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Mother-In-Law Stories
April 29, 2002
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MARCH 2002
APRIL 2002

Worst gift:  My MIL is quite the auction and junk sale shopper.  Last year for Christmas, she gave me and her other DIL a large bag of assorted items, including 6 bottles (yes, 6) of Cajun seasoning (more than a chef would use in 2 years), aerosol air freshener, dishwashing liquid, and other household cleaning items.  Is my food bland, or my house not clean enough???

        Signed - Cooking and Cleaning

RESPONSE:  Cooking and Cleaning

RESPONSE:  Cooking and Cleaning
No, it sounds like she got a box of stuff at an auction.  I also love auctions, and I quite often get good deals on "sets" of items - like a full box ,when all I really wanted was one item.  Then, what do you do with the rest?  Well, in your MIL's case, it sounds like she thought you would make a good recipient.  What a loon!!

Worst gift:  My husband and I have been married for 3 years, and together for 5 years.  Anyway, my MIL is very cheap, even though they are very well off.  Christmas is a very bad time to be in this family.  Last Christmas, we did not go to their house.  Ha, they live 8 houses down on the same side of the street, and we have always rented from her, even though my husband makes good money.  Last Christmas, he went down to her house and brought back the gifts.  There were several thin blankets still in a wrapper that said $4.95 on them.  She gave bubbles to the kids that said 3/$1.00, etc.  The worst part was when I noticed several shoe boxes with newspaper crumbled up in them.  The little #number tags were still on them.  It was stuff like 4 coffee mugs and nail clippers.  It was some of her free bingo gifts that she had won through the year.  Also, it was insulting, because my husband received some cologne.  The same cologne that I had given his father last year.  She is sooooo cheap.  But, at least my husband does understand this, and buys us our own gifts here.

        Signed - Suffering

RESPONSE:  Suffering
The only good thing is that MIL is an equal-giving skinflint, from the sound of it.  We hear of DILs here who watch as everyone else gets GREAT gifts from MIL, while they themselves get a pair of nail clippers - used.  I would try to laugh your loony MIL off.  And, give a sigh of relief, because I sure would not feel obligated to go "all out" to buy gifts for such a person.  Keep the gift giving equal.  Approximate how much MIL spends, then shop with that figure.  Include anything free you get through the year.  If she complains, then ask what the problem is - your gifts are comparable to what she gives.

The first Christmas after my FIL died, I decided to have the entire family up to my house for Christmas dinner.  I told them I would be having dinner at 2PM, that if they wanted to bring something to pass they could (my MIL makes this awful hamburger dressing with cloves - yucky, but it is a family favorite - and if she wanted to bring this, she could).  She also wanted to bring a pie or two, and I said, "That was fine."  So, the day came - I had made a HUGE dinner - turkey, mashed potatoes, corn, rolls, gravy, relish tray, stuffing, you know we had it!  Dinner was ready at 2, and what time did they show up?  4 PM!!  They live only about 5 minutes from us, too!  And, there was no phone call to say that they would be late or anything!  I had kept dinner warm in the oven, but to TOP it all off, they brought their OWN dinner.  Cornish game hens, potatoes (boiled, but not mashed), veggie, stuffing and pie.  They did eat my rolls.  LOL.  I was steaming, but my husband (who is now my ex) said not to be upset.  Not one apology or excuse from them!!  I couldn't believe how rude they were, and they were like this from day one!!  My husband and I had been married at this time for 17 years!  Needless to say, I do not miss belonging to that family!!  This is one of many incidents, but everyone I tell this story to is amazed at what they did.

        Signed - They Did Eat My Rolls

RESPONSE:  They Did Eat My Rolls
I'm amazed that you held dinner that long.  Good for you for getting away from that nasty family.

RESPONSE:  They Did Eat My Rolls
Been there.  My ILs do the same - show up hours late when invited.  Then, they are shocked when I am upset.  I always want to show up at their place late, but my husband won't hear of it.  Oh well.

