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‘I would prefer to give my mother-in-law a good bark off and delete it from my life’

Susanne (40): “I don’t understand that you still work, does Bob earn enough?” “Saartje is way too old for a pacifier!” “When our kids were little, we just let them sleep everywhere.” “Gaming makes children dumb, that’s what Facebook says.” These are just a few examples of the unflinching array of advice my mother-in-law is firing at me. She has an opinion about everything and she always ventures it. Especially to me.

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She thinks my way of parenting is too soft and ignores the fact that these are the standards and values โ€‹โ€‹of me and my husband Bob. I’ve had it all with her meddling, the whining and the patronizing. I would love to bark her off and delete her from my life. But what can I do about it? She is not only my husband’s mother, but also the grandmother of our children Jorik (12), Veerle (8) and Sara (3) and we live practically around the corner from each other. So I swallow my pent-up anger.

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Ever since I’ve known her, she’s been stabbing me under water. She casually claimed on our first meeting that she liked Bob’s ex-girlfriend better. When we got married on a Tuesday, I was heavily pregnant with Jorik, she announced to everyone that it was ‘a must’, while we saw it as an easy way to arrange recognition. She finds it awkward that there is a big age difference between the children, even though she knows that I had four miscarriages in between. According to her, we should never have taken a third anyway, with our busy lives.

She tolerates me as the woman in Bob’s life, but there is still a lot wrong with me. My hair is too long for a 40-year-old mother, the red lipstick I wear too bright. She blames me for the fact that I work part-time and we have a paid babysitter at home those days, because she was always at home with tea and biscuits. I can go on for hours. Which topic does not matter, she has to say something about it. The children are starting to notice that too. They still think she’s a sweet grandmother, but one who whines. Our oldest daughter, in particular, regularly gets scolded. Then grandma thinks her haircut is too boyish, her voice too loud or she is too rough with her sister.

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On the move and jump

But worse is the influence she has on my husband. Bob changes into her presence. He says yes and amen and runs as soon as she calls. If she wants a new TV, he has to set up on his free Saturday and jumped all the electronics shops with his parents and takes care of the installation. That I am alone that day with the sports appointments of the children apparently does not matter. My mother-in-law lures him every week with a chore and then Bob promises her things without talking to me. Or suddenly comes with ‘genius ideas’ such as a time slot on the game computer for Jorik or special nappy pants with which we can get Sara toilet trained.

‘She means well’

Bob himself is blind to his mother’s behavior. He doesn’t want to see her drive a wedge between us. Especially in the past, my annoyances about his mother turned into a row between us. Sometimes when I’m so mad that I shout that she’s driving me crazy, Bob admits she can be blunt. But I shouldn’t care about it, he says. She has always been like that. Or she means well. Also such a clincher.

After fourteen years of relationship, I am now wise enough to share this kind of irritation with my friends. That keeps things a lot cozier at home. But if it were up to me, I never saw Bob’s mother again. โ€

This article is in Kek Mama 14-2020.

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