In-laws are, to borrow a phrase from the British, a "sticky wicket." They've raised our spouses, who love them and understand them in a way we just can't. Coming into a new family, devoid of the same history and common bonds that connect the rest of them together, can make for some problems that cannot be addressed without serious drama ensuing. That drama can't always be helped, though, so I asked moms to reveal a time they've stood up to their in-laws. I found no dearth of people willing to respond to my questions but, wouldn't you know it, no one wanted to use their real name. I wonder why that is...
The most common adversary in the stories below are mother-in-laws, though father-in-laws don't get off the hook completely. Now chances are, if your mother-in-law is giving you trouble now that you have kids, she almost certainly provided challenges before they were born. Maybe even before you were married. But I also feel like, if they really think about it, moms can find some empathy for the general plight of the dramatic mother-in-law. After all, mother-in-laws are moms themselves. It has to be hard to face a situation in which you absolutely have to change your dynamic with your child.
Of course lots of moms manage this transition with grace and understanding (shout-out to my mother-in-law, y'all) but for others, well, it's a struggle. In that struggle emerge any number of interpersonal difficulties that can make your life, and relationship with your partner's mom, hellish and unbearable. At the very least, they'll keep you from being able to hold your tongue another minute more and, before you know it, you're standing up to your in-laws, just like the following moms:
"After years of dealing with my Southern Baptist mother-in-law calling me out about not being a Christian (in her eyes, because I didn't accept Jesus in front of a crowd of people) and not attending church regularly, I let her have it. We both bawled our eyes out and I told her I always get extremely uncomfortable with her bringing it up all the time. That my family believes Church doesn't make you a Christian and that, from what I had I observed, her Christian ways involved judging others every time we stepped foot into her church. It was ugly, but it felt glorious."
"My mother-in-law (who I should say is generally a wonderful grandmother) was complaining ad nauseam about my daughter's, admittedly very annoying, food obsessiveness. I mentioned that the behavior is very common among kids who have been in foster care, and my mother-in-law's response was, 'But she wasn't even 2! It's been years.' I gave her some kind of lecture about how what happens to babies when their brains are developing and subsequently shaping who you are for the rest of your life. Oh, I was in a rage. We have had so many conversations over the years about trauma and neglect and she, apparently heard, none of it."
"My mother-in-law lives with me and doesn't speak English. It's a disaster 24/7, but our biggest blowout so far was when I painted my then 3-year-old daughter's toe nails, and her then 2-year-old brother asked me to do his, too. For the first time ever, he sat still and let me touch his toes. That night he proudly copied his sister when she took off her socks and showed off her beautiful pink toes. Ensue screaming and crying from my mother-in-law, claiming I was going to make my son gay. She tried to convince him that he needed to come with her so she could take the nail polish off his toes, that only girls could do that. F*ck you, lady! I fought back hard, saying it's my child, my decision, and was so, so relieved when my husband (raised in a 'macho' manner) backed me up and told her that was ridiculous and old fashioned/backward thinking."
[Writer's note: "Larissa" adds "P.S.— As a general rule, 2 year olds don't let you near their toe nails with a nail clipper. Painting his toe nails pink turned out to be the best idea ever because it made them so much easier to see and clipping was much easier/quicker." Smart!]
"My husband's mother worshipped his ex-wife for whatever reason, maybe because she lives in Europe with their son and she sees that as exotic, or possibly because she blamed the divorce on my husband. For whatever reason, it was still going on by the time I came along and when I stood up for my husband after she was constantly going between him and his ex-wife, I was told that I didn't matter and there was history with [the ex]. We haven't spoken to them in almost a year, so obviously our 1-year-old daughter doesn't matter either."
"My in-laws from Iran came to stay with us after my son was born for supposedly three months to help. When they got here I found out they planned on staying for six months. My mother-in-law's idea of help was basically rearranging and redecorating my house.
One day I came home after being out and she had found about five pictures that were in boxes in the basement that she obviously wanted hung. She decided to get a hammer and nails and hang them. When I got home I ripped them off the walls and put huge gobs of spackle over the ten nail holes she had put in my walls. She got the message. When my husband got home, I told him someone is leaving, either her or me, his choice. He got them a plane ticket back to Iran a couple days later."
"My mother-in-law was on my husband's bank account before we got married. Right after we were married, we told her that she was going to be removed. She wasn't happy, and she said that she wanted to stay on the account. I said, 'Fine. Why don't I go get my mom and add her, too, and then both of our moms can be on the account!' She responded that that was absurd, and I responded, 'Exactly, which is why you are being removed. We're adults. We don't need our moms on our bank account.' She refused to sign the paper to have her removed, so we closed the account and started a new one."
[Writer's note: *barfing sounds*]
"I quietly put up with my father-in-law's sh*t for years because men in my culture are very much the head of the house, so everyone is sort of trained to deal with their garbage. Then one day he shamed my 9-year-old daughter for eating ice cream and I f*cking lost it. That opened the floodgates and now I regularly call him out. At first it caused a strain but, I will give him credit, he's learned when to hold his tongue."
"I had to assert myself more firmly than I usually like when my mother-in-law tried to tell me I was starving my baby by only giving him breast milk and not formula. She was staying with us for a few weeks while I was on maternity leave, and I appreciated her being there, but she was relentless. Mind you he was growing like a weed and never even cried, so I don't know why she was so insistent. But on day five or so I just had to shut it down. I'm usually really patient with her (she's a good lady, really) but my postpartum hormones and lack of sleep made it all too much."
"It was actually before we had kids. We were dress shopping for my wedding gown with my mom and bridal party when my mother-in-law started talking about how she was 'just going to wear' her wedding gown to my wedding. We all thought she was joking. She wasn't. I had been dating her son for about seven years, I'd been very respectful until then, but this was my breaking point. I made it very clear that not only would she not be wearing her wedding dress to her son's wedding, but that it was really damn creepy to even entertain the idea.
I'll bet the ladies in the dress shop still tell the story, because it must have been quite the scene. She started crying and I didn't feel sorry.
Things haven't improved much since then, by the way, but that was the first time."
[Writer's note: I asked, you guys. The crazy mother-in-law didn't wear her wedding gown.]
"That would be the time my in-laws kept trying to push their way into the hospital room while I was in labor. My husband had apparently misplaced his spine, so I had to be the one tell them that if they kept trying to come into the room before the baby was actually born I was going to ask hospital security to escort them out.
Don't mess with a mama bear, especially not when she's having contractions!"
"Never, if I want to see tomorrow."
[Writer's note: survival is the name of the game, "Raven." I don't blame you one bit. These in-laws are no damn joke.]