Thursday, November 13, 2008

That's like bringing a knife to a gun fight

Why is it that family is like the sharpest knife, cutting the deepest wounds?

Tommorrow I am supposed to go to the MIL's Lia Sophia party.... BUT, last night we saw her at Target walking around with her boyfriends granddaughter, bent over talking all cozy with her. We managed to get in and get out with what we needed without even bumping into her. The kids were crushed to see their Nana- who doesn't make time to see them except a few MINUTES every 2 weeks or so- covorting with another little girl. Emma said, "Momma, it makes me sad seeing Nana with that girl... it's awful." John and I were so upset that our kids felt so hurt.

I wonder though, had I not made such a big deal out of it, what would the girls have said about it? I was just so mad and hurt on their behalf, I wanted to lay in to her right there in Target! Anna was supposed to walk with John to the electronic department but once I saw her walking with Steve's granddaughter I said nope, stay with me. Later I explained that I didn't want her to have to face her grandma with those raw emotions... Anna doesn't deserve to see her with another kid and have to try to swallow the uncomfortable-ness and tension, the hurt and anger.

We have told the MIL that we don't want the girls going out with her and Steve alone without us, or being over at her apartment with the possibility of them being alone with him. I don't know him and I refuse to risk anything, I could never live with myself. The problem is that when they were dating again (before he moved in with the MIL) almost a year ago, Anna spent the night. The MIL never told us that he might be coming over, even though she knows how I am about my girls being around strange men. After Anna came home from the sleep over I found out that the MIL had left Anna alone with her BF while she took a shower, etc. SO, I broached the subject with the MIL by saying that Anna should never be left alone with him, just to see what she would say. She said,"No, of course not."

She basically lied to me by not telling me that it had already happened, so right then and there I decided to put a stop to sleep overs since she has proven time and time again that she makes bad choices, especially when it comes to my kids. I also explained that the kids would not be over at her apartment- especially after he moved in- unless we were there.

More recently, about 2 1/2 months ago, she asked if she could take the girls shopping and reluctantly we said yes. She shows up to pick them up with her BF. I was at work so I had no idea, but John let them go, which I was kind of pissed about. She ambushed us with this, purposely because if she shows up with him, what are we supposed to say right?

She does this kind of thing all the time. I or John will lay down the law and later she claims she doesn't remember having that conversation. It makes me so mad! It reminds me of my mother... "I'm certified nuts so I can act like an idiot and not even try because I can get away with doing these things (and stop taking my medication) and not have to be accountable." ONLY her (the MIL) thing is, "You never said that, we never talked about this-OR- I don't remember you saying that." GRRR.

Anyway, Anna was supposed to go with me to the party, but now neither of us want to go and it's tomorrow. John said he's going to talk to her about it and let her know how hurt the girls were, but in the mean time I have to figure out what to say our reason is for not coming without lying about it, so as to not make a bad example for my kids.

I just can't tell you how hard it is to hear your 3 1/2 yr old say how "awful" it feels to be crushed by your own grandma. And how hard it is to hear your 7 yr old talk about how hurt and angry she is. I just want to "blow her away" verbally and be done with her sometimes. I want to knock that "knife" out of her hands forever, but John doesn't think that that is the right answer. I know it has mostly to do with the kids not having any grandparents, and Emma missing out (but isn't she already missing out?), and how uncomfortable things will be at family gatherings (like the last time we didn't talk to the MIL for 4-5 months after she threw a bucket of water in Anna's face)... I just don't know how to fix this.

How do you fix something with a person who believes she is always right , and never does anything wrong? This is exactly the dilemma I had with the egg donor, and exactly why I estranged myself from her. The MIL is so like my mother (the egg donor) sometimes, and it makes me angry that after divorcing myself from the E.D. that I still have to put up with pretty much the same.... STUFF.

Now I have to deal with not making a bad example for my kids by lying to get out of an uncomfortable situation.

And I am struggling with forgiveness as a Christian... But that's another load of dirty laundry.


Not So Anonymous Michelle said...

What a crappy situation, it's such a tough call. It's too bad that she doesn't admit when she's wrong and she lies and everything. Given how she is I am sure she would never be open to counseling but that would be nice if you could all get into some family counseling but my sense is that she doesn't see a problem in herself so it may not be possible to fix the situation. I think you're right to feel how you do about the boyfriend, I'd feel the same way!

