Monday, July 6, 2009

Can you feel that cold breeze?

I don't even know where to start.

We had a visit from my IL's last night. I dreaded it all day. I was quiet and withdrawn. Visits from them are not usually all that enjoyable for me - I always have my guard up, waiting for snide or snarky comments. And last night was no exception.

First there was a *comment made that my MIL has noticed quite a few pictures on Ruby's blog (I have a blog just for Ruby) that have beer bottles in them. Immediately the hair went up on my back but I didn't say anything because I wanted to look back on Ruby's blog to see if I was posting pictures of her with beer bottles in the background that I hadn't even noticed. I looked this morning and there was a camping trip back in MAY where you can see that people are indeed drinking beer. Namely, Steve's brother (not that it matters, we drink beer once in a while, it doesn't make us bad people). And there is one picture of when Steve, Ruby and I went on a little mini-vacation and she is on my lap and there is a glass of beer on the table. That's it. So why the comment? Why did she feel the need to say that?

The next thing was when I was trying to feed Ruby. We still struggle with the solids occasionally. Right now it's because Ruby thinks the spoon is a toy and she grabs it and wants to play with it instead of eat and it's hard for me to get food in her. So last night she was doing that while I was trying to feed her and my MIL said, "Tara, I really don't think she's hungry." Meanwhile, they're making faces at Ruby behind my back to make her laugh while I try to feed her. I am already struggling with feeding my baby, I don't need them to make it harder and then comment that suggests that I wouldn't know enough if Ruby was hungry or not. But she would know???

Later, my FIL asked, "What are these Negro books you are reading to Ruby??" Whaaaa? It took me a few minutes to figure out what the fuck he was talking about, but then it clicked: about TWO MONTHS AGO I **tweeted that I had read a page out of "The Book of Negroes" to Ruby. So I explained to him that that is MY book and I was just reading out loud to entertain her one day. My MIL says, "Is that a children's book???" When I told her that it isn't... she gave me the old "raised eyebrows" look. Oh fuck off already! And this was after I had already told them that I read to Ruby a CHILDREN'S BOOK every day. Just that one day, I read from my book... Gah! I shouldn't have to explain!

There was no recognition when we told them that I had taught Ruby to sign "milk". Ruby even did it when they were here - but they just ignored that. I don't think they really believed that that's what she was doing - even though after she signed "milk" I showed her a bottle and she got so excited she squealed and signed, "milk" "milk" "milk" over and over again until I fed it to her. They just ignored that little achievement.

By the time they left I was emotionally fucking spent.

So today, I brought up my feelings with Steve. Didn't go over very well. He is so protective of his mother it makes me want to punch his teeth out. He said, "That's my MOTHER!" Yeah, but what about me??? I'm his wife and the mother of his daughter, yet he thinks NOTHING of his mom treating me like that. He said, "She was just passing comment." YES! EXACTLY! And who is she to comment on anything?! I tried to tell him that when you work so hard to be a good mom and you try to do everything right for your baby - to the point of being emotionally and physically exhausted at the end of each day, it is very hurtful for someone to come into your home and start making comments suggesting that you're not doing things good enough, or not doing things right, or could be doing things differently or better... But it doesn't sink in.

And what's more frustrating is how difficult it is to get Steve to talk to me about any problems. He just goes quiet and won't engage with me. As I was talking he just started emptying the dishwasher and ignoring me. He did say that he knew this would happen because I act like this every time his parents come to visit. Because you know, it's my fault for feeling upset after being disrespected??? His "solution" was that this will never happen again because he won't invite them over again, and we will never go there again. Right. That's a great way to solve the problem. He will say ANYTHING to make an uncomfortable conversation stop.

Lift up carpet, and sweep....

Maybe it wouldn't have been AS big of a deal for me if it didn't happen EVERY time we see the IL's - maybe I've become overly sensitive about it. 9 years of someone "just passing comment" can make a person a little bit sensitive.

