Thank you all for taking the time to read and respond to my long post. My dd is the first grandchild on both sides and everyone lives nearby.
Please help me understand where my parents-in-law are coming from. They seem to be territorial of dd against me which in turn has made ME feel territorial around them. I'd rather it not be this way and looking for ways to improve the situation.... It is as if they see dd as “theirs” and me as merely an incubator. For example, they take hundreds of photos of dd with themselves, eachother, and their sons, but none with me or their other DIL. And, according to them, everything about dd comes from their side of the family. She’s a spitting image of DH, which I tell them frequently btw, except for her eye color which looks exactly like mine. When they noticed her eye color wasn’t the same as DH’s, they were confused. DH said dd got her eyes from me and they tried to argue that no, she still got that from them (what?? none of them have that color LOL). In general, any personality or physical trait that someone suggests might resemble me they argue that no, it actually comes from them. I once posted an album on Facebook of 20 photos of dd. Only one of those photos was me with dd. I’ll let you guess which photo was the ONLY photo MIL and FIL didn’t “like”. When I was in labor/just given birth, it was so obvious that dd was their only concern that even my nurse said something in my defense.
When dd was going through separation anxiety from me, which was totally normal for her age, they would try to deny that she wanted me. If she chased me to the bathroom, MIL would say she was actually chasing FIL to the kitchen. When DH said that dd misses me when I’m gone, they both chimed in “she doesn’t care about anonymous44 when she’s with us”. When we were on vacation, and dd followed me into our room to unpack instead of staying with them, MIL followed yelling at DH “SHE IS YOUR CHILD TOO” (Of course she is, why does dd wanting her momma make that an issue?). Once, when I invited MIL to surprise DH at his work for lunch (was trying to include her and build a relationship with her), she sternly told DH to “grab dd!” out of my arms because I see her all day and he doesn’t. After this instance, I asked DH if I give him the impression that he would need to “grab” dd out of my arms in the tone that MIL suggested in order to hold her? He said absolutely not, I’ve never kept dd from him and he doesn’t know why his mom said that. There have also been times that both MIL and FIL just walk up and take dd out of my arms without even saying hello to me. I suppose I should speak up in the moment when this happens, but I am usually so taken back and also don’t want to overreact. It’s also something that might not bother me if I felt more respected as the momma by them in general.
Another time I brought dd to one of MIL’s public events solely to be supportive to MIL (DH chose to stay home). MIL wanted to introduce us to her acquaintance. She introduced dd but forgot (or so I thought) to introduce me. No problem, that happens sometimes especially with proud grandmas. So I introduced myself. MIL, who could've said nothing, said something that meant people don't care about me now that I have a child and I should not have bothered introducing myself (not giving the direct quote in the interest of maintaining anonymity). To be clear, what bothered me was MIL taking ownership of dd and choosing to exclude me ( if it was DH there instead of me I guarantee she would've introduced him). Also the fact she intentionally made a hurtful comment. Many other things like these but I think this post is long enough. I know some of this sounds petty, but it adds up like death by a thousand paper cuts.
In addition to this (what feels to me like) territorial behavior against me, they are clingy and obsessive over dd in general. They all but shove DH+I out of the way to get to dd anytime we visit. Since she’s been born, and it’s been years now, they seem unable to do anything other than try to get dd’s attention if she is in the vicinity. FIL frequently follows her around like a puppy dog and can’t keep his hands off her. My blood still boils when I think of the time I was helping dd walk on some rocks and FIL grabbed her away from me saying “that isn’t a very good idea anonymous44” and then took her off to walk on rocks away from me (what happened to it not being a good idea??). Does he think I would let my own daughter fall but he wouldn’t? Or the time dd was crying reaching for me and FIL would not hand her back to me. Physically wouldn’t take his hand off her back and told me “no”. I pried her out anyway, but why does he think it’s okay to keep my crying baby from me? DH has asked him to back off but he seems to struggle with doing so. If he ever stops, MIL takes the reins hovering over whoever is holding/interacting with her, or literally pushing her cheeks onto dd’s while she plays or interacts with someone else. Two of DH’s aunts on different occasions have told MIL “OMG get out of her face!”, because she just wouldn’t back off. Back when dd was an infant, I couldn't do anything with her without MIL's constant masked criticism "she's nursing AGAIN?" "She's STILL nursing?" "OMG you're hurting her!!" (burping her). "Why is she wearing two onesies, she's probably hot" "She's probably cold". Gahhhh why couldn't we just hang together as a family and not nitpick everything I do with my baby??
