Friday, August 18, 2006

That word we don't say

Is it possible that I loathe my ex-mother-in-law now even MORE than I did when I was married to her son? Very, very possible.

She called me earlier today to ask for a slight change in Sister's schedule. They're taking Sister rafting over the weekend, she said, and wondered if it would be o.k. to bring her back to my house 3 or 4 hours later than usual. Once you get past the wondering why the hell my ex-MIL could possibly feel it was her place to request changes to my custody agreement with her son, this wouldn't be a big deal at all. What's a few hours, right? Except that her son and I got into a huge fight last week over this very same issue. Just a few short days ago, he wouldn't agree that it was o.k. for me to bring Sister back a few hours later than usual from a trip unless I agreed that he would get an extra overnight stay with her.

I pointed this out to his mother, just to make sure she knew about it, but followed up saying that really a few hours wasn't a big deal, was it? She tried to launch into an explanation of why it was different for them than it was for me, but I stopped her, saying cheerfully, "I don't feel like discussing this all over again. I just want you to know that I don't think a few hours makes that much of a difference. It's really no problem at all. Bye!" And I got off the phone shaking with rage, but pleased that I hadn't gotten into it on the phone with her and had sounded like a reasonable, sane, even magnanimous person.

Because when it comes to that woman, I certainly don't feel like a reasonable, sane, or remotely magnanimous person. Furthermore, I know that this will never go away. I will be living with this intense jealousy, this fiercely frustrating sense that I have no control over the situation, and an instantaneous flare up of bitterness whenever I think of this woman competing with me over influence with Sister for at least the next 10 years, if not longer. Because that's what this is, y'all. My ex-MIL is competing with me over my own daughter.

Lest you chalk this up to the paranoid delusions of the control freak I'll admit that I am, let me explain a couple things I know about her. She has 3 children, 2 sons of her own and one adopted daughter. When I was newly married to her son, she gushingly told me one day that she had always longed for a daughter, and that I was going to be that daughter. (Never mind that I had a mother I was perfectly happy with.) Her adopted daughter had never been close to her, and wasn't quite what she had in mind, really, when she and her husband had first thought to adopt a girl child. She said this to me. In those words. I am not kidding.

She also told an entire room full of well wishers at my bridal shower that she was glad that I was so "competent" because her son really wasn't. He really needed someone to take care of things in his life, because he just wasn't up to the task. She was glad I was taking over this for her. (Can I get a witness, Mommygoth?) Again, those were her words. She wasn't even joking about it.

So basically, what I extrapolate from this is that since I didn't stick around to be the longed-for daughter, and since her son can't really deal with such practical details of Sister's care as cooking meals, shopping for clothes, being employed in order to pay for a roof over her head, this woman has taken over when Sister is supposedly in my Ex's care. I am Sister's mother, of course, but what is Sister's grandmother when she's acting in the capacity of a parent almost 50% of the time?

It is NOT a situation in which I can act with the least modicum of personal grace. My own mother raised me to "rise above it" and "be better than they are" when I found myself in a shitty situation. This is still excellent advice all these years later, but I can't seem to follow it now. When it comes to my own child, I am filled with real, teeth-baring, blinding hate for anyone who threatens her attatchment to me.

Therapy as an antidote is just laughable.


Nikkie said...

Oh that would piss me off something awful. I'm so afraid that I'm going to be in the same boat. You handled the phone call very well. It would have been very hard for me not to have used a few choice words.

Beth said...

You handled that alot better than I would have! My mother-in-law..well, we've NEVER liked each other. Never. And I'm sure it will stay that way. I just pray that I won't be like that if I'm lucky enough to be a mother-in-law someday!

Mommygoth said...

Oh yes, I remember those comments at your shower quite well, my dear. And the woman is card carrying crazy - that's the whole truth. Argh! I'm so sorry. There are some people who eat at you like a necrotizing spider bite, no matter how tranquil your heart is otherwise.