When my husband and I met and started dating 20 years ago, his mother and I got along fine. We still get along fine. We can make pleasant conversation. She is his mother and my children’s grandmother and I respect that. But there is definitely an issue. And as far as I am concerned, it is glaring. I will come right out and say it. She is jealous of me, and lashes out with the most passive aggressive behavior you have ever seen. And I seriously don’t get it.
Why would a grown woman be jealous of her son’s wife? Yeah, I don’t know. But she totally acts like she is, and quite frankly, it’s pretty gross.
It can be little things — like when we had some mulch put down and I casually mentioned that I would have preferred black, but the person we used only had brown. The very next week, she had black mulch on her lawn. We do not live close and I wouldn’t have ever even known, had she not posted on Facebook how much she loved her new spring look. She wanted to one-up me, and she did. I mentioned it to my husband and he said that I was overreacting. I don’t think that I was.
Another time, we got a new washer and dryer. This was not something that we bought because we were remodeling our laundry room or had cash laying around for a random upgrade; our dryer stopped working mid-load, and with a house full of small kids, I couldn’t deal with that. We decided to replace both units. It made more sense financially, knowing that the washer was likely on its way out soon too — and selfishly, I wanted them to match. I was really excited about this purchase because it was the first new washer and dryer we had ever had. The very next week, she went out and bought the same brand, but one model more expensive. Why, you ask? I have no idea. There are two people in her home and their units were perfectly fine. But there was no way that I could have something better than hers, so she replaced it.
This time, my husband agreed that something was a bit off. And he confronted her. She came up with some bullshit about it being a good deal and hers weren’t going to last forever, so she just decided it was time. He mentioned that it was pretty coincidental that we had just gotten ours replaced and asked why she needed the more expensive model. Same old shit, “It was such a great deal.” Sorry, I don’t buy it.
Once, for my birthday, my husband bought me a really nice pair of sunglasses. They were expensive, and a splurge, but it was a big birthday and he wanted me to have something nice. He happened to give them to me in front of her and she said, “Sorry, all I have are cheap sunglasses.” Really? Like, why? Why would you take a really special moment and just shit all over it? Why do you care what a couple of forty-somethings are doing to celebrate each other? There is just no need for it. It’s petty and it’s just nasty.
My husband and I work hard. Nothing is handed to us for free. My husband makes a good living and we are able to do things for our kids that he didn’t have when he was a kid. That is a problem too. “You didn’t have all of the latest electronics and you did just fine.” “Why do your kids have to do all of these activities? Can’t they entertain themselves?” “You two just live in a different world, I guess.”
Here is the thing that pisses me off the most. Why should we have to defend our life decisions to her? It’s none of her business. No one is asking her to fund any of this. At almost 40, I need not ask her if it is OK for me to buy a new house because we are having a baby. But when we did make the announcement, you know sure as shit that she was on Zillow looking for a fresh start for herself. We are her Joneses, and she just wants to keep up. But for Pete’s sake, why? Why can’t you just be happy for us?
Maybe I am crazy, but aren’t parents supposed to be happy and proud of their children’s successes? Shouldn’t there be some sense of accomplishment in the fact that you raised an adult who can provide for themself and their family? Or are you supposed to sit back with green-eyed envy and do your best to kill their happiness and excitement? I’ll take the former.
Don’t get me wrong, I have squashed this behavior from time to time. Like when she criticized my husband’s new car because the black paint had some dirt and dust on it a few weeks in. She made a snide remark and I said, “For Christ’s sake, give him a break. Or a car wash club membership. Just leave him alone.” Remember that whole “if you can’t say anything nice” stuff? Argh!
I will continue to play nice for the sake of my husband and kids, but I am not playing the game. I will not compliment new purchases made in spite, or share details about what is new and exciting in my life just so that she can spoil it. She has proven she just likes passive aggressive. I’ve learned a few of her tricks and will gladly show those cards if I need to. Don’t test me, lady.
I vow to never be this way with my own kids. No, I will not steal their thunder or their joy just to make myself look or feel better. I will share in the pride of their accomplishments and congratulate them. And I will never order black mulch for my house when I know they really want it. Instead, I’ll send the truck over with a load on me, just to let them know how proud I am of them for having a lawn of their own. I’ll never compete with my kids. I will let them have the win. They work their asses off, and they deserve it.
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