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Frequent Fry Her
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Downward Dog
Age: 28    MIL Age: 66

frequent fry her - downwarddog Frequent Fry Her TM. - downwarddog/Posted: 17-JAN-09
A little update!  MIL just called.  She and her BF just "happened" to be in the area for one of his conferences and announced that they were coming over tonight.  They wanted to know what I was cooking.  Forget asking first, or giving us fair warning.  Forget considering that I might have an evening class to teach or a late client.  In this case, I had one at 5:30 pm.  Would you believe that when MIL was informed, she just said, "Oh, downward dog can just make something simple, that's no problem."?  Sure, I could, but I generally only do that when someone bothers to ASK ME WHETHER OR NOT IT'S OKAY.  Graargh.  The fun part was the conversation DH and I had about it.  I came home from my morning appointments.  DH greeted me with, "Promise not to yell?"  I dropped my bag and said, very intelligently, "Huh?"  DH said, "Just promise."  I said, (suspiciously), "Oh Kay."  DH said, "Did you know that we'd made reservations weeks ago for dinner tonight at (name of restaurant)?"  I replied (intelligent again),  "Eh?  You said what?"  He said, "Yeah, we do.  I made them weeks ago just today."  I answered, "Wow.  Did you enter another space-time continuum or something, and neglected to tell me about it?"  DH added, "No, but Mom called and said she and (BF) were incoming for dinner.  I deemed it wise to have other plans."  My reply was,   "-------."  DH said, "Remember that you promised not to yell."  I answered, "I did, didn't I?"  Yeah.  So MIL is testing the boundaries now.  Isn't it grand?  It's a good thing we just "happened" to have reservations.

        Signed - Promise Not To Yell
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frequent fry her - downwarddog Frequent Fry Her TM. - downwarddog/Posted: 9-JAN-09
So where does DH figure in all of this, anyway?  Well, at first he figured in the usual way.  He had a lot of trouble believing that MIL's comments were mean-spirited or spiteful, and he thought that I was just being hypersensitive and was exaggerating about the multitude of them.  And, at first, I sort of agreed.  See, I don't take criticism well.  I know that I don't.  Even a supposedly well-meaning comment, if I haven't specifically asked for someone's input, will automatically put my back up.  I'll consider it an implication that the critic thinks I'm too stupid to be left to manage things on my own.  And, if I do solicit commentary, I have to psyche myself a little first so as not to get upset if the commentary isn't necessarily positive.  I know this.  I'm working on it, but it's an issue.  So, at first I thought that perhaps I was being oversensitive and MIL really was trying to be helpful.  I concentrated on settling my ruffled feathers.  Then, it kept going.  And going.  And going.  And, so much of it was snarky, in that, "Did she really mean what she just said?" kind of way.  I started to think, "No.  Wait.  This isn't just me.  There's something bad going on here."  But, I couldn't convince DH of that, and it caused a lot of friction between us for a couple of years.  She wouldn't let up on me.  In fact, she only got worse.  We got into arguments about it, with him insisting that I was just being overly sensitive.  I refused to visit MIL's house or to go to dinner with her and other family friends as often as he would have liked, for fear of being subjected to more of her little remarks and having no support from him.  Mind you, he knew that she could be a pain and have an attitude sometimes, but he assumed that, like with him, she would spare me the attitude and save it for innocent waiters and shopkeepers.  As for the pain, he figured it was just the usual nagging, and I could just tell her to stop.  I tried to explain that, while he was her precious only child and she generally listened to him if he put his foot down, MY asking her to stop got ignored, and my telling her to stop got a huffy, "Well, excuse me for trying to help you!  Next time you can make a mess of things on your own!" treatment.  He said that she couldn't have said something like that, and I must have misunderstood.  Then we'd have an argument.  Plus (as a side note), we live in two different countries.  It's not exactly hugely far, but far enough that we don't see her constantly.  Visits are longish, anywhere from a week to a month of semi-constant contact, a few times to several a year, but then we're clear for a while.  So, DH insisted that I could at least deal with her for that long.  I think that's a part of her problem with me, though.  I "stole" her DS from his native stomping grounds, and, by God, there would be he!! to pay.  Then, MIL dropped the ball.  See, like a lot of MILs, she was always as sweet as pie around him.  She was always careful to save the worst for my ears alone.  