Dear Margo: When Sticky Fingers Are a Sticky Wicket

Margo Howard’s advice

When Sticky Fingers Are a Sticky Wicket

Dear Margo: Two sons and their wives visited us for Christmas last year. We have a large three-story home and live five to seven hours away from our children. I decorated the stairs leading to the second floor with three framed Christmas embroideries from our Serbian daughter-in-law. I removed three expensive, framed Chinese pictures (from the other son) and carefully placed them together in a closet.

When Christmas was over, I went to put the Chinese pictures back up, but one was missing! I have searched every corner in this house and have not found it. We are sure our second light-fingered son stole it. My heart is broken that he and his wife would be so bold as to steal something so large and personal while staying with us. What do I do? If I confront them, I may never see my granddaughter again. But I can’t let it go, and here come the holidays! — Forlorn

Dear For: When you refer to your “light-fingered son,” there is more than a suggestion that he is known for this behavior and has done it before. Kleptomania or not, the arrow of guilt points nowhere else. You clearly put the Chinese pictures away together, and one was missing.

It would have been good if you had dealt with this earlier, but better late than never. I would call him and say you have done a very careful reconstruction of the situation and, given his history, you would like the Chinese picture back. If there is denial, a reminder of his history is in order. Dealing with him is better than “them,” and I don’t think they would withhold your granddaughter. And for this visit, count the silver. Merry Christmas. — Margo, directly

Another Pushy M-I-L

Dear Margo: I’m sure you’ve heard this a million times, but I don’t know how to deal with my mother-in-law. She’s a master manipulator who pits her own children against each other, and she’s a know-it-all. I planned a wedding with my guy in mind, choosing all of the things he would like. I never wanted a big wedding, but I did it for him. She bad-mouthed me all weekend to anyone who would listen, and got so drunk she had to be carried out. Her own friends apologized for her behavior, but she denies anything ever happened.

Now I’m pregnant, and she’s on my case about my choice to breastfeed. (She didn’t, so obviously that is what everyone should do.) When I tell her it’s a personal decision, she tells me my mood swings are making me cranky. I have been lucky enough to have a wonderful pregnancy so far. I’m still working full time, cooking and cleaning for my husband, and life is good. But now I can’t bear to pick up the phone anymore. Talking to her is like talking to a brick wall.
My husband is supportive, but his position is: “That’s just how Mom is.” She insists on staying with us when the baby is born because I obviously have no idea what I’m doing. I just can’t take any more, and I’m ready to cut her off. What is my next step? — Upset

Dear Up: Because your husband sounds mostly supportive, take the bit in your teeth, and tell the battleaxe that your own mother is coming (if she is alive) or that you’ve arranged for some help. To reinforce your do-not-show-up dictum, have your husband buttress the edict with a phone call of his own. If push comes to shove, be prepared to lay it on the line that you and your husband are running your lives, not she. I do not believe in being held hostage by pushy people, parents included. — Margo, independently

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Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.


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50 Responses so far.

  1. avatar mayma says:

    “Mostly supportive”?!?!?! Wha? This husband needs to step it up, pronto. LW2 is doing the work of pushing out that baby, so the least — and I mean absolute least — husband can do is make their home as comfortable as possible on her return from the hospital, and that includes running interference on his mother. Sheesh!

    I am assuming that LW2 has the will to verbalize her needs to her husband and isn’t taking on some kind of weird martyr or Housewife Barbie role here.

    I mean, really. You’re “cooking and cleaning for my husband” while working and pregnant, and he can’t stand up to his mother? You have got to be kidding me.

    • avatar Toni Jean says:

      You took the words right out of my tippy tappy fingers!! Hubby needs to man up, stand up, and clean up!

    • avatar NYCGirl says:

      Yeah, that phrase struck me as odd, too.

      • avatar francophile1962 says:

        Same here!! That’s insane! Cooking and cleaning maybe, but the “for my husband” part hit me like a ton of bricks.

