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I just dont know what to do!

(87 Posts)
louisamay Mon 14-Jul-14 20:05:00

Hi. I am new to this website and I hate my first post to be a 'rant' but I am desperate because I just dont know where I have gone wrong. To give some background: One daughter, 30, lives in USA, married, no chldren, we visit twice a year, they visit twice. Everything fine. Son, 36, previously married for one year, wife left after she had affair with married colleague. Affair ended, wife wanted to return but son refused to take her back when he found she had been having the affair even prior to their marriage. This resulted in a messy, costly divorce as ex daughter in law tried to force sale of property but Judge ruled she had no entitlement to house son bought 5 years prior to meeting wife. Fast forward two years and son meets someone new She seems really nice and we hope all will be well. Last year she ( will call her DIL as seems daft to keep repeating 'partner'. )moved in with him and they now have a 6 month old baby. They have had many broken nights and I appreciate DIL has had a very tough time. My husband and I retired just before baby was born. We live locally but only go to visit when we are invited. DIL's parents live much further away but they visit more often (that seems to the norm from what I've read and what friends with married sons have said). We love to see our gorgeous little grandson but we fit in and just go when asked and dont overstay our welcome. We look after him when DIL wants to sleep and take him out in his pram when she wants time to herself or to catch up on housework I have only had two 'social' outings with her and that was to the baby weighing clinic and Sainsburyys!! So to get to my point at last: My DIL knows that we keep a key to the house. My husband has done quite a bit of DIY for son and DIL when they were at work last year. I never went with him but of course he let himself in with the key. That was the arrangement and DIL was happy the house was having some TLC. When baby was born early this year she said to me....'you have a key, so there's no need to knock, just come in, its not a problem.' So that has been the drill.
She says when it is convenient to visit and then, on the day, texts us to confirm time. We have always fallen in with this and we are fine with it. We arrive on time, knock or ring, insert key, stand in hall and she will call out that she is 'in the conservatory', bedroom or wherever, and we will wait for her there. It worked well , particularly if it was raining, as we didnt have to stand outside on the doorstep while she was changing or making bottles or the 101 other things new mums have to do. So, last Tuesday, I was due to go round in the morning (husband had an appointment so didnt come), and she texts me at 4pm saying 'come now'. I went round to the house and, as usual, knocked and inserted my key. She pulled it open and just went into one saying that I dont have to use my key! I was really taken aback as she was the one who suggested it in the first place! I felt really upset by this but carried on as usual and took baby for a walk. DIL seemd Ok but I felt I was treading on eggshells. They went away for the weekend but she texted last night asking me to come round this morning. So I did and rang the bell. She opened the door, scowling and said, 'dont ring, knock'! Bl**dy hell I thought, what on earth is going on. She then said that she had told me several times not to intrude into her home!! I am staggered. Her parents have a key and seem to come and go as they please. Anyway I just walked away, I didnt know what else to do. I rung my son as I thought my dIL might be ill but he said she is very touchy but there was no need for her to be so rude and hurtful. He feels she has overstepped the mark but he doesnt want to get in an arguement with her because she will not let it drop. I think he is having trouble coping with it all. Is it post-natal depression? I have no experience of this although I have read about it. When we have seen her with her parents (who we get on just great with) she is always upbeat with them. I suggested to my son that he could talk to DIL's mother but he said he didnt think it was a good idea as DIL will 'go into one' as he put it. We have done whatever she wants, when she wants it. We dance to her tune just so we can spend time with our
grandson but it looks like she is trying to alienate me. She has texted me that I shouldnt use the key as she could be undressed when we arrive,.....but how would she be if she knows practically to the minute when we will arrive?? My son has spoken to her and he phoned and said she is concerned I will not forgive her. I tried to ring her but she wont speak to me. I dont know where this has all come from.
PLEASE, has any other mum in law had any similar experience. I need to keep everything afloat for my grandson (and my son) but I feel I have gone wrong somewhere and I am just so upset.......
Thank you for reading this

thatbags Mon 14-Jul-14 20:16:17

Hi, louisamay. I'm sorry this has happened and can imagine how hard it is for you. All I can think of to say is try and stay calm. Perhaps your DiL is just very over-tired with the baby and it will pass. I hope so because it sounds as if things were allright before flowers

janeainsworth Mon 14-Jul-14 20:23:16

Louisa Your DiL may be suffering from PND, I don't know, but it seems a weird state of affairs.
You were supposed to go round last Tuesday morning and waited till 4 o'clock for her to text you a summons?
I would have waited till 11 am and then rang and asked whether she wanted me to come or not.

