancer because you could almost hear his regrets. He never apologized to anyone, but at least when he died there were tears shed.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. That’s how I feel about mine! Of course my MIL is pretty much a saint, and she managed to raise 4 of her 5 kids to be decent people. Thank goodness my husband was one of the 4. Although, there are times when I see a bit of his father in his actions and I shut those down as gracefully as possible.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Man how did we get involved with these ignorant people? There’s a whole subtext on my story having to do with that, but I don’t think I’ll go on about it now, I have errands to run. I’ll put it into a good blog later, I suppose.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. There is a point where being difficult or obstinate or opinionated becomes something else, something toxic and harmful. When it comes to families, way too often we are willing to swallow that toxic behavior on the excuse that it is blood or family or, in your hubby’s case, they just don’t want to rock the boat. This is something I did for YEARS and it did so much damage. Everyone has to decide the way to deal with these things that are best for them. How I ultimate chose to deal with it just won’t work for others, but it is what I needed for me and for my kids (and is the biggest reason I made that choice). You may find that you are much less tolerant of these kinds of events/actions once your daughter is off to school or you may find that they happen less and are actually easier to navigate.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s just…..an impossible situation. It’s the biggest source of conflict in my relationship with my husband. I’m not one to blow off behavior, especially when it’s a pattern….i find it hard to be nice

      Liked by 2 people

      1. My Hubby and I have had to have numerous conversations over the years regarding both sides of our families. All of them have been stressful. I was so much more willing to deal with the messes when they only really impacted me, but when I saw it hitting my kids and knowing the potential damage, I put my foot down. I will not allow anyone to put those same scars on my kids that I allowed on myself if I have any chance of stopping it. I’m grateful beyond words that my Hubby agreed and supported me.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m going to play devil’s advocate on some of my answers… simply because I’m a grandmother. But, first of all, let me address your FIL. He was a guest and should have kept his mouth shut. I’m taking a multitude of tests now and may soon be facing some health challenges and had he spoken to me like he did to your mother I probably would have dumped a plate of food on his head. Some people are just plain rude. Your FIL appears to act like a know it all. He would bug the heck out of me. I would find it difficult not to tell him off.

    In regard to your MIL.shes obviously pulling a guilt trip. But, in her defense…. I often feel left out in knowing about my oldest grand daughter. (She is not my biological grand daughter but she was only 7 when my son married her mother so I love her like she’s my own flesh and blood). My daughter in law doesn’t keep me in the loop about her like she does with the two younger kids.). I have to ask my son if I want to know about her now that she’s away in college . She drove down from university (she’s taking a few classes during the summer and staying in her apt. Working) for father’s day and we all went out to dinner. So rather than blaming anyone, ( And I do see my daughter in law’s FB posts but they are always after the fact and sometimes it hurts my feelings that I wasn’t included or know what’s going on.). So maybe your MIL feels that way too. I would never say what yours does because I’m not rude. But, in front of everybody during dinner I told my college age grand daughter to stay more in touch with me via text and keep me updated on her classes etc. I figure now that she’s now 19 I should start dealing directly with her. Kids don’t think about that and clearly neither does my daughter in law. So if I want to stay involved it’s up to me. I’ll have to pursue the relationship and not wait or put the responsibility on anyone else. So that’s how I handled it.
    I’m not passive aggressive like you MIL. I don’t blame others or do guilt trips.
    BTW, You could let your daughter know that it might be nice to text her grandparents weekly or monthly to keep them updated. Send photos etc. or include grandparents and parents in some photos or college updates. Take this away from YOU and put it on your daughter. Obviously, you can’t force her. But it’s a nice gesture. Just a thought. Make it a special grandparent communication college update.
    As far as being honest. Sometimes you have to be politically correct with family members. There are usually some people in every family who are a pain in the behind.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well, my husband does forward things to her, and my daughter does text her, but my mil is famous for asking a question and then answering for you. So my daughter will talk, and my mil will not actually hear anything, just biding her time till she can speak again. She just wants to stir trouble because she can. And to be fair, my daughter has had a decent high school career and has been fairly accomplished. My mil is looking for a fly in the ointment because she’s been against my parenting style and is looking fir a flaw in my daughter so she can pounce on it. That’s the thing…she’d rather find fault with her granddaughter than praise me

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oy! It sounds like your MIL is jealous of you. She can’t handle that her son not only loves you, but that you’re a good mother too. What a shame. All you can do is what you’ve already done. You raised your daughter well and how to be polite to her grandparents. Beyond that I recommend stay as far away from them as possible except when you absolutely have to see them. Neither of them appear to have the ability to ever be satisfied with anything. Sorry you have to deal with that.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Where does all this jealousy come from? I don’t understand. There is one thing: they say old age is a second childhood. So maybe these grandmas are turning back into the mean girls they were when they were 12 …

        Liked by 1 person

      3. She’s been like this since I met her! Let’s put it this way…she can’t maintain friendships at all. Narcissist if I had to venture a guess

        Like

    2. I don’t take responsibility for updating grandparents on my kids! If they want, they can call and ask. Last week, my daughter sent a group text to us all and said “Hey guys nice job on letting me know about (her brother) Victor’s engagement! I found out from Facebook!”

