September 24, 2007


  1. My mother-in-law is coming for a visit "in October." That's as specific as she's been.
  2. She has taken the entire month of October off from work. She did tell us that much.
  3. I've been hyperventilating ever since.
  4. She says she is planning to drive to see us. A drive from her house to ours would be two days for mad crazy college-student types who could take turns driving, or three days for an adult who wanted to eat and pee and sleep as well as drive.
  5. In the past, she has said that she doesn't think a visit under 2 weeks is "worth the plane ticket." I shudder to think what length visit is "worth" six days round-trip of driving, hotels, gas, and meals out.
  6. She says she is planning to stay in a hotel while she's here.
  7. It is my firm, unwavering belief that she said the hotel thing under the assumption that we would say, "Oh, don't be silly, of course you'll stay with us."
  8. That's what we said last time.
  9. Paul says we're not saying it this time.
  10. Later I brought it up again to Paul, and he said, "We are NOT asking her to stay with us, are you crazy?"
  11. This hotel thing has thus been decided by her and by him, but who do you suspect will get blamed for it? That's what I think, too.
  12. The nearest hotel is a 20-minute drive from our house, and it's $145 per night for the cheapest room. That's $2,030 if she stays her usual two weeks. There's also a motel 1 minute away, and it's the kind of place that has people sitting in lawn chairs in the parking lot, smoking cigarettes and drinking beer at 8:00 in the morning as children wait for the bus nearby. I don't know how much it costs. It seems like if I call and ask how much a room is, they might say, "By the night or by the hour?"
  13. I think it's really likely she'll show up here with no reservations made and then wait until about 10:00 at night to say, "Oh, what's a good hotel around here?" If she does that, I'm recommending the scuzzy place.
  14. One reason I haven't mentioned this hotel thing before is that I don't think she actually WILL stay in a hotel. I think she will work it so that she will "have to" stay with us. So I don't want to get all familiar and relaxed with the hotel idea.
  15. My parents gave me a gift certificate for cleaning services back when the twins were born, and I'm finally going to use it. I need to arrange this, and for all I know it could be too late already. But I don't want to set it up until I know when she'll be here, so I can have the house cleaned the day before.
  16. What kind of nutjob doesn't tell people when she's coming? Obviously we need to KNOW.
  17. Several times last month and this month she said she'd tell us as soon as she knew what her plans were. So I'd feel like an idiot asking. Paul says, "She said she'd tell us when she knew. So she must not know."
  18. She SHOULD know by now.
  19. It is seriously fruitcakey if she hasn't made plans.
  20. It's also seriously fruitcakey if she has made plans but hasn't told us.
  21. Oh god, do you think she hasn't told us because she plans to come for the entire month?
  22. Let's not think about that. Let's not even THINK about that. Let's think about the calm blue ocean instead. Calm blue ocean, calm blue ocean.
  23. Does she realize it's only one week until October? I CERTAINLY REALIZE IT.
  24. Is this a SURPRISE visit or something?
  25. BEEZUS CRIBBONS. It is not unreasonable for me to want to know when I am having houseguests. For the love of pete! (See how I am toning down my language? If I used the big guns now, what would I use when she's actually HERE?)
  26. I keep thinking I'll just email her. I'll say, "October is a week away now--do you know when you're planning to be here?" But whenever I've asked her a question, I've ended up sorry. She uses it as an opportunity to tell me what to do, or she gives me another information-free response, or she doesn't respond at all.
  27. In Paul's family, secrets are power.
  28. Have I mentioned he didn't introduce me to his family until after we were married?
  29. He made it seem like purely a logistical issue, but now I think he was smart as well as handsome.
  30. He's also a lucky son-of-a-bitch I didn't have the marriage annulled after I met his parents.
  31. Do you like how this list came out to 31, just like the number of days in October? Also, October 31st is Halloween! Ooooo, SCARY!


Flibberty said...

She's a master manipulator isn't she? Wow, I mean WOW! I think you should set up the house cleaning ASAP, because what if she calls you when she gets to your town or something and you have no notice? I mean, is that a real possibility? And why do men always get away with not worrying?

Mommy Daisy said...

Ok, #9 had me laughing hysterically. "Paul says we're not asking this time." Will that hold out? I'm thinking if he's given in before, then maybe not. I love the thought of her going to the crappy motel. HA!