I think you need to have a talk with your DiL, not your son, and establish some ground rules.
I have to say I wouldn't like my MiL to have a key to my house and just walk in, whether I was busy with a new baby or not.
I hope you can work things out. flowers

Nonu Mon 14-Jul-14 20:26:46

Louis" first of all" a big welcome "!

The only thing I can say is "welcome to the world of DIL"S" , it can be so very difficult at times . Treading on eggshells doesn't even come into it !

May I send you the very best of wishes .


rosesarered Mon 14-Jul-14 20:37:06

I agree with nonu. It can be difficult. I would just let it drop, and say to her next time to forget it and it doesn't matter.Say how hard you know it is when you have just had a baby .Don't use the key again though.I would have hated MIL to have had a key, no matter how convenient.I think you are doing all the right things though, in being careful and remembering that a MIL is not the same as a Mother.

whenim64 Mon 14-Jul-14 20:53:17

Welcome louisa. This is a scenario that has the ring of familiarity from many years ago, when the previously friendly DiL was beginning to break up the marriage and couldn't bring herself to be friendly with her in-laws. Is their relationship under strain? It might not be you at all. Why not send a friendly message to let her know you're there and want to be helpful, without pushing the issue. Things may improve in time, in which case she'll know you are remaining friendly, or if there's going to be a lot of strife she'll know you are still open to being friendly when things have been decided one way or another.

ffinnochio Mon 14-Jul-14 21:11:12

Hello louisamay - pretty name.

I'm sorry you're feeling so upset, but I don't think this has much (if anything) to do with you. Your DIL sounds stressed and anxious and not coping v. well.

As bags said, stay calm.

Take things gently.

How would it be if you were to invite her over with the baby one afternoon, with no agenda? Take a walk - sometimes it's easier to chat when walking.
I hope things improve for you soon.

louisamay Mon 14-Jul-14 21:22:47

Goodness, I,didn't expect so many replies so quickly , so thanks!
Unfortunately, Janeainsworth, I can't lay down ground rules with her because she will run to my son exaggerating whatever I say. Didn't want to include this in main post but she has tried to cause trouble before by telling my son the bones of something but throwing in a few untruths for good measure. A few weeks back she told him I had rung her and been 'anxious' re babys health! She 'goes on' at him as if he is responsible for me. The truth was - and she admitted it to him later, was that she had sent a text to me saying baby had diahorrea and a high temperature!! I had tried to phone her later that day but she never answered so I left a message asking how baby was.
And that was being 'over anxious'

Old as I am, I never had to deal with this sort of stuff. Even my ex daughter in law and I actually got on day to day with never an issue. Although I didn't know what she was up to!!

louisamay Mon 14-Jul-14 21:42:08

I do think the relationship is under a lot of strain with all the broken nights. My son appears to have a calming influence on baby though (I never mention it') and he settles quickly with him. I think baby does seem to pick up on her stresses as she tries so hard to do everything 'right'. She is a good mum but stresses over everything and strives for perfection. She was like that in her job, working long hours with no appreciation from her boss.
I do actually feel better now after putting all this down. I realise that it probably is NOT me or anything I have done. But I am convenient to have a pop at....
Something else. Apparently she has been complaining to my son about her parents lack of understanding and support. I think sometimes they are a bit dismissive of her as they are very practical people but by and large they are very helpful and would be hurt if they knew she was saying this stuff behind their backs.

Kate13 Mon 14-Jul-14 22:35:54

Hi louisamay. Your DiL sounds very tired and stressed. Perhaps the way forward for you is to keep being supportive, help where you can and don't take things personally. Keep smiling and try not to make a big issue of it. Is she getting the attention she needs from your DS or is he completely besotted with his new son? This happened with my DS and our DiL (DS totally oblivious to her need for hugs, compliments and praise) and it triggered PND.They are now separated. Hormones are horrid. Give her and yourself a break.It'll come right with family support but often it is so difficult to keep quiet, isn't it.?Hugs flowers
PS Have you considered taking over a dinner for them once a week to relieve some pressure on her. Just drop it in but don't stay.

Kate13 Mon 14-Jul-14 22:39:42

And don't ring the door bell!!. It could wake baby sad

Kate13 Mon 14-Jul-14 22:40:25

And don't ring the door bell!!. It could wake baby sad

louisamay Mon 14-Jul-14 23:03:11

Yes Kate, i have been doing meals once or sometimes twice a week and taking them round at the requested time, often through heavy work traffic at 5.30 - 6pm! As far as I'm aware son is very attentive to her AND baby. He looks so worn out whenever I see him. He works in a high pressure environment and I'm sure could do without this.
DIL told me she has discussed me intruding into the house with her mother!
So that's thrown a spanner into the works. Son said DONT speak to her mother as she already has her daughters spin on things and isn't going to believe you. True I suppose. But now I feel embarrassed that her parents think I have just barged into the house uninvited. I have to say I don't think she will have been truthful. I hate all this as it's just sh** stirring.
Oh, the bell was rung as she said before she hates it when people knock 'loudly', and the bell is so much more subtle it's less likely to wake baby up!

rubylady Mon 14-Jul-14 23:42:52

In other words, you can't do right for doing wrong at the moment, can you?

