Sometimes I think I’m far too emotionally screwed up to be a “good Catholic.” I have a deep fear of being manipulated into doing something and then feeling used. My paternal Grandmother, who raised me, could never just directly request anything, she had to cajole and pressure, i.e. “If you loved me you’d have noticed that my marigolds need to be weeded” rather than “If you’re not busy could you weed my marigolds?” Happily most people in my life are straight with me but one big one is not: my mother-in-law.
I’m not going to try to analyze her but recently she’s started to try to get her way by using pressure and tears. She wants us to be at her disposal but she doesn’t want to commit to anything in case HER plans change (she always wants to see the kids Sunday afternoon, but she gets mad if we’re not available). Most recently she got upset because she was only invited to one of our younger daughter’s birthday parties (one was for family and one was for her little friends). She chose herself to not attend the one she was invited to and she can’t seem to control her tongue around one of the people we invited to the other, but she called me to complain that she’d been excluded. Well, called to complain is putting it mildly. She ranted about how she’s been excluded her entire life and she loves her grandchildren, etc., and never let me get a word in at all. She’d flip out if I told her that she wasn’t invited because we wanted to make the Other Person comfortable and yell that we were choosing Other Person over her (she’s done this before) and when she pulled out the guilt trip (“I moved back to town for my grandchildren and you’re keeping me from them.”) I hung up. Rude, I know, but I feel like she was bullying me and she wasn’t willing to listen to anything I had to say. A week later she showed up while I was out and brought clothes for the kids and some strawberries and apparently THAT was an apology. I’m still ticked. It feels the same as when my GM would bully me into doing something.
Anyway, I think we should be straight with her about how her behavior is overstepping the bounds a bit; I think that it’s important to give an adult the dignity of owning their mistakes and making them right. My husband – who has his own set of issues with his mother – thinks we should ignore it and just withdraw from her further. What would yo do?