Then, one night, after dinner at her house during one of our unfortunately long visits, DH's phone rang and he excused himself to go get it.  MIL waited until (I would guess) she thought he was out of earshot, and then said, "So, I suppose you're going to take my son back to *your* country again.  He hardly has time to see his home anymore, you know."  I'd like to point out here that text doesn't do justice to her words.  It was the, "And I suppose you're going to make him dance around your teepee and shoot some buffalo, too, you uncivilized HEATHEN," tone that was really the icing on the cake.  So, she delivered her little cut.  And, then, out in the hall, DH suddenly fell silent in mid-conversation.  Then I heard him apologize to the person on the phone, say he'd call back later, and click his phone shut.  Uh-oh.  I think mommy just made a mistake.  Excuse me while I give in to immaturity and malice for a second and *completely* fail to be saddened by this.  Ahem.  So, DH marched back in and announced, "No, WE are going back to OUR home, and if I hear you take that tone with MY wife again, you can forget about seeing us back here ever again."  HAHAHAHA.  Fatality!  Hallelujah, praise the lord and can I get an a-MEN?  DH took me by the arm, said we'd be checking into a hotel for the night, and apologized for not believing me.  We packed our things and flew back the next day.  Ever since, he's been managing MIL a lot better.  He's limited visits by fielding and deflecting her invites or her requests to visit.  A few times, he's conveniently made other plans or was busy with work in the same periods that she wanted to see us (read:  him).  I appreciated this, since I (as the evil DIL) can't get away with that alone, whereas he (as the treasured and only son) can.  As for the snippiness, DH's ultimatum seems to have scared her into (would you believe it?) mostly behaving.  She still gives me the occasional "helpful" advice or takes a snarky tone, but it's much reduced.  Lately she's contented herself with leaving me alone and giving me the stink eye from a safe distance.  I can deal with that.  I don't think she and I will ever get along.  Neither do I expect DH to cut off all contact with his mother.  She may be obnoxious to me, but she's not downright evil or destructively insane, and she's always been there for him when he's needed it.  Nah, I don't want her gone.  I just want her off my back.  Even more than that, I want DH's support.  I can't tell you how glad I am to finally have it.  And, as long as he's on my side and keeping her worst excesses stifled, I can smile in the face of her stink eye.  Besides, MIL-snark makes for some good stories.

        Signed - Keeping Her Worst Excesses Stifled
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frequent fry her - downwarddog Frequent Fry Her TM. - downwarddog, 1 of 4 needed/Posted: 4-JAN-09
My MIL is a shallow snob who thinks I'm a low class gold-digger with no taste.  She disapproves of my career, my wardrobe and my personal habits.  She thinks I don't take good enough care of her son.  Dealing with her is no fun at all, but, hey, it does make for some good stories!  Some background:  DH's family, on both sides, is old money.  He'd been burned by gold-diggers before, and is very low key.  So, I never even knew all of this until we'd been dating a few months.  No, I didn't marry him for his money.  Though, I'd be lying if I were to say that it's not a nice bonus to not have to worry about making the mortgage payments, having a job I hate because we need the extra money, or a million other things that would crop up if his income was as small as mine.  Still, because I don't come from the same background, I'm constantly on the defense against those kinds of accusations.  His mother is probably the worst offender.  Now, on to the juicy bits!  Let's start with my career.  I started off going to college for biology.  I discovered that I didn't really enjoy the studies and I hated the tedium of lab work.  I realized that I was only really happy when I was at the gym.  I love weight lifting, yoga, Pilates and running.  It's amazing how fulfilling and mind-clearing it all is for me.  All of the depression, anxiety and listlessness lifted when I threw myself into my workouts.  I was actually eager for every new challenge, for once in my life.  So, I veered off and started teaching exercise classes and got into personal training.  Then, when I first had a client come to the gym and hug me, after six months of training, and tell me that she had burst into tears when she looked in the mirror that morning because she looked and felt better than she had in years, that was it for me.  I realized that I was actually happy with what I was doing, and that it could help people in real, tangible ways.  I've been doing it ever since.  MIL, though.  Ooh, boy, is she not happy.  One day, she was visiting and was in the kitchen nursing a cup of decaf when I passed by on my way out to my morning jog.  