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Mother-In-Law Stories
April 6, 2002
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MARCH 2002
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APRIL 2002
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Worst gift:  My husband and I will be married for a year in April 2002.  We have been together for 4 years now.  Each gift giving holiday, regardless of what it is, I receive a $50 gift certificate to a nice department store.  Now, don't get me wrong, in essence it is a nice gift - IF you enjoy shopping at that store.  I only go to this store for two things - perfume and houseware items.  My husband and I are currently saving money for a home, and are living with my mother,  We have no storage space to store any more houseware items!!  Every year, my MIL asks ME what my husband needs/wants for Christmas or his birthday, and she has even gone so far as to ask me what my MOTHER would like, etc.  Never once has she asked my husband or my mother about my needs or wants.  When the subject is brought up to her, she gets very defensive about it, and says that what is important is the fact that she thought of me on my birthday or at Christmas, and not what she gave me.  To top things off, for my bridal shower I received a set of everyday silverware from her.  That was their only gift to us for our wedding.  The one thing that I am thankful for is that my husband's view of his mother isn't much better than mine, and it doesn't cause any problems between us.  Come to think of it, I've never seen his birth certificate.  It makes me wonder - hmmmmmmmmmm.

        Signed - Married To A Man Who Was Obviously Hatched and Raised By Humans

RESPONSE:  Married To A Man Who Was Obviously Hatched and Raised By Humans
Sorry, but I don't really see what you are complaining about.  At least she gives you something.  There are a lot of women on this site who would like a nice gesture like that from their MIL.

RESPONSE:  Married To A Man Who Was Obviously Hatched and Raised By Humans
I don't know if this will be any help (and it sounds like your MIL is a pain in other ways), but, you might want to lighten up about this.  I don't mean that in a bad way - I just mean that I don't think gifts need to bother us so deeply.  Even the most well-meaning people can be lousy at gift-giving.  I've given some poor (but very well-meaning) gifts, and I've certainly received them.  Why don't you "re-gift" those certificates to one of your friends (or someone else) if you really can't use them?  It's not really a bad gift.  Have you seen some of the other hair-raising gifts people have mentioned on this site?  I don't think we really have the right to be angry and demanding about gifts.  We're lucky to get them.  And, if they aren't downright hostile, they aren't really something we have the right to be angry about.  I think they should be taken pretty lightly, unless they're an outright slap in the face.  I'm sorry if that sounds preachy (I know it does).  I'm directing it to myself as well as you.  I could have burst into tears when my in-laws gave me a leather motorcycle bag - it's so NOT ME!  But, they aren't mind-readers, and I'm sure they have probably been equally distressed by some of the very well-meaning things I've given them.  Also, I don't think people owe it to us to ask our relatives what we want.  A gift is a gift, and the giver is allowed to follow his/her own inspiration.  Or else what's the fun of it?  I'd say that you should just take it with a grain of salt.  And if your MIL is awful to you in other ways, deal with those.  But this, in itself, isn't really a big deal.  Don't sweat it!

I have a question.  My mean, hateful SIL is getting married this summer.  It so happens that the date she picked is my son's 5th birthday.  She has been engaged for nearly two years, and I believe that she picked that date to take attention away from our son, and focus the attention on herself.  This is something she frequently does.  When he was born, she was furious because he was getting more attention than she was (she was 30 years old at the time, and she actually told us how mad she was that we had a kid, and consequently she wasn't getting all the attention anymore!).  She is doing up the wedding like she has never been married before, huge reception, white dress, etc., etc. (she has been married before, plus she has been engaged countless times).  The groom's family knows none of this.  She has done so many nasty things to my DH and me to make us look bad to the rest of the family.  It never works, because everyone knows how she is, but it is annoying just the same.  Anyway, we don't want to go to the wedding.  If we do not go, my FIL will be very hurt, as we are quite close to him, and he is the type of person who doesn't like to make waves, so he pretends all is well with this kids.  My DH is adamant.  He won't go, which I agree with.  SIL's latest gig was blaming my husband for his mother's illness (non-life threatening).  She said that his mother was going to die because he "betrayed" her by spending time with his dad lately.  They have been divorced over 25 years!  Anyway, I could go on and on for days!  So, is it worth hurting FIL by not going to the wedding?  And wouldn't my SIL hate it if I did show up?  That might be worth it in itself.  I am tempted to go just to annoy her.  It would be wonderfully satisfying to lower myself to her level for one day.  If we don't go, my FIL will have to explain it to the rest of the family (and they think that all is well).  Any suggestions?

        Signed - Worried About FIL's Feelings

RESPONSE:  Worried About FIL's Feelings
Are you IN the wedding?  If so, then you accepted the responsibility and should be there.  Otherwise, go to the ceremony and skip the rest.  The ceremony can't be longer than an hour.