RESPONSE:  They Did Eat My Rolls
It sounds like a good thing that you are no longer in this rude, crass family.  But, for your future reference - and anyone else who might face something like you did - I would not have attempted to keep this dinner warm for 2 hours.  I would have waited awhile - say 1/2 hour - then called.  You don't mention if you called them.  If they didn't have a good excuse, then I would have told them that they obviously were not interested in your dinner, and that if they did not get here in 15 minutes, dinner will be put away.  It would be your choice where - but I would stick it into the freezer.  But, for that 15 minute wait before packing it up, I wouldn't try to keep it warm.  People like that can eat it cold.  Anyway, when they showed up 2 hours later, everything I made would be in the freezer.  I would not apologize or offer to reheat it - they were told dinner was at 2:00.  They weren't there by 2:45 and had no good excuse, so dinner is now over.  In fact, I would find somewhere to go - WITH DH - and leave the house after the dinner had all been put in the freezer, so no one would even be home when they bothered to show up.  Obviously, I would never offer to cook for them EVER again, which I am sure you did.  Good riddance to bad rubbish!

When we told my boyfriend's parents that we were getting married, my MIL started to go off on some tangent about how he was only marrying me because of sex, and that is why FIL married her 22 years ago.  She then went on to say that she married the wrong guy, and that she knew who her soul mate really was.  She said all this right in front of my boyfriend's father!  She said it was just a fling, and that, now, she was stuck in this marriage, because divorce is a sin.  Then, she looked at her son and said, "Don't do it.  You'll never be happy married to a girl who likes to dance and wear the color red!"  I was sitting there in tears - she was referring to the time I wore a red shirt to her Independent Southern Baptist Church, and the time we went to a Spring Formal, our sophomore year in college.  I'm thinking, "What the heck does this have to do with anything?"  Well, we got married.  And, everything is wonderful as long as we don't see her.  She tells me that I am a slut when I wear shorts (in the middle of July).  She tells me it is a sin that I didn't have my son circumcised.  Whatever, lady.

        Signed - Whatever, Lady

RESPONSE:  Whatever, Lady
Your MIL is jealous of you.  If you really want to know what is going on here, consider this - there is a proverb in the old testament that states:  "As a man thinks in his heart, so he is".  That means that she is judging you by what is in her heart, and is describing herself, not you.  I am a Southern Baptist, and I have never heard of liking to dance and wearing the color red to be sinful.  Where did she get that from?  It isn't in the Bible, so it must be something in her heart.  These are her problems, not yours.  Maybe you and your DH should have a talk with her pastor.  He might be able to provide her with some counseling.

RESPONSE:  Whatever, Lady
That MIL has an important screw loose!!  In fact, I think it is missing!  I was raised Baptist, and she is perverting it.  I am glad you ignored her, and have a relatively happy life with her son anyway.  And, I am happy that her son is relatively normal.  But I would cut this woman out of my life in your place.  Her weird and nasty comments are not suitable for children - and, I would make sure she did not see her grandchildren till she stops completely.  And, she owes you an apology and a big fat, "I was wrong about you."  Good luck!