Susie said...

Ohhh, I am sorry this is happening. Your poor girls. It is so hard to lay down the law with grandparents, but you are the parent, the one who is ultimately responsible for your girls' well being. Your rules aren't difficult to understand, and they shouldn't be difficult for her to follow. I wish I had some advice for you.

Jennfactor 10 said...

I may be speaking out of my *ss here, but here goes.

I absolutely support you in the restrictions you have laid down for your mother in law. You have cause and she has demonstrated terrible judgement.

I'm not sure she can be penalized for taking out Steve's granddaughter, though, if she doesn't really get to take out your kids. From her perspective, she doesn't "get" the distrust of Steve or anyone you have not vetted, and expecting her to live her life alone and pining for grandchildren will just make more drama in the long run for you. I'm not saying this well, but think about how she will flip this if you express your unhappiness about seeing her at Target.

As good as it would feel to vent, I would not give her the satisfaction.

Jenny Ryan said...

Oh man, I'm so sorry. Your girls are lucky to have a mom that takes such good care of them, and is such a good example of Being A Mom :)

Pamela said...

I wouldn't confront her with it either.

You can make your apologies that something has come up and you won't be able to attend the party.

And never let anyone shake your belief about protecting your children.

Marfa (Formula For a Life) said...

It seems to me that there's a lot more to this than what is said in this post. Of course, you as a parent have the right to decide who you allow around your children. You are the ultimate authority. However, I think its unfair to be upset with your MIL because she takes other children out. It seems to me, from what you've said, that she makes an effort to spend time with your kids too, but she's not allowed because she doesn't do it within the parameters of your terms. Maybe your children will be less hurt if you explain to them that their grandma is not ignoring them, but you don't allow her to take them out because she lives with a man that you don't trust.

Which brings me to my first question. Does your MIL have a history of allowing bad people, especially men, into her life? Also, what efforts have you and your hubby made to get to know this man and see if he is trustworthy? I understand your need to protect your children. But I haven't read anything in your post that leads me to think that your MIL is doing anything other than having a life with a man she cares about. We all want to have that.

I find impossible to say in this case that either side is right or wrong. It would be very interesting to hear your MIL's side of things.

I hope you don't get upset by my comments. I take posts like these very seriously and I try to show enough respect for the writer to really tell them what I think instead of sugarcoating my answer or not saying anything at all. Your post shows a lot of emotion and I respect that, so I'm giving you my honest opinion in return.

Mert said...

No Marfa, she doesn't make time to see her grandkids, and that is part of the problem... and one of the reasons why we get angry with her so often. Here is part of an email that I wrote a friend when she commented on this post:

"thanks for the input on the MIL. I totally understand what you are saying. it's not that she can't see the girls, and that we wont be around her BF, it's just that we don't want the girls with her (without us) when he is around without us because we know that there is a possibility that she will leave the kids alone with him... and even for a few minutes at a time is not acceptable to me. She is aloud to have us all over to her place, and she is aloud to come over, and bring him if she wants.

We have even let her take the kids out for small amounts of time, but she had to go and bring her BF along even though she knows this is against the rules.

Anyway, the point is that she can see the kids just on our terms, but she refuses to follow the rules. She doesn't come over, doesn't see the kids... she's always too busy cleaning her apartment. that's her excuse, "I would have you guys over but my place is a mess, I'm almost done...blah blah blah." This was an issue before dufus ever moved in with her. I would invite her over for dinner so she could spend some time with the kids and she would say "How about I just pick up the food and take it home with me... I'm so busy." WTF? One day I got so pissed about it I played her game and gave her a guilt trip and said, "You don't have 30 fricking minutes to eat dinner with your grand kids?" She doesn't have any problem buying stuff for the girls but you can't just show up with a gift then leave 8 minutes later because your shows are about to start, or you need to scrub your toilet. How ARE my girls supposed to feel about this?

To be honest, it has been happening ever since she moved out of our house, when Anna was 4, she's so used to it for the most part.

I would have her over for dinner, but she has complained to everyone that all I ever make is fattening food. Shoot, even when I make extra food she makes me feel like a jackass for offering her some of it. "Can;t you make just enough for your own family? Don't know how to just cook for 4? OMG, does that have cheese in it...?"

Just take the fricking food and say thank you... or don't take it and say no thank you.

