Thursday, July 7, 2022

the post I shouldn't write about my mother in law

I've been in some kind of funk lately. There is a lot going on; my husband is working long hours (he's doing four 10s, so he gets Friday off which is awesome but I'm doing bedtime all by myself four days a week). I did not receive a series of texts from my mother inviting me to lunch causing her and I much confusion. I have to start homeschooling again and I don't know how I am going to fit it in. How did I fit that in? 

I have felt lonely. Probably everyone struggles with loneliness at some point in their life, we are ghosts in a shell to steal that term, and humans are fickle and selfish. Loneliness can be selfish too. All my friends are busy moms! I'm a busy mom! It's HARD. I am alone most of the day, alone with my children which can be a special kind of endurance exercise. Just as there are amazing moments of reading books, seeing them wonder and explore nature, there are also days full of tantrums (I have my own kind of tantrum lets be honest here I am not solely blaming the toddler) and sickness, days with stress and over-the-top feelings and just days where I am done by 8am but its raining so we are all stuck inside. I wouldn't trade this for the world, but that doesn't mean I love it 24/7. I mean, I chose this! I chose to be a stay at home mom. My husband and I chose these roles for ourselves and it is good. But is is also hard, like I said above.

I have talked about my mother in law here a lot on my blog early in my marriage. I didn't understand her. I tried to please her in every way I could. I still don't understand her! I have tried to be courteous but also stand up for myself. I have tried to be firm on my boundaries but also be a person she could be human around. After 7 or so years of trying to please her, I decided to quit. I stopped letting her come over. I stopped letting her come between me and my children and between me and my husband. I wish I had prayed more (I did pray some) and I do have regrets, but I honestly tried as hard as I could to be someone who she could love. 

But I have always felt guilty over shutting her out. I didn't know what to do; it was a last resort decision my husband and I made. What else could we do? We do see her at church since she attends the same church as us. I see her more than I do my own mother (who works) even with cutting her out of our lives due to...a list of things I could make! She has disrespected ourselves and our children and always tried to undermine our parenting and our pasts. She and her husband did not attend our wedding and even after marriage asked my husband to divorce me. She became only interested in my children when I birthed them, and always seeks to make herself the center of attention. She lies, and slanders my name to her family, and is always giving me unsolicited advice. She contradicts my parenting in front of my children. It is baffling. 

Since those times, almost three years have passed. I have had a lot of time to think. And ponder and try to understand. I do understand a lot better now. I hope I can take what I have learned and be a good mother in law if my children ever marry, due to what I have seen and learned. I don't feel guilty for cutting off mother in law visitation anymore. I now realize she is a bitter, sad person who has chosen this path. I can't change her, but I can choose who I allow and don't allow around my children.

I think Ruth says it best in Ruth Hall "your grandmother is an unhappy, miserable old woman. She has punished herself worse than anybody else could punish her. She is more miserable than ever now...she might have made us all love her and help to make her old age cheerful but now unless she repents, she will live miserably and die forsaken for nobody can love her with such a temper."

For a long time I struggled to forgive my mother in law for all the pain and contention she brought to my marriage, instead of joy, love, honor and trust. I forgive her. She chose not to have dinner with us. She has chosen not to watch my children so my husband and I can have a date. She chose bitterness, strife, envy, anger and resentment as bridal gifts for me, and I will only return them with love and peace.

The thing I have been laughing about the most is something she said recently in bible study. She said her own mother (who is 94 and still alive) stayed with her for 6 weeks when she had her first child (who is now my husband) and she cried when her mother left because she didn't know how she was going to do it on her own.

It stuck deep. I would have given anything to have her there to help me when I was struggling so much during the first 6 weeks of postpartum when I had Reuben. My own mother was working, and my younger sister had just had a baby as well, and my mother was busy helping my sister when she could between work (my sister is a single mom). My husband had only one week off when I gave birth. I had no idea what I was doing and I really needed help. 

I don't think my mother in law even brought us a meal. She came over once and was so upset that I was breastfeeding, she said it was too sexual and gross. I cried when she left. All I was trying to do was feed my baby in the privacy of my own home, exhausted and sore from birth. I'm sure she didn't know what her words meant, but maybe she did. Maybe it was bitter words from her heart because she was not able to breastfeed, even though I have never shamed her. 

She never asks how I am doing. I have asked her out to coffee several times, desiring to get to know her better, and she has declined each time. 

The circumstances don't matter. I want freedom from this.

Every six months or so she makes me feel sorry for her so I try to do something...and it always backfires. Never again. I am free. And so is she.

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