And maybe it wouldn't have been AS big of a deal if I still felt like Steve cared about me or my feelings - instead I feel like nothing more than hired help. There is no appreciation, and not much love directed at me lately. I feel really alone. I've been doing everything with Ruby lately. I do all things related to her - bottles, solid feedings, diapers, baths, naps, entertaining, reading, teaching etc, etc, etc. He does as little as he can get away with. Sure he loves her like crazy but he doesn't help me with her if he can get away with it. I feel really alone right now. I feel like I live with a roommate that I cook and clean for. And it breaks my heart. And it makes me really feel hurt and defensive and on my own when insult is added to injury and my inlaws visit and make ignorant comments about everything.

What can I do? He won't talk. He REFUSES any form of counseling. He ignores me half the time if he doesn't like what I'm saying. He won't discuss his parents behavior with them. I'm not even sure how he feels about it because he won't discuss it with me. Hell, I'm not even sure how he feels about ME.

Usually when this happens, if I don't just start acting happy and pretending nothing is wrong (sweep, sweep), it could go on for days. I am the only one who can fix anything and it's by acting like nothing ever happened. So basicly it's up to me on how long I want to suffer in a quiet and cold house.

*Imagine the comments "passed" in a strong, Northern England, British accent.

**My twitter feed has been promptly removed from my other blog since they read it and fucking obsess over it and "pass comment" a little too often. I'm pretty sure they don't know any other way of viewing Twitter feeds.


Emily said...


G's solutions to problems are usually something like: "Well, we'll never go there again, or don't worry you won't have to see them again."

I love how they don't get that we have FEELINGS. They just want to make the problem go away, not acknowledge and understand that there may be no solution to the problem, you just want him to LISTEN to you and validate your feelings!

Not cool on the inlaws. I think that comes with the territory though... doesn't mean you have to go along with it, and Steve should be siding with you!

Emily said...

Ugggg - Tara I'm so sorry you're having to deal with this. I think there are two really different issues here and they're feeding each other. First off its the issue with Steve not treating you like an equal and not acknowledging how much you are doing every single day - without help and without thanks. He needs to step up. I have no idea how you get him to step up (every guy is so different) though. I do know that you need to make sure this is addressed FOR YOU.

I think if Steve was making you feel appreciated and like he sees you as the kick ass mom you ARE, the in-law's comments would have rolled off your back (or grated slightly but not gotten to you IYKWIM).

You deserve a partner in parenting as much as you deserve a partner in your marriage. If Steve won't go to counselling can you have some sessions to deal with how you're feeling?

Huge hugs to you.

Alicia said...

Again, this is why I thank my lucky stars that Harry's mom is in a nursing home. Harsh, yes? But if I had to deal with crap like this, even once a month, I would probably be divorced. Sad but true. My ex-husband would let people say shit about me all the time, and it was part of the reason why our marriage finally ended. I kept thinking, "Do you even care? Does it bother you, even just a little, that my feelings have been hurt? Do you agree with these people?"

I don't know what to say, Hon. Going directly to the source (MIL and FIL) is most likely a bad idea. They'll get all huffy and offended, and Steve will get all pissy too. It's not fair. You shouldn't have to feel like this.

If we lived closer, my husband would give Steve a stern talking-to. Nothing bothers him more than a husband and father who doesn't do his equal share and make his wife feel important and loved. It's a major thorn in his side.

annacyclopedia said...

Oh, dude! That sounds bloody awful! I don't know what I would do if my MIL was that nasty. (She sometimes says stuff to piss me off, but she has dementia, so at least I know she has a pretty good excuse for not having the usual filters. But I have a feeling I'm going to get a bit more vocal about her comments once I have a baby and am sleep-deprived and stressed as you are.)

