I am a new mother and would really like to hear the perspective of some grandmothers on my situation with my son's gran (my MIL).
Some background; after meeting in my home city on one side of the world, we moved to my boyfriend's country on the other about 10 years ago (his visa had expired, I was in my early twenties and was keen to see the world, and of course, madly in love!). My (now) MIL made it clear from the outset that she wasn't keen that he'd met a girl who would potentially 'take her son away' to live on the other side of the world at some point in the future (her exact words). I was quite taken aback by this and thought she was a bit full-on (I am close to my parents but they are very much of the 'we will support you in whatever makes you happy' variety), but I was young and didn't really give it much thought. Roll on 10 years and we still live in DH's country for various reasons, but the plan was always to return once babies came along (better education system, quality of life, and I have a big family with lots of cousins for DS at home - apart from also just wanting to spend some time with my own family after all these years!).
MIL and I have developed a pleasant relationship, if a little forced. I am always polite, welcoming, and often take DS to see her when DH is at work. She sees us at least once a week. Family holidays like Christmas are jealously guarded by her (we have spent one Xmas in 10 years with my family and with much guilt tripping involved on her part at the time) because she has no other family to spend it with other than BIL. Since then, I have not bothered to get DH to travel out to see my family at xmas as the months of 'poor me' from MIL were just not worth it. For a period of time, we moved a couple of hours away because I had been offered an amazing job contract in another city. She made me feel awful about moving; she said she felt my decision was just making life hard for DH and I, although I really do feel it was predominantly about us being further away. After a lot of passive aggressive behaviour following our move, I told her as calmly and politely as I could that I had found her disapproval and lack of support really upsetting and had sensed some animosity towards me ever since. She was tearful and apologetic, and said she she had just been concerned for us. DH works abroad a lot without the same level of disapproval. I very much feel that she can be supportive of DH's absences when it furthers his career (just not mine, so it would seem).
There have been numerous times where she has had me alone where she will get tearful saying she couldn't bear it if we moved and took her grandchild away. We were meant to move back to my country this year but this has been derailed by covid, and probably won't happen for another 2 years realistically. I am heartbroken this move hasn't happened, that my family and friends from home have never met my son because of travel restrictions, and that I gave birth half a world away from my main support network. It has been really tough, but I have managed. Despite being prioritised for 10 years and me being very inclusive of her as far as DS is concerned, my MIL continues to get openly upset about our future move and makes us feel that we don't spend enough time with her. I feel absolutely exhausted by the constant guilt tripping and her need to be front and centre in our lives for now and always. I understand her sadness about us moving, I really do, after all, I have lived away from my own family for 10 years. I feel like she is completely unable or unwilling to see it from my perspective, or to understand that I also have parents who feel exactly the same way as she does about their daughter living abroad (they just don't behave the way she does). She has plenty of friends and hobbies, but no partner, and no family besides her sons. Her ex husband, FIL, left her for another woman many years ago and she has never really recovered. She is a woman that gave everything to her husband and boys and was then very poorly done by. I feel very sorry for what happened to her, as do her sons, but I definitely feel that she has embraced this victimhood because it allows her to guilt others into doing what she wants. Her other son is single and feels very responsible for her, and is, unhelpfully, totally indulgent of her guilt trips, often reminding me how devastated she'd be if we moved. He's also said he feels his choices to live elsewhere would be limited by us moving because he feels he can't leave her by herself. I understand his feelings, but surely the main problem here is his mother's expectations, rather than us?
She would never emigrate with us and would probably visit infrequently when we move. The trip is very long, but she is in excellent health and we would cover the cost of her flights and additionally make the trip ourselves once a year. She could stay for as long as she wanted when she visits. But she doesn't want that. She wants us all to herself, completely on her terms.
The rational part of me knows that I need to do what is best for me and my family. This year has taught me that I need the support of my friends and family in my home country while I raise my little ones, but I find this guilt tripping absolutely gut wrenching. I am a people-pleaser and I hate the thought of anybody being this upset because of me. DH feels sorry for his mother, but seems able ignore her guilt trips most of the time and will deflect difficult conversations. This has meant a lot of the tough conversations have had to come from me and often at her instigation when she feels she has got nowhere with DH. I know it's a DH problem too, and we've come a long way on this. But it is also my problem; how can I learn to stop feeling guilty about his mother's problems and make the best decisions for me and my family? This honestly is taking up way too much head space.
What do you grandmothers think? Are her expectations as unreasonable as they seem to me? How can I convince my MIL that she will always be welcome and included in our lives, but that I want to start prioritising my child, and dare I say it, myself?
Herbie15 Fri 05-Feb-21 17:24:10
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Herbie15 Fri 05-Feb-21 19:53:53
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NellG Fri 05-Feb-21 20:11:47
Smileless2012 Fri 05-Feb-21 20:15:45
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