October 12, 2009

Think of Her as Kevin Federline

This visit, I've had an insight into my mother-in-law's behavior. By profession, she works in a home for adults with severe developmental disabilities. I think this has given her an inflated sense of her own intelligence and competence. I think it has also given her certain habits of interpersonal behavior (i.e., telling adults what to do) that have carried over inappropriately into other, non-work relationships. And then let's say that first one a second time: I think it has given her an inflated sense of her own intelligence and competence.

I would also like to take a minute to speak badly of her former husband, my father-in-law. He doesn't get much press time because he's absent, and there aren't many good anecdotes about absence. One reason I put up with my mother-in-law is that as much as I dislike her, I approve of what she's doing: she's regularly traveling a long distance at considerable expense in order to visit her grandchildren. We never visit her, so she comes to us. I may feel like drugging her tea, but I like the concept of her visits, and I hope that if I drive my future daughters-in-law batcrap crazy (and I think statistically it's likely to happen with at least one) they will nevertheless support the concept of me visiting my grandchildren. And I hope I'll drive them nuts more in the "buys WAYYYYY too much crap we don't want or need" category rather than in the "rolls her eyes and does jazz hands until homicide seems like a viable option" category.

My father-in-law, on the other hand, hasn't ever visited. We let him know about each child's birth, and he doesn't respond. I send a packet of photos every month, and he doesn't respond. I send periodic email updates on how we're doing and how the kids are doing, and he doesn't respond. I send an annual Christmas package (this is something I go back and forth on, also annually) and he never responds. The only time we hear from him is every couple of years when he emails me to tell me about his journey to find himself, and to place blame on everyone and everything except himself for his inexplicable behavior (it was a childhood brain illness! it was his upbringing! it's because everyone spreads lies about him!). Then he disappears for another couple of years.

You know how at first it was so appalling that Britney Spears married that pinehole Kevin Federline, and then pretty soon it was like, "I never thought I'd say this but Britney Spears is making Kevin Federline look good." My father-in-law is the Britney Spears to my mother-in-law's Kevin Federline.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

Our biggest complaint about my in-laws is that they only visit for 36-48-hour time periods and expect the five of us to visit the two of them (14 hours away) as many times as they visit us. (Yeah. That doesn't happen.) So, I can appreciate your VERY mature POV because it hurts my husband so very much that his children barely know his parents.

--Sarah

pseudostoops said...

EXCELLENT insight. Also, I plan to start using "pinehole" in my day-to-day vocabulary, because it is awesome.

Mairzy said...

As August pointed out, her job probably has conditioned her (or encouraged her?) to say exactly what she's thinking, bluntly. We have a mentally handicapped girl in our neighborhood, and we can't hint around with her. We have to tell her directly, "It's time for you to go home now. No, you can't visit tomorrow, either. You need to go home. Goodbye!"

She drives you crazy as your mother-in-law, but she's special to your children as their grandmother, so good for you for gritting your teeth and not drugging her tea! At least she's involved. I have no respect for a man like your father-in-law. Lots for you, though.

-- Mairzy

desperate housewife said...

I never cease to be amazed by your gift for analogy, Swistle!
Also, I have an aunt who works in such a home, and she has the exact same tendency to talk down to other adults, as though they are somewhat dense albeit well-intentioned children. Maybe it's a chronic problem if you work in an institutional setting long enough!

Cookie said...

My father is the same way. Although he has visited once - but it was because he was already in the area for a business trip. He forgets his children's birthdays (and my birthday). He rarely calls or e-mails, unless it is to tell me some new detail about himself (like he's moved in with his soon to be 4th wife). My mother, who drives me crazy sometimes, at least visits, and calls, and sends gifts, and e-mails, and cares about my children. So I understand how you can dislike her but approve of her intentions. Also, if I don't drive at least on of my daughters-in-law crazy I won't feel that I'm doing my job as a grandmother properly.

jen said...

I <3 this post in so many ways! Why can't you live down the street from me haha (or wait.. maybe you do and I just don't know it. Hmm.)

Kristine said...

God, I am so evil - but people who do not respond to me, don't get anything else from me. I don't need handwoven fancy schmancy thank you embroidered pillows. I need acknowledgement that you got what I sent - or I will be freaked out that it was lost in the mail for the rest of my life.

Kristi said...

I love how you can always see the silver lining Swistle! Have a fab day!

Sylvie said...

Wow, what amazing generosity of spirit. You should save up the money on this year's father-in-law Christmas package and go to a spa for a day. You deserve it!

tracynicole22 said...