My FIL passed away over a year ago.  After he was gone, my husband went to stay with her.  We only live 2 houses away, but it was mandatory that someone stay with her every evening.  It even got to the point that our children were expected to go up and "baby-sit" grandma, at least one day a week.  If they had other plans, they were expected to change them.  To this day, if we go to any event for the kids, my DH will sit with his mother instead of the rest of the family.  Shortly after my FIL passed away, I ended up in the hospital for a week with emergency surgery.  My MIL, since she could not stay by herself, came to my home to stay for the week.  While she was at my house, she did the household chores to help keep up.  But, the problem was that she was not doing things the way I was taught (and the way I had taught my children).  Dishes were not clean (every one had some food still left on it), she would burn any plastic recyclable, and incorrectly put away (or throw away) items - I am still looking for some almost a year later.  I realize these seem petty, but even after asking her not to do these things, she continues.  Some of the things she does are the kids' chores, and she feels she is "helping them".  My theory is that, maybe that is why her own children are so helpless, because she over-helped them.  To this day, she seems to relish getting my children into trouble.  If she spends time with them, she can't wait until I come home to tell me about the latest fight or indiscretion.  I am trying not to let it bother me, but some days are very difficult.  Just last night, she was fighting with an obviously overwrought 11 year old over an art project.  He was sure someone had smashed it.  She was sure no one had, but it was obvious the fight had been going on for some time before I came home.  The whole thing was resolved within minutes after I got there.  Thank you for letting me talk about this.  It is great to find a place where we will not be judged for not getting along with our MILs.

        Signed - Determined

RESPONSE:  Determined
I think that your MIL is ruining your family's lives, including your kids.  For your kids' sake, remove her from your home as a fixture, and stop separating your family so that SHE has this "necessary company" that she is currently demanding.  If she is that dependent, it is time for a nursing home, or assisted living.  The longer this goes on, the more damage to YOUR family long-term.  Tell your DH that, for the sake of your family, and especially for the sake of your kids, MIL has to stop depending on your family.  I also notice that you don't mention any other family besides you, your DH, and your kids.  Are there any other family members?  Good luck.

RESPONSE:  Determined
I am told by others who have lost loved ones that time really does help.  Supposedly, there are different stages of grief.  Buy some books for your MIL to read regarding this subject, and get one for your DH as well.  He may have some guilt associated with the loss of his father that you don't know about.  Loved ones die every day, and it is very much a part of life.  I don't think any of this is healthy for any of you.  Please get some help for yourself and your family.  Look in your local phonebook yellow pages or newspaper for a group you maybe able to get involved with, and get your MIL into it if you can.  I know there are grief counselors out there, all you have to do is find them.  Good luck.

RESPONSE:  Determined
I have a question.  Does your MIL really need help?  I get the impression that she is just unwilling to live on her own, not incapable.  While I can sympathize with her, and I understand her need to be with her children and grandchildren after her loss, it sounds like this has gone too far, and she's become dependent.  It is not your DH's or your children's job to be her rescuer and fill her emotional needs - that's her job.  While you can be sympathetic, at some point it gets really old if that person can't start to move on and become independent.  For the sake of your marriage and your sanity, there needs to be some boundaries - there has to be.  If you haven't already, I would start encouraging her to get involved in something with people her own age.  Ask other family members to visit or check up on her sometimes.  If she needs to be baby-sat, look into getting some government assistance, or look into adult daycare or assisted living facilities.  Sit down with your DH, if he's willing, and work out a list of rules/boundaries.  Decide how much she "needs" from your family, not wants, and set reasonable rules that take everyone's needs into consideration - including yours.  If DH is unwilling to work with you, and refuses counseling, get the book "Toxic In-laws, Loving Strategies to Protect Your Marriage", by Susan Forward.  I've read this book, and it's a must have for everyone.  And, I know there is at least one situation in this book similar to yours, with a needy parent who just "can't live" without constant involvement from her grown child.  I couldn't get my DH to sit and read the whole book, but I was able to get him to read parts, which got him to read some more on his own.  It was so helpful for us.  "Toxic In-laws" aren't just the outright evil ones, but also include the "needy" ones who suck the life right out of you and your marriage.  If you need more support, come over to the message boards.  Best wishes to you and your family.

