Dear Mouthy Housewives,
I just graduated from high school and my mother and I are planning my graduation party. It’s supposed to be fun, but it’s only caused a lot of fighting and heartache. First it started with old school photos she wanted to display at the party. I just wanted the few photos that I like, but my mom wants to put ALL OF THEM–from kindergarten to now. Some of them are embarrassing pictures of me because I was a pretty chubby kid.
The other night, while I was in the middle of watching my favorite show, she pulled out the bag of pictures to show my father, little sister and me. She got offended at my lack of attention and the fact that I said some of the photos were embarrassing. But we said our good nights and it seemed as though nothing was wrong.
I woke up the next day and my mom pulls out a box of graduation goodies she ordered, suddenly commenting that I can just do everything by myself. I AM SO CONFUSED. In a harsh tone, she tells me that if I am so embarrassed about her work than I can do it all by myself. She won’t have anything to do with it. I cried and went to my room.
I called my dad to tell him the situation. He reassured me it will all be fine, but mom is the type where when she gets mad, you better stay out of her sight. My sister approached me and asked if I got in trouble, I nodded my head and told her “mom’s not gonna be at my party,” and she looked shocked.
I don’t know if my mom heard me tell my sister that, but suddenly my mom snapped. She came stomping out of her room and started yelling and throwing things. Then she said that we’re all not going to be able to live together in the house for the summer. She jokes a lot about being sent to a mental institutition, but she said this time that she really needs to go.
Now I’m back in my room, crying a river. I want to get out of here but I can’t leave my sister. I am an honor student, involved in many activities and organizations, and I did not just complete 13 years of schooling for this shit. I don’t know what to do anymore. If I am the problem in this equation, shouldn’t I be removed, permanently?
I guess I just wanted to tell someone – someone that wouldn’t risk repercussions. Thanks for listening.
Hurting and Confused Graduate
Dear Hurting and Confused Graduate,
Oof, my heart. I am so, so sorry that you are going through this during what should be a very exciting, happy time of your life. I feel the need to tell you congratulations on your graduation. Maybe set off some damn fireworks, girl. Despite the chaos that is surrounding you at the moment, this is something of which you should be proud. Take a moment to tell yourself how proud you are if no one else is doing it for you.
I don’t know your mother or your family dynamic, but I don’t need to see those things to understand that your mother is being emotionally manipulative and abusive. You should abso-freakin-lutely be able to tell your mother that you feel embarrassed without it initiating World War III. Your feelings are valid. That was not something your mother needed to take personally. What you endured says more about your mother’s feelings of validation, worthiness, and self-confidence and virtually NOTHING about you. So please also take a moment to tell yourself that: this is not about you. You are not a bad person. You are not a bad daughter. Your feelings are not bad. And while I don’t condone how your mother is treating you, I’m sure she loves you very much.
I feel so powerless trying to help you through a computer screen, so I want to offer you some resources that can be more reliable and immediate. Visit hopeline.com or call 1-800-442-HOPE if you’re feeling overwhelmed. I worry when you say that you need to be “removed, permanently” from this situation that you’re referring to suicide, and believe me when I say that the world is begging you not to. (Because, you aren’t the problem. You are valuable. You are loved. Hell, I love you because I feel your pain and I know you don’t deserve it. Anyone reading this will feel the same.) You can also call domestic violence hotlines because emotional abuse within the family falls into this category. Visit NCADV for local, state-based numbers, websites, and email addresses.
When you’re feeling especially lost, remember that this is temporary. Your life gets better. I swear. You may hear us crazy, old housewives whining all the time, but it’s all very much so worth it.
Take care of yourself,
Dear Mouthy Housewives,
I have always loved my sister-in-law, even though she’s always been outspoken and bossy and I’m not. But as we’ve gotten older, when she comes to visit she makes comments about my house and the way we serve dinner etc. She says we have too much “stuff” in our house.
My house isn’t bad at all, but not the showplace that hers is — she has no life other than keeping house and babysitting her grandkids — I’m working, performing, doing community work etc. I hate to cook and hubby and I always invite her & her boyfriend out to eat when they come to visit, but she insists on eating in and having me cook, and the table has to be set a certain way etc. So after I rearrange things and get out all the proper dishes etc., as soon as we eat dinner, she then goes to bed as she’s an early to bed/early to rise type, while I’m a night owl and would love to stay up and talk.
I find myself getting really angry at her in my head even when she’s not around, wondering whether I should tell her to stop ‘bossing’ me around in my own home next time she visits. She has even gone through some of my kitchen drawers and tossed things out that she felt I didn’t need anymore. I’m a person who likes to keep the peace no matter what, but she’s getting to me. Fortunately they don’t visit that often as they live a couple of hours away. Would love to see your opinion on this one.
