No seriously. That was what she said.
Her gift to me – the gift for giving her a grandson?
And not just ANY rags. No, no, no. They were “good rags” that she sacrificed a “good towel” to make. Not only that, but each one had a purpose that had to be explained to me. One was for the bathroom. One for the kitchen. One for other sorts of cleaning.
Now here’s the thing: Even if it weren’t so insulting to be given rags, I HAD spent the better part of two weeks cleaning my house to an almost-completely-tidy state. Only a month ago had I given birth, prior to which I was on bed rest/limited mobility for 3 months. I had done so so that she wouldn’t be too upset by the state of the house, since I know she’s an insane neat freak. Considering that I was pumping milk every two hours, and caring for a baby as well who was not sleeping through the night, resulting in my…basically not sleeping at all, I thought I had done a pretty fantastic job.
But even IF she had thought that she’d give me rags IF the apartment was a disaster, to still go out of her way to not only explain their use, but also to try and make me feel guilty that she had cut up a towel, packed it up, taken it all the way across the country, JUST so I could have them…it defies explanation.
And let’s re-emphasize a few points:
~ She had come “to help us out”.
~ She had promised “to play nice”. (yet more words that I understood as a warning sign, but was begged to ignore)
~ She had said, flat out, that she understood post partum depression, and that she was going to help me through it.
I’ve been wracking my brain ever since, trying to figure out how this was a positive gift. How you could be warped enough to really, REALLY, think that you were helping someone, being nice to them, and not actively trying to hurt them and not trip their depression…by making their new-mother-gift…be rags?
I managed not to burst into tears, though I recall my cheeks coloring and my throat closing.
I was furious, but actually, somehow, managed to thank her. My mind did also immediately flicker to the huge pile of rags that were sitting in my art studio. Which then begs the question, did you really think an artist wouldn’t have rags? Really? C’mon now.
Oh and a few hours later we got this comment: “I know you don’t keep a clean house, but I’m dealing with that.” In a very sympathetic tone.
I…I’m still beside myself.
And if any of you understand this, I have one thing to say:
I’m going to have a section on here that are things that my mother-in-law has said that are just outrageous, but are things that have made me think more positively on how I’m raising my son. Not because she was ever remotely uplifting, but because her outlook is so bleak and distorted, that she makes me realize that I’m not as miserable as I could be. Now I have to say that when I was young, I was always of a mind that I would always love my mother in law because no one could be as evil as my own mother (she’s not that bad, really!), and later on, I thought would love my mother in law because well…hell, I was going to be the ‘different’ daughter-in-law. You know, the one that is just good friends with her husband’s side of the family, since they could in no way be as screwed up as MY family.
Well, it turns out that this just wasn’t possible for me, not because I didn’t try and not because I am a total bitch (though that IS still possibly on the table about other things!), but because my mother-in-law suffers from depression as well. Her way of coping, however, is to play insane mind games and deal with everything in a snippy, passive-aggressive manner, and to meet the conflicts she creates by this behavior with a smirk, pursed lips, crossed arms and a big old “I told you so” – which by the way, rarely makes sense for the situation at hand, but is still her answer to everything.
A brief history – I’d met her twice previous, the first time while I was in the middle of a massive breakdown, the second time at our wedding.
Highlights from the first visit include: Her cleaning the already clean apartment, her telling my husband in no uncertain terms that no one with depression was “too sad to get out of bed”, her saying that our less-than-50-total, all-given-to-us-as-gifts DVD collection was an example of our “bad choices in life”, and her telling my husband that being sad was no excuse for not getting a full time job, and not keeping the place clean. Note: She had come to “help” me with my depression, since she suffers from it. I think we spoke directly for all of two minutes. The rest of the time she spent huffing and puffing with her back to me while she cleaned and recleaned everything in the place from top to bottom.
Highlights from the second visit include: Her forcing us to change our honeymoon plans at the last second when she revealed she was not getting a hotel and was now going to be sleeping on our bed, and her other son was going to get the couch. No money for a hotel? Well, don’t look at her! She might have money, but this is a lesson in “doing right”, we should be *grateful* that she’s “getting us out of the house”. She also bought me a pair of walmart-quality earrings after I had detailed to her on the phone that my “something borrowed” was going to be a pair of beautiful heirloom earrings from my great-grandmother. She told me that they were the “something new”. I found out later that she found it disgusting that I would wear earrings someone else had worn. Never mind that rubbing alcohol exists. They didn’t match the rest of my jewelery, looked cheap and gaudy and made my ears break out. Oh, and the house? Too dirty again. She was insulted that things were messy, shouldn’t we have cleaned instead of oh, I don’t know…been working on our wedding.
So when she let slip that she intended to be present for my due date with Ollie, I just lost my head completely. The house was a wreak – I’d been on limited movement, and bedrest for over 3 months (her comment to my husband on the phone was that even if the doctor said that I shouldn’t be walking, that I was just faking it, and needed to get back to work, or at least pack the house so we could move!) – I managed to delay the visit by a month, but she was bound and determined to come. My husband said she promised she was there to help out, to make life easier, to let me get a little sleep. She had 8 siblings, she’d taken care of a zillion children, she’d been doing this for 40 years, and well, she was just so happy to have a grandkid, all her cruel remarks and insensitivity would be smoothed over by the presence of a baby.
Yeah. That didn’t happen.
But rather than put to words here all the things she said or did before things came to a head and she became so abusive that my husband told her to leave – I’m going to take specific quotes and deal with them with a post each. Because to be honest…one needs time to actually react to how horrifying the experience IS when one deals with this woman.
And yes, that might make me a bad daughter-in-law, but I can say, honestly…that I don’t give a fuck. I’m just glad that my husband was largely raised by his father…not his mother.
I’m always overthinking things. I’ve been wanting to start this blog for some time, but my mind always goes into overdrive with what if’s. But you know what – just like my art, this blog is for me. And possibly for my son, should he ever wish to read it (note to self, keep the sexual references low, so he doesn’t vomit on the keyboard if he does ever read this blog). Other than that, anyone who likes it is a bonus.
Major cast of characters:
Me – goes by Dembai (or Tracy). I’m pretty well fucked up. Hair very long and slowly going grey.
My son – goes by Ollie. Is pretty fucking cute. Hair slowly growing in.
My hubby – goes by Myles. Is also pretty fucking cute. Hair slowly falling out.
My cat – goes by Riker. Is a giant douche (but what cat isn’t?). Hair leaks in all directions.
Anyone else I mention, well…they’re people too. Probably. My mother in law MAY be undead.