Also, when she does come do you have a guest room? Or do you have to move everyone around to make a room for her? It seems like you've mentioned before that your rooms as full. Just wondering how that works. I can see her being the type that would take over your room while you slept in the living room on an air matress and not seem to mind inconveniencing you.

rachel said...

I say ask her when she's coming, and let any passive-aggressive irritations roll off you, because you can't control her, but you can try to control how you react and how much she affects your family. Then, if you really can find out when she's coming, (a) arrange the cleaning service and (b) make the hotel reservation for her. Then she has no manipulative out. You can play it like you were doing her a favor adn trying to make things easier for her. Okay, the drawback is I guess you will have to make it with your own credit card which means she might not pay (although you can pay with a different card than the one you've used to reserve), so that might not work. But--it might.

hello insomnia said...

Oh recommend the scuzzy place. Especially if it has one of those quarter-machines that shake the bed.

Artemisia said...

Oh, Swistle! Do you drink? I'd love to go shopping for a very cute flask, just for you. Really.

Devan said...

I have a bottle of Sangria in the fridge that is now doing me no good. I should mail it to you. Bless you.

I would email her and ask when she's coming. Tell her you have some things you'd like to do in October, or would like to plan things to do with her while she's there and you NEED TO KNOW RIGHT NOW.

Totally hoping that she's not planning to stay for the entire month. Yikes.

AndreAnna said...

You're nursing, right? So, that makes large quantities of barbiturates and vodka out of the question?

Beth Fish said...

Do you have time to move before she gets there? No forwarding address, naturally.

tulipmom said...

THis post hits so close to home I feel my blood boiling. I know all too well from the passive aggressive manipulative pretending not to have plans but really do in laws. Can you pick a random weekend mid month and tell her you're thinking of going out of town to visit friends (or having friends with kids visit you) but just want to confirm it won't conflict with her visit?

Anonymous said...

I think the scuzzy motel sounds like fun. That's where I'm staying when I come visit. I'm not telling you when I'm coming, though. You'll just drive by the scuzzy motel and there I'll be, sitting in my lawn chair. ~Laura

Modern Day Hermit said...

I can't stand my mother in law, luckily we don't speak to her anymore but I digress.

I used to let her get to me but for a while before we no longer spoke to her we turned her manipulative bullshit into a game for us. My husband and I would place little wagers on what she would do during a certain situation.

We would also let her fall into her own traps, boy that pissed her off!

Good fun! It was almost worth the pain and suffering to talk to her. Ha! Kidding!

There is a great book on Covert-Aggression by George K. Simon, it was a real eye opener that allowed us to take a more clinical approach to her bullshit. Not that she didn't get to us...but it was easier to see it coming.

I still get a little riled just thinking about her, even now.

I love the booking of the hotel for her.

Jess said...

I love your list, I LOVE IT. Also, as a little moral support here, SHE ISN'T COMING FOR THE ENTIRE MONTH. She just isn't. If she were, she'd be flying, right? Because a plane ticket only isn't worth it if you're staying less than two weeks. Right? Right?

Michelle said...

Calm blue ocean. CALM BLUE OCEAN.

Erin said...

"BEEZUS CRIBBONS" hahahaha!!!

But the rest of the list: not so funny. It's time to hit the Panic Button, Swistle. This is no laughing matter. I suggest stocking up on vodka.

bananafana said...

I would have a lawn chair and a pack of smokes waiting for her - just hand them to her with directions to the scuzzy place when she announces she doesn't have a place to stay. oh oh and a tall boy too (I don't care if she doesn't drink or smoke I just like the mental image)
i'm actually getting stressed out for you . . . ugh

Mary said...

I feel your pain...i think i would move if my MIL(to be) tried to come stay with us. Then again she only lives 15 minutes away. At least yours isn't a wedding coordinator...But still, my sincerest condolences!

Shannon said...


I get skeevy when my MIL stays ONE night and it turns into two.

Sara said...

"He's also a lucky son-of-a-bitch I didn't have the marriage annulled after I met his parents."


