GGN is what we call Hubbys Mum. It stands for Gaga Norma. The boys call both Granny’s Gaga because it’s all M could say when he was little and the name has stuck despite them now having very good vocabularies.
We started calling Hubby’s Mum by initials when I first met her, as she always signed her name on cards etc, Norma, Neil’s Mum. At that point NNM was born! How she thought I would mistake her for anyone else I don’t know, but there you have it!
My relationship with my mother-in-law has never been a particularly easy one. Hubby had always been at home with her. His Dad died when he was still at school, so he became the man of the house. His brother left home and went out into the big wide world, while Hubby went to University in his home town so he could be therefore for her. A very admiral trait from him, and a very selfish one from her, as she became reliant on him being there for her.
I lived the other end of the country, so wasn’t a real threat to her until I arrived for a visit. I am a touchy feely person, and I do hug people. Meeting my future M-I-L, the first thing I did was fling my arms around her, and she froze to the spot! She was jealous I was taking away not just her little boy, but her companion. I suppose I can understand that, but it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with.
We live the opposite side of the city to her, so about 10 miles or so. Over the years we have made great effort to include her in things we do, and places we go, but it is never good enough. I got to the stage where I don’t go to her house very often, as I am not made to feel welcome there. Hubby takes the boys over to hers a couple of Sundays each month. She expects more. She wants Hubby there all weekend doing stuff for her. She is now not only jealous of me, but of the boys taking him away from her. She loves the boys dearly, don’t misunderstand what I’m saying, she just doesn’t know how to show it to them. She buys them things and thinks that’s enough for them, when really all they need is some attention from her. She has a problem accepting the diagnosis for M, as she believes he is perfectly normal for a child of his age. This point of view shows how little amount of time she actually spends with him, as his behaviour is definitely deteriorating. D she doesn’t particularly like. She has actually said that the first-born is the only one that really matters! The problem is she has that attitude directly to him. When he is getting fractious, she just gets annoyed with him, which of course is like adding petrol to a fire.
Hubby has gone to hers with the boys today. They can’t go until lunchtime because she is at church this morning. The church is the most important thing in her life, and nothing can get in the way of the time and money she has to give to it. The boys have packed a bag of toys and DVD’s to take with them as there is nothing at her house for them to do. The best part of the visit for the boys is that she will order in pizza for their lunch as she doesn’t cook. The boys know they will get pizza and that is why they are enthusiastic to go. M though now he is getting older is beginning to realise he does nothing there that he can’t do at home, and in fact it is less than he can do given the freedom of his personal environment. The last few visits have been cut short because as soon as he’s eaten he wants home. Surely this is telling her something?
She rarely visits our house. She uses the excuse she has to take 2 buses to get here and its easier for us to drive to her. The big hole in that excuse for me is that she has to take 2 buses that she doesn’t have to pay for with her old persons bus pass, and driving across a slow-moving city is quite heavy on fuel. When she does get here, she sits on the sofa. Yes, that’s it. She sits. She will get a constant flow of coffee, and food, but dare the boys go near her and she is rather dismissive to them. Most visits begin with the sentence along the lines of “I can’t say long I’ve got ironing to do/a meeting to go to/somebody visiting.” There is always an excuse why she can’t be spending time with us. I just hope she realises that pushing the boys away now will only result in them not making time for her as they get older, and that would be really sad for all involved.
There is a part of me that just wants to say that if she can’t be bothered with us then its her problem and draw a big line under it. I can’t however do that. She is my Hubby’s Mum, and while he chose to be with me, she did give birth to him and shape him into the man I love. She my kids grandmother, and while she will boast to her friends what a perfect grandparent she is, its something she needs to work on to make sure there is a relationship all three of them can be proud of.
I honestly believe she isn’t being distant because she has a direct problem with me or the boys but because she doesn’t know how to drop her guard to let people in. When she is here at Christmas, we joke about making sure she has a few brandies inside her, but we pour the first one as soon as she arrives. She is a different person when she loosens up. She is funny and almost warm. She is a good laugh, but unfortunately she doesn’t see how much nicer that side of her personality is rather than her stiff upper lip she insists on showing to the world.
We will continue to work on the relationships we have. Hopefully she will mellow and realise its something everyone has to work at, and not just assume everyone has to dance to her tune. I feel sad she is missing out on things with the boys but she chooses not to be more acitively involved in their lives.
In the mean time, I will enjoy the freedom of having a few hours with out my three men today! Time to put the kettle on I think!