Dear Mother In Law

by me

I hate you. But I know we are so much alike, that the hatred is really for myself. When I fell apart, when I wasn’t present, in the very beginning, you were here loving my daughter with all your heart, taking sleep shifts with my husband, preparing food, cleaning, and you know, running my household. Well I’m not broken anymore, may I please have my household back? My feelings of gratitude for what you did are tangled up with my guilt and shame and self-hatred. You are good at what you do, running everything. I remember the first time I went to visit for Xmas, you had so many events well-coordinated, herding everyone from one place to another, probably like you ran your classrooms when you used to teach. I was impressed. Now that you’re retired and an empty-nester, I do understand that the skills and desire to organize and control others still exists, worse, is building under the surface like a volcano. But please don’t reorganize my daughter’s clothes. I especially didn’t enjoy that you hid the clothes you didn’t like, which I only came across long after when looking for something else. I’m really trying to run my own home. And when you come and take over, I have to wrestle all over again with my feelings of inadequacy as a mother and a wife. I know you think you’re helping, but you’re actually not. When you first started visiting every 2 months, I let you do your thing. It’s only 4 days, I told myself, as I’d bite my tongue. I especially didn’t appreciate when you’d tell strangers that you were the mom, not I. Oh, ha ha. I get it, my daughter, with her red hair and blue eyes, doesn’t look like me. I get it, okay. And it hurts every time you point it out. Because it grinds into a scabby, leaky part of my underbelly that remembers that I didn’t want her and didn’t love her, for which I will always feel so much shame and guilt. So, again, I respectfully ask, can you just please stop? I know that you love her very much, and that you feel like in your short visits you have to squeeze in as much happy memories as possible. But when my daughter hears that you’re visiting, all she wants to know is what did you buy her. I wish you would think about the values you are teaching her, rather than settling for the short term gratification.

And one more thing, the most important, stop feeding my daughter CRAP.

I get it, you were raised eating a certain way. But that way doesn’t work for my daughter. Every time after you leave, she deals with very painful constipation. Both my husband and I have tried being nice about it, but to be honest, we haven’t been the least effective. At first, we didn’t tell you. Maybe twice, three times, was an anomaly. Well now, after your visits, and even on weeks like this when you haven’t visited, my daughter will decide she that pooping hurts and refuse to do so, for days. Well as you can imagine, this exacerbates the problem. And now, instead of just a physical issue, it’s a psychological one. Think about it, for the last couple years, every two months pooping becomes extremely painful for her.  And it’s my fault. I didn’t have the guts to stand up to you. I was afraid of making you mad. And I am so angry at myself. This is my child, I should be able to protect her no matter what. But I didn’t. And now I’m paying the price…no, she is. If this was as simple as abuse, I would have no problem risking my safety to protect her. But too much ice cream and crackers? How do I make you understand just how much damage you do by changing my daughter’s diet? How can I get you to listen to me?? You argue with me about every decision I make every step of the way, and you always have an answer for every thing I tell you. You are arriving in 6 days. I’m ready to be the bad guy. You can hate me all you want. You can tell all your friends about what an awful daughter in law I am. But I am not leaving you alone with my child. I won’t let you hurt her anymore.