04 March 2007

Not OK

Inappropriate things that my mother-in-law stated in a phone conversation to GH on Saturday [my comments in brackets]:

1. That I do not do enough to take care of GH because I'm too busy taking care of the babies. [Ironic, given that she is obsessed with her own son to the point of neglecting anything else in her life.]

2. That we should not have had the babies. That we should have waited until GH was well. [Has she ever entertained the notion that he might not get well? Not to mention that it's not her decision to make and these are her grandchildren we're talking about.]

I have so much to say that I can't even start. So much inappropriateness. So much.

That aside, we had a really nice weekend. Hope you all did, too.


Marie-Baguette said...

incredible! I can't believe it! but I am surprised your husband chose to relay this conversation.

Rachel said...

Ugh. I hope he stood up to her. You would think she would be grateful to you for taking such good care of her grandchildren. Unbelievable.

Pantheist Mom said...


I have been lurking on your blog for some time, as you read on my comment to Dorcasina's blog. You are AMAZING. I love the way that you and your husband have approached this very bad illness. You're not denying it, you're not pretending to be strong and happy all the time, but you're also not letting it define your lives. That you have had your twins, that you are sharing this right now? I think it's perfect. (So this comment by your MIL is just beyond baffling to me).

Your blog has rapidly become one of my favorites. You are so genuine.

That spicy sichuan noodles recipe is at the top of my list of things to cook as soon as I'm done with my science team meeting this week. My mouth has been watering just thinking about it.

Cheers, Jen

soralis said...

Wow... I can't believe the things some people say! It's even more awful given that those are her grandchildren she is talking about. I am so sorry you had to hear those things.

(So glad you had a good trip back home.)

Snickollet said...

Thanks for the supportive comments, folks.

Marie-Baguette, I agree that there are times when not knowing things is better than knowing, but my husband shared the things that his mom said because it's really stuff that I already know. She'd never come right out and said them before, but I know them. She makes it pretty obvious, unfortunately. It's not easy or fun to hear, but GH and I need to work together on finding a solution.

Rachel, he did stand up to her, but it only helps so much. She flat-out refuses to compromise on anything and does not acknowledge that decisions that GH and I make together are a) joint decisions (she scapegoats me all the time) or b) valid, even if they are not the same as hers.

Yowza, this is turning into another post. Might have to do more venting about this.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Snick, that is just horrid. I agree you hate to hear it, but you've said before you've felt it all from her already, glad he stood up to her, I understand it doesn't change anything on her part though.

I imagine so much of her feelings are just wrapped in the fear of losing her son, that grief I imagine supercedes anything else. I know it doesn't make it any easier on you, just my guess. I think the example you and GH set that speaks to the need to keep on living is wonderful. Thanks for all that you share.

Also, I made the noodles on Saturday, all I can say is AMAZING!! Everyone loved them and they are good cold and reheated too I've found:)

Christine said...

Wow. Just a LITTLE denial going on there, I think, on your MIL's part. Her son is terminally ill, and she is lashing out at the most convenient target. It's not OK, is right. I think you need to compose yourself and have one of those MIL chats I've unfortunately had to have with my own MIL. Hang in there. You're awesome, and so is GH. :)

Fresh Hell, Texas said...

This might sound brutal, but in my experience people in denial do not respond to anything other than pain and loss.

I'm not suggesting you slap her (although I would be tempted!) but rather than you consider taking away her rewards. She doesn't compromise, in part, because she doesn't have too.

For example, my sister's MIL had the same attitude about scapegoating. After a lot of therapy, my BIL told his mother she would get one warning and then he would not listen to her bad mouth his wife.

It was months upon months of sheer torture by this woman. But, eventually she shut up about my sister because the pain of being cut off from her son was too great.

Best of luck.

Melissa said...

Dear Snickollet,

I cringed and fumed (for you!) when I read this post and I want to say that you have *every right* to feel indignant, judged, misjudged and unfairly shat upon. Your MIL’s words were inappropriate for sure!

You seem like you enjoy problem-solving and analyzing situations though - rather than just feeling bad - so I thought I’d offer a helping hand with the ‘how to feel better’ bit. At least I’ll try!

I want to say that as hard as it is for you to believe, she is probably not insulting you because she doesn't like you or because she wants to hurt you. She most probably sees it as her ‘job’. Many older Korean women with sons consider it their due right to bemoan the fate of their sons after they get married. And I say “older Korean women” with “sons” because, judging from your post and previous things you’ve said, I do see your problem with your mother-in-law as being a pre-dominantly ‘cultural’ issue connected to the effects of Confucianism on family dynamics. Even second-and third generation Koreans can experience this, I gather. The Empty Nest Syndrome never really affects many older Korean women, I think, because they always consider it their job to ‘(s)mother’.