I'm wondering if there's a way to communicate this to Steve that doesn't make him shut down. Manny tends to do the same and gets very defensive when it comes to me criticizing or even remarking on his family's patterns. And on any other big stuff, too - if I'm trying to talk to him about something that makes me emotional, he just glazes over and I can actually see the steel shutters being pulled down. Our solution has been to communicate in writing - it helps me to get clear on what I need to say (eg: "that I need you to stick up for me and show me you're on my side" rather than "I want to slap your mother"), and it helps him to hear me when he's not confronted with my emotional avalanche. And it gives him time to process his own emotions before he needs to respond - something that is huge for him, since he tends to just freeze when I just put him on the spot about anything emotional.

Just suggestions. I also saw a really good-seeming book at the bookstore over the weekend - I'd T.rade My Husb.and for a Hou.sekeeper: Loving Your Marr.iage After the Ca.rriage. I just flipped through it briefly and decided not to get it since it's a bit early for me and I honestly had the thought that I'd be jinxing myself by anticipating marriage trouble post-baby (who the hell do I think I'm kidding? It happens to everyone!). But anyway, it might be worth checking out.

I have no answers but I'm sending you huge hugs and strong hints to the Universe to bop your man on the head with a bit of insight. There has to be a middle ground between tolerating all your ILs subject you to and cutting them off completely.

Just Jen said...

Ah... I can totally picture the two of them! All that was missing was the British accents!!!

I find it truly amazing how often we are exactly the same in more ways than one.

Not sure if what is happening here is because both of our husbands are the 'baby' of the family and they still feel as though they are attached at the tit or what. Almost like he owes them something. Not sure if it will ever go away?
I do notice that it's easier to keep my mouth shut around them, and do not go out of my way for them like I used to. Last visit they were here I was told to get the scowl off my face, but it just happens! I know that they are just old-- and I am tired of 'fighting' for attention while they are around. Shitty thing is, now that we have their grandson, they want to be around more often.

I can relate to the roommate thing, and I wish I had an answer for you, but I don't. I just hope that each day gets better, with an effort from both parts (as much as I want to scratch his eyes out most days).

It sucks. Hope things get better!

PS... Your blog's new look is great BTW!

eden said...

Oh my God, they weren't "passing comment" they were passing JUDGEMENT.

Arseholes. Seriously, I hate people like that!

One day, your hubby will see exactly what you see. Until then, my friend ... good luck. And bunker down, emotionally, next time they come. I find when I expect other peoples bad behaviour, it doesn't side-swipe me as much when it happens.


noswimmers said...

UGH...what IS it with MIL's passing judgement?? Its like no one can ever be good enough for their little boys. And God forbid you do something different than she would do. Sometimes I think they want us to fail, just so they can say "told you so!". :p

Ugh. Sorry you have to be dealing with this.

Love the new blog look, by the way!

Somewhat Ordinary said...

I meant to comment the other day, but didn't log back on. I totally feel for you and can relate to psycho in-laws and their defensive son.

I'm also going through the partners in parenting issues as well. The difference with men is that if they do one thing they think it is enough-they should get some gold star for their efforts. M will do something like pick him up from day care once a freakin' week and if I say "You never do anything..." he rebuttals with the one or two lame things he actually does do (on occasion that is). I really hope things start to get better!

Femme au Foyer said...

I get the comments and the advice too. Sometimes I even follow said advice and love nothing more than to point out their failings when the advice backfires. For example, from the time he was 2 mths old I was strongly encouraged to start Little Husband on solids. No matter how many times I mentioned that it was against our pediatrician's advice, I was told to try solids. I finally got him on solids when he was 6 mths old and he promptly lost weight. Given his medical history, this was a big deal. Thankfully, everyone has backed off in that respect, but it's still annoying. It's annoying to have people waltz into your house when your baby is crying and tell you--based on no information whatsoever--what's wrong with your child. As if they have a clue! I feel for you, though. There's nothing worse than being emotionally and physically tired and having to deal with all that. It is *exhausting* taking care of a baby all day. I know that you've since worked things out, but I think you out to go on a trip with some girlfriends and let your husband take care of Ruby. Perhaps he'll gain a better appreciation and respect for what it is you go through on a daily basis.

Femme au Foyer said...

Oh, and your hair looks fabulous!