Monday, June 27, 2011

Another In-Law Vent

I feel like my blog lately has been all about me complaining about my in-laws and random book reviews.  It seems that my in-laws have quite the penchant for doing their best to upset me when I'm pregnant.  What's not to love about people like that?

A few weeks ago Bryan emailed his mother with what could essentially be described as a list of grievances.  This was all in response to her claim that I not only defamed her character in front of his children, her grandchildren [because me being the mother of those children is of no issue] to her co-worker, but have also done a great deal to drive a wedge in the family.  Keep in mind that I am not part of this "family" a point which has been made abundantly clear by my in-laws many times over the past ten and a half years.

All I did to start this firestorm was to accidentally reveal the gender of the baby to a woman who knew who I was and looked very familiar to me.  Almost instantly I realized the woman was my mother-in-law's coworker.  It was at the moment that I asked her not to reveal the gender of the baby to my in-laws as my husband did not want them to know yet since they have little to no involvement or interest in our children.  That statement is absolutely true and both my husband and I stand by it 100%.

Bryan's email triggered my mother-in-law to run to his brother and sister.  Rather than dialogue with Bryan via email, she decided to go on a smear campaign.  She unfriended me and Bryan on Facebook as well as a few of our friends.  She sent messages to those friends stating that we told her she could not be friends with them [NOT TRUE] and that we are embarrassed by her [Bryan told her he was embarrassed by her immature comments on Facebook, not that he was embarrassed by her, there is a difference.].  My best friend was kind enough to let me know about my mother-in-law's message.  She agreed that the message from her seemed to have the intent to twist Bryan's words to make her look like a victim.

Since the email from Bryan my mother-in-law has left a few hostile and condescending voicemails on Bryan's phone.  She has also left a few messages on our home phone line.  Bryan does not want me getting involved, so I have the displeasure of sitting by and being a spectator as I hear remark after remark coming from the in-laws blaming me for all sorts of things.  Quite honestly, it's stressing me out and making me less and less willing to have anything to do with these people in the future.

My sister-in-law recently decided to throw her hat in the ring.  After several hostile text messages and voice mails to Bryan's cell, she decided to send an email.  This email led to another bout of blame Karen for everything under the sun.  The back and forth emails between Bryan and his sister reached a new point in accusations today.  This morning Bryan forwarded me an email that started off "Dear Karen, oops, I mean Bryan," which insinuated that I am the one who has been authoring all the emails that are coming from my husband.  She went on in the email to state that I am excrement, but not in terms quite as nice as that.  I so badly want to respond, but frustratingly, Bryan does not want me to say a word.  So, I'll say some of what I want to say here.

First off, if I were the one writing the emails, there would be no spelling, syntax, or grammatical errors.  Turn of phrase and choice of vocabulary would be much different.  My tactic would not be as calm as my husbands.  I would lay out, in detail, the many things my in-laws have done of the years which back up why Bryan and I have come to a point in our lives where we do not want to deal with their childish and petty behavior.  I would also point out the inaccuracies in their convoluted memories of past incidents.  I have been accused of calling my sister-in-law a murderer and spreading a rumor stating such.  Not true, I did however not hide the fact that her grabbing my abdomen and twisting it very hard when I was in my first trimester with Madeline was what lead to me having severe cramping followed by lots of bleeding and subsequently two months of bed rest due to what the midwife termed a "threatened abortion."  So she didn't murder her first born niece in utero, but she made pregnancy very difficult for me for two months.  If someone called her a murderer, it was not me.  My midwife actually wanted me to press charges against her for assault.  In hindsight, I probably should have.

My sister-in-law, the super sleuth, spent her weekend at the shore questioning her parents about their involvement with our girls.  She started by interviewing my mother-in-law on the beach.  She found out just how many times she has seen the girls and talked to them in the past year.  She also asked about what kinds of gifts the girls have received from her.  Then she asked my father-in-law and his girlfriend what their involvement with the girls has been, phone conversations and the all important gifts.  Her determination is that my mother-in-law is the one who tries harder but is not rewarded.  So apparently being a grandparent is all about gifts.  Personally, I'd take the grandparents who spend quality time with the kids over the one who occasionally drops presents off on the porch and runs away before anyone knows she's there.  Presents don't matter to me.  The rest of the world could stop buying gifts for my children and we wouldn't be the least bit bothered.  In fact, we'd probably be really happy to see a decrease in the quantity of stuff that gets imported into the house.

My sister-in-law also made sure she let us know that both of her parents are "really great grandparents."  Ok, sure.  Bryan and I tend to disagree.  Great grandparents will call and talk to the kids.  They will take the time to build memories with them and spend time with them.  They take an interest in the kids and don't act as if they are a burden.  While my father-in-law isn't an  incredibly involved grandparent, he is genuinely happy to be a grandfather.  The man is literally giddy that he has another grandchild on the way.  I'd classify my parents as great grandparents.  They do what they can to be at events that are important to the kids, like soccer games and chorus concerts.  They actually know their granddaughters.  And like my father-in-law, they have never made statements that they "didn't choose to have these kids" [my children].

