Tuesday, August 05, 2008

They Say It's Your Birthday

Posted By Anonymous.

Dear Mother-in-law,

Damn! Already off to a bad start. Because technically, you are not my in-law. You’re the woman who birthed that guy I live with. Your son. As far as you know, your son and I have not had a stranger declare us Husband and Wife. We haven’t handed money over to The Government in exchange for a piece of paper that makes our relationship legitimate. And we haven’t held a big party so that relatives can grumble later that the food was too spicy.

I’ve been with your son for eight years, and for seven of those we’ve been living outside the law. Except we haven’t, not really. We pay taxes together and get invited places together and he was on my group health plan at work. We’re boring outlaws, really.

I’m writing to you because once again, you haven’t bothered to acknowledge my birthday. And I want you to know that it really hurts.

I know, crazy, right? I’m a grown woman, with 34 birthdays behind me; I should be beyond such petty things as acknowledgement of the day I was born. But here’s the thing:

You send your grown son, the son in his mid-thirties, the son who has not lived with you or been financially dependent on you for 15 years – you send him cards all the time. Valentine cards. Easter cards. Halloween cards. You sewed a giant advent calendar one year. You sent stuffed bunny rabbits at Easter the following year. You address these cards and age-inappropriate gifts to him, and you’ve kept them coming steadily over the years.

But there is no birthday card for the woman who lives with him. You know, the person he shares his life with? The gal he loves?

Your daughter told me that her boyfriend, whose birthday is three days after mine, received a birthday card AND a gift card from you this year. Which of course was very nice of you. Very thoughtful.

But nothing for me. Okay: it’s petty time.

As stated above, and as you are well aware, we have been together for eight years. Your daughter and her boyfriend have been together half that time. I have a friend who has gone through two divorces in the past eight years. It is not an insignificant amount of time, and it has not always been easy. YOU KNOW THAT.

I’ve sent you birthday cards and pestered your son to make sure we get a present off to you on time.

I’ve wracked my brain to come up with interesting birthday gifts for you. I’ve written thank-you notes for the Christmas presents you sent.

Boyfriend tells me that you’ve never even asked when my birthday is. Whoa – here’s some more pettiness: my mother has his birthday marked on her calendar and she always sends him a gift. Always always always.
She’s not too happy about us not being married either, but her marriage is a pit of misery and despair, and I think she’s pretty happy to see me happy. I shouldn’t compare you to my mom, but I can’t help it.

One year you happened to call on my birthday, and when Boyfriend told you we were about to go out to celebrate – you asked to speak to me. You wished me a happy birthday. It was very nice.
That’s when I thought “Aha! Now she knows when my birthday is! I’m gonna get a card next year! Or a phone call! Or an email!” Problem solved. I did a happy dance. Acknowledgement from the family of the man I love!

But that was….five? years ago. No birthday card from you, ever. But those weird valentines and stuffed animals keep on arriving.

I married your son one spring day seven years ago. I don’t remember the date. But I remember how I felt that day, when we made the overwhelmingly adult decision to move in together. I remember my tummy fluttering with the realization that I wanted to be with this man through everything. EVERYTHING. We didn’t want a wedding, we didn’t want a party, we didn’t want someone else to declare us married. I know this is not within your realm of reality, but couldn’t you just pretend?

Mother-in-law, I don’t want to send you any more birthday cards. I don’t want to pay for super expensive shipping costs to make sure a birthday gift arrives on time. But then I have a problem, because of that good ol’ credo: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I think those are fairly wise words to live by.

See? There’s the problem. Because I love getting things in the mail, and I love it when people remember my birthday, I know that you must like it too. To know that someone spent time choosing or making a card, addressing an envelope, looking for a stamp? Or a phone call. An email. It’s nice to be thought of.

But I think I’m being a bit of a chump here. What would Miss Manners tell me to do? She would tell me to suck it up and just get married already. And to handwrite the marriage announcements. But that advice messes with MY belief system, which is often contrary to the beliefs of Society At Large. But my belief system is important to me.

Your birthday is coming up, so I have to make a decision soon about whether to throw something in the damn mail for you. But whatever I decide, PLEASE stop sending your son valentine cards meant for a 10 year old. It was kind of funny at first, but now it’s just….creepy.

Sincerely,
Fake Daughter-in-law

21 comments:

flutter said...

she sounds pretty fucking rude.

Heather said...

Sounds to me like this woman has a case of the bitchies. Although I am curious as to why your "husband" hasn't stepped up to the plate. I know if the tables were turned for me that I would definatly ask my parents what was up....like LONG ago.

Anonymous said...