RESPONSE:  Worried About FIL's Feelings
You poor thing!  You are caught between a rock and a hard place for sure.  The only advice I would give you is to do what will make YOU (not FIL, not DH, not SIL) happiest.  Do whatever will give you the most joy, and the least regrets.  Lots of luck.

RESPONSE:  Worried About FIL's Feelings
Want to get out of the wedding?  RSVP and say that you will go.  Then call on the morning of the wedding and explain that the 5 year old is violently ill (or his baby-sitter canceled, or something).  Now, granted, you may not be believed, but this is an option.

RESPONSE:  Worried About FIL's Feelings
Not only should you show up, but you should bring your son.  Request that the DJ (or band leader) play Happy Birthday for your son.  That should really make her mad!!

RESPONSE:  Worried About FIL's Feelings
Oh, do go, and wear something nice so that you look good.  I was in a similar situation once, and I went with my daughter (who was wearing a very pretty frock and looked gorgeous).  Many people complimented her.  One lady even said she was the prettiest person in the whole wedding!  You cannot escape these occasions.  So, you might as well go looking pretty and happy, and enjoy yourself.

RESPONSE:  Worried About FIL's Feelings
I think you should go to the wedding.  At the reception, ask the bandleader (or DJ) to announce that it is your son's 5th birthday, and could everyone please join together to sing "Happy Birthday" to the little guy!  Your SIL will have a fit that the attention isn't completely on widdle biddy hewr.  And, everyone will see what a little witch she is that she would begrudge her nephew anyone wishing him happy birthday!

RESPONSE:  Worried About FIL's Feelings
I have to say that I am in the same boat with you as far as a wicked SIL goes.  But wouldn't it be more worth it to spend that day with your son, as opposed to lowering yourself to her level?  I would say that you should plan a huge birthday party for your son (something to take the attention off her day, and put it back on your son), which would make her even more angry.  Your son only turns 5 once, but your nasty SIL can get married dozens of times.  Hope this helps, and good luck.

RESPONSE:  Worried About FIL's Feelings
I would go to the wedding.  But at the reception, privately ask the band play Happy Birthday to your son, and have a bunch of people dance in a circle around your son.  Your son will be so happy, and will remember this day.  Also, your son will have many other birthdays, but hopefully your SIL will not have many more weddings.

RESPONSE:  Worried About FIL's Feelings
I would go to the wedding, and then leave early.  This way she can't say that you are disrespectful because you did show up, but then you have the last "word" by leaving early.  You can always say that you had to go because it was your son's birthday celebration!  I think you make more of a statement by going to the wedding and leaving early!

Okay, I don't know if my in-law gripe is even a big deal, but I need to at least vent.  I watch my DH's 86 year old grandfather two days a week.  For two full weeks throughout the year (so my MIL can work and go on vacation) she pays me, and I get to take my 8 month old with me.  She lives an hour away, and because the days are two consecutive 12 hour days, I spend the night.  My GFIL is a nice man, and I DO love him, but there are times when I could scream!!!!!  To give you an idea what it is like there, I will tell you some.  For starters, he has Alzheimer's.  Although he is capable of caring for his personal needs (washing, dressing, bathroom use etc.), you have to fix all his meals, and make sure he eats (remind him every 5 minutes or so), give him all his pills (you have to keep the pills hidden or he forgets that he took them and he will take them again), keep him ambulatory by getting him up and making him walk (rain or shine) four times a day - 15 minutes each time.  This is ALWAYS A BATTLE, and he fights you tooth and nail (mind you, it has to be done in between certain TV shows or he gets angry).  Also, you have to make sure he has something to drink all day.  He only drinks coffee, and he drinks 8 oz glasses of juice when he takes his pills (it's a fight to get him to finish juice).  The problem is that he forgets he has a drink, and the coffee will get cold.  He doesn't like it, so you have to get fresh coffee.  Out of every pot made, he probably wastes half.  I spend a good two hours a day making coffee!!!!!!!!  About one to two times a day he gets angry at me for doing things for him, and yells that he is not a cripple (yet, if you didn't do it, it wouldn't get done).  I have always taken all of this, and then some, with a grain of salt.  He is a sweet man and I have always said that at that age, people have earned the right to be a little crotchety.  But, recently, my MIL got a dog (a full grown lab/basset hound mix - basically, he is a lab on basset hound legs).  It's a really sweet dog (very loveable and gentle natured - he never bothers the baby).  As a side note, I should mention that GFIL worries and frets about the baby.  For example:  If she is not wearing socks, he yells at me to put some on her.  Or, if she is fussing even a little, he yells for me very loudly (even if I am right beside him).  His newest thing is the dog.  He yells at the dog all day, "Leave that baby alone," (when the dog will simply be walking within a five foot radius of the baby).  I think the baby and dog should get used to each other.  I will hold the baby and let the dog come over.  Then, I will help the baby pet the dog.  But he freaks out and yells at me and the dog.  He threatens to kill the dog and "beat" me for letting the dog near the baby.  Yesterday, the baby was napping on MIL's bed.  I had her directly in the center of a king sized bed, with pillows on either side, perfectly safe (the dog's legs are so short that the most he can do is put his two front paws on the edge).  The dog likes the baby, and he is fond of sniffing her.  And, when she naps, he goes in every 15 minutes or so and sniffs the edge of the bed.  Then, he comes back.  I know this, because I have followed him in there 4-5 dozen times, just to see what he is doing.  Well, the dog was in the room sniffing the bed.  GFIL woke up and looked in the room.  He saw the baby, he saw the dog, and then he went in and kicked the dog (the dog let out a he!! of a yelp) and screamed, "I'll kill you, you damn dog.  I'll kill you."  And, then he chased the dog down the hallway and kicked him two more times.  Now I had seen this whole thing.  GFIL woke up the baby, and then he blamed the dog for that.  Then, he yelled at me that the dog was hurting the baby.  I have never said a word to him, but I'd had it, and I told him that the dog was not bothering the baby - he couldn't even reach her.  He got even more pissed, and he took a swat at me!!!!!!!!!!!  I left the room and went to baby.  I shut the door and stayed with her for five minutes.  Then, I came back out, and the day was like a regular day after that.  Am I overreacting, or would this annoy you too???  What would you do??????  Someone HELP!!!!!!!!

