She talks trash about my parenting
Dear Amy: I can’t stand my mother-in-law. I think that she is a terrible person.
All she does is gossip, make herself out to be the hero in every situation, and judge others.
She was a terrible mother to her children (her daughter is estranged from her). The only reason my husband keeps her around is because she’s “family.”
He has told me on multiple occasions that he doesn’t like her, but that he has to love her.
Regardless, she comes over once or twice a week, which in my opinion is way too often, but it’s when I’m working (I work three days a week from 5 to 11 am), and my husband wants to sleep in.
She will sit on the couch and scold my kids whenever they make noise or want to play.
Then she goes around bragging about what a great grandmother she is and how she has to come over because I’m “too busy to be a mother.”
I have never once asked her to come sit with the kids.
It’s just so frustrating because I’m the one constantly getting judged for everything, while my husband gets to sleep in and not do anything around the house.
I really don’t want her to come over so often, but anytime I bring it up to my husband, it starts an argument.
What can I do?
Dear Upset: You don’t mention what work your husband does, but unless he works a night shift, he should get out of bed in the mornings in order to take care of his children. This is what good parents do. Otherwise, it would look as if your husband is “too sleepy to be a father.”
If your husband is so devoted to his mother that he needs to see her twice a week, then perhaps instead of using her as a babysitter, he should take the children over to her place for brief visits.
Generally, you should assume that anyone listening to your mother-in-law vent will see through her obvious bias. Push back only when you must, but otherwise — disengage.
Dear Amy: Most of my friends have retired very comfortably. I, unfortunately, am not able to retire.
These retired friends have now started traveling a lot and will either group text, post on Facebook, or email pictures of their beautiful vacations, the restaurants they’re eating at, the lovely hotels they’re staying at, and the plays and concerts they ‘re attending.
I feel sad that I cannot enjoy the lifestyles they lead.
I really don’t want to see their gorgeous vacations and fabulous lives. I don’t want to hear that it’s 80 degrees where they are, while I’m shoveling snow.
How do I ask them not to share all the pictures they’re sending, without sounding jealous or upset?
Dear Jealous: Even though your question is a current one, it seems that many of your friends are living in an alternate universe — one not disrupted by a global pandemic, financial insecurity, and … overall instability.
Now I’m jealous.
I’m suggesting a two-pronged approach.
First: Quietly decrease your exposure to these triggers by exiting from the text stream, muting the posts on social media, and creating a “rule” for your email, where emails from certain people automatically land in a folder, to be opened only when you have the strength.
Second: Use humor to wink at your own situation and “flip the script.”
Here’s your narrative: “It’s a sweltering 4 degrees today in downtown Fargo, and I’m currently enjoying some precious time in the sun, while also getting in my morning workout of shoveling out my car!” (Post a photo.)
“Enjoying some fine dining!” (Post a photo of you standing at the sink, eating from a can of pork and beans.)
“Waiting in line for this afternoon’s matinee.” (Post a photo of you waiting in line for your weekly COVID test.)
Your use of humor should never mean your friends’ good fortune but is a way for you to demonstrate that you might be down for now, but you’re not out.
As long as you can find a way to laugh … you’re not out.
Dear Amy: “Grampa” was worried that his grandsons are overweight. While mentioning this to the parents might help (probably not), please caution people not to call children fat!
Dear Upset: I heartily agree. The best role of grandparents is to love the grandchildren in their lives – exactly as they are. Often, grandparents are the only people offering this sort of unconditional love and acceptance.
You can email Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.