Once again----devil's advocate here {{raises hand}}

I don't know if this is the case with you and your MIL or not, but I do know that my daughter has been dating someone seriously for almost 3 years. SHE is my responsibility. HE is not. He has a mother to send him cards and gifts, and what his mother sends to HIM is none of my daughter's business to criticize.

Honestly, I don't like him. I can't change the fact that she wants to be with him, but I don't have to be nice to him.

I say put on your big girl undies and get over it. Everyone DOES NOT have to like you, even your BF's mother.

Anonymous said...

Amen, get over it. As for making a decision about the m-i-l's birthday? There should be no limit to the amount of graciousness YOU can have. Forget about hers.

Kate said...

Honey, stop sending her cards. Yes, you should absolutely do-unto-others, but would you like to start getting cards from people who don't care about you and don't much like you?

No. What you like is getting cards and gifts from people who care about you and wish you well. That's not her, and you can't make it happen.

Don't nag boyfriend, either. If he wants his mother to have a card on her birthday, he'll figure out a way to remember. Not your problem. If she was nice to you, it would be a different story. But she's not.

Some people will treat you with the very minimum amount of thought and care that you will accept from them. It's not the way I live my life, and I wouldn't want to, but that's a whole other issue.

My MIL is similar, and infuriating. I've stopped taking her bad treatment of me personally, though now I have kids and her inconsistent treatment of them makes my ears bleed.

Patois said...

You're stuck with that Golden Rule, I'm afraid. But your husband needs to tell his mother that acknowledging your birthday is something she needs to start doing.

Fortunately, I've been blessed with great in-laws, and my mother loves my husband so we've not had any of these issues. She even loved him when we were the proud parents of two bastards. (We didn't marry until our second was a year old. Long story.)

Anyway, sorry you had this hanging over you on what should always be a joyous day: your birthday!

Guilty Secret said...

I am inclined to pity rather than hate this woman. She obviously has issues with you and she would rather let it fester than work through them or try to work it out with you. And sending your grown-up son Valentines? That's just weird. Poor woman obviously hasn't got over the fact her son has grown up. See why I feel sorry for her rather than angry at her?

Anyway, my advice to you would be this: let go. You can't control other people's thoughts, feelings, or behaviour. Do what you want according to how you feel (with regards sending her a card and gift or not), not what you think will elicit the response you want.

Oh, and happy birthday :)

Leah said...

Whoa. This sounds exactly like what I went through with my own boyfriend of seven-plus years. The one I eventually got engaged to and then, thank god, broke up with (for a variety of reasons, although his weirdo mother certainly played her part).

So having been there--right down to the creepy V-day cards and stuffed animals intended for a ten-year-old--here's what I think: this woman has serious attachment issues to her son (and obviously not to her daughter, as evidenced by her treatment of the daughter's boyfriend). Maybe it's just that she doesn't like you or approve of your relationship, but more likely it's that she's jealous of the place you hold in her son's life--i.e., she feels you have replaced her and so she's clinging to every last shred of being a "mommy" to her "baby," and that includes ignoring you and denying the role you play.

I suspected this for years in my own relationship, but I wasn't completely convinced until I saw the exact same thing happen with my ex and his next girlfriend. Different girl, different relationship, different circumstances, same exact treatment from the mother.

SHE has the problem, not you.

pkzcass said...

Forget the high road. I wouldn't send her a card. Let your husband do it, and if he forgets, then he can deal with his mother when she calls and whines about it. Sounds like she doesn't live close by. That's very lucky for you. Don't waste the time, energy, or money on doing unto her. Some people will never learn on their own and eventually have to be taught.

Anonymous said...

Heck, she might be relieved if you give up sending her stuff on her birthday.

Clearly you are someone who loves acknowledging others on their birthdays, as well as being acknowledged yourself; it's a generous thing to do. But you lost me a bit with "I know you must like it too..." Believe me, some of us don't. I hate getting birthday cards & presents even more than I hate giving them. The whole thing feels to me like a giant, booby-trapped hassle. Presents don't make me feel loved--they make me feel obligated, and anxious.

It sounds like your MIL has a bunch of other issues with you, though, for which you have my complete sympathy.

Toni said...

MILs suck. Seriously, they do.

Mine is a raving Beyotch who does acknowledge my bday with thoughtless or insulting gifts so sometimes the ignoring is better than the acknowledging when it makes you feel thissmall.

As Leah says, it is her problem. She's the one who hasn't accepted that he has grown up and, as one who lives it daily and has for 12 years, it may never get any better- married or not.

I have chosen to send the gifts but it is YOUR choice and BFs duty so, leave it to him. It is also his job to have your back and stand up to mommy dearest no matter how much it pains him to do so...which may also not change a thing. It may, however, prove to both of you who he loves best....

Good luck. Sounds to me like you're gonna need it!

Anonymous said...