OK, back to the kids...But honestly, she can see the kids whenever she wants and the fact that she lives 2 blocks away and only sees them when she decides to stop by after work for 10 minutes then has to leave "because she is so busy, has to clean, has laundry..." and she does this once every 2 weeks? Ten minutes every 2 weeks.

THIS is why my kids are upset. To see her being so familiar with this girl when she tends to ignore and talk over Anna, and fawn all over Emma.... It's just too much for Anna, and Emma is completely bewildered. I'm not blaming the granddaughter at all, it's not her fault."

And yes, she does have a history of picking less than desirable men... When my husband we 15 her new (2nd) husband (whom her kids HATED, and she knew this but she married him anyway)tried to make her kids hand sickle the yard because he was too cheap to to buy a mower (my hubby's siblings were 10 and 6 at the time)... The man tried make them again, and John refused and he left home. She made NO ATTEMPT to stop him, and John lived with his great aunts and grandma after that. Again, she made no attempt to bring him home.

Her next (3rd)husband , well my SIL told her that this jerk was touching her and and trying to get her to have sex when she was a young teen. My MIL refused to believe her, but recently my MIL admitted it could have been possible, and that she believes my SIL now.

My MIL also has a history of making very bad choices with my kids and so her ability to take them out of the house without my supervison is limited. Again, she can see the kids , but while we are with them, and she can take my oldest out for very limited amounts of time.

Here are a few examples: Before I had my 2nd child, she moved up from Texas. While living with us she took Anna with her to run errands on a 90 plus degree day...and later I found out she left Anna in the car while going in to get her dry cleaning... but she took her purse with her, so i told her -OH your purse is more important than your grandkid, you don't get to take her any where anymore.

Later, when Emma was 15 months or so, I came home to an oblivious MIL wtaching TV while I sat there from outside our window and watched my kids wrap a cord around her neck... I banged on the window when it looked like it was getting dangerous (with my husband) and it was for almost a minute... MY MIL lied and said she was about to get up to get Emma, and I screamed- I was standing there for a minute! She refused to admit anything.

Another time, she let my 6 yr old (my oldest) walk on a 12 ft embankment of very large and dangerous rocks down by the river... and sat there for 10 minutes with emma on her lap saying "you better get down, if your mom finds out you are doing this, we'll be in big trouble"... but never got up to actually remove my child from danger. She could have easily put emma in the stroller and gotten Anna down, but no... this went on for 10 minutes because she was too lazy to get up and deal with the situation. THEN she was dumb enough to tell me about it, I confronted her and said DON"T YOU EVER let something like that happen again, you get up and deal with danger or you'll never get to have them out with you again.

Yes, the MIL has a longgggg history of bad judgment.

BUT she is always welcome to see them here at my house, or as I said before the kids can go over to her place as long as john or I are there.

Also, as I had said many times before, she started her behavior of not seeing Anna before Emma was even born... only seeing her every 2 weeks for 10 minutes at a time.

I always accept responsibility when things are my fault. But I seriously don't believe we are at fault. We keep explaining why her behavior is not acceptable and she keeps saying "I don't see what the big deal is/ when I was a kid... ? I did the same thing with my kids and they survived or turned out fine...". Sure , your kids are fine if you count the fact that your oldest can barely stand you (my husband), your youngest MAY be a lesbian because she told you your husband was possibly molesting her and you did NOTHING, and your middle can only tolerate you in small doses.

Anyway... I have written many posts about her before and all of the past "stuff", so this river runs pretty deep... much deeper than a REALLY long response to your comment can ever do justice, but I sure did give it a whirl. I hope this answers some of your questions, and thanks for your comment! :D

Donetta said...

Hello, Just read your post and can so relate.
My people all passed away now.
I had to estrange myself from my own mother and others of dysfunctional life. It is well and good to keep the children away. I know how hard and painful it is. If she can not remember your boundaries...just think how she is tuned out of the moment any moment that could bring harm to your children. Blinders keep the truth from some so that they do not have to bear the responsibility of reality. Their own former reality as well as the moment in the now.
Use the wisdom you are and NO shame. I am so proud of you setting the boundaries. I told my daughter that you matter more than anything that could ever put you in harms way. She understood. The understand and are grateful. We too have the loss of grandparents. In everything there is a loss and a gain. You just have to count it and do what you believe is right. How wonderful to see you healing so well as to guard you kids. U do wish we would have had that in our childhood.