Tired of Keeping the Peace
Dear Tired Peace-Keeper,
She goes through your kitchen drawers and throws out things she feels you don’t need anymore? What the WHAAAAT??!!!
Girl, you are way too nice. There is keeping the peace, and then there’s being a doormat. Your sister-in-law sounds incredibly rude and demanding, but it also sounds like you — and your husband — have let her get away with this behavior for years.
The problem is, if you called her up right now and said, “I hate how bossy you are when you come to my house!” she would have no clue what you’re talking about because you have never once called her on any of her bad behavior. And now, you’ve let your frustration with her build so much that as soon as she walks in the door on her next visit and says, “Hello,” you’ll scream, “Stop bossing me around!”
Look, I get it. I hate confrontation. Hate it, hate it, hate it. But having imaginary fights saps your energy, and doesn’t solve the problem. So, you have a few choices:
1. The next time you invite them for a visit, insist on going out for the meal. If the sister-in-law pushes back, do NOT back down. Don’t bring up the past, just tell her you really don’t feel like having people over, and if she won’t go out, maybe they should plan a visit for another time when they are willing to go out.
2. I’ve actually given this advice before. If you cave, and have them over to your house, every time your SIL does one of her bossy/inappropriate/rude things, turn to your husband and shout “Drink!” When she asks what that’s about, laugh it off and tell her it cracks you guys up how bossy she is all the time.
3. Go to her house! Give her a taste of her own medicine. Maybe move something from the downstairs bathroom to the upstairs bathroom and tell her you think it looks better that way. Two wrongs may not make a right, but sometimes they sure to feel good.
You sound like a good person. You deserve to have people treat you nicely in return.
A very strange thing happened yesterday in American politics. And that strange, aberrant and unprecedented thing was that a Republican lawmaker blamed one of our country’s problems on…wait for it…women! Crazy, huh? That sort of thing hasn’t happened since, like, hmmmm, well, the day before yesterday, probably.
The latest slam against the female gender comes from Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant who told the Washington Post that America became “so mediocre” in regard to educational outcomes because, “I think both parents started working. And the mom is in the work place.” He then backtracked a little and tried to say the cause was both parents, but it’s telling that his first culprit was everyone’s favorite target, moms.
But honestly, is there anything worse than working moms? They’re always ruining it for everyone! All those ladies care about is putting on their shoulder-padded business suits so they can strut around the boardroom and pretend they’re Susan Dey on LA Law. They certainly don’t care about putting their brilliant minds and college degrees to use. Or seeking personal fulfillment. Or even contributing to their family’s budget so their kids don’t fall below the poverty line because most modern families survive on two incomes. No, those hose beasts are just selfish females.
And we speak from experience because all of us were raised by strong, independent working moms. And it’s 100% their fault we didn’t get full ride scholarships to Harvard, master Chinese at age four or learn how to spell “pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis” correctly. Losers.
But maybe Governor Bryant, who runs a state that regularly ranks the lowest in education, is on to something. After all, why blame cuts in educational funding, teaching to the test or a broken system when you can instead just jump on the “blame women and moms” bandwagon that’s become so popular lately? Really, when you think about it, it seems totally obvious that most of the world’s problems are caused by moms:
1. Global Warming! Where do you think all that hot air is coming from?!
2. Deforestation! You know women and their…feminine paper products.
3. The Syrian Civil War! Bashar al-Asaad is in a bad mood and we ALLLL know why. (Lookin’ at you, Mrs. Asma al-Asaad!)
4. Breast Cancer! I mean, if we didn’t have such an abundance of damn cleavage in the world.
5. Obesity! Is it too much to ask moms to cook some damn dinner instead of driving through Mc High Fructose Corn Syrup for every meal?
6. Terrorists! Probably wore store-bought Halloween costumes.
7. Scandal-plagued Congressmen! Anthony Weiner’s mother was a math teacher.
8. Measles Outbreaks! If Jenny McCarthy would just shut her mouth. (No, wait, that one may be on point.)
We could go on, but…let’s not. In fact, if we could shelve this whole argument for, say, the foreseeable future, that’d be great. Ya hear that, Governor Bryant?
Dear Mouthy Housewives,
Recently, my fiancé and I moved to an incredibly small town (population less that 2,000) so we could be closer to his family. Not only is his sister hateful to me, but she has been spreading horribly untrue rumors around town to the point where it has begun to affect my job. I work in a manual labor job, and considering that’s all there really is to do here, I’m stuck with it. On top of that, she has begun to forbid my fiancé (her brother) from seeing his niece and nephew despite his niece’s frequent requests to see us. She is generally an all around hostile person behind your back, but incredibly nice and fake-smiley to your face. I’m fed up. I’m debating whether to pack my bags and take off or smile and bear it. Any suggestions?