Been there done that... sent her cards for her b-day/xmas/mother's day/easter/etc. Getting her creative, tasteful, nice, gifts (like the ones I would expect to get from her)
In return, I get .99cts cards with cheesy characters and stupid phrases and her signature.
The last time she gave me something similar to a gift was in 03= a $20 check. Before that USED things she gets from her employers/neighbors/etc.before they throw them away or send them to goodwill.
But she doesn't give my husband gifts either.... And expects him to pay for her tickets to come visit etc.
The thing that did it for me was to see the cheap disgusting things she buys my daughter, her only grandchild, whom she comes visit with the tickets my husband buys her.
Toys from the 99cts store, clothes that are not either her size or gender, used toys from her employer's grandkids and crap in general.
That said, I simply stopped.
Like other comments said, let her son worry about her.
Use the money you were planning on spending on her gift on something nice for you and your boyfriend.

It's not the monetary issue, is a matter of genuine interest of making the person your son has chosen happy.
MIL's are a pest.

G from L.A

Pencils said...

Look, you tried. You sent her cards and presents, while your BF, her son, apparently sat on his ass and did nothing. All the while she sent inappropriate cards and gifts to her son. She's not going to change, even if you do get married--it's not about the lack of a wedding ring. It's about you taking her pwecious baby son away from her. Mothers should not be sending Valentines to adult sons. It's weird. What you need to do is be polite to your Not-MiL, but don't go out of your way for her. The Golden Rule is good and all, except it's making you into a chump. Don't be a chump.

I'm sorry your Not-MiL is who she is. But not all MiLs are terrible--I liked mine, she had a nasty sense of humor that I enjoyed. Yes, that's a past tense, she died of inflammatory breast cancer seven months before I married her son, at age 62. I miss her.

Chatty said...

Wait, are you dating my husband? Because I have to tell you, if you are, even IF you marry him, his mother will not change. The problem, my dear, is not that you are not married, it's that she has to share him with you.

Welcome to the Bad (Not) Mother in Laws Club! Can I pour you a drink?

Anonymous said...

Wow, some really nice comments you have here. IF you do choose to "get over it", will you let me know how you did it, because really-- I had no idea my husband had a brother. I think what she's doing is mean and hard hearted. Regardless of what she thinks of you being married or not, or whether or not she likes you, as a permanent fixture in her son's life, she should at least be civil. SHAME on her son for not defending you. You'll probably continue to mail her cards-- I have for 12 years now.

Maria said...

I have been married for 17 years and my MIL has never acknowledged my birthday either. I think I would be disappointed now if she did! It used to bother me a lot, but now, not so much.

joannsputer said...

I can completely sympathize BUT, here's a kicker. I have married the man, ceremony, party, 2nd marriage for both of us. Not only do I NOT get a card, my children don't either. After 6 years married to this man and my children's faces year after year of getting nothing from her I decided that it was my husband's responsibility to take care of her cards and gifts, not mine. I don't even sign my name, I tell him that he can sign it. As far as the kids, they are now going to be 16 & 18 and I tell them her birthday is coming up and ask them if they'd like to go buy her a card.....I let that decision up to them.
I also told my husband (in your case, boyfriend) that it was HIS place to say something to her about it. About the hurt feelings and no cards, gifts, etc. When he did tell her and then still nothing from her, not even a phone call, I wiped my hands of it. I wasn't raised like that, I was taught the same values and morals you probably were. I have turned the other cheek, tried attracting bees with honey, etc. but I decided that I would not let her "win" Good luck with your situation and understand that you are not alone.

Anonymous said...

oh my goodness. i have to write this annoymously because this issue is very close to the bone. my in-laws were like this until my husband and i bought it up in a difficult conversation with them once. my family don't live near me and i thought it would be nice if they even acknowledged my birthday. the venom that came out of my FIL's mouth in response was horrible. my b'day this year was really embarrasing cause they all got me gifts and took me out to dinner... in-laws, difficult stuff!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Why would you remove my comment?
Maybe the truth hurts?

Grow up and start acting like a
self respecting woman...then others
will respect you.

I thought about what I wrote, it
was blunt but I think necessary.
Sorry if I hurt your feelings but
not sorry about the comments.

Her Bad Mother said...

Anonymous - I'm not the author of this post, but I am the blog administrator here and I take for responsibility for the discussion that goes on here. I guarantee posters here a safe place to share their secrets and issues, and that means sometimes deleting comments that I deem unnecessarily hurtful. If you read prior discussions you'll see that strong and sometimes harsh opinions are shared, but what NEVER happens is name calling.

There's a difference between blunt and hurtful. You called the poster something hurtful, so I deleted your comment. If you have a kinder way of expressing your opinion, that's fine, but calling someone an "unpaid whore" is, in my opinion just a crass insult.