I know most of us tend to think of ourselves as "good" people, and I am no exception. I like to think I have a big heart, and it influences everything I do. I also can be pretty charming, which might sound egotistical, but it's true. I'm pretty good at reading other people’s personalities, and figuring out what it is they want or need from me. I don’t try to change myself so they can like me better, but I can be more serious, more lighthearted, or more sarcastic, depending on the personality of the person I'm talking to. For this reason, people usually like me. I’m not saying they love me, but they like me. Because I care about making them like me, and I also care about liking them.
Which is why I kind of thought that when I first met my mother-in-law, she would fall in love with me. But that wasn't the case, and I think it's safe to say that my mother-in-law hates me. In fact, she hates me so much that one day, I had to confront her about it. And needless to say, it didn't go well.
When I first met my husband’s mom, I thought we'd get along great. She seemed lovely, and we got along well. But after we got married and had a child, her attitude toward me totally changed. Put simply, the woman just doesn't agree with the way I parent her grandchild. When I see her, she smiles at me and asks if I need some food or a drink and what I want for Christmas, but I can feel her true feelings for me all the way to the nerves of my feet. She does not like me. It’s uncomfortable, sad, and tough for me to deal with.
I started out by stating the obvious, simply by looking her in the eye and saying:“YOU DON’T LIKE ME."
I believe in confronting difficult issues head-on. I don’t like to push things aside, or make excuses for why an issue hasn’t been addressed. I like to let the cat out of the bag and beat it to death. I usually think it's best to talk about issues. After all, that's the only way we have any chance of fixing them.
So last winter, when my husband was out of town and my mother-in-law stopped by to see the baby, I went for it. As we sat in my kitchen, I mustered up my strength to look her straight in the eye and say it, strong and loud, though my lip was quivering and tears started to fall from my eyes. I started out by stating the obvious, simply saying:“YOU DON’T LIKE ME."
I wish to God I had had the foresight to grab my phone and record our talk, because it lasted so long and so much had been said. But here's what I remember: although at first, she insisted that she did like me, she struggled to think of anything about me that was actually likable until she finally said, "I mean, you're artistic..."
I was shocked by this, to say the least. I’m artistic? I think you were supposed to say “Of course I like you. You’re a good person with a good heart and I can see that you are raising my grandson with a lot of joy and being a solid partner to my son. I couldn’t ask for more. I am grateful for you.” That is what I wanted her to say. I wanted her to say that she sees who I am inside and that I actively want the best for her son and grandson.
But she didn't say that. Instead, she said I was artistic. She also said at one point that I make her out to be “a real bitch," which surprised me because she's usually not one to cuss.
My mother-in-law doesn’t like me any more than she did before, and I suppose I’m not sure how much I like her, either. But I don't regret talking to her about it. I had to confront her, because that’s who I am. I had to speak my truth and speak it loud.
Sadly, the confrontation really didn’t accomplish much. She doesn’t like me any more than she did before, and I suppose I’m not sure how much I like her, either. But I don't regret talking to her about it. I had to confront her, because that’s who I am. I had to speak my truth and speak it loud and let her know that I see how she sees me, or rather, that she really doesn’t see me at all.
I called my husband the minute she left the house.
“Oh, man. I just went off on your mom," I told him. "I told her everything I feel — that I know she doesn’t like me and that it hurts me and isn’t fair…and…um…” I hesitated, slightly scared of his response.
“I’m glad you talked to her if that was something you needed to do," he said. "I hope it made you feel a little better about things. And I support whatever way you need to communicate with her.”
She may not like me, but I guess she doesn’t really have to. Because her son loves me completely.