I'd just sit back and wait for the next invite. She will come round. It is probably being overwhelmed at being a first time mum, we have all been there. Maybe we were a bit sharp with someone and didn't realise at the time.

As for telling her mother things, I wouldn't worry too much about it. If you get on well normally with her mother, she will know what you are like and what her daughter is like. She probably knows that she is untruthful at times, she's not had her for all her years and not know what she can be like. Just be your usual self when you next meet and this will dispel anything her daughter has told her. I do know how you feel though as my daughter talks about me behind my back and makes me uncomfortable around her partner and friends.

We can only do our best as parents/grandparents and at the end of the day as long as we know what we have done, then we have no recriminations to answer to.

Take your mind off it for a while, go out with your DH to the theatre or for a meal and let your DS and DiL realise that you have a life of your own too.

Take care of yourself flowers

Eloethan Tue 15-Jul-14 00:39:43

It sounds to me like she's suffering from post natal depression, which may be linked to just hormonal changes or to those changes plus her personality type.

People who feel driven to try and achieve perfection often have an underlying insecurity. Going through labour and then caring for a new baby, apart from being exhausting, can, I think, make a person feel panicky and out of control, particularly if they have formerly been, or have appeared to have been, very capable and in control.

Although it must be upsetting and hurtful for you, perhaps you could bear in mind that she has criticised her own parents too - so it's not really personal but just the way she's feeling at the moment.

As other have said, carry on being friendly and supportive and hopefully things will soon settle down.

Is your son concerned about her? If he feels she is over anxious and that her behaviour is becoming erratic, perhaps he could seek some advice from their GP. I wonder if there are also charities that could give him advice over the telephone.

louisamay Sat 19-Jul-14 12:02:21

Hi. Its taken me a couple of days to update the situation as I have been really shaken up by events that followed last Tuesday.Just to recap, I have a key to my sons house (see initial post) and after baby was born DIL suggested I use it. Somewhere along the way she, apparently, 'hinted' that I shouldnt use it and I didnt take the hint. She was outraged by this and it caused an outburst. My first post shows the procedure and circumstances for using the key. I thought we had got past that because that evening DIL texts me and says we can see baby the following day but it will have to be between 7 and 9 am (yes, very early) as her mother is coming round later that day. I cant figure why she doesnt want us to be in the same house at the same time as we get on fine......anyway, because it is so early we say we will come at 8am but if there is any change of plan just send a text. We heard nothing so we arrive at 8am on the dot and knock quiety. DIL opens the door immediately, has baby in her arms and says that he woke early so will be going for a nap any time soon. I say thats OK, we understand and we can go off and do some shopping and maybe see baby another day. At this point she goes into meltdown shouting that we would 'never have said that before' and that we were 'trying to be funny'. When I protested, she said we could 'either come in and see baby, or get out of MY house. (Just to clarify: no one has even spoken about whose house it is! Son went through costly financial proceedingss when ex wife, to whom he was married one year, tried to force the sale of the house which he had brought several years prior to even meeting her and to which she made no contribution at any point even though she was a high earner.
DIL started saying that she was not a bitch like my son's ex wife and that we obviously thought she was. We have no idea where this all comes from as we have never mentioned ex's name or ever thought she was anything like her. We were staggered as it went on and on. She said to me 'look at you, coming round here with aggressive body language bullying me.' Hand on heart I have no idea what she meant, I am a slightly built 69 year old and wouldnt know how to be aggressive if you paid me! Probably the hardest thing I ever did was just to stand there and talk quiety to her - I told her we have never compared her to the ex wife and that we liked her and thought she was a great mum. All this is true, we have never experienced the anger that is coming from her. I calmed her down and chatted to her for a while. After a while she went upstairs but returned to tell me that she had phoned my son and he was coming home from work. I couldnt believe it! Son arrived 30 minutes later looking extremely harrassed and said to us (me and hubby) that this couldnt continue and it had to be sorted out). He seemed unable to say much to her as she had her arms round him saying 'Darling, so sorry I had to drag you into this.' !!! She did a complete about turn and apologised for being 'short' with us (thats an understatement), however when I reminded her that it was hurtful when she was telling us to get out of the house, she looked quizical and started to backtrack saying thats not what she meant. It seemed obvious that my son was worried about upsetting her and thats why he was addressing his remarks to us. However, at some point he did tell her that she should not speak to us like that and we have always been mindful of her wishes and tried to help when possible. Well, it was hugs all round then and she asked me to return on Thursday and watch baby while she did some shopping. So I did, at the appointed time, She opened the door, told me to be quiet (!) as baby was napping. She then walked off upstairs and said nothing further. Feeling like a spare part, I found a book and sat reading in the conservatory until she came down 30 minutes later, told me baby was still napping, plonked the baby monitor own on the table and went out without another word.
She returned from shopping an hour and a half later and was still frosty. By this time it was 1pm so I said I would go home and get some lunch. She barely managed 'OK.' We have had no contact since but poor son is so concerned about it all - he wants us to all get on (we did!) and he sent a text that made me weep. Since he has been an adult, he has never been very demonstrative, physically or verbally to us but has always been a very kind and caring person, not just to us but to everyone. The text said how much he loved us both and thanked us for how we handled the situation and remained 'cool.' So, he knows what she has put us through but he also says she is not that bad with him, her parents or friends - he has no idea why she has singled us out for this treatment. OK, so she may have PND but does that make people spiteful and manipulative? If she wasnt the mother of our grandson, we would just not bother having further contact. To re-iterate, we have no idea why she thinks we might compare her to the ex wife. The problem is that it is in danger of becoming a self-fulfilling prophency. PLEASE, how can I cope with this. We adore our grandson and she has said she wont stop us seeing him, and my son has told us not to be too concerned about it, but then she might just go on the turn again. Before I retired I was in a job where I brought people together who were having disputes, and tried to get them to negotiate and agree. I'm failing here, obviously.....