        Signed - The Old Man And The Dog

RESPONSE:  The Old Man And The Dog
Get that poor dog out of that situation!!!  Regardless of how senile the abuser is, the dog does NOT deserve to be treated like that!  I'm thinking that your GFIL, in addition to being crotchety and having Alzheimer's, simply does NOT like dogs, and he's having to share his space with a creature that he hates.  Do them both a favor and tell your MIL to find the dog a safer home, before GFIL really hurts the dog, or the dog finally has enough and bites GFIL.  If she's unwilling to do that, maybe YOU could do it during your two-week stay.  Say that the dog "ran away".  Who'd blame him?


RESPONSE:  The Old Man And The Dog
Reading your story really made me angry!  What a JERK of a man he is!  First of all, aren't there any other family members who can watch him?  Not only is it not safe for you to be watching him when he has his little "episodes", but it's not safe for your baby, either!  I wouldn't continue to watch him, even if you are getting paid by your MIL.  If she gets mad, so what?  And, that poor dog!  You said he is gentle and wouldn't hurt anyone.  Well, if he keeps receiving the abuse from your FIL, he will end up becoming aggressive!  It's a shame that he has to live there with your FIL.  I think you should take him to an animal shelter and tell your FIL that he escaped when you opened the door.  Someone should report your FIL for animal cruelty.  He sounds like he needs to be in a nursing home.  It is not your responsibility to take the job of watching him (even if it is only a couple of days a week).  You have your own family to take care of.  Your daughter should come first.  I don't mean to come down hard on you.  I hope I have helped.

RESPONSE:  The Old Man And The Dog
I think your MIL needs to find a new home for the dog.  It sounds like a dangerous place for the dog to be.  An Alzheimer patient is not stable, and I would be more than a little leery at the violent outbursts.  PLEASE encourage your MIL to find a new home for the dog before something worse happens.  I don't need to tell you this, but I would never leave the baby unattended with GFIL.

RESPONSE:  The Old Man And The Dog
You must stop watching this man IMMEDIATELY.  Alzheimer's patients can be VERY strong, and he will not know his own strength.  The family will simply have to have a powwow about this, and decide what is best for GFIL.  And, you will have to tell them that you cannot put your child, or yourself, in a potentially dangerous position anymore.  When the Alzheimer patient starts getting violent, it is time to consider other arrangements (like a nursing home).  That is all you can do.  You must protect yourself and your child.