        • avatar kyliebean says:

          What is the big deal with “for my husband” ??? I LOVE doing things for my husband and in no way find it demeaning to do so. Since when did cooking and cleaning for your family become a symbol of submission or subservience?? I’m a college educated woman with a full-time career but I definitely feel a greater sense of accomplishment in taking care of my family which includes a husband and two small children. Too bad wanting to care for your family these days seems to convey the belief that there must be something wrong with you.

          • avatar mayma says:

            Nobody said anything about demeaning. My point is that it sounds pretty unequal, and she seems completely unaware of that. Because she “didn’t want a big wedding, but did it for him,” because she is pregnant and working and cleaning and cooking, and because when she presents him with a huuuuge issue with his mother, he shrugs.

            So, to me, the tone and words sounds like she is over-functioning for him.

  2. avatar Katharine Gray says:

    LW#1:  Margo is right, you must confront the son and ask for the picture back and I see no reason to bring his wife into the matter when it is your son who evidently has a history of pilfering. 

    LW#2:  You are going to be a mother and need to put on your big girl panties and stand up for yourself EVEN if it means doing some little thing that isn’t all about your husband.  Quite frankly, your MIL’s behavior at your wedding would prompt most daughters-in-law to severely restrict any involvment in their lives so tell your husband he should be grateful you tolerate her enough to talk to her from time to time.   Sit your somewhat supportive husband down and say that under no circumstances will his mother be coming to stay in your home after the baby is born and preferably NEVER for an overnight visit.  If your own mother cannot come consider an aunt, sister, cousin or anyone on your side of the family who you would be comfortable with helping you and if you have no one check into hiring someone for a week or so until you get your strength back and can adjust.   As for breast feeding or not, its a personal choice and one that should be made by the mother so stick to your guns on that or be prepared to surrender your child to this harridan for the rest of its life.    And if your husband balks at this tell him to put his big boy panties on and decide if he wants a wife and child or if HE wants to go home to mommy and let her coddle him because you are going to have your hands full with your own child and don’t need another one to worry about.  Seriously. 

    • avatar Ariana says:

      LW#2: Absolutely. Get the husband doing the damage control for you. If she shows up uninvited, he should be the one to show her the door. Personally, I wouldn’t even start discussing baby issues with the MIL. Why is there still so much contact going on? Just stop taking her calls. She’s going to bad mouth you anyways, so who cares? Do what’s right for you.

  3. avatar annnieq says:

    I had the same problem with LW#2, but with my Father. He always complained about everything that I did … how I kept my house, the way I dressed, the way I acted in front of everyone, etc. The final straw came when he complained about how I raised my children. I have two boys and when they were younger (8 and 5), we were visiting my parents and my father criticized the way I was raising them, in front of them! That was the final straw, and I just looked him in the eye and said that I did not want to raise them the way he raised me, because as a woman who is in her thirties is still petrified of her father and I do not want that for my kids. Ever since then, he has never said anything about them. Fast forward to now, they are 22 and 19, both entered university on scholarships and I am so very, very proud of them. He wonders why he has a strained relationship with them. Thank you for letting me get this off my chest! As for upset, talk to your m-i-l before your child is born, because if you don’t, your life will be full of more stress than you need.

    • avatar Pinky35 says:

      annieq, I know exactly how you feel. My father seems to question and criticize everything I do. He didn’t like my son taking karate because he was afraid my son couldn’t be a musician if he hurt his fingers chopping boards. He tells me what I should think and that everything I say is wrong. I have recently stood up to him and told him off. I am most capable of living my own life and raising my son as I see fit. As it is, my son is very smart, doing very well in karate, which he loves. And I fully support my sons dreams instead of impressing my own on him. I will allow him the room to become whatever he wants. Unlike my father who is disappointed in me because I didn’t become a business woman. I would rather my son grow up with family who is loving and supportive, not overly critical like my father. If that means that we don’t see him very much, so be it! And like you, I’ve always been a little afraid to stand up to my father. Whenever I have tried to, he tells me that I’m selfish and argumentative and that I’m unwilling to listen to the wisdom of my elders. I tell him that I deserve to be treated with respect. And he needs to back off and let me live my life.

