Recently we have been discussing toxic family members again in our house. My parents were both pretty toxic to us growing up (my father is undiagnosed bipolar, I am pretty sure, and my mom beat my self-esteem into nothing to the point where I didn’t look at myself in a mirror for years… this is an extreme simplification but you get the idea), although these days my dad is pretty chill to us. My mom still has her issues with me and we fight a decent amount. The truly most toxic family we have in our lives right now is our mother in law and her family. She’s worked pretty hard to convince all my husband’s aunts, uncles, and other various assorted family think we are horrible people. This weekend against our better judgement we made plans with her yet again.
This last Friday we made plans with my husband’s family to go to their annual local fair with them like we have been for a decade or so now. The last 2 years (basically the only ones my daughter has been able to participate in) they have flaked out on us.
My husband’s mother INSISTS we have to make plans with her and his sister’s every year no matter what for this event. But last year they stood us up entirely without a word. His mom and sister made separate plans for each of them, doing something else. But the kicker was nobody called us. We showed up at the fair and started wandering around doing things because we figured we would see them eventually. They never showed up as eventually one of the answered our many calls and text messages.
Fast forward to this year. We get there, after days of his mother bugging us and basically acting like we are 12 year olds that need constant reminding of the plans. Again, we can find no one. Eventually we run into my husband’s younger sister, who is with her boyfriend, one of their cousins, and the cousins child. The child is one they babysit for constantly and complain about endlessly so we were obviously thrilled to see them. The child is unruly and basically she lied and didn’t tell us more people were invited, we were under the impression they wanted to spend time with our daughter, which none of them really did.
We tried to talk to them but they had next to no interest in us, and we parted ways because apparently they had no real plans to spend time with our child. His other sister arrives and joins their group. They even went so far as to form a cheering section for the other child on an obstacle course while my daughter was just ahead of her. We are just sort of doing our own thing because our daughter is so excited about the fair, and nobody even seems to care to speak with us let alone spend time. Finally his mother arrives and splits her time between us and the other group.
We actually did end up having a really good day. My husband and daughter got wrist bands and rode tons of rides for literally hours since we weren’t actually spending any time with his family. I stayed with the stroller and got lots of cute video of her first rides on pretty much everything and some great photos. We finally stopped for food and ice cream later on in the day. After we left the fair we drove to have a visit with my husbands dad and his wife, since we were nearby and my daughter adores her Grandpa and Grandma. When it got late we finally drove home and our little one was asleep very quickly after the fun full day. I am so glad she is at an age where she doesn’t notice the other family and how crappy they treat her and the rest of us.
But to continue with the breakdown of the rest of our day with my husbands mother, the other group leaves, and she leaves not long after. We are left wondering yet again why we even bothered to make plans with his mother and family. They are always more interested in spending time with people they see constantly than us. We are pretty sure his mother thinks we are going to ruin our child so she doesn’t care get attached to her. We also found out his middle sister is now working in our town (literally 5 minutes from us) and not only didn’t bother to tell us, but most likely has no intention of ever stopping by to visit her niece. His sister is actually becoming a mini me of his mother more and more which makes us really sad because she used to be halfway decent.
We barely see them unless his mother gets us to come up there. She refuses to spend any time at our home. We live a good distance away and we don’t have the time or money for constant travel in the same way she does. We still attempt to make an effort despite the fact that she tells my husband’s entire family what bad parents we are (we get interrogated at every family event about all our parenting choices because of her nonsense), the fact that her entire family treats me like shit and often insults me to my face while I maintain politeness, and the tells us things like we are going to turn our child into a weird hermit by homeschooling, in front of our daughter.
We are both very fed up with her juvenile behavior. It has been this way since we got married, but the birth of our daughter seems to have made her much worse. She told my husband when we got married that ‘when we get divorced it will be easier without kids’ so, you can imagine her reaction when we announced our pregnancy. She was definitely not happy. She is constantly giving him terrible relationship advice, which is extra terrible considering she has been divorced twice herself. She has literally never been in a normal functional relationship in her entire life. Needless to say we don’t take her advice about anything to do with out child or relationship. She is one of those extremely pushy people who believe her way of life is the only correct way (her religion and general personality both add to this issue) and because we are choosing our own path she thinks we are ruining our lives.
My husband does not look back fondly on the way she attempted to raise her children. Religious school that didn’t prepare them for real life, forcing her children to call her new husband dad despite the fact that he was a huge douche no one liked, treating their bio dad like shit and pushing him to give up his parental rights (which he thankfully never did, he was the only normal person in their lives), and so much more. She even pushed for herself to have more custody of the children because she wanted child support, so my husband’s dad got really shafted on how much he got to see his children because she was greedy and selfish. They viewed their dad’s home as an oasis of sanity and calm away from their mother.
She is an extremely selfish person and if you don’t do what she wants she throws tantrums and plays the martyr. It even manifested in our wedding, when she insisted her husband (who once literally choked my husband against a wall) should have a tux and be in our wedding photos like he was my husband’s dad. My husband and I had already discussed it and had no intention of that happening. When I told her she flipped her shit in front of my mom, myself, my bridesmaids, and her daughter at a restaurant. The bridesmaids all thought she was absolutely insane to say the least. All our married life is filled with stories like these, or similar ones happening to his siblings.
I wish we could get away from her toxic behavior. We aren’t quite ready to cut all ties though, mostly for the sake of his siblings. The rest of his family is entrenched in the lies she tells about us, without ever even asking us what is going on, so we aren’t as concerned about those relationships. She poisons everything and everyone she touches and our lives would be so much better without her. Here’s to someday doing our own family thing without her, because she is a terrible example to my daughter.
I don’t want my child growing up to think that emotional blackmail is ok. Or being toxic and controlling. Or any of the other myriad of issues she has. I think one day soon things may come to a boiling point, because we cannot even discuss our child’s life with nasty comments from her. We can hopefully get out from under her behavior and free ourselves from her constant drama.