Fed Up in a Small Town
Dear Fed Up,
Well, your future sister-in-law sounds like a real peach. And by peach, I mean rhymes-with-witch. And by rhymes-with-witch I mean C U Next Tuesday. What’s up with this chick? And why did your fiancé make you move to this teeny tiny town where his beyotch of a sister spreads her evil all over town? I’ll get back to him in a minute…
First, let’s deal with the rumor-mongering. You can’t control what the sister-in-law-to-be tells other people, but you can prove her wrong. You say that the rumors are affecting your job. I’m not sure what you mean by that exactly, but I’m assuming that co-workers are believing her poison, and treating you differently. I say kill them with kindness. Bring treats for everyone to share in the break room (or your workplace’s equivalent). Offer to do an extra shift for someone, or trade shifts if someone needs it. Compliment another woman’s outfit. Make an effort to get to know people, and to let them really get to know you.
Now, back to your fiancé, where does he stand in all of this? It’s hard to tell from your note if he even cares that his sister is keeping her kids from seeing their uncle. If he is upset by it, is he doing anything to deal with it? Honestly, he brought you to this far-away place, he should be doing everything he can to make you feel at home and welcome. What is the point of being near his family if his family is treating you both like crap? I think your first step is having a serious sit-down with the fiancé, where you tell him how unhappy you are with this situation. Maybe there’s a compromise, where you could move a couple of hours away, so his family is still driving distance away, but you don’t have to be in each other’s daily lives. For the most part, when it comes to problems with in-laws, I firmly believe that if it’s your mother/sister/brother causing the problem, then you need to be the one to stand up for your spouse, so tell your guy to man up!
If you’re really feeling ballsy, you could call the sister up and attempt to declare a truce. Let her know that you don’t need to like each other, but for the family’s sake, you’d like to try and make it work. Maybe do it on speaker phone from the break room at work.
Dear Mouthy Housewives,
Am I crazy or is this inappropriate behavior? We visit my mother-in-law at an ocean-side community where she spends her summers. We have 3 kids, ages 9, 7, and 3. Her camper is not in any way child proofed. She feels the children should just not touch things. This is a woman who once set her table with beautiful china for a special occasion and put a china place setting where my then-2-year old was sitting.
The kids (being kids) are curious about everything in her camper. But all they hear is “Don’t touch. Don’t put your feet on the couch. Don’t play with that.” Since we’ve had kids old enough to walk, visits have been uncomfortable as we have such extreme differences in parenting. Luckily, my husband and I are on the same page. And we have great kids (polite and well-behaved) who on occasion, make noise and touch things.
Most visits end up with me walking the kids in the yard while she asks my husband to fix her computer. Last night after supper she pulled out her last will and testament and asked my husband to read it over carefully in case he had questions. Read it over carefully? In a small enclosed space with 3 kids, 2 cats and a dog? Huh? Is there not a better, more appropriate time for such a thing? If my husband says anything, her standard response is, “I’m sorry I’m so awful and that your childhood was so terrible.”
During the school year she is 4 hours away and we do not visit, but now she is spending summers less than 45 minutes from our house and expects us to visit often. I know she is a lonely old lady who loves her grandchildren, but what can we do to make visits easier and less stressful for everyone?
I’d Rather Take My Kids to a China Shop Than My Mother-in-Law’s
Dear I’d Rather Take My Kids to a China Shop,
I was thinking about your problem while my 2-year-old twins sipped apple juice from their Tiffany English fine bone china flora teacups. And frankly, the situation sounds miserable.
Relationships with in-laws can get complicated. You mention that you and your husband are on the same page but isn’t it time for him to stand up to his mother? I understand she’s old and means well but what exactly does she expect your kids to do at her house? Play mah jongg?! (Although I think that’s what Marinka’s kids do.)
I’ve noticed that as people get older, they sort of forget what children are like. Who can blame them? They are probably blocking out some traumatic event like the time their toddler pooped in her pants during the middle of dinner at a restaurant and they had no spare clothes. (This may or may not have happened to me in the past week.)
But your husband needs to refresh your mother-in-law’s memory because children – even well behaved ones – need some leeway. He should say to him mom, “We love you and we enjoy seeing you but it’s unrealistic to expect young kids to sit in your camper and not touch anything. So until they are a little older, why don’t we meet at a playground or at the beach so they can run around while we visit together.” Or maybe you can take her out to dinner when you visit. Anything to avoid that camper!
If she’s not able to get around, then bring a bag of stuff for the kids to do (drawing, board games, books, etc) and then grab ice cream for them afterwards for suffering through another visit to grandma’s where the only thing they are apparently allowed to do is look at her adoringly.
Remember – you are not required to visit her constantly and if she has any documents for your husband to look over, he should take them home and do it there.
Good luck and remember the summer usually flies by!