The Target furniture, was actually $50 per piece in the store, or like $47.85 or something weird, but we had to drive to 2 different stores to get what we wanted. We want to get one more book case and the end table though. My point is that the clearance is more expensive online.

it's weird how our whole living room changed in one day. :)

I'm with Devan, tell her you NEEEEEED TO KNOW RIGHT NOW!! (to plan fun family activities with Gramma of course)

mom of the year said...

HOLY HELLCAT! I am having a panick attack for you (literally). Might I suggest a quick call to your doctor for some Paxil or Zoloft or a damn horse tranquilier if need be? Maybe there is some type of surgery that you need that will keep you in the hospital while she's here? That's horrible, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Pickles & Dimes said...


She obviously knows when she's coming. If she arranged ahead of time to take work off, she knows her itinerary pretty well.

This is pure madness!

LoriD said...

I sense you getting a tad *shrill* - use that with Paul. His mother = he has to do the communication. If he's anything like my husband, he won't until you reach the peak of shrill.

OR you could call and somehow turn it around so it's you and MIL against Paul. "You KNOW how he is", "Oh yes, dear, I lived with him much longer than you have". You could bond in mocking him. Just a thought.

Shelly said...

She sounds horrible.
I'm now chanting, "She will not stay the whole month, she will not stay the whole month" for you.

Jennifer aka Binky Bitch said...

I feel kinda bad laughing at this post as hard as I am, since this is true pain/frustration/anxiety you are feeling. She IS seriously fruitcakey. It's the only answer to most of those questions.

Paul is lucky.

Tessie said...

Well, this is all intensely horrifying. It reminds me of some terrible version of the Prisoners Dilemma with the secrecy and the power plays and the possibility of being violently screwed.

On the upside, it is definitely not too late for the cleaning service.

jen said...

If she's anything like my MIL she will never ever bond with me over how clueless her son is because then she'd have to say something bad about her precioussss (and as much as I love him, he is very amusingly man-like.)

I hope she's not planning to stay the whole month. I also hope she doesn't call you midway to come and pick her up. I bet she's just messing with you. She'll come down for 3 days at the end of october, thus ruining the entire month for you. By the time she gets there you won't know whether you're coming or going and you'll have no fingernails left.

Okay seriously I'd sit on my husband until HE found out FOR me.

Oh, I am so acutely aware of #23.

Ami said...

De-lurking to say I love that you used the word "scuzzy".

Erica said...

1. Before we are married, I will introduce you to my dad. He's a giant goof-ball. His new wife is a raging she-beast who must control all who are within her reach. We don't socialize much with them.
2. My mom rocked hard core and you would have loved her.
3. Too bad we didn't get married BEFORE you married Paul.
4. Yay for the cleaning service! How nice to have someone else do it all for you. And you'll get to enjoy it for all of 5 minutes before the minions wreck up the place. And the best part is you won't be pissed because you just paid eleventy bajillion dollars for the cleaning job and it's RUINED ALREADY. You can, instead, say "eh, it was free."
5. I am prepared for the big guns, but "Beezuz Cribbons" made me snort with laughter.
6. I can have an "emergency" anytime during the month of October. Just let me know when she'll be there. You know, if she ever tells you.
7. What if you open your door one day and she's standing there?
10. Hrm. I totally copied your list thing unintentionally. I'm just cool like that, I guess.

Lauren said...

Have you considered lining those new plates with arsenic? I hear it has no taste....

Trina N. said...

Holy Crap Swistle. I am sweating over here for you. If I weren't pregnant I would go take a shot of tequila for you. I feel so sorry for you. It's not like you don't have enough on your plate.

I am curious, do your kids like her or are they afraid of their crazy ass grandma?

Katie said...

Oh, she is so totally staying at your house. Make sure you buy those special sheets (Hey! Do they make sheets laced with fiberglass insulation? Or, get crafty and make your own!)

Can Paul ask her about her plans? I definitely would NOT, if I were you. I would make Paul do it for sure. I think you should have a contest and we can all guess when we think she will arrive and when she will leave and whoever is closest wins!

I think she'll arrive Oct 12 (after making you stress out for almost two weeks) and stay until Oct 23. And, I think she'll tell you her plans on October 5. What a beeeyotch!

Penny said...

You must enlighten us more on how #28 went down.

I'm not a fan of manipulative relatives. I'm still in the "don't do squat" camp for your MIL visit. Also, perhaps you could one-up her by making some reservations FOR her at the motel and hotel. Heh.

anyjazz said...