She pursed her lips and looked me up and down disapprovingly, taking in my sneakers and tracksuit - clean, neat, basic gear, mind you, because I'm not a godd@mn slob.  Nevertheless, MIL did not approve.  "You're not going out like that, are you?" she asked me.  "Can't you at least put some makeup on?  Or earrings?"  Earrings!  Of course.  Why didn't I think of that?  A nice pair of chandelier earrings is JUST the thing when you're pounding pavement, especially when you're wearing ear buds.  Getting your earrings tangled in the cords adds to the challenge, right?  I said none of that, though, just smiled neutrally and said that the makeup would only run and earrings would get in the way.  Then I left and ran until my temper had cooled down again.  That's the thing about my MIL, though.  Her jewelry goes on first thing in the morning, such that you see her bejeweled and "beringed" in her bathrobe and curlers.  She would never leave the house without everything perfectly in place, from head to toe, and the idea of exercise horrifies her.  Genteel exercise, like playing tennis, horseback riding or golf is acceptable, provided that you don't break too much of a sweat.  Any of those can be more of a social event than a sport, which is, I think, why she tolerates them.  She stayed for a week that time, and every time that I went out for a run, she greeted my return with a fake laugh and the sally, "You do know that the man who invented jogging died of a heart attack, right?"  The joke wasn't all that funny the first time I heard it, lady, and I have to say that it doesn't improve with repetition.  But, I didn't say that, either.  I just shrugged it off and went to take a shower.  She's suggested, many times, that I could take up any one of the "nicer" sports I mentioned earlier.  She's asked why I would ever want to lift weights, or to contort myself into what she considers the bizarre positions of yoga, which she insists are bound to damage my joints and give me arthritis in the long run.  "And, it's just so unfeminine," she sniffs.  And, that's about it.  My career is too physical, too unladylike.  She suggests, over and over, that I could go back to school, maybe to study the arts.  She could get me started as a gemologist, or in real estate, or maybe I could work in an art gallery.  Wouldn't I like that better?  I've learned that when her friends ask what I do for a living, she says that I don't have a job and depend solely on DH's income.  I'm not sure whether it's because she disapproves of my choice of career or whether it's because she'd like to cast me in other people's minds as a leech and a gold-digger.  Maybe it's both.  Regardless, I just smile and shrug it off.  I console myself with the knowledge that if one of us is due for a massive heart attack in the near future, . . .

        Signed - It's Not Going To Be Me
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frequent fry her - downwarddog Frequent Fry Her TM. - downwarddog, 2 of 4 needed/Posted: 5-JAN-09
It doesn't matter how careful I am to use my own money to buy myself nice things.  My MIL usually just ignores the fact that I have my own job, assumes that the items were bought on DH's dime, and expects me to be accordingly grateful to him.  Part of that whole gratitude thing is as follows:  His money keeps a roof over my head, clothes on my back, etc.  So, I should take care of him in every little way in return.  Small side note:  If given the chance, MIL will wait on DH hand and foot, even though he hates it and finds it embarrassing.  She'll iron everything for him, down to his socks and underwear, and spend hours doing it.  She'll cook whatever he wants, do his laundry, and clean up after him (god forbid he help wash dishes or hang his own pants in his own closet).  She even irons the bath towels.  The TOWELS, people.  It doesn't even make any sense.  I could fold an origami crane out of her towels, they're that stiff.  Still, all that might even be okay, because DH's brain isn't fossilized in the 1950's the way his mother's appears to be.  He's kind of spoiled and used to having someone do the cleaning for him.  But, he is willing to help with household tasks that need doing, and he doesn't expect me, for instance, to scrub the floors on my hands and knees or fill the closet with row upon row of perfectly ironed shirts.  As a matter of fact, he used to do his ironing himself, up until he dislocated a couple of discs and found that standing for long periods really friggin' hurt.  So, now I do it for him, and he doesn't complain that perhaps I don't do as exquisite a job as he or his mother might do.  His shirts aren't wrinkly, and that's good enough.  He, especially, doesn't expect me to be a domestic goddess, on top of working full-time.  But, his mother does.  I should be grateful, she tells me.  I hit the lottery when I met DH, she tells me.  She hopes I realize how fortunate I am.  And so on, and on, and on.  