    • avatar Toni Jean says:

      Thank you for standing up for yourself and your children. My father always criticized and bullied me. He passed when I was 20, on Xmas day, and I still fight w his damning disapproval. How I wish I’d had the chance to set the boundary you did. That he could have been a real father to me. But I AM good enough.

  4. avatar Sita says:

    LW#2, my MIL is almost as bad as yours. “Almost” because I set the boundaries early on. I let most of “trying to be funny but snarky comments” roll off my back. She tries to manipulate everyone and anyone even strangers by acting sweet. I told her to leave my marriage, my kitchen and my breasts alone. One time she came on the day of our daughter’s birthday and found out that we let her open one present in the morning before she went to school and flew off the handle because she was not there to witness it. So I told her if she kept behaving that way she should go and not to let the door hit her on her way out. When her orther son was getting a divorce, her soon to be ex-DIL told me that she was relieved to not have to deal with MIL anymore. She got it much worse than I ever did.

    Fast forward 10 years, she’s 80, frail and incontinent. She wanted to live with us, but still bossy and paranoid that we’ll steal her money. So I put up with her for three weeks, just to show my husband that I tried. After that I told my hubby that she absolutely has to go unless he wants to be her primary caregiver. So she went back to her house (70 miles away) and hubby made arrangements for somebody to look after her when she needs it.

    LW#2, please make sure your husband is ALWAYS on your side. He needs to step up and BE A REAL HUSBAND meaning helps you around the house. Please set boundaries with MIL before it’s too late. Maybe in the end you’ll have a somewhat civilised relationship with your MIL.

  5. avatar Ariana says:

    What’s a sticky wicket?

    • avatar Miss Macy says:

      It’s a wicket that sticks.

    • avatar K Coldiron says:

      Croquet metaphor, I think. It means an obstacle that’s difficult to clear.

    • avatar Ariana says:

      I looked it up afterwards, I’ve never heard that phrase before, which surprised since I often read a lot of old literature.

      • avatar Anne Hall says:

        It’s a cricket term–you were close with croquet. The wickets are the wooden poles that have to be knocked down when a ball is bowled. If a wicket is sticky, it means it’s stuck in the ground and not easy to knock down. Or so I have been told by a British family member, I’m not the sporty type. 😉

        • avatar K Coldiron says:

          I was going to guess either croquet or cricket. Since I have no idea how cricket works, and I could easily see a wicket being sticky (hard to get the ball through) in croquet, I went with that. Should’ve looked it up! 🙂

      • avatar Toni Jean says:

        Read more P G Wodehouse. 🙂

  6. avatar Belinda Joy says:

    Letter #2 -I agree with what others have said, this letter writer is wrong in so many ways, where to start?

    Her husband – not her – needs to be the one to speak with his mother about her behavior. Period. If he makes the choice not to, that speaks to a fracture in her marriage with this man than it does his relationship with his mother. There are some HUGE issues in their relationship that need to be resolved before that baby is born.

    And that line about “cooking and cleaning for my husband….” What? I’m speechless…..

    Letter #1 – It is too late to say anything to her son. If she can’t find the Chinese art, oh well. When she first realized it was missing, that was the time to bring it up with all guests that were in the home, and NOT just the son that has established a reputation for being a thief. Because unless she saw him steal it (which she didn’t) she should not accuse him. Because there is doubt, a small amount to be sure….but doubt none the less.

    And if he didn’t steal it and she asks him about it now, he may rightly so be offended and yes, with hold his children from her. I would say he would have a right to feel angry and choose to distance himself and his family from her. She needs to ask herself which is more important, the piece of art or her relationship with her family?