My in-laws were like a family of loons. They usally kept their distance but it was the hooting in the middle of the night that bothered me.

JMH said...

My dear sweet is freaky how much your MIL reminds me of mine!!!

Here is what I think you should do. Starting TONIGHT have PAUL call her to finalize her plans. He needs to call her EVERY NIGHT until you have a firm answer. She is HIS mother and he should deal with it and not make you worry. He can use the excuse that the kids have many school/extra-curriculuar activites and they need to be scheduled. If she still won't committ to a firm date, Paul needs to tell her that she may be sitting in an empty house due to her lack of planning. (Then, if you need to, escape to Target every day as your "extra curricular" activity :)

Woman with a Hatchet said...

Swistle, I would recommend getting the cleaning service set up ASAP. I, too, received a gift of cleaning service for my twin shower (3 days until twins - eek!) and the first cleaning session took them SIX HOURS.

I know, sounds like my place was a wreck (yup), but they were also very, very thorough. I don't think there's any other gift that has thrilled me more. Well, maybe a professional grade camera lens, but....

Also, have you considered lining up assorted outings with the family? That way, you have places to be and if she decides to show up randomly and you're not at home, what a shame it would be for her to have to rot on your front step waiting for you to return! You shouldn't have to put your life on hold waiting for her to arrive.

Don't make it easy for manipulators to make you crazy. Drive them crazy back. "Oh! If we'd known you were getting in today we'd have been here! So sorry! Oh and tomorrow we have plans with X, and blah blah blah (museum/playdate/planetarium/zoo)." Don't make any rooms available for her, either, assuming you haven't already got a spare room in your house. That way, when it's time for bed you can casually ask what hotel she's staying at as you wave goodnight and escort the kids up the stairs.

But then, I'm really mean that way.

Good luck!

mamaDB said...

Oh Swistle. That'll ruin your whole month, not knowing when she's coming, and I LOVE October.

I say book her into that hotel 20 minutes away, just in case she doesn't. Then when she arrives, you can say you've already guaranteed her room for her. Heheh. Plus, she'd be 20 minutes away!

mamaDB said...

(regarding my last comment) of course, this all hinges on whether or not she gives you more than 24 hours notice before she arrives on your doorstep...

mamaDB said...

Ooooh, and don't call the cleaners until she gets to town. May as well make her feel guilty that she didn't get you a cool gift like your folks did.

Anonymous said...

I am dying laughing....with you, of course, not at you....
Seriously, like someone else crappy she's ruining your October, and I love October. MAKE PAUL CALL and I'm with Katie, let's start placing bets...I hate to say it, but I'm going with Oct. 3, and not leaving until Oct. 19.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, that previous post was
Jess in Nebraska,
(I really need to start my blg one of these days)

Marie Green said...

Whoa. Want to come and visit for the month of October?

I've never had a month long house guest (much less one with 5 children!), but I'm sure we could work something out. As long as you let me know WHEN you were coming and HOW LONG you were staying. =)

I like Erin's idea: Vodka.

Swistle said...

Mommy Daisy- We have a Rearrangement Plan: Rob could move to William's other bunk, and MIL could have Rob's room all to herself. BUT! I would need NOTICE so I could make it nice: put on The Good Sheets, put in some assorted reading material, air out the room a little, etc. You are RIGHT ON THE MONEY that she would like to take over our room. But even a wuss like me DRAWS THE LINE. She may not sleep in our room EVER. EVERRRRRRRRRRRRR! (And why would she want to sleep in her son's Marital Bed anyway? Ewwwwww!!!) I'll do my best to make her just as comfortable elsewhere, though. IF I have NOTICE!

Rachel- I think you're right about asking her, and I have to think of a good way to ask so it doesn't sound confrontational. (I keep being tempted to go into "Because a NORMAL person would have TOLD US...") But I can't see booking a room with our credit card. If she let us pay a $2,000 (or MORE) hotel tab, I would have to kill her in order to reimburse us with her life insurance.

Artemisia- I do when she visits! (Ha ha, but also The Truth.) I once even got a prescription for sedatives. But my usual methods are more difficult now since I'm nursing.

Beth Fish- Now that's MY favorite option: RUN.