I’m sure you know all this, of course, but I just wanted to chime in with my ‘5 beck won’ worth of advice. As a loooonnggng-time resident of Korea – with my own Korean MIL – I would offer you the following advice:

- try not to take it too personally. And please don't hate me for saying that. ^^ You should know that even if you were the Queen of Sheba or Joan of Arc or King Sejong's prize chef she would probably find some reason to complain and find something that you could have/should have done differently.

- she of course knows that there is a possibility that your husband - her son - may not get better. But admitting that is probably not something that she is emotionally equipped to do. DE NILE is a very pervasive survival technique everywhere - but I would argue that it is an especially powerful force within Korean culture. Her denial comes from love, not from being obtuse. The only thing I can think of as bad as (or worse than?) losing my husband would be losing my daughter – and if I were faced with that possibility I might waver in stubborn disbelief too. And lash out at innocent relations. Maybe.

Or maybe her saying that you should have waited until after GH is better to have children is her (twisted) way of offering hope and optimism? Maybe.

- You’ve commented before that she seems very intuitive with your babies and when I read that I nodded my head in understanding. My own MIL (who is a force to be reckoned with) shows (what I suspect is) a similar empathy/affinity with my daughter. And I think that skill is related to her own parenting skills. She’s good with my daughter because she’s good at parenting and loving. She just doesn’t know how to ‘let go’. Maybe your own MIL is a bit similar in that regard?


Well. Those are just some alternate opinions and possibilities. Please forgive the long comment and feel free to disregard/delete it if you want. And if things don't get better ... well ... then, maybe you should just slap her and see how that works. ^^ And then let *me* know so I can try it myself. On my own MIL, I mean. :)

Best of luck to you ... and thanks for the recipes! ~

Angela said...

Wherever the comments come from, love, frustration or stress, they are extremely hurtful and unhelpful. I cannot count the number of times my mother has said hurtful things about my husband or about me, I don't know if it has anything to do with being Korean or she is just incredibly self absorbed and insensitive, maybe all of the above.

I am so sorry. The last thing you need is added stress or negative emotions directed your way. Please know that I am just amazed at how strong, loving and caring you are, your babies and husband are so extremely lucky to have you. Sending you good thoughts and a very warm hug your way.

Yankee, Transferred said...


So sorry, Snick.

kim said...

Part of me can't believe that someone could ever say such things about one's grandchildren but the rest of me can totally see it coming from a Korean MIL. I get the same scapegoat treatment - fine, we all deal with it since we're stepping on that sacred (freakish) mother-son relationship. But for you *and* GH to be faced with such terrible, unproductive commentary right now is just wrong. I agree with the other folks who say that it probably stems from her fear / denial of GH's illness, but I wonder if she also fears what could happen if he doesn't get better (i.e., fear of losing her relationship with the kids too?). Regardless, I'm sending hugs your way and hoping that you get a break from the MIL for a bit. Hope your week improves soon!

Dorcasina said...

Oh, honey--and I thought *I* had in-law woes! Mine have criticized my wicked careerist ways (er...who is paying the bills?) and my parenting, but even *they* never dared to go there. That's just awful, no matter how we spin it, and it SUCKS that you have to deal with it on top of everything else in your life. I agree with all the commenters that "they don't mean it" and "She's just scared" etc., but that doesn't make it any easier on a day-to-day basis, does it? Nor does knowing that you shouldn't take it personally--you know that, of course, but how can you NOT take it personally?

Once upon a time, when my husband was very ill and my s-i-l said something horrifically awful to me that I won't repeat here, I said, "I'm sure you didn't mean that the way it came out, so I'm going to pretend it never happened..." Shut her up for a month, at least.

And I still get the idiots who find out about my husband's death (at 35, fer gawd's sake) of an awful disease and say, "I'm sure it's for the best." I've occasionally said to them, "Not in my universe...Here on earth, the whole thing sucks." Or, if I am remotely calm, I say, "I'm sure you mean to be kind, but that's a terrible thing to say."

That kind of candor is very effective at a) stopping them; b) releasing all kinds of tension for me! Note that I am not suggesting you or GH try this with M-i-L. But maybe pick out some obtuse acquaintance and really let them have it!

Sending strength, sympathy, and a certain dose of black humor your way.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe that you have to deal with this. Her behavior is just horrendous.

I mentioned something similar to this in another comment but I'll add to it... sometimes when my mom would say things that were not-so-nice to my SIL, I think my brother coming to my SIL's defense came across (to my mom) more as him defending his wife, and not necessarily voicing reason. I would like to think that when I or my sister said something to her about it, it gave her a little more pause. She would still get defensive, but I think having other people tell her she was hurting SIL's feelings made her rethink her words (while still getting defensive about it though). I don't know... maybe you need a third party to give her some more 'perspective' (i.e. tell her to shut up if she doesn't have anything positive to say!).

Regardless,what a difficult situation to be in with everything else going on in your life. I hope you can find some peace with this woman. Somehow. She sounds... well, not very fun. :( Good luck.