    • avatar D says:

      Agreed on L1. There is also the possibility that she or her husband said to one of her children or in-laws some time ago that they could have any picture. She or her husband may have forgotten about this.

      As for L2, why are some of the commenters jumping on her for cooking and cleaning for her husband while pregnant? If that is what she wants to do, let her do it. As for the husband dealing with his mother, sometimes it is easier to deal with other people’s relatives than it is their own. It is not so easy to change how someone has dealt with another person over the years. While I agree that he should stand up to his mother, his wife should not think it will be a case of her telling him to stand up to his mother and him going right out and doing it.

      • avatar mayma says:

        Of course there’s nothing wrong with cooking and cleaning. But cooking and cleaning “for my husband” while pregnant and working and dealing with his overbearing mother while he shrugs it off? No.

        If it’s “not so easy” for him, he’ll have to change. She doesn’t have to do his work for him.

        • avatar kyliebean says:

          Apparently cooking and cleaning is ok as long as it’s not “for” your husband. What a whacked statement. I guess you don’t do anything in a relationship unless there’s something in it for you. Nice.

          • avatar mjd4 says:

            Kylie, try turning it around. What if the husband said he went to work to make money for his wife? Wouldn’t that sound a bit odd? Or, if he were the one to do the cooking and cleaning, and put it that way: “for my wife”?

            I think it is understood that when you are married things you do for the household are, at least in part, for your spouse. But does it does sound a little skewed to talk about it that way. I mean, presumably she also eats the food she cooks.

            This really has nothing to do with being giving or selfish in a relationship.

          • avatar mayma says:

            “I guess you don’t do anything in a relationship unless there’s something in it for you. Nice.”

            Thanks for making it personal and for bringing a bit more sarcasm and rudeness into my day. ‘Cause that’s just what we all need.

          • avatar Diagoras says:

            If both spouses are working it is unfair for one person to do all the cooking and cleaning. If the genders were reversed, I’m sure everyone would be up in arms about how lazy the wife was for letting her husband do all the cooking and cleaning while he also brings home a paycheck. She brings home a paycheck. That entitles her to expect her husband to pull his own weight inside the home.

  7. avatar Cindy Marek says:

    L #1: Take Margo’s advice.

    L #2: You *cannot* have this woman in your home; especially under the stress/duress of taking care of a newborn. Tell her no, tell your husband no, keep your foot down. BTW, when she belittles you it’s projection — of her own failings, etc. What she’s saying is about herself, not you. You deserve to enjoy your newborn baby and break into the duties of motherhood without a screeching harpie constantly hovering over you. The baby deserves JUST YOU as well; infants do pick up on mother’s (and environmental) surroundings; stress, anger, etc. Don’t mention it to your husband (might provoke a fight). Just SAY NO when she mentions it again, or if he does. If husband takes her side, sit him down and tell him gently NO; for your and the baby’s sakes. If he still doesn’t want to understand, enlist friends (or clergy or whomever) to your side.

  8. avatar JCF4612 says:

    LW1) Call light-fingered son’s wife and tell her the picture is missing and you want it back.  By now she likely knows her hubby has a problem, but if not … it’s a good time for her to find out. If she fails to produce the print, take it up with both of them on their next visit, and make it clear they won’t be in your home without heavy supervision in the future.

    LW2) Your husband a needs to be a lot more than supportive for the most part. Get it straight RIGHT NOW that the old bat is not coming to stay after the birth. On the breastfeeding, tell her it’s not a subject for discussion, period, and that if she tries to harp on it any more, you won’t be seeing or talking with her until well after the child is weaned.     