Once, my parents invited MIL+FIL and us to their house for a meal. MIL + FIL took turns entertaining dd in the spare room away from everyone else. I asked DH afterwards if I wrongly perceived the situation and he said “no” he noticed it too, and just didn’t know what to do in the moment. I said if my own parents did that I would’ve taken dd from them and told them to let other people spend time with her (I’m not talking out my butt here, because I actually did something similar with my own mother one time). My MIL has also made comments multiple times about how she’s going to be “the favorite grandparent”, once right in front of my mom (!). That attitude just rubs me the wrong way.
It’s so weird, because my ILs are normally nice people. I used to think of them as second parents and I though the feeling was mutual. I am hurt by how they’ve acted with me since dd was born and during her birth (basically--you're not needed now, get out of the way and give us that baby). I also feel threatened by their obsession/ strong feelings of ownership of dd in combination with seeming to have little regard for me as her mother. They also aren’t great with DH as the father, but at least they treat him like he’s the older brother so he’s still important. It feels like, if given the opportunity, they would make dd think that I don’t love her as much as they do or try to make her love them more than she loves me (and I know love can’t be quantified and all that, just trying to describe an emotion). Heck, I think they would be glad if I died and they had dd all to themselves.
In the beginning I thought maybe they were acting like this because they were insecure—its stereotypical that paternal grandparents get shafted. And since we live a little closer to my parents (although we live quite close them both sets really) I was worried this might be the issue. So I tried the kill-them-with-kindess route. First Mothers’ day, Fathers’ day, sleepover visit—all with my ILs not my parents. For the first year of dd’s life we saw them almost every weekend (never more than 2 weeks without seeing them), went on 4 overnight trips with them, and saw them for every major and minor holiday. I actually spoke with my parents to let them know I wasn’t forgetting them, I just didn’t want my ILs to worry about being left out. I would also just grin and bear it anytime they did something (in my opinion) wrong or hurtful. Said nothing to DH about how bothered I was until dd was 6 months old--was hoping it would die down as she got older and perhaps I was just hormonal. But, none of this worked. If anything it just fed my IL’s sense of entitlement to dd. Unfortunately this also led to me becoming resentful-I was making a conscious effort to be good to them, why couldn’t they reciprocate? At this point, I feel that my compassion, kindness, and understanding with them has been drained. I am bothered with things I wouldn’t be with other people because of the hurt/whatever negative emotion you want to label what I’ve described. I wish this wasn’t the case and I welcome ideas to help this. I’ve also tried suggesting DH speak with them which is how I handle issues with my own parents, but he is apparently unable or unwilling to be direct with them.
Grandparents, any ideas on what could be going on and what I can do to fix it? Whether I'm in the wrong for feeling this way, they're in the wrong for acting this way, or some combo, there must be something I can do. I miss my old parents-in-law pre-grandchild, I hate feeling like I was just an incubator to them, and I hate feeling like they want to take dd away from me. The mama bear feeling whenever they are around dd is so unpleasant and nothing I ever imagined I would have with them. And as much as I feel hurt and threatened by their behavior, I don’t wish to hurt them by pushing them away.
One thing that may or may not be relevant is that I will not allow dd around FIL without our supervision. This is due to his making multiple creepy comments about dd in addition to being very physically clingy to her despite our requests that he give her space. We did let them babysit in the first year but as she got older and he got worse, I was no longer okay with it. I wrote out a description of the comments and details about concerning behavior, but then I realized they would give my anonymity away because they are so unusual. I know it sounds like I am overreacting, and I even think to myself surely he can’t actually be acting this weirdly. But, some of the things he’s said there is no room for misinterpretation and I won’t leave my daughter alone with someone who has those feelings about her. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have a good relationship all together while we are chaperoning. (Yes I would let MIL alone if I could guarantee FIL wouldn’t be there.)
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