What do you do when you’re told by your live in Mother-In-Law that the reason she is moving out in six months is because you’re mean to her? Then when you ask for clarification, she tells you “She feels you avoid her” and “You have different parenting/discipline styles”. How that makes one mean I can’t fathom, but if somehow, it makes her feel better about it, should I even bother trying to discuss the matter any further?
We’ve been living together as a multi-generational family for 2 ½ years now. During the whole time, she regularly tells me about how wonderful parents her other son and nieces are while telling me that “I don’t spend enough time with my children” – what I get from those statements is she feels I’m a bad parent. She sees my interaction with my children from 3:00 pm until 6:00 pm Monday – Thursday, 12:30 pm until 6:00 pm Friday, and 8:00 am to 6:00 pm Saturdays and Sundays. Weekdays we do homework from 3:00 to 4:00 and then I take one of my children to gymnastics practice. I get home around 4:30 and we eat dinner at 5:00 – 5:30 generally, where she headed downstairs to her living area away from the family. She doesn’t see the time I spending reading, cuddling, playing with the girls everynight. I’m not a stay at home parent so I can’t ‘compete’ with her other son and nieces who are. I also don’t share my private family time on facebook like the nieces.
The avoiding may be true in some part as I’m finishing 6 credits to earn my college degree – I come home and do my homework while the girls are still in school in an office behind closed doors. I have been brought up if one doesn’t have anything nice to say to not say anything at all. When my mother-in-law tells me I should go outside and run with my daughter or take the dog for a walk, complains about my eating lunch (and how much it costs), what that translates to me is she thinks I’m fat. When she tells me I need to go do this and that, take the girls to this activity and cuts out newspaper clippings of things I need to do, I say not a word (though likely let slip body language). The concept that I’ve got my own schedule and plans around the girls’ activities just don’t seem to enter her thoughts or the consideration that my interests may be different than hers. Add to the mix how she seems to enjoy bringing up embarrassing history – her degrading opinions of my clothing styles, clothing color choices including my undergarments based on what she comes across in the dryer or what I wear / mistakes I’ve made over the past 20 years (I’m the first to admit I’m not perfect) over and over again / the snide remarks regarding attending church or volunteering. So yes, perhaps I do hide to some degree to limit those daily occurrences. I have plenty of stress in my life, I don’t need to be someone punching bag or lackey.
To be honest, I’m sure she doesn’t intend to be hurtful or come across as sanctimonious but that’s what I get from much of our interactions. So do I just let it continue on and let it go or spend the effort to try to show how I see things from my point of view?
Any thoughts would be appreciated.