Nonu Sat 19-Jul-14 12:16:39

LOUIS this is such a mess, I have no words but can only send a ((HUG))

louisamay Sat 19-Jul-14 12:34:35

Just to add, we have had no contact with ex DIL since 2010

Smileless2012 Sat 19-Jul-14 13:46:28

I am so very sorry louisamay this is a terribly upsetting situation for you to be in. My heart goes out to you and your hubby. We found ourselves in a very similar situation 2 years ago and unfortunately we were unable to resolve the problems which seemed to quite literally come out of thin air; the situation remains painfully unresolved.

I know some of the other posters on this thread have questioned whether your d.i.l. could be suffering from PND and this is a possibility but it's strange that she seems to have singled out you and your hubby and is OK with friends and her own family. I had PND following the birth of my second child. I was weepy, didn't want to see any one and was afraid to leave the house on my own. I only have my own experience to draw on, but I honestly don't think PND would make some one spiteful and manipulative.

You ask how you can cope, you just have to try and take each day at a time. I would suggest if I may, that you don't go round unless your son is there and that you keep 'phone conversations with her to a minimum, corresponding via text messages. If your intuition about her being manipulative is correct, you need to restrict if you can, her ability to do this. This may seem a little melodramatic but if your son is present and you have saved texts, you cannot be accused of doing or saying things that you haven't done or said.

There is very little you can do for now except have as much contact with your son as possible and of course with your d.i.l. when she is willing. I hope things settle down and in the mean timeflowersfor you.

louisamay Sat 19-Jul-14 14:18:10

Thank you Smileless. I did suggest to my son that we only go round when he is there but he doesn't want that. He says we need to try and resolve things but hasn't put forward any suggestions.

I haven't told him but just yesterday I managed to download an app to my phone which records conversations! It is brilliant and I have tried it out with a friend earlier - put the phone on record and popped it in a small handbag. The clarity is amazing. If only I had thought about this last week! Terrible to resort to this I know, but desperate situations sometimes require desperate measures. What do others think?

kittylester Sat 19-Jul-14 14:24:31

I am appalled that you would resort to that sort of thing whatever the provocation! sad

aggie Sat 19-Jul-14 14:25:51

The thought of recording makes me very uneasy

aggie Sat 19-Jul-14 14:26:51

two wrongs don't make a right ... so said my mum many years ago

louisamay Sat 19-Jul-14 14:27:25

She doesn't say anything contentious in texts or emails. And I don't think she will. I haven't had a text or email in the last couple of days which is very unusual. Until the problem started she would email/text regularly, and send little videos and photos of baby. Prior to the 'key' episode we always got on well. SO weird.
I am just so glad to have found this forum. Talking about it with friends and family makes me more upset as they get angry for me and that doesn't help, not really.

kittylester Sat 19-Jul-14 14:34:13

I don't understand what you want to prove by recording something?