Modern Day Hermit- *adding book to cart* (Is it called _In Sheep's Clothing_?)

Erin- I have orange and cherry flavors so far.


Mom of the Year- Two visits ago, I went on Zoloft before she arrived. Unfortunately I didn't allow enough time for it to kick in!

Time to put kids to bed. More comments-on-comments later!

My Buddy Mimi said...

I just had my MIL in town for a week, and as much as she gets under my skin sometimes, I think I appreciate her a little more after this post.

Hopefully the cleaning service will take an appointment with three days notice.

Omaha Mama said...

Oh my. Good luck dear Swistle. Good luck.

October is one week away, my 30th is looming like your MIL visit. Only I think I'll take a b-day over what you're about to endure.

Good luck.

Swistle said...

Sara- I want two bookcases, too!

Erica- I am definitely meeting any parental units BEFORE our marriage. I have LEARNED MY LESSON.

Lauren- SNORT!

Trina N.- They feel neutral about her. When she visits, she doesn't interact much with them. And she comes relatively infrequently (about every 2 years), so they don't know her very well.

Woman with a Hatchet- You have this ALL WORKED OUT! *taking notes* *adding 'hatchet' to the shopping list*

Jess in NE- You can also choose "Other" and then fill in "Jess in Nebraska" under Name (and leave the "Your Web Page" part blank).

Marie Green- HA HA!

Shannon said...

oh my. I'm stressed just reading this! With passive agressive people like that you just have to lay down the law. I know, easier said than done. But I agree with the person who said you need to tell her that you need to know because of "..." that you have are planning. Tell her you'd "love" to have her but if she doesn't give you dates right away then you'll have to ask her not to come this month. Either way you get what you want! :)

Daria said...

I think I see your problem, you have a rearangement plan that would give HER a room all to herself. That will only enable her to stay for the entire month of October. DO not be an enabler. When she comes to visit and around 10 'realizes' she forgot to get a room, offer to put her up on the couch, (if you feel bad about sending her to the bad motel). And alsways put her on the couch, she won't be able to stay for more then 3 nights with that sleeping arrangement ... OR is SHE pure evil and would relish it? So hard to tell with these passive aggressives. Maybe the floor then, saying you don't want to overuse the couch ...
Love the blog. Love the MIL stories.
(at least she never left you at her appartment while the building was filled with rat poison to kill of rats and stray cats, She of course would have gone off to stay with a friend while you vomited in the bathroom every 10 min of your weeklong stay)

T with Honey said...

Honey would like to thank you for making him feel not so bad about his mother anymore.
And how did Paul manage not to tell his family about the wedding? Very smart man.

Swistle said...

Daria- I once tried to room her with someone else. She told me that wouldn't work for her, she'd sleep in the living room instead. Since I didn't want her in my living room at all hours--Swistle 0, MIL 1. ...RAT POISON???

T with Honey- They knew about the wedding, but because we didn't want to invite them, we invited NO ONE and just got married with a justice (and his wife and sister for witnesses). So not only did he marry me safely before I met his family, he got away without having to dress up.

Flibberty- I am trying not to EVEN THINK ABOUT IT. But yes. I could see that happening. She would say it was because she didn't want me to have to clean just for her visit.

MadMad said...

Oh, honey. How are you not completely insane by now?! I am gasping for air, just reading this. You poor, poor baby. Run! (But when, right?). O.M.G.

Kelsey said...

Feeling a little queasy on your behalf. This is truly ridiculous. I don't understand people who function like she does.

My fingers are crossed for an unexpectedly short visit.

A Whole Lot of Nothing said...

Is there ANY way you could get yourself checked into a hospital for the entire month of October? You'd get free food, 24-hour care, and sympathy from the devil.

Woman with a Hatchet said...

Make sure if you pick up a hatchet that it is either good and sharp or that you get it professionally sharpened before use. You want to make sure you take care of any problems with one swift thwack!

Otherwise the problem will turn around and comment on your horrible swing technique, your dull blade, etc.

Oh and the handle needs to go clear through the head of the hatchet, so that you don't swing and have the blade come flying off. It'd be a shame to go from thwack to thud!


Cari said...


Jenny H. said...

Christ on a cracker! She has seriously fooked up EVERYTHING!


I am totally empathetic. My MIL is not like that, at all.