Over the years as these in-law incidents have arisen, my parents have been the ones I complain to first [after Bryan, that is].  About five years ago my parents told me point blank that it was pretty obvious that they [my in-laws] don't like me.  I knew there were some who didn't like me much or at least that was the vibe I got, but it really struck me when I came to the realization that other people saw it, too.  I tend to think that my parents [my father, actually] hit the nail on the head.  Bryan agrees with them.  The in-laws, claim that I am delusional and apparently Bryan is now also delusional by extension.

We have been informed that the situation with my mother-in-law is entirely our fault.  Our busy schedule was cited as part of the problem.  After working a full time job and commuting 1 1/2 hours each way to work three to four days a week in traffic (Bryan works from home one to two days a week), Bryan is usually very tired and worn out.  He also volunteers his time coaching both of our girls for soccer.  Weekends from September through May are typically consumed by soccer games.  In addition to keeping the household running [because you know, I do nothing because I'm a stay-at-home-mom] I also  volunteer my time to help out at the girls' schools.  The time commitment for this work varies.  It could be an hour one week and six or seven another week.  Then I selfishly tie up Sunday morning and teach a religious education class in addition to teaching on Thursday evening.  I also volunteered to direct the parish VBS program.  Add in the fact that I also selfishly use up about ninety minutes of our  precious weekend and take my children to Mass every Saturday night or Sunday morning without fail.  I wonder what my in-laws think we should be cut from our busy schedule.  Should we yank our kids out of soccer which they enjoy so they can sit at their grandmother's house totally bored and miserable?  Or, would it be better if we just abandon our faith and sink into a state of mortal sin to please a few people? Sometimes it's not possible to please everyone.  I believe this is the situation we have on hand.  My in-laws can't be bothered to come to our home.  Soccer games tend to happen at the same time as wine festivals, and attending Mass is non-negotiable.

Oh and since I'm essentially vilified by my in-laws, let me put it out there that in nearly ten years of parenting, I have been the one to make the effort to make sure my children know both sides of their family.  For Madeline's first two years of life, I was the one who drove up to Philadelphia a couple times a week to bring her to visit Bryan's homebound grandfather and his cousin who took care of him.  I visited his grandmother (also homebound) many times.   Madeline and I saw Bryan's grandparents more than he did during those years.  During these years, I could have visited my widowed Grandfather instead, but I chose to visit his family believing that he [my grandfather] would live longer than them.  Turns out I was right in one case and wrong in the other.  There are times I wish I had visited him a few times more in those years, but I reasoned that he had more great grandchildren visiting him and since Madeline was the only great granddaughter for Bryan's Pop and one of a small handful for his grandmom, that I made the right choice.   I also have been the one to bring the girls to visit my father-in-law.  Over the past eleven years I have probably seen my father-in-law more than my husband has.  I'm the one who brought the girls to visit my mother-in-law at her office, too.  How soon some people forget all the effort I have made to ensure my children know their family.  With two kids in school and one on the way along with all the obligations we have on any given week, it's a lot to shoulder.  I can't be everything to everyone, and I'm not about to try especially when it's not recognized or appreciated.

If you've read this far, thanks.  I hope I haven't wasted too much of your time.  If I'm the evil incarnate my in-laws make me out to be feel free to say so in the comments.


  1. Oh my goodness I want to hug you Karen! I'm so sorry you're going through all of this, especially now, when you're pregnant. And I want to beat your sister-in-law up!!! That is simply horrible (and I'll be the one to say it makes her an attempted Murderer!). I'm not sure I could have been as gracious as you've been and had anything to do with her after that point. I'm kind of in shock at how much you've put up with.

    Prayers for you guys. I'm glad your husband at least recognizes the insanity of all of this (although I'm very sorry that both of you have to deal with it). At least you've got each other.

    Again, I'm so sorry! Hang in there! I'm thrilled that you're having another beautiful little girl!

  2. I did read the whole thing, and you have my profoundest sympathies. I have my own struggles with my MIL but nothing on this scale.

    Please feel free to vent here and let your husband deal with his mother and sister.

  3. I am so sorry you are going through this. Speaking from experience, you have to find a way to let this go with their behavior and not yet your MIL get to you; it will cause much bitterness and grief for you over the years and it won't change any way she will choose to do things. I let something my MIL said to me back in 1998 define my life since then and my relationship with her since then and I'm sure she absolutely forgot what she had said that fateful day.

    The Bible says for man and a woman to cleave together and basically leave their family behind (very loosely translated) but your/Bryan's main priority is your famliy, your children, those born, those yet to be born. That comes first.

    don't let anyone get you down or cause you grief. Try to let it go, believe you be, it will be so much better down the line.



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