RESPONSE:  The Old Man And The Dog
I feel for you.  This is what my life would have been like, day in and day out, had we moved in with my DH's Grandpa, who also has Alzheimer's.  I think that this situation is about to be much too stressful for you, the baby, MIL, and the dog.  It might be time to consider a convalescent home, or a live-in nurse, if this is GFIL's home.  If it's MIL's home, I think it's time to get him into a nursing facility.  It may sound cruel, like I'm saying that you all should "dump" him in nursing care.  One of the things about Alzheimer's is that it gets increasingly difficult to care for a family member.  For one, they don't even recognize you anymore.  And for another, they get increasingly hostile and angry, not to mention dangerous.  I think that, even though GFIL loves the baby, it's too dangerous to have her around him, unless you can supervise what he's doing around her every second.  He might wander off, and leave her to get into something that could hurt her.  Or, you could end up with your attention divided between two potentially dangerous situations occurring with GFIL and your DD.  Keep in mind that I also worked with Alzheimer's patients (I worked in a nursing home), and life will get increasingly difficult caring for him.  I think that you and MIL and DH need to have a powwow about how to handle the situation from here on out.  It will get to the point where he might kill the dog because he thinks that the dog is harming the baby.  Do you want that to happen?  It would be cruel to the dog to have the dog subjected to the abuse that an Alzheimer's patient is capable of dishing out.  I think that your daughter's childhood comes first, and I think that the safety of the dog should be considered.  Please keep us updated.

RESPONSE:  The Old Man And The Dog
Dealing with Alzheimer's patients must be a very trying experience, and I commend you for being willing to do it.  I would worry, however, about the potential for more serious threats and violence.  Could somebody else go with you and the baby when you visit?  Then, you could stay with the child while he sleeps, and the other person can tend to your GFIL.  As you are aware, the dog is just curious and interested in the baby, and vice versa - there is no harm in that.  The problem is that your child is able to see an animal being abused, and is hearing threats against you.  He probably can't understand the words now, but he can sense the tension/fear/anger.  As your child grows and develops, he will understand and be frightened.  Also, threats of violence should never be ignored.  As the experts say, the next step up from a person abusing an animal is that person abusing you or loved ones.  If you must continue, bring somebody else along (DH, a relative, or a friend).

RESPONSE:  The Old Man And The Dog
Yes, his actions would annoy me, but if it's Alzheimer's, it isn't his true nature.  Alzheimer's makes you do things that are against character.  I've worked in nursing homes with Alzheimer's patients, and you see the sweetest people turned into crabby, old farts.  It isn't him.  If most of the problems center around the dog, could you speak to your MIL about putting the dog in a kennel during the times that she is on vacation (and you'll be there giving respite care to Grandpa)?  However, if the old man is becoming violent with you, perhaps it's time to look into a home health nurse trained in Alzheimer's care.  Yes, I believe he is probably annoying to care for, but I doubt it is his true character.  It's most likely that his illness is making him do such things.  Hope you and MIL can work out a plan.

RESPONSE:  The Old Man And The Dog
My MIL has Parkinson's disease, and she lived with us for 3 months.  During that time, I endured her outbursts, and had to take care of her in the manner which you describe.  She, too, was very testy, and at one point she did not want me to touch her things (which was difficult, since I was the one doing the laundry, etc.).  We have since moved her back into her own home, and have a caretaker living with her during the week (so we only have to deal with her on weekends).  I wish I had suggestions to ease your turmoil, but, unfortunately, I think that once they get set in their ways, there is little that can be done.  I wish you much luck, and just want you to know that you are not alone.

RESPONSE:  The Old Man And The Dog
Oh, Lord.  You are not overreacting!  I am filled with admiration for what you do, and the things that bother you would try the patience of a saint.  I think you're an amazing person.  I'd be on Valium if I had to take care of someone who behaved like that (it would be hard even if it were my own parent - I doubt I'd have the constitution to do it for an in-law!).  No, you are not overreacting.  I am filled with admiration for you.  You deserve a party!

RESPONSE:  The Old Man And The Dog
It sounds like your GFIL's disease is progressing, and that your MIL made a poor choice in getting a dog.  Not that the dog itself doesn't sound very sweet, but the dog is undeniably a stress that your GFIL does not need.  I would not leave the dog or the baby alone with him again.

RESPONSE:  The Old Man And The Dog
Don't watch him anymore.  I don't think that it is good for your baby (what if he gets mad at the baby and takes a swat at your child?).  You may love the man, but this is obviously too much for you.  Tell MIL that you can watch him part time (or not at all), and tell her why.  There are social service programs that can help with elder care.  So, yeah, if you aren't happy, don't do it.

RESPONSE:  The Old Man And The Dog
I don't care what relation someone is to me.  If they treated me that way, I would stop caring for them.  Just because someone is your relative, you don't have to be a door mat.  I'd have a discussion about your feelings, and make it clear that, unless the behaviors change, you won't be back.

RESPONSE:  The Old Man And The Dog
Well, you get paid? And the MIL needs a break, I am sure.  I would suggest a kennel for the dog so that the dog can be put in the kennel while the baby is napping, and you can have break.  The GFIL is just old and cranky.  He has problems.  I would just test it out again.  If he swats at you again, I would just refuse to do it again.  No amount of money is worth getting smacked around.


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