  9. avatar mac13 says:

    LW2: Your MIL sounds exactly like my mother. Frighteningly so. Here is what will happen when your husband stands up to her. She will become even more so the victim than she already is. You will be the horrible wretch that turned her son against her. You will have always had it out for her. You rudely and stubbornly had no regard for her life experience and advice.  The list of your horrible attributes will go on and on.  When you and your husband become so fed up, you cut her out of your family’s life? She will go on and on about “see I told you so”. Been there done that. It never ends well with people like this. Even when you cut her loose, her presence is always hovering like a dark cloud. You can’t go to family reunions and ignore her, if you do, she plays the pitiful me they hate me card and the reunion is ruined and it is always your fault. She will drag you thru all the negativeness she can muster. The voice of experience here. If this letter was written 25 years I would swear it was about her.

    • avatar Sita says:

      Mac13, your mother sounded like my grandmother. She even commited suicide to get her children’s attention which she got plenty. My dad was so dedicated to pleasing her at the cost of my mom’s happiness, but that was not enough. She lived with my aunt and her family and hated my aunt’s adopted daughter and always tried to get my aunt to punish her daughter for the smallest mistake. How sick was that? She’s been dead for 30 years and I just found out about her suicide a couple years ago. My dad still doesn’t know. My mom was bullied throughout her marriage life by my grandmother and she was never happy no matter what my mom did. That’s how I learned to be firm with in-laws.

      All you said above will happen regardless because that’s just the MIL personality. The thing is not to let her drag you down. Stay cool, never lose your temper around her or the husband. Always take the high road. You can’t control her, but you can control yourself. Think about it, in-laws are practically strangers before you met their child. Why do you want to let them control your life after you met their child?

      • avatar mayma says:

        Your dad still doesn’t know that his mom committed suicide?

        • avatar Sita says:

          No, dad was so sad and out of his mind at the time so my aunt took care of everything and I guess since everything was so cut and dry the doctors were involved only minimally and dad never bothered checking the death certificate etc. And we are not about to tell him now.

  10. avatar jennaA says:

    #1: Christmas at someone else’s house this year?

    #2: This sort of reminds me of my grandmother (with the exception of getting drunk at weddings and orchestrating family conflict). She was just a bossy boots and her way was the best way. We used to joke that when she gives you a “suggestion” you smile and nod and then do whatever you want. Fortunately, there were a lot of us in the family who could commiserate and make a joke out of it to relieve the stress.

  11. avatar mac13 says:

    LW#1. The time for action and accusations has come and gone. Why didn’t you immediately call both sons and ask about the painting.  If you called both, there could be no accusations of singling one out. You should have just called and said there was a painting missing and you were wondering if had gotten mixed with their things. That lets them know you are aware it is missing and that you are looking their way first. Then mention that you are turning it over to an insurance adjuster. Are they only ever at your home at Christmas? The fact that you have waited nearly a year and “you can’t let it go” doesn’t add up to me. 

  12. avatar Dawn Murphy says:

    I had a MIL like LW#2. It took me years to learn that no one would have ever been good enough to marry her perfect son. It really didn’t have anything to do with me. He is the oldest and she made it perfectly clear to her other four sons that they would never measure up. It’s amazing my husband is as grounded as he is and a good guy to boot. MIL once asked me if I was “worried about marrying out of my class”. Her husband had a good job, not a six figure job, but good enough and my parents had always struggled to get by. We argued over breast feeding, potty training, how much they should eat (my CRAZY idea was to let their appetites dictate how much they should eat instead of making them eat beyond hunger to clean their plates.), discipline, etc. I had to learn that it was my job, not my husband’s, to fight my own battles. When my husband did try to talk with her, she just believed that I had “put him up to it” and didn’t really listen to what he had to say. Really sad thing is that she ended up homeless and living with us until she died and I think it must have been hard for her to have fallen so far – in her estimation- and have to live with the DIL she disliked so much. It was a great lesson for me now that I have DIL’s and a SIL. I treat them with respect, only offer advice when it is solicited and never show up unannounced. As far as I know, they all love me.