Swistle, I agree with others, I LOVE THIS POST! And what a great idea from Sylvie above, use the $$ that you would normally spend on the FIL package and use it for yourself!!

Kristin H said...

I was wondering if your kids like having her visit? That might be another bright side in an otherwise dismal two weeks.

brightfeather said...

My mom's only consession to being an 'evil' MIL is to buy toys that the kids love and their parents hate and send them home. You know, that one toy that plays the same tune over and over again and drives you crazy and your kids won't stop playing with it. Or the messy presents that the kids half-wreck the house playing with.

After surviving my grandma, she did her best to not be someone the inlaws hate...

Sam said...

Analogy WIN. You need to start calling your MIL KFed on here. It would make me crack up a little imagining him making snarky remarks in your house with his beer gut. *giggles* Thanks for making me smile!

Hotch Potchery said...

I appreciate your poignant post, but all I could think about was the picture I saw of KFed on Celebrity Fit Club.

He would have never knocked up Britney looking like that.

Bring A. Torch said...

Oh man, what would happen if you guys stayed with her? I can see it now: Mr. Pickles visits Grandma's lair! (Or maybe he could go on a spy mission in her suitcase.)

Kim said...

This is why you're a leader for so many of us - no one can ever accuse you of thoughtlessness, because you have an amazing way of seeing things from different angles and a very intelligent and funny way of relating your knowledge.
I use the strategy you describe here when dealing with my lush of a crazyhead mother and I think it's the sole coping mechanism that allows me to still have any kind of a relationship with her.

Maria said...

My own mother falls under the "buys way to much crap we don't want or need" category. Based on your experiences, methinks perhaps I should settle down and be happy about that!

Hey, you're almost done, right? WOOOT! You made it.

beyond said...

you send him a packet of pictures every month and he has never responded?!? you have a heart of gold.

Steph the WonderWorrier said...

LOL... Love the suggestion above about calling her KFed on your blog. LOL. Until people start to stumble upon your blog when Googling the REAL KFed, and then get totally confused about your stories.

... but that might not happen, WHO Googles KFed?!

clueless but hopeful mama said...

Swistle, you have an amazingly generous spirit AND a gift for analogies. Both your MIL and FIL are EXTREEEMELEY lucky to have you as a DIL. We should all be so lucky when we're the MILs.

willikat said...

How do I love this post? Let me count the ways.....

Nellyru said...

every month?? you send pictures every MONTH?? geez, i SUCK...i don't send pictures nearly that often to people that truly deserve it!

Swistle said...

Nellyru- ...Come to think of it, maybe he doesn't respond because he wants me to STOP DELUGING HIM WITH PHOTOS. Wouldn't that be funny? If he were right now blogging about his daughter-in-law who WILL NOT GET OFF HIS BACK? Hee!

Miss Grace said...

I must say I'm impressed that you send pics every month. It makes me feel like I should be more proactive with Gabriel's grandparents (but then, I feel like it's sorta his dad's job to be proactive with that relationship)

Katy said...

You're making me feel bad with this picture mailing thing, but the KFed analogy is perfect.

marybt said...

I'd quit putting the effort into the FIL.

Send him a photo once a year and let it go. He obviously doesn't care and you obviously have better things to do than chase a self-focused jerk around.

Put your energy into the people who are there and who matter.

(Okay, that was my easier said than done speech for the day. I serioulsy wouldn't send a Christmas package though. But I get the feeling I may be slightly more confrontational than you are. lol. - That's not a criticism, just an observation.)

Rah said...

That's a brilliant analysis, Swistle, and more compassionate than the average person would be capable of. How wonderful that you continue to send pictures, etc., to your f-i-l even though he doesn't respond.

Lippy said...

I think we have the same FIL! Mine sends Bud joke forwards and that is it. When we go to PA for a visit, he shows up the last day of our visit and tells Bud that he wants to be different. But he isn't. You are very nice to yours.

Sabrina said...

I adore your analogy, really. but having the genders cross really confuses things. Perhaps a better analogy would be Jon and Kate. At first we were all, "omg, how could Jon be married to that manic, complsive bitch?" and now we are all, "omg, Jon=trainwreck! That bitch isn't so bad!" I think of your MIL as Kate. Annoying, demanding, self-important. But there. And that's more than many can say.

shriek house said...

Pinehole. AWESOME and I'll be stealing that, kthxbai!

Stacie said...

You are the nicest person alive. Seriously.

Emily R said...

I'd think you had my father in law, but my husband's siblings aren't really the marryin' type. What the H is wrong with me today. I wanted to congratulate you on your MIL dying! Because I really do envy that a little bit, and death isn't so bad, right?