      She wasn’t really mad. But … it can get that bad. It’s not personal. You’ve got to make that call and keep in touch yourself. I figure any family member can call and ask how we’re doing once a week or so. If you do that, you should be in the loop.

      Susan — mother of 6

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Grandparents don’t like to be over bearing. Or at least I don’t . I had two meddling mother in laws and so I don’t want to be like that. I see the two little ones often and my son always calls and updates me after parent conferences. (I’m a retired teacher and he knows I love hearing how well the kids are doing). The little ones FaceTime me when they get all A’s or win awards they are really proud and I do a silly happy dance when they accomplish something so they can’t wait to share that with me. But the oldest grand daughter and I were really close. Her mom didn’t want her to go away to college. I encouraged her to follow her dreams and so my DIL was ticked off at me when her daughter accepted a college far from home. Both my son and I encouraged her and she was not happy. So she stopped keeping me in the loop.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I agree. But she told my son that I needed to stay out of it. Funny how she was thrilled when I tutored her after my son married her and got her daughter caught up so that she was put in Advanced placement classes in HS. I told my son that I won’t ever interfere but I will certainly jump in if I think any of my grandchildren’s future is at stake. My oldest grand daughter worked really hard to improve her grades, she got Bright futures scholarships and academic scholarships and her mom wanted her to go to a local junior college just because she was afraid to let her go. It was ridiculous . My grand daughter said she couldn’t pass up the other opportunities just because her mother didn’t want her to leave home. She and her mom fought. When it came to her education I wasn’t going to short change her. So she’s away up state and very happy and doing well.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Just because you share DNA doesn’t mean anyone gets to treat you badly. Family can be a trap wherein they take your loyalty for granted while ignoring who you are. For me it comes back to: don’t start none, won’t be none. I arrive neutral so it’s all up to them how the meals and events go.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. “Why does family make it so difficult?” To assuage the orphan, but of course.

    Running with the pack always means someone’s bringing baggage. Maybe you should have headed that onslaught off to a public pass where all could fend for themselves. Sure the tribe contributed, in some degree, to your daughter’s success…but it’s your trio that brought it home triumphant… and Sally

    Liked by 4 people

  11. Clearly you did not win the lottery when it comes to relatives. I’m so sorry. My mouth was just wide open reading your blog today, in shock at your in-laws behavior. I feel bad for your daughter having to deal with knowing the in-laws don’t approve of her choice of college. But of course it’s wonderful that she chose the college that was right for her, and not the college that was right for her in-laws. (I hope your daughter and in-laws are seated at opposite ends of the table … maybe someone should make some place-cards lol.) I used to think that one of my relatives was a little quirky, but after reading this, said relative is an angel. I’m sorry you are having to deal with this.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Ugh! My mother-in-law died in 2006 and we did not have a great relationship. My father-in-law is still alive and he has always been the less painful of the two to spend time with. I could go into a long story about how difficult life was with Ma. She could be very vindictive. She had a lot of control issues and – lwas a very unhappy person. Long story short, it feels like your FIL is much like her. It’s so hard dealing with such difficult people. I try to remember that they did not have the same blessings I enjoyed growing up and they are both the product of their own upbringing. Still, there comes a point when you expect people to take responsibility for their own behaviors.

    My heart goes out to you. My parents both died when our children were young so the only grandparents they knew were my in-laws. It made me incredibly sad that they were not the kind of grandparents I wished for my children. Hang in there. One thing I found that helped me was to imagine an invisible shield completely covering me through which their barbed remarks and insane commentary could not reach. I did better when I felt strong. It is so important to take care of yourself. I am so sorry you are dealing with toxic people when you should be celebrating all your child’s accomplishments. Sending positive energy and prayers to you and your family.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! It’s definitely control issues and narcissism. They can’t help but decide what they think is best and just continually push it at us and it’s always with arrogance

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I think you should do more things to piss her off so she goes another month and a half without speaking to you. That sounds like a win win in my book. You know there are ways to get your point across with a smile on your face and revenge in your heart…:) But for the moment, just enjoy this special occasion. Then put dumb and dumber in its place.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I’m usually for being tolerant of family (we all have odd ones, I don’t know who all the normal people are related to, but it’s not me or anyone I know), but in this case, your in-laws behavior puts them squarely into the category of too nasty to deal with. Invite them if you must, but ignore them as much as possible. And when they yell at your mother, or you, or anyone you love, look them in the eye and say, “That’s not how we speak to each other in my house.”
    Easier said than done, I know!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Actually it is your fault for keeping in touch and having/attending family events. I would start avoiding as many events as possible, will probably be much easier once your daughter is away at school. Just say no! And remember: It’s your life and you need to learn to ignore conversations and stay in your own bubble if it is an event you really feel you must attend. Take a book and read whenever possible! You get to choose who you let in your life, and that includes family. Harsh but true.

    Liked by 1 person

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