    • avatar wendykh says:

      I agree with you on fighting your own battles. This is mostly between the mil/dil (daddy does need to buckup and say “how wife and I raise Baby is our business and if we want your input we’ll ask.”) But there’s no reason she can’t tell mil “my choice to breastfeed is so not your business” and “no you don’t need to come I’ve arranged pospartum care already.”

      But… until Sonny makes it clear he does not approve of her treating his wife that way, she will never stop.

      Oh and LW2? Stop the unnecessary information. Do not tell MIL a single thing that is not something she absolutely must know. Be vague about everything. “are you going to have an epidural?” “well the doctor hasn’t talked to us about that yet.” “are you going to breastfeed?” “well I don’t know we’ll cover that in childbirth ed” “are you going to circumcise?” “oh gosh we’re supposed to discuss that with the pedi after the birth.” “what hospital will you be birthing in?” “depends, doctor has privileges in sevral so we’ll go to the one best suited for my needs and he’ll let us know when we call.”

      Oh and pro tip: DO NOT allow your stupid husband to call and tell her you are in labour. If he argues remind him his presence is also optional at the birth as well.

  13. avatar lebucher says:

    LW#2, your husband’s response that “That’s just the way she is” is of no help in this situation.  She can be whomever she is, but you do not have to tolerate it IN YOUR OWN HOME.  He needs to back you up.  And he needs to assist in delivering the message that she is not invited to be there after the birth.  She doesn’t need to watch your birth either unless you want that (which I doubt).

    Refuse to be baited into discussions about your breast utilization (or any other body part), your child raising, etc.  Respond to everything with “thanks for your concern”.  Do NOT follow up with “but I am going to…”.  Give no detail.  Be a broken record if necessary.  This is very effective for dealing with people who badger you incessantly without boundaries.  You give them nothing to fight with… and eventually they tire of messing with you.    

  14. avatar Pinky35 says:

    LW1, Don’t bring up the missing picture to either son at all. It’s been almost a year and you let it go. If anyone should ask, then say something like, “sadly that one went missing, I really don’t know what happened to it”. And leave it at that. Bringing up now will only create tension and animosity now during the holidays. So, if your son did indeed steal it, consider it a gift you have given to him by letting it go and leave it at that. Then, in the future, don’t have them over at your house for Christmas. Instead, go to someone else’s house or to their house. Or, even out of town with your husband. You can dictate your future and his sticky fingers by not letting him near anything you treasure but you can’t change the past.

  15. avatar Pinky35 says:

    LW2, Your MIL sounds narcissistic. Everything revolves around her and she will always try to control you and her son. So, draw boundaries and tell her thanks for her concern, but that you and your husband will do you two feel is best for your child. It’s sad that he can’t stand up to his mother the way he should to let her know to back off. But, there is no reason for you to take her crap either. Don’t let her insults penetrate. In her older age, women can get moody, too.

  16. avatar David Bolton says:

    LW1: Write the picture off. And write this in your will: “Dear Son #1: I hope you enjoy the picture. It’s your inheritance. Enjoy!”

    LW2: I have never, ever understood why grown men and women who can do everything from getting a job to making a baby can’t stand up to One. Single. Person about something like a wedding or breastfeeding or whatever. Put the phone on silent and ignore her.

  17. avatar Allaroundtheworld says:

    I have a question regarding breast feeding? As a man, I feel it’s a woman’s right too breast feed and should because of the nutrience and vital bactiera that a baby needs. For thousands of years women have breast feed their childred. What happened in the 50’s thru the 70’s that women started bottel feeding babies that now it’s the norm and breast feeding is frowned upon. I was breasted feed and had fewed colds and viruses and I grew up outside of the US in a military family and many other coutries women breast feed, but the US makes it seem so “dirty” Can any of you explain this to me? A supported of thousands of years of nature and common sense. I will admit that after 6 months my Mother did get milk fever and had to put me on the bottle but I did have 6 months of breast feeding.