Every time she visits, she latches onto details about how I do things, from washing dishes, to loading the dishwasher, to organizing the kitchen cabinets, to cooking, to laundry, to ironing, to my choice of household cleaning products (just vinegar and baking soda, nothing abrasive, ever - she knows that I'm not used to good porcelain or marble, so she just thought she'd share her experience).  And then, because she can't just allow me to do things my own way in my own house, it's unsolicited advice time.  The advice isn't necessarily nasty, or unhelpful.  There's just so much of it.  And, like her gift-giving, it often includes some kind of passive-aggressive, backhanded verbal b!tchslap.  "Oh," she says in tones of surprise, watching me program the washing machine to do a load of whites.  "Do you know how to use that?"  I stopped.  "I'm sorry?" I asked politely.  "Use what?"  "The machine," she replied, pointing her finger.  "It just seems so complicated.  I didn't expect.  Oh, but you use bleach?  You really shouldn't.  It damages the fibers."  She leaned forward, obliging me to either move to the side or to get the detergent tray shoved into my forehead.  "Here," she added, grabbing the detergent scoop from my hands, "I'll do it, so you can see how to get them nice and white, like I do."  Another recent dig came after I'd ironed one of those shirts of DH's.  I was working on the next one when she wandered by and fingered the shirt, which I'd folded and laid to one side.  Without asking, she unfolded it and pulled it this way and that, examining it critically.  Then, she crumpled it up and handed to me.  "Here, wash this again," she said.  "And then I'll show you how to iron it the right way."  See, I might not even take all that amiss or be so offended, if it weren't for all of the implied criticism in every single statement.  If it weren't for the fact that she never, ever ASKS first if I would like to hear her input, and for the fact that she does it with absolutely everything, in the total assurance that she's somehow doing me a favor by correcting me.  It's especially amazing in someone who so values politeness and manners.  Sure, table manners are hugely important, and heaven forbid you slouch or use the incorrect utensil.  She regards, with pity, anyone who can't afford to take out the silver at every meal, because they don't have generations worth sitting in the cupboard.  The appropriate little gestures, like bringing a hostess gift to a dinner party, or doors being held for her, are very important.  But, I can't help but notice that, while she expects men to hold doors for her, she never holds them for anyone else.  I can't help but notice that, while she's all smiles and sunshine with friends, or friends of friends, or acquaintances who might make good social connections, her smile fades like a daisy in the desert the instant she turns to a retail clerk or a bank teller.  Suddenly, her pleasant demeanor is gone.  She's abrupt and demanding, impatiently tapping her nails on the counter if obliged to wait while the clerk looks something up on the computer or has to call a colleague.  Her attitude turns condescending and snarky the instant things don't go her way.  "Don't you know who I AM?" she barks.  I think to myself, "Yes.  Yes, we all know EXACTLY who you are."  Next up:  So where does DH stand in all of this, anyway?

        Signed - We All Know EXACTLY Who You Are
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frequent fry her - downwarddog Frequent Fry Her TM. - downwarddog, 3 of 4 needed/Posted: 6-JAN-09
I married a trust fund baby.  In all hindsight, that may have been a mistake.  Trust me, it won't solve your problems - it'll just give you a different set of problems.  Marry him for love, and you'll spend the rest of your life forbidding him from buying you the jewelry he wants to because no one can quite believe that you aren't actually in it for the money.  If you turn up at family gatherings wearing expensive things, then they'll REALLY never believe you.  And, his mother's going to be the worst of it all.  In my last post, I told y'all about my MIL's opinion of my career.  Next up: my wardrobe.  "I was truly beautiful," she sighed at me one day.  She touched her bleached blonde curls with her fingertips.  "And I dressed well.  You should try it.  Your wardrobe is so limited."  She had just finished telling me about her dressing habits in her younger days.  It had started off when DH and I had shown up at her house for Christmas.  I was wearing a plain black cashmere sweater and jeans, and some low-key jewelry.  It was a good sweater, and they were designer jeans, but it was too plain for her tastes, and she told me as much.  When she was my age, her favorite outfit went like this:  Mink cape, dyed purple; Emilio Pucci mini-dress in white/yellow/purple/red with a red patent belt; and red patent leather thigh-high stiletto-heel boots.  I've seen some of her other clothes from that period.  Trust me.  That one isn't anything out of the ordinary.  I tried to find a tactful way to respond and to defend my clothing choices.  