My ex mother in law died a few weeks ago. I should feel something.. Anything… Grief, anger, relief… but I feel nothing. I have gone way past the point of caring one way or another. I know by now you’re probably thinking I am an unfeeling person and that I should feel sorrow at least for my sons, but I don’t. You see, my ex mother in law (from here on in known as MIL) was one of the coldest people I have ever known. We didn’t have a good relationship. That’s okay. What I struggled with most was the fact that she didn’t like me, so therefore didn’t like my kids. I don’t understand that. How do you reject a baby that is your own flesh and blood because you don’t like one of it’s parents.
We all laugh at Marie Barone on Everyone loves Raymond.. but imagine a Marie without the humour but the same cutting lines, the same criticism of everything you did, a need to undermine everything you say and do and an underlying hostility that was ever present. I’m not exaggerating here. My ex MIL even looked like Marie Barone but there was nothing funny about her. This woman made it clear to me from the day I met her that I wasn’t good enough, in her eyes, for her son. My first fault? I wasn’t working when I met him as I’d just come out of 4 months in plaster and my old boss didn’t hold my job for me. Therefore I must be a bum. From then on in, it was all downhill. Nothing I ever did was right. In the early days of our engagement, she offered me money to leave him. Stupidly I rejected her offer lol.
My ex father in law wasn’t a very nice man either, so they were the perfect pair really. He told my ex that I wasn’t welcome there Christmas Day as it was only for family. When my ex said he would come to my place then, they relented and allowed me to join them. Imagine how welcome I felt. All of 20 years old and about as welcome as a fart in an elevator. Their screwed up faces everytime they looked at me was the same reaction you would get in the said elevator too. My ex FIL wasn’t just nasty to me though. He treated his own son like a piece of dirt. I didn’t realise when I first met my ex that he was barely literate. People with literacy problems are very good at hiding it. A letter arrived one day when I was still dating him and he attempted to read it out. It was from his brother who was away and he was excited to hear from him. As he was trying to read it, his father said to me “if you ever marry this idiot, teach him how to read will you?” . I was stunned that anyone could be so cruel to their own child. I think it was just par for the course for this couple. I can still clearly remember the look of humiliation on my ex’s face and it wasn’t nice. I disliked the man intensely from that moment on. The feeling was completely mutual. He got the ultimate “one upmanship” on me and died a day before my 21st birthday, making such a big occasion a misery.
When we were married and parents of 3 children, my ex started crying one day and was so upset that very soon Aimee (our first born) would be able to read and write better than he could. I was really upset for him and could only try to imagine the humiliation he had always lived with, not just not being able to read and write properly, but having parents that threw it in his face. I got in touch with the reading and writing hotline and organised an adult tutor for him. He went twice a week to see this lady. He had a whole 2 hours a week with her as she patiently went over all the basics with him. He was so happy that he was finally learning. His self esteem was right up and he was feeling proud of himself and rightfully so. The MIL came over after he’d been doing it for about 2 months and went ballistic at me for trying to humiliate her son. She said I was treating him like a baby, getting him to read baby words, just to make him feel bad about himself. She carried on about it so much that he gave up. She convinced him that I really was doing it to spite him rather than help him. I very rarely stood up to her but this time I couldn’t help myself. I told her that the only person who should be embarrassed by his illiteracy was the one woman who should have dealt with it while he was still a child.
When I was pregnant with Aimee, the MIL bought presents for her and put them under the Christmas tree even though I had expressly asked her not to. I didn’t want to jinx my pregnancy and had already discussed this with her. I was only 4 months pregnant at the time. Christmas Day came and sure enough, under the tree were the presents that I had asked her not to buy. If I refused them I looked like an ungrateful cow to everyone there. She won yet again. On the flipside, Lachlan was already 4 months old for his first Christmas and she told me she wasn’t going to buy him anything because he wouldn’t remember it anyway. I told my ex that if she didn’t buy for Lachlan, she wasn’t to buy for Aimee. So she spent a couple of hundred dollars on Aimee and bought a 99 cent rubber ball for Lachlan. Once again, if I complained about the difference in price, I would appear to be ungrateful and materialistic. So she won again.
