Mother in Law Dearest: The Storm
I sit here with a very uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach. Everytime I write on of these posts, I recognize that
I am willing the gods to rain down a storm of poo upon me. I am tempting fate yet again that the MIL will find and read them, and she will poison my oatmeal. Why, then, do I continue–knowing that my unhappy memoirs will not bring me resolution, peace, or the removal of the MIL from the premises?
I think because I find, as I write, that the knot of despair and uncertainty over the situation–a situation I have made light of–gradually and ever so slowly unwinds.
I have also recognized that the MIL really doesn’t care for me and would
like to poke me in the eye with a sharp stick no matter what I do, so
unleash the torpedoes!
Because I am a troublemaker by nature, I decided recently that I would
needle the MIL on a topic of discomfort to her. She has been estranged from
one of her own children for 15 years now, stemming from a Big Fight in which
yes, apparently the child (now adult) in question behaved rather badly, and
the MIL may have behaved rather badly as well. In my mind, when it’s your
own child, a Big Fight that doesn’t result in murder really deserves
forgiveness and an olive branch after 15 years. After all, this is your
child, whom you birthed from your own loins! My own kids would have to
become murderers for me to give them up for the rest of my life, and if they
did become murderers I would suspect that I had something to do with their
So anyway, this estranged child has children of her own, who have never even
met their own grandmother. One of them, now that she is 13, expressed a
desire to finally do so. "Mom and grandma don’t get along," thought the kid,
"but that doesn’t have anything to do with me…does it?" So the kid reached
out and made a plea to meet her only living grandmother. They were planning
a visit to our house, and the kid was hopeful that Grandma would be here and
would schedule a meeting with her and her younger sister. Oh yes, the
20-year-old brother would be there as well–and she hadn’t seen him since he
was five, when she had once upon a time had a nice relationship with him.
We tried to broker the meeting, but the MIL was having none of it. "My
daughter put them up to it," she suggested. "I don’t trust her, and I don’t
trust her motives. So, no, I am not going to meet my granddaughters."
"Really?" said I, in my mind. "She’s really going to be that pigheaded, eh?"
I didn’t like it. So I said so. I told her that this was sort of a silly
position and, really, was she going to go to her grave never having met
these nice girls? And then I mentioned her grandson whom she hadn’t seen in
15 years. Oops. MIL went ballistic!
She yelled, and I yelled some more, and then I told her to get out of my
home. And then I went and composed a very thoughtful and heartfelt email
that suggested I can run hot at times and she should really consider the
poor kids’ point of view for a change.
No sooner had I hit "send" than I heard "shuffleshuffleshuffle
thumpthumpthump" across the wood floors of the house and she flung open the
door in the room where I was sitting.
"I won’t read your email!" she shouted. "And I won’t respond to anything you
say! And none of this is any of your business!"
I replied that she needed to give me a date when she would vacate our home.
She replied "I won’t give you a f***ing date, Madam!" and stormed out,
flicking off the lights in the room as she went. She also said a few things
that suggested she didn’t think I had any business probing into the lives of
others when my life and the way I chose to comport myself as a
mother…well! She wouldn’t say! But if she did say, she’d have a few things
The very next day, when her estranged daughter, granddaughters, and grandson
were due to arrive, a terrible storm erupted. Yes, the very storm that took
down trees in Scarsdale, eliminated power to Mamaroneck, and left families
nomads in Larchmont. She went out in it, desperate to avoid human contact
and her own flesh and blood. Off she went in a black beret, umbrella tilted
against the wind, to seek escape from the things she wished to avoid. Poor
We sat in the living room and enjoyed a pleasant time, broken only by the
13-year-old’s sad little question upon realizing that her grandmother had
fled: "Is it all my fault?" Yes, dear MIL, if you’re reading this now, suck
that up. We said: "Of course, no, it isn’t your fault." And she slumped into
her chair a little bit and put her chin in her hands and wondered. We all
sort of put our heads in our hands then, and wondered a little bit. Life is
short. Why be so fearful, mistrustful, and pitiful? Be a better person. Or,
if you won’t….
Later that day, as the wind howled and the rain fell, I had a rather vivid
image, a la the Wizard of Oz. I pictured an uprooted home, spinning and
spinning, and finally landing with a delicious thump. The sun comes up. Cue
the munchkins. And under the frame of the home, poking out, we see a pair of
brown, fuzzy slippers, gently curling at the toes.
Totally sympathize with you and love your posts! But why, o why, is your MIL living with you?
I keep picturing my own mother when I read your article…………..amazing that people, especially grandparents can hold grudges for so long and not care about their own grandchildren…………I feel for you and not the MIL!!!!!
Maybe if your MIL discovers these posts, she’ll leave. I’d leave. I’d never talk to you again. That’s probably a good thing.
I THINK you said that you MIL had been having some memory loss and other stuff indicative of alzheimers? –is that correct? I am not sure if she has always been this difficult–but if not then it may be that much of her crazy behavior is due to the onset or alzheimers –it’s a nightmare—but you may want to consult someone if you haven’t already–
wonder why your mother in law lives with you, it does not seem to be healthy for you, your marriage and your kids, the stories about her seem coming from a Jerry Springer show.
I’m not sure about Alzheimer’s, although it does run in her family so that is a very good point to consider. It’s possible she has some symptoms of bipolar disorder, as she can veer from very charming to truly nasty. I don’t think someone like this should be in a home with small children. Unfortunately, MIL lives with us now as she has not much money and nowhere else to go as she has broken off and damaged relationships with every other female in her life, from daughters-in-law to daughter. I was the last one left and now I too have seen the truth of her nasty behavior. As soon as she gets a job, she will leave. It won’t be soon enough. In installment 6, I’ll share how she flips our neighbor “the bird”!
editrix: how charming!
I understand more than you could ever know. I did not speak to my parents for 17 years because my mother was the same way. I have kids in college who have not seen their grandparents since they were infants. My guess is that she is a narcissist and bi-polar like my mother (now dead) was. At least you tried and will never have to live with the regret of wondering if only…