It was hard, because all I could think to say was, "So, you think I should go for the 'two-bit whore' look?"  Another time, she had stopped by our house just as I had finished showering and dressing.  I stepped out of the bedroom to see her there.  She pursed her lips and looked me up and down.  "You really shouldn't wear that kind of top," she said.  "Your breasts are too small.  Have you ever considered surgery?"  That caught me off balance, which was probably why I let myself say, "No, but your son seems fine with them the way they are."  Cr@p.  That was definitely not ladylike.  On the plus side, it did shut her up.  On the minus, I was pissed.  Where does she get off showing up in my house and, without even so much as a greeting, jumping right into such hugely inappropriate personal criticisms?  She, who tsks and glares at me disapprovingly if I lapse and rest an elbow on the table at dinner.  She once spent half an hour going through her silver and lecturing me because I used the wrong variety of fish fork to set the table.  Similarly, I shouldn't wear low-rise pants, because my legs are too short.  I need to wear more colors.  I should vary my wardrobe, have things for lunches and formal occasions, and more furs and purses.  Although, she adds, she understands that I'm "not accustomed to fashion of a certain level", so it's a habit I'll just have to acquire.  If I wear a piece of jewelry that DH gave me, an expensive purse or a nice dress, she'll notice it and then remark on how meeting DH was the best stroke of luck I've had in my life, and I should be grateful that he's willing to spend his money on me.  She once gave me a string of natural pearls, and told me what they were and how they were different from cultured, adding, "Of course, I don't expect you to know these things.  You've probably never even seen a real pearl before."  I gave them back.  She was pissed that I'd rejected her gift.  I was pissed that she was pissed, because it would take an idiot not to know that her gifts almost always contain some kind of backhanded insult.  The fact that she continues with the "innocent victim" act if I ever try to confront her about it or refuse her barbed little presents just sets my teeth on edge.  She often gives me clothes, or tries to.  She once insisted on giving me a pair of purple satin parachute pants, with little flowers on them and drawstrings at the ankles.  No doubt, if I ever go skydiving, I'll be the best-dressed parachuter in the whole damn plane.  Similarly bad was the leather halter dress with the neckline that went down to my navel.  Skinny jeans with a neon pink and black leopard pattern?  Check.  Cropped velvet evening jacket with wild 80's shoulder pads and so much beading and embroidery that it practically weighs more than I do?  Check.  Handkerchief sized miniskirt in purple angora with hand-crocheted silk fringe.  It kind of looks like I'm wearing a doily gone horribly, horribly wrong?  Check!  The only circumstance in which I can foresee any of this being useful is if I ended up stranded in the Rockies somewhere and had to burn this stuff to keep warm until the rescue team arrived.  Sometimes, I'm tempted to burn it anyway.  Though, mostly, I just laugh and push it to the back of the closet.  I tell her, if she asks, that I wore it to dinner somewhere and that it was lovely.  It's not worth the argument.  Of all the things on which she won't take no for an answer, and with all of the passive-aggressive remarks about my lack of taste or class, this is the least aggravating.  I could REALLY do without the catty remarks about my boobs, though.

        Signed - It's Not Worth The Argument
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frequent fry her - downwarddog Frequent Fry Her TM. - downwarddog, 4 of 4 needed/Posted:7-JAN-09
Some miscellaneous MIL-crazy, because catharsis is good for the soul.  There used to be a small stray/feral cat colony right by her house that a couple of her neighbors kept fed and spayed/neutered.  "They'd be of more use as gloves, except that their coats are too straggly," MIL sniffed.  MIL is not an animal person.  One day, DH and I came to visit.  I noticed that there was only one cat around, and I asked MIL if she knew what had happened to the others.  "Oh," she replied, "A new (name of nationality) restaurant opened up nearby."  I thought she was joking, though it seemed like a pretty horrible thing to say, joking or otherwise.  Thing is, deadpan humor isn't MIL's thing.  If she means something to be taken as a joke, she makes it pretty obvious by smiling or raising her eyebrows or chuckling or, or *something*.  She wasn't smiling.  She caught my look, and something of my horror must have shown in my face, because she added defensively, "Oh, you know how those people are.  They'll eat ANYTHING."  That's my MIL.  Not so much fossilized in the 1950's, as she's stuck in a time warp to, oh, I'd say about the twelfth century.  B.C.

        Signed - Not So Much Fossilized
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