I only have a daughter at the moment, no sons as yet. When Little Bean is a bit older we’re planning on another baby and in case we should happen to stumble across a son and eventually that son is all grown up with a life of his own, possibly including a girlfriend or wife who may or may not fall pregnant, this blog is intended as a reminder to myself. A reminder of the reasons why my relationship with my husband’s mother failed. . . Miserably.
I think to a certain extent the relationship was always destined for some amount of failure for a number of reasons already present before Hubchin and I had even met.
- HM (Hubchin’s Mother) having two sons, really wanted another child (ideally a daughter) herself.
- HM was the only woman in her family of her husband and 2 sons.
- Hubchin hadn’t really had any long term ‘serious’ relationships before meeting me.
- Hubchin still lived at home with HM, his father and younger brother when we met.
- Hubchin and his brother had mostly adopted an ‘anything for an easy life’ attitude with HM and were relatively lazy in some ways, allowing HM to ‘mother’ them 24/7, and mother them she did. In a very bossy, clingy, needy and overbearing way.
- I had a very good relationship with my exes mother, I had known her since I was a young teen, she saw me grow and we had a solid relationship independent of her son. I expected the same sort of closeness with HM, which was wrong of me.
When Hubchin and I met, I was living over 100 miles away, meaning when I visited (after the initial romantic ‘hotels’ honeymoon period) I stayed at HMs house and was obviously keen to get along with her, so probably came across as a bit of a soft touch. This was a false impression, I am most definitely not one of those, sorry HM.
Initially, things were good. Hubchin and I got engaged, I fell pregnant and when it came to my maternity leave we decided I would relocate up North and we would set our lives up there. This made sense as I grew up North, all my family and old friends were there and I’d always planned on moving back. So at 7 months pregnant I finished work and moved. HM offered us to stay at their house while we were looking for a house to buy. Again, this made sense as HM house was 5mins from Hubchin’s work, whereas my mother’s was around 50mins away and as it was to be a temporary arrangement we didn’t want to get into a 6 month rental etc. This was probably one of our biggest mistakes.
I look back on those few months before Little Bean arrived and think how could it all have gone so wrong? We all got on like a house on fire, we paid them ‘rent’ to live there, we wouldn’t have had it any other way and there were no big problems. We bought a house from the plans, it wouldn’t be fully ready to move into until Little Bean was 10 weeks old.
On reflection the alarm bells should have been sounding loud and clear from when my mat leave began. It wasn’t till then I realised how overbearing HM was with her sons. I made excuses for her, placing blame on the boys being lazy and letting her get away with it, but in the time since, I’ve seen how that need for control extends into everything she does. With the boys (Actually not boys but men- hubchin aged 26 and his brother 20) she wanted to know where they were, who with, what doing, what they had where in their rooms, how much money they had & what they’d spent to name a few. She made all their meals, did their washing, ironing and cleaning. I originally saw this as over-mothering them out of misplaced kindness, but wonder now if it wasn’t just to gain as much control as possible over their lives, as these everyday things were also accompanied by stranger acts such as going through their drawers when they weren’t in, opening their post, telling them who to text and endless other things that didn’t seem normal to me.
A sideline misconception that I think HM developed during my time staying with them was that she thought that I wasn’t very close to my own mother. The opposite of this is true. I left home when I was 19 to go to uni/get a job etc and moved to Leeds, some 150 miles away from home with my parents blessing and support. I had a wonderful upbringing and have always been very close to both of my parents, my mam is one of my very best friends, I have always spoken to her on a daily basis and hold her in the highest possible regard as a person as well as a mother.
A few weeks into my stay at HM’s house (I was probably around 34 weeks pregnant by then) our problems with each other started. I found her nosiness a bit too much, I thought her ignoring our requests that she knock before entering our bedroom was rude and I started to dislike the controlling side of her. She alluded to my parents being ‘posh’ (which they aren’t ), repeatedly told me that she thought I wasn’t the kind of girl she thought her son would end up with and spent a week or so being very noticeably snappy and rude to Hubchin and his brother, then one night when I was out she spoke to them both about them saying they liked my cooking, telling them it upset her. I cook well, I admit. Since I could talk and understand my mother has taught me to cook and bake, she did the same for my siblings and their children. We are all capable in the kitchen and I particularly really enjoy cooking. I like to spend an hour making a meal from scratch, I have no problem whatsoever with people who don’t like to do this, that’s fine, but I do. HM doesn’t enjoy to cook and told me on numerous occasions that she just never learnt how. Hubchin and his brother were raised eating frozen pizzas, burgers and chips. Again, that is fine, not up my street but each to their own. From then on I felt awful for making her uncomfortable in her own house so I never cooked again whilst staying there.