She never liked Lachlan.. When she asked what his name was just after his birth and was told, she said it was a horrible name. She refused to spell or say it properly and up until she died, she still called him Lockland and that’s how she spelled it too. We almost had to physically force her to hold him and she rejected him time after time. If all the grandkids were running around, it was Lachlan she would scream at to stop. The poor kid could never win a trick with her. She wasn’t overly fond of Stuart either but at least she spelled his name correctly eventually, after years of writing Stewart instead.
About 6 months after we got married, SHE had the brilliant idea that if we lived with her for a year, we could save up enough money for a home deposit. I lasted 2 weeks. I told the ex very clearly that if we didn’t have a place of our own within a week, I was going to get a divorce. I couldn’t do anything properly. I hung my clothes out the wrong way which added insult to the fact that it seemed I didn’t wash them properly either. When we were living in our own home, she would sneak in and take his clothes home and wash them for him because I didn’t do them the way she did. She would go to the supermarket and drop groceries off to us that we didn’t want. She’d buy plain label teabags as I was a tea drinker and buy top end coffee as he drank coffee. I had to say to my ex that I would drink plain label tea if he drank plain label coffee. He hated plain label coffee so he stopped her from buying tea bags (thankfully). I was then seen to be ungrateful again.
She would insist that my ex was at her place every weekend to do her lawns. She lived on a 5 acre property that was way too big for her to look after.. It was too big for him too but as long as it took him away from me for the weekend, she was happy with it. It didn’t bother her that his 3 children were missing out too.. as long as I had no help, she was happy. I had a miscarriage in between Lachlan and Stuart. I woke up haemorrhaging and the ex phoned her and asked her to come over to look after the kids. At the time, my Dad was very sick and Mum couldn’t leave him. The MIL said we would have to drop them off to her on the way to the hospital as she didn’t want to come out just for that. So we had to get Aimee 25 months and Lachlan 10 months out of bed at 2am, put them in a car and drop them off to her rather than her putting herself out.. Of course the fact that I was losing the baby as well and needed urgent medical treatment didn’t bother her. I sent him home from the hospital at 8am as I was going into theatre around 9. I expected him back at about 11 when I’d be out. I finally phoned him at 6 that night, asking him where he was. His mother had decided that she needed the lawns mowed so he wasn’t able to leave just to visit me. So I sat in a hospital, grieving the loss of a much wanted and planned baby, while she had an unpaid odd jobs man do her work. He wouldn’t stand up to her at all and it caused fight after fight between us. She manipulated him constantly and went out of her way to break our marriage up, as it was easier to have him live at home with her.
When my ex had the breakdown that finally led to the demise of our marriage, I begged her to help me get him some help. He was a ticking timebomb. She said very clearly that I was the one with the problem, not him. Blind Freddy could see that he was a man who was clearly not coping with life and had gone from a lovely, placid man to a raging demon but the fault all lay at my feet as far as she was concerned. He was stalking me and the kids. He had intervention order after intervention order placed on him. He breached the orders on an almost daily basis. I would wake up to find him dragging the kids through the windows from their beds, telling them he would kill them to teach me a lesson. He came around when I wasn’t home and stuck a hose under the front door, leaving it on for 5 hours, leaving me to come home to a flooded house. He would try to run me off the road while I drove the kids to school. He cut brake lines on the car that would drive his kids around. He would phone at least 50 times a day, at all times through the day and night, ensuring we got no sleep or peace. He barricaded my mother and the kids in the house and then phoned and said he would burn it down with them in it. He broke into the house constantly and took our possessions meaning we had to constantly replace stuff. He let our dog out of a locked back yard where it got hit by a car and died. The list would take so long to write that I’d end up with RSI. Needless to say, it was a scary, awful time for the kids, Mum and me. Seriously, this torment went on for 4 1/2 years. Instead of standing up to him and saying, “enough.. you can’t do this to your children”, she lied for him in court and kept telling him that I deserved what I got. Don’t worry about what the kids were going through. As long as I was going through hell, she was happy. She gave false alibis for him and when she would get caught out in a lie, would pull the “oh I’m just a little old lady” routine.
