Sunday, November 5

Guilt trip.

It is wet, which is good for the garden, & tank water, & I just hope some of it ends up in the dry dams.
My BFJ tells me they have too much , in NZ, & it is all spilling over the spillways at the Dam they visited on their Rainforest Railway trip.

I tossed & turned all night, thinking about the nasty name I called MIL.
I feel for GOM's sake I should clarify some things.

I was brought up to respect other peoples feelings, belongings & privacy. We did not go near our mother's purse, or look into any of her drawers.

We were taught you didnt 'nose' into other people's things, business or houses. I can still go into my daughter's house & not 'see' the condition of it. I dont care if someone has not done their housework, or the colours dont match. I suppose I was very naive to think other people were the same.

I am usually very observant in public places, but it is as if the detection/observation meter is turned off in people's private domains.

When I met GOM, or HUS as he was then, it was a while before I met his mother. The first time I met her was on a visit to relations, with HUS's daughter, who was 4 years old at the time. It was also the first time I had met his daughter. I was very shocked to be introduced as 'The Barfly'! Luckily the relatives were nice, & just laughed about it, while indicating to me they took no notice of what she said.

In the early days of what turned out to be our 'courtship', I had little to do with MIL & didn't see very much of her. (Perhaps if I had, I would have run!!)I really have no idea how she felt about our marriage, & I didnt realise what a problem she would become after we had moved down to live in 'his Island'.

My first shock came when we were staying with MIL & FIL, until we found jobs, & our own place to rent. I discovered she went through my suitcases, almost daily, & was reading all my letters from my mother. I liked to wash my 'smalls' myself, & I would find they had been taken & washed while I was at work. I used to read my mother's letters, & immediately burn them, which was awful, because I am senitmental about things like that, & love to re-read letters.

We couldnt wait to find a house to rent. But when we did, she came around & rearranged all the furniture. I said nothing, but changed it all back after she had gone. I hate confrontations, & go to silly lengths to keep the peace. But every now & then, as BFJ will testify, I can be pushed too far, & I will rear!!

MIL had grown up very poor I suppose, & then in her early marriage there was a waterfront strike, & FIL had been part of that.It was Depression time, & MIL worked all her married life, & worked very hard, & I suspect at times her job was the only thing that kept the family solvent. She was a skilled machinist, & made mens shirts, & graduation gowns for Capping. She was employed by one of the top retail shops, & always had employment. Because she had seen such hard times, she was a hoarder. She was also known to be extremely generous, & was the mother all GOM's mates turned to for loans, at weekends.

MIL also seemed to be a kleptomaniac, & I will never know the length or breadth of her stealth. She would take little things off relatives, or go & 'steal' fruit. A very complicated person.

The things she did to me sound far fetched & fantastic, & there are times when I retell some of them, that I can scarcely believe I put up with it. She used to break into our house, if we were out, & go through all the drawers & read all my mail- she even stole a letter I was in the process of writing, once!

She was not a bad grandmother to our children though, & they do have happy memories of her. They have a disabled cousin, who spent almost every weekend at MIL's & they loved staying there & spending time with J. MIL was not cruel to the grandchildren, & seemed to have endless patience with J.

MIL, like most people was a very complex woman. She had been eldest girl in a family of 7, & her father was a seaman, who was very cruel, from all the stories I have heard over the years. He was at sea a lot, but when he came home, he tattooed his poor wife, & left her pregnant one more time. They lived on a hillside in the Port & life must have been hard for them. Photographs of the old chap portray a very handsome old white haired man, but with a cruel face. He beat his wife, & children alike. GOM says his grandmother was a small lovely generous little woman. Also his paternal grandmother was very doting of him, & he spent almost every weekend with her, until she died when he was 12, which might be why he is so gentle, & tolerant.


Mil interfered relentlessly, from the day we moved, & when our son was born, she almost drove me mad with her criticism. It is hard enough but to be undercut every day was just too much. I lost my milk, & was a nervous wreck. I dont think I had realised the extent to which she used to pry into our affairs even then.


The final straw for me, came when our children & GOM's sister's children had stayed the night with MIL & FIL. We went to collect them, on Sunday morning, & as my daughter was always Mum's girl, she clung to me. This enraged MIL & she lashed out with her toungue, more criticism, so I just picked up J & went out to our car. MIL came flying out and physically attacked me, pulling my hair & shrieking, & then, I knew she had stolen the letter I had been writing all those months ago. My kids were just shocked & screamed & cried, as she yanked out clumps of my hair, through the car window. Our nephew never forgot that, & I think it changed his view of his Nanna forever, as he often refers to it, with shock, & as he was fond of me, I dont think he forgave her. It changed the way my children saw her, & it was so shocking to me, I was hysterical.

Gom & FIL came running out of the garage where they had been talking, & pulled MIl off the car, & we left. I would not have her in my house for over 6 years after that, & though GOM took the kids to visit, I never would go. She tried to apologise, but I just told her I didnt want her in my life, & that was the end of it. After we moved into the Hotel, FIL, who had retired, but worked as a tidy up man, for GOM, used to come every morning & have breakfast with the children before school, & he used to tell me 'the old girl is sorry'. I just told him I would never trust her again, & wanted nothing to do with her.

In the end I felt sorry for her, & decided one Xmas that it was time to forgive & (almost) forget. We invited them for Xmas, & MIL never took me for granted again, & was always very careful not to pry, or touch anything without asking. I am glad, for GOM's sake, that we came to a peace. I suppose she couldnt help her domineering ways, or her odd personality traits, & to a large extent was a product of her upbringing & circumstances. I dont know that she realised just how destructive her behaviour to me was. After we moved over here to live they came to stay with us, a couple of times. The last time they came was when GOM turned 50, & we could see something was radically wrong. She was beginning to get Alzhiemers. After FIL died we realised how much he had covered for her. It is a terrible disease.

She really was a mix of very complex nature. So generous & kind to so many, yet so strange in other ways. GOM's sister, of the Green Eyes, tells stories of terror, about her mother.

She was just like all of us, a flawed human, with feet of clay.
An Astrologer once told me I would have difficulities with In-Laws- well after the fact! I couldnt help but be surprised though, & wonder if it all 'planned out' for us!

3 comments:

aunty evil said...

Oh my goodness Meggie! I struggle with my MIL sometimes, I despair that she seems to have problems letting go of the apron strings with her son and daughter. She can also be very critical in her manner, and when I challenge her replies "I can't help being a mother". There are a few choice words on my mind at those times, you can usually replace the word "mother" with them! Having said all that, mostly she can be a wonderful person, and has welcomed me into the family unreservedly. It just goes to show there is always someone worse off than yourself, and your story has made me resolve to give my MIL a big hug next time I see her.

Stomper Girl said...

I bet no-one can ever top your Mother-in-law story! A little bit of sympathy for her as she was obviously damaged, but poor, poor you in that situation, how ghastly!!

My float said...

OH my, that was a MIL story to top all MIL stories.

I am so sorry your MIL was like that. I think you were very generous, allowing her to still see your children. I would have cut her off in a flash, even to the detriment of my child. What a generous, loving soul you are.