RESPONSE:  Determined
Boy, that umbilical cord doesn't have to stretch far, does it?  Please tell your DH that he has become an enabler, and if he wants his mother to ever enjoy life again - cut the cord!!  It sounds like MIL needs counseling to deal with her fears.  She needs to be with others her age - a widow/widower group might do her a world of good.  Maybe she should get a dog.  But, this ongoing fear is destroying too many lives!  Her grandchildren should have the chance to know an adjusted, happy grandmother.  Your DH should be with you and the kids.  And, MIL should be enjoying life with people her own age most of the time.  DH is robbing everyone by not insisting that MIL grow up and face up.  Ask him if he sees this going on for another 20 years.  Tell him so (as in, you will leave before then.  Try to be calm.  Point out that she "needs" a CHILD to baby-sit her??  What would one of your children be able to do if an intruder broke in (if that is one of her concerns)?  Perhaps you and DH will need marriage counseling for him to see some of this.  There are security systems that could be installed to give MIL added security.  A dog would provide company and security.  A roommate (another widow) would provide company.  There are companies out there that will send someone to be there all night - but, around here, the person gets about $10/hour.  Or, she could offer a room to a local college student - that would give her the security of having someone there at night, and maybe some company during the day.  But, it all boils down to the fact that DH is NOT doing his mother a favor!!  My mother is a widow and travels with other seniors - she has a riot.  My MIL, pain though she can be, is a widow of 2 years also - and she bowls with the same senior league she did while FIL was alive.  She just got back from a trip, and she and a bunch of other widows are taking in a cruise soon.  Now - which kind of mother does DH want - the kind he has or one like I just mentioned?  If he says he wants it the way it is - HE has a problem, and needs to find out why baby-sitting his mother is such a joy to him (instead of being with his family and watching MIL enjoy her life).

My ex-MIL was something else.  She seemed pleasant and sweet enough, until she got with you alone.  She would cut you down with a smile on her face, just enough to let you know your place - and never "over the top" - to make herself look outright like the b!tch she was.  Here is one example - she nicely informed me, one day, that the reason I have an accent (I'm from New England, and she is from the Midwest) was all because of the "Fall of the Tower of Babbel" (in the bible, the story where people where trying to build the tower very high to reach God - and God decided to destroy the tower, and make everyone speak a different language).  Hua.  But, my all time favorite was my wedding day - I was in the back of the church, ready to walk down the aisle - (my SIL was a bridesmaid), my ex-MIL came running over and said, "Oh X (my SIL - her daughter), OH MY GOD!!!!  HOW BEAUTIFUL YOU LOOK!!!!!!"  And, then she sweetly turned to me (now, I'm the bride - the one in white, big gown, my day, etc.), and said, "Well, you look nice too."  Ha, ha. Now that her son and I are divorced, all I have are the beautiful memories!!!!!!!

        Signed - All I Have Are The Beautiful Memories!!!!!!!


My good friend, Sue and I
decided to make a bet
We put 50 dollars on whose mother-in-law
Was the worst one yet

Nags, Big Bertha and Edwina
Lined up at the gate
We set off to take the two old bats
On a dinner date

Just before we left
Sue made a pot of tea
She failed to do it exactly right
So Bertha, her mother-in-law
Went into a state of apoplexy
How the old crow cawed!

Later on at dinner
Sue admired a pin
Edwina wore upon her blouse,
as she chugged down her fourth glass of gin
Edwina said I'd made it for her
and though it was the tackiest of pins-

Sue mentioned that she also liked
Edwina's lovely ring
Edwina said son, Keithie bought it for her
Before he married that thing
(pointing to me)

Then Big Bertha told us tales
Of her darling, little dog
Who replaced her dearest Sonny boy
Since he married that old hog
(pointing to Sue)

And just as we were about to leave
We decided
What the heck!
A little present for both girls
They deserved it
Out of respect

A gold medal for Big Bertha
One for Edwina too
Sue and I split the 50 bucks
And took them to the zoo

Val Magnuson

Reprinted with permission from Val Magnuson.  You can find more poetry and a mix of other very interesting attractions at

        Signed - Mother-In-Law Olympics

RESPONSE:  Mother-In-Law Olympics
Woohoooo!!!!  That was real swell!

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