This was supposed to be an angry, self-righteous post which would help me experience catharsis through typing words on my screen. I was going to come out on the other side feeling much better, stronger and relieved. Luckily, this kind of post isn’t necessary. I don’t know why, but I know that something has changed.
My MIL and I have a history that goes beyond the usual MIL-DIL dislike. She was there when my first daughter was born. She was there even though I had specifically said that her presence was unnecessary. She was there. She even held my leg during pushing. The idiot of a midwife kept referring to her as “my mother” to which I always replied: “this is NOT my mom!!!!” I wish I had enough strength to get out of the delivery room.
The brutal, 40 hours long birth left me traumatized, and at a complete loss. I was unable to walk for two weeks, but my parents-in-law expected me to clean their house while they were caring for my daughter. They expected me to receive guests and tell everybody how wonderful it was to have my MIL by my side. They expected me to be grateful and happy, but I was frustrated, exhausted, and slowly spiralling into depression. Again, I don’t know why I didn’t say anything, maybe I was too busy keeping myself alive.
When we finally moved out of her house and set up home with my husband, I got a little bit better. But recovery was long and painful, and even while writing this, I have flashbacks. They’re not as bad as they used to be, but they’re still there. They will always be there. But I am learning to deal with them.
And my MIL is also learning. She stopped calling me after I specifically told her not to. She stopped (or almost stopped) giving me parenting advice when I told her I am overwhelmed with parenting advice and don’t need hers. In fact, I can say that she is a great mother to her children, and a great grandmother to mine.
But I think what finally made me realize that I am no longer angry with her is the Skype call we had yesterday. Looking at her, I didn’t see The Woman Who Did All These Horrible Things To Me. I saw a woman who, even as a grandmother, is missing her mom who died a while ago.
Her vulnerability, sadness and confusion shocked me. I have forgiven her long ago. But this time, I decided to give her a break.
Make no mistake, we are not best friends. I will never be the daughter she never had. I will never trust her fully. I will never let her forget that I am the mom, not her. But maybe we can work it out somehow. We will not be intimate. We will not be thrilled to be in each other’s company. But we will be kind and polite and give each other presents, and celebrate family events. We will just smile and have as good a time as possible, without hating each other.