    • avatar JCF4612 says:

      Allaround, can’t offer much insight since the mere thought of turning myself into a 24/7 dairy bar never had any appeal for me. Bottles filled with formula let dads and grandparents share in the 2 a.m. feeding fun. (And my kids grew up to be perfectly healthy!)  

    • avatar dcarpend says:

      It’s pretty common for grandmas-to-be to resent the idea of their DILs breast-feeding because it means that they can’t feed the baby. There are cries of “But I want to bond with the baby!” and the like, but grandma bonding with the baby over feeding is not as important as what’s best for the child nutritionally.

      Too, many women who raised children during a time when breastfeeding was out of fashion see their DILs breastfeeding as a tacit criticism of how they raised their kids. Not just breastfeeding; I’ve heard of “I didn’t put my kids in these new-fangled child seats, and they all survived!” and “I put my babies down to sleep on their stomachs, that’s how we did it when I was a young mother.” That sort of thing.

  18. avatar Kathy says:

    LW1 – This couple slipped out with a “large” framed painting and nobody noticed?  Did they distract the hosts while they rifled randomly through closets until they found something to steal?  Did he hide it under his coat?  This is just bizarre. 

    LW2- Husband is not ‘mostly supportive’.  He’s like most males in this situation – sympathizes with his wife when she is venting and sympathizes with his mom when she is venting – and probably thinking about baseball through it all.  He needs to step up. 

  19. avatar R Scott says:

    LW1 – I disagree with Margo on this one. That ship has sailed. It’s been a year now. If you didn’t have the moxie to confront the situation then it’s a bit late now. Make other arrangements for Christmas or vow right now that you’re done letting this kid get away with mur….robbery and learn and move forward.

    LW2 – I feel sorry for your child. From you s/he will learn that women should please their men and from him s/he will learn that women who aren’t his mom get bottom billing. You need to find some strength somewhere sister and put your foot down. And really: “I planned a wedding with my guy in mind, choosing all of the things he would like”, “working full time, cooking and cleaning for my husband…” and, “That’s just how Mom is.” =/= supportive. Gag.

  20. avatar Frau Quink says:

    Ltr. # 2: What?
    “cooking and cleaning for my husband”………..

  21. avatar dcarpend says:

    Just a few notes for LW2:

    * Caller ID is your friend. If you don’t feel like talking to your MIL, don’t pick up. Simple as that. Your DH demands to know why you’re not chatting with his mother? Ask him when was the last time he had a good long heart-to-heart with your mom on the phone.

    * Tell her the breastfeeding issue is done, and no longer up for discussion. Then, when she brings it up again, as she no doubt will, HANG UP. Do not pick up when she calls back. When you are finally willing to talk to her again, or when your DH decides to talk to her, she can be told, once again, that breastfeeding is not up for discussion. She brings it up again? Hang up again.

    * The response to “That’s just how she is” is “And I’m not putting up with her trying to run my life. That’s just how *I* am.” Repeat as necessary.

    * Put your foot down about her coming to “help.” I suspect she really means she’s coming to take over your baby while you continue to cook and clean. No. If you have to go full-force banshee over this, do it. SHE DOES NOT COME DISRUPT YOUR BONDING WITH YOUR CHILD. Period. If your husband can’t man up and tell her so, you do it. And if he doesn’t like it, maybe he needs to go stay with mommy so she has a baby to play with.

  22. avatar dcarpend says:

    On the “for my husband” issue: I cook for my husband. I cook better than he does, I know what’s in the house, what needs to be used up. It’s my bailiwick. He does the books because he’s good at that, and finds it at least marginally less maddening than I do.

    He can fix himself a meal — when I got home this evening from a day out Christmas shopping with a friend he was making himself a burger and fried eggs — but if I’m here, he’ll come to me. I don’t mind at all, any more than he minds if I ask him to

    • avatar dcarpend says:

      Hit send too soon. Any more than he minds if I ask him to, say, figure out what’s wrong with my computer.