I Lived In The Wreckage Of My MIL’s Crappy Parenting
It seemed obvious to me that he wanted, and expected, his life to go on as normal while I did all things parenting.
My husband and I visited my mother-in-law a month after our first child was born. As soon as we arrived on her doorstep after a four-hour drive (which actually took us six hours, counting all the stops for baby care), I had to pee like a racehorse and I asked my husband to change the baby.
I’ll never forget the way my MIL looked at me, but I didn’t pay much attention at the time since I was drowning in new motherhood and juggling one million things. But she couldn’t let it go, either, as I found out that evening. As we all sat around the dinner table, I could barely keep my eyes open. I picked up our baby, and said, “Let’s go do bedtime. I'm exhausted.” At that point, my mother-in-law jumped in: “I did all the feeding, changing, and putting the kids to bed because that was MY job.”
She went on to talk about how her husband worked outside the home, and she felt it was her responsibility to do everything else. She bragged about how she “never let” him change one diaper. Like ever. And for the record, they’d had five kids, really close together.
When I asked her if she ever left the house, she said she did and that her husband didn’t change diapers then either. He simply waited until she got home.
That was the moment some things about my husband made sense to me. While he was a hands-on father and did help out, I had to ask him to do almost everything, which is a job in itself. It didn’t come to him naturally, and he didn’t automatically step up if I was struggling.
It seemed obvious to me that he wanted, and expected, his life to go on as normal while I did all things parenting. But that didn’t work for me. Not even a little. The longer we were married, the more clear it became that my husband believed that since I stayed home with our children and he worked, I shouldn’t have a say in how we spent money, how much he worked, or if he wanted to take off to play golf for an entire weekend.
And it was clear where he’d gotten that idea. He’d grown up with a passive mother, who never asked her husband for help when it came to the kids. My husband told me stories about how his dad liked to go do things after work and his mom never asked him questions or asked him to come home so she could have some help.
Well, I did ask questions and I did ask for help, because I needed support and wanted to raise my kids with a partner. To me, it sounded like his mother was a single mom, doing it all on her own, and she now resented the fact that I had the nerve to ask her son to help me with our children.
It took a few of her comments for me to build the nerve to say something, but I had to. Finally, one day, I snapped and told her that times had changed and her son and I agreed to have kids together, and I refused to be a single, married mother. And the last thing I needed was my mother in law making comments to us about how we were raising our children, because it was different from the way she did it.
It caused a rift, and a whole lot of tension. But honestly? The comments finally stopped, and it was worth it.