I am kinda skeert for you. Maybe you should come to Atlanta with Zoot? Yeah, that's the ticket!
It is roughly around the same time!

It would be TOTALLY work related!!

shoeaddict said...

I'd love to have y'all here!! Henry and that hat & Elizabeth & her boots make my uterus quiver. Paul has to stay and hang with his mom though because it's my firm belief that each person deals with their own parents.

I don't ask Luke to deal with my parents when they get nutty. I am not going to deal with his when they get crazy (they are ALWAYS crazy). I just think this is fair.

Plus, can't you "pump and dump"? And poor Henry, he prob needs to be a little sedated, right? I'm KIDDING!!

Swistle said...

Woman with a Hachet- HEEE! "Swift thwack."

Shoeaddict- I TOTALLY AGREE. Paul thinks the right way to "deal" with her is to ignore her. I find inadequate plan.

Welcome to our World said...

OMG this is my mother in law!? Seriously. MY MOTHER IN LAW. Do you think they make this model at some factory in China!? Made with lead and manipulation as an added extra feature?!

I put my foot down finally after we had our son and made my poor husband tell his parents they could no longer just "drop by" on their way down and back from FL. I needed a solid day of planning (cleaning and dusting and OMG the in laws are coming let me let that stink for 24 hours...)

SO NOW, I get an Excel spread sheet ... It is confusing and equally as annoying and I still am not sure exactly when they will arrive. FUCK!

Swistle said...

Welcome to our World- Manufacture them, hm. That would answer a LOT of questions. I've always wondered WHO among my peers was going to grow up to BE like my mother-in-law, since none of us seemed to be like that now--and yet they have to come from SOMEWHERE. A factory makes WAY more sense.

Daria said...

Yes Rat poison. My MIL lives in Russia (the angels sing while heavenly light spills from the clouds) in an apartment building (like most Russian ppl in St. Petersburg). Every once in a while whoever the hell does maintenance on the building decides there are way too many rats/mice/cats and decides to do population control. Usually a notice is posted on the door for a couple of days a month in advance about when this control will occure. Then on the stated day they put rat poison in the stairwells on all floors, basements, and airvents. The residents usually clear the building for the duration. We were visiting St. Petersburg and living with her. We had many options, like living with my grandparents, or his brother, but she INSISTED plus had extra room. The night before this extermination took place ( no one told us and the notice was obviously long gone) SHE got into a huge fight with her son and left the next morning for her house in the village without informing anyone. The next night I began throwing up anytime i entered the kitchen or bathrrom (those two werethe closest to the staircase and had vents in common with the rest of the building) This went on for about 4 days, I would be sick as a dog right until we would leave for the day (let it be noted that i never let illness keep me from going to the museum) Everyone joked that it was all in my head. Finally a few days before leaving we ran into a friend who lived in the same building and he expressed suprise that we were there considering the RAT POISON. The woman is evil. If she lived on the same continent I would divorce my husband before we had children. If he ever invites her to visit here I will move and take the kids. When she leaves iw ould tent the house and then hire a cleaning service before coming back.

Swistle said...

Daria- I got a HUGE THRILL from all that talk about divorcing before having children, and leaving him and taking the kids. When things are not-so-awesome between Paul and me, I sometimes think cheerfully to myself, "Well, if it ends at some point, at least I won't have to deal with my mother-in-law anymore!"

Daria said...

Oh I have so many MIL stories and I have spent only about 4 weeks TOTAL with this woman over 5 years of marriage. If I ever run out of those I have stories about my passive agressive grandmother and the hell she is turning this week into. The best part is that neither of these ppl speak english so I have a great release when I need it. Eureka! Invent your own language and teach it to a few friends you talk on the phone with, then let the MIL bashing begin while she is there.
Oh also if you want to visit CT for the last part of October, it's very pretty. Our boy is 3 and the girl won't get here until November. Would love to have you!

Pann said...

Oh, Swistle... I feel your pain. Loud and clear.

This MIL sounds "toxic". I have a book called Toxic In-Laws (for my husband) and another called Toxic Parents (for me!). As self help books go, these are fairly good.

Zoloft takes about 2 weeks to work, better get that Rx filled!!!

Swistle said...

Pann- *adding book to Amazon cart*

Jodi said...

oh, i hear ya.

This is me-