This morning, during breakfast with my baby, I had a direct conversation with my MIL, hoping to address the issue of our child’s behavior in restaurants. I shared a specific incident that occurred during our last family restaurant outing, highlighting the chaos of screaming, food and utensil throwing, a jealous older sibling, and my husband’s frustration. I honestly expressed my feelings, explaining how going out to eat is the last thing I want to do, as it disrupts the baby’s nap and prevents me from truly enjoying time with my children. I mentioned that I didn’t want to detract from her Mother’s Day and suggested alternatives like brunch without me or another day out with my husband. It seemed like she understood and we even considered having a picnic instead. However, things took a turn for the worse when my husband spoke to her later that morning.
According to my husband, she exuded cold disapproval and made comments about various unrelated matters. She reluctantly mentioned, “I guess we’ll have to do a picnic then,” but refused to discuss the menu or make any arrangements for takeout. My husband said she thought I was distant and angry with her, which surprised me because I thought our conversation went well when I was direct and honest. My husband is now disgusted by the whole dynamic and wants to write his mom a clear letter expressing how her behavior is ruining holidays and their relationship, and suggesting she seek counseling.
I told my husband that I have decided to bring the kids home for a nap after church on Sunday, and then take them to a playground for a picnic and ice cream in the afternoon. I invited anyone to join us or suggested that my husband, MIL, and FIL could have their brunch together and join me and the kids later if they wished. I refuse to continue this back-and-forth, so I made my decision and they can figure out what they want to do.
I’m concerned about the potential fallout from my decision not to give in, as well as my husband’s plan to confront his mother. I fear there may be yelling and hurt feelings, which is exactly what I wanted to avoid. However, we find ourselves in the same disputes every holiday or vacation. My MIL exhibits controlling behavior and lacks flexibility in adapting to the changing needs of our family and children. I understand that this confrontation needs to happen, even if things may worsen before they get better. It saddens me that we have to tiptoe around holidays and special occasions if our vision doesn’t align with hers. I’m also worried that she might retaliate by refusing to help with childcare, which would immediately impact my ability to work.