Most of this I felt I was unjust to be complaining about, as it was her house, I was a guest there. If she wants to walk in the bedroom without knocking, who am I to object? It upsets her for me to cook a meal, no problem I don’t want to upset her. Its her house, not mine. And, I was quite heavily pregnant and still in the early days of my relationship with the in laws so was keen to gloss over these problems as opposed to confront them. Hubchin would strongly say that she needed to be told straight and quite harshly or she wouldn’t listen and I’d argue that it would all be fine, no need to upset her just leave it. This was another of our (well my) biggest mistakes.
Lastly came the baby comments. My bump was growing, baby could potentially come anytime and HM started to make her intentions regarding the baby very clear.
The sort of things that Hubchin and I were ‘concerned’ about were:
- (Group conversation about following Christmas) I said to hubchin, ‘next Christmas everyone will be wanting a hold of the baby’ HM replied ‘no-one else is getting a look in, that baby will be on my hip, permanently’
- (Group conversation about the baby crying) HM ‘If that baby is a crier me and my friend will just take her out in the pram every night for a walk, that always works’
- (HM telling me about conversation with a friend of hers who I’ve never met) ‘We can’t wait to take her (baby) shopping with us, we can go on Wednesdays.’
- (Group conversation about visitors after the birth) Hubchin ‘ We don’t want anyone round to visit us in the first few days, we’ll be tired, getting to know baby etc’ HM ‘ Everyone will want to be round to see that baby, (list of friends & family- most of whom I’d never met) all want to come. Don’t worry you two can just stay upstairs and I’ll have the baby downstairs to show her off.’
- (Conversation between me & HM about HM’s parents) HM ‘ I’ve told my mam & dad that they’ll only have to smoke in the kitchen (at their house) when that baby’s born. I mean I’ve said, I’ll have the baby with me there at least 2 or 3 times a week’
- (Conversation between me & HM about my intentions to Breastfeed) HM ‘Well Breastfeeding’s all well and good but it’s not really fair to anyone else, I mean I‘ll want to give her a bottle so its no good for me if you breastfeed.
These are a few examples, I know there were many more. We tried to gently approach some of the most concerning ones with HM, she brushed us off and swiftly changed the subject.
Everyone I spoke to told me she’d be a nightmare in terms of interfering with the baby and pushing in all the time. Her husband, Hubchin’s brother, Hubchin’s friends all warned me, Even her co-worker and friend even said to me ‘watch out mind cos she’s already told me she’s going to have the baby everyday so I wouldn’t be surprised if you wake up on a morning and your baby’s already gone, she’ll sneak in and take her when your asleep you know!’
Fortunately we were lucky enough to have arranged for Hubchin to have 5 weeks off work after the baby was born. We intended to spend the first week or so at HMs, then maybe have a few days at my mams, then alternate equally for the remainder of the 5 weeks. We’d been clear that we wanted to spend the first few weeks getting to know our little one, learning to breastfeed etc.
At a gathering at my parent’s house a few weeks before the birth, HM informed my mam and my sister that she’d arranged to have the week off work from the day the baby was born, she said that her son was obviously going to be rubbish and wouldn’t have clue with the baby so she’d need to be there to be there 24/7 and that I’d be too tired so she’d need to have the baby most of the time. She also told my mam that she was welcome to visit the me and the baby a few times in the first few weeks for an hour or so, but to check first as there was going to be people knocking the door down and lots of visitors everyday.
This was news to me and hubchin, we had no idea she was taking time off and we’d expressly said no visitors. We were worried she was expecting too much, so told her we’d be spending quite a bit of time at my mams so she wouldn’t have false expectations and she still didn’t tell us she’d taken the time off work….
At this point I think I was still defending her and trying to pretend everything was going to be fine, she’d behave when the baby got here and I’d probably be glad of the help for a few hours here and there.
Then the baby came. And the problems really began……