After my daughter was killed on an access visit, she came into the hospital to see the boys, fresh out of surgery and intensive care. When I said I would make sure my ex finally got brought to justice for what he had done, she went to the police, along with his sister where they said I had threatened to kill him. That meant that about 3 weeks after my daughter’s death, my boys were further traumatised by knowing I was arrested to have an AVO put on me. She stopped seeing my sons as they weren’t ever wanted by her. From that moment, she never sent a birthday or Christmas card to either of them for the next almost 20 years. My own beautiful Mum died 3 years after Aimee. My boys and I were shattered. Mum lived with us by then, and she was the other parent to the kids. She was everything a grandmother SHOULD be. Loving, caring, thoughtful, funny, generous… the list is endless. She was our rock. I got to the cemetery after the church service to find the MIL there. She didn’t have the respect to come to the service but turned up at the cemetery, supposedly to offer support to my boys but she had a smile across her face the whole time. I’m surprised she didn’t dance on my Mum’s grave, the look on her face was so smug. Her and Mum couldn’t stand each other. Mum objected to how her grandchildren were treated by MIL and didn’t think she was a grandmother’s bootlace (her own words lol )
When the boys wanted, as teens, to go back to visiting their father, it meant contact with her again. She still never gave a damn about them and did nothing to endear them to her. She still missed birthdays and Christmases. She treated all the other grandchildren wonderfully and made such a difference between them and my boys. Each of her other 6 grandchildren got presents, trips away, even cars.. My boys got NOTHING not even a kind word now and then. Mum was right. She wasn’t a grandmother’s bootlace.
So she died and although she had always treated them with contempt, my wonderful sons both turned up at her funeral. Lachlan had to fly down to Victoria for it, not only missing a day’s pay as he’d just started a new job, but also had the expense of the flight etc. They both turned up at the funeral and were once again treated like they weren’t family. The other 6 grandchildren walked beside the coffin. My two boys sat at the back of the chapel. When they got to the cemetery, it all built up and since it was the same cemetery where Aimee and my mum were buried, they stood together at Aimee’s grave and both broke down. The whole day had dredged up horrible memories for them. While they were having a private moment there, one of their cousins (and I use that word loosely) walked across in front of them, ignoring them and put a flower on Aimee’s grave, smirked at them and walked away again, so that anyone who was watching would think it was a kind gesture. The boys knew differently. Her smirk to my sons proved it wasn’t. I would doubt if she has ever, in the last 19 years, gone near Aimee’s grave. She is definitely her grandmother’s granddaughter: spiteful, vindictive and downright mean.
I care nothing for that family. They have treated me with contempt and disrespect for years. I’m used to it. But I honestly thought they might have at least treated my sons with some respect and care but it wasn’t to be. I’m angry but only for my boys. To think that they did the right thing by going to the funeral of a woman who never cared for them, and got treated like dirt, yet again, says more about that dysfunctional and uncaring family than it does about my magnificent sons. I know that. But I’m still hurt for them. I know that they will be disregarded in the will too, even though she has never spent so much as $2 on them for birthdays or Christmases for 20 years. Whilst the other grandchildren have had gifts lavished upon them, my sons were raised with very little money. (their father refused to pay maintenance and started his own business so he could avoid it) That family never cared. They didn’t care that my boys went without things. They didn’t care that we struggled through, making ends meet as best we could. They were happy and living a good life, so who cares about my children. Don’t let it be a concern that they were also HIS children.. They were mine so that was a good enough reason to not care about their well being.
I have to be honest. I’m really pleased in some ways. My sons saw them for exactly what they really are after the funeral. They have given up on the hope that maybe from somewhere, some love might come from the family from hell. They understand more of what I went through with them. Hopefully, they will never have to deal with them again. The family certainly won’t be going out of their way to have anything to do with them. There only seems to be one of the boys cousins who actually wants to know them. He seems to be a nice young man and I know both my sons appreciate the effort he makes. As for the rest of the family, they are non events. To be able to discard your own flesh and blood so easily speaks volumes about them. Thankfully, my sons are incredible young men who are loved by my family. And one family who loves you is more than some people have, so they know they are lucky.
Happy families… Livvy