For the past six years I have done everything possible to try and improve my relationship with my mother-in-law.
I always assumed she had my best interests at heart, my family’s best interests at heart, and that, no matter what mistakes she made or offences she caused, it all came from a good place. A place of love and protection.
Last year, I came to the realisation that she doesn’t have my best interests at heart. Not one bit. After a huge family fight over the behaviour of her son, my brother-in-law, who had put my children in danger, she instantly came to his defence. I tried to understand her side of things. He is her son and she instinctively wanted to defend him. Fine.
For the next year I listened to her try and explain his actions, make excuses for them, encourage me to make contact and welcome him back into our lives. In response to this, I would nod and calmly explain that, while I respected her feelings, I disagreed and for the health and safety of my children I was choosing not to take her advice.
It wasn't long until I discovered that she had spoken about the situation to everyone in the family. She was begging them to help her get me on side, to persuade me to agree with her and do as she wished. She even approached my own family. I was so angry.
Once again, I asked her to respect my decision. Reminding her that I had my children's best interests in mind.
Then I said it a little more firmly.
I ended up yelling it at her. She just wasn't listening to me. "I'm not putting my children in danger just because you're worried your son might be offended. These are your grandchildren. You should want to protect them as well."
After that, she cut me off completely and started treating me coldly. This was a complete departure from her behaviour during past disagreements, when we've both tried to forget about it and move on.
This time she was so incensed at my failure to agree with her (or "obey" her) that she made the decision to only respond to my phone calls, texts and emails with the shortest and most cryptic of responses. She didn't bother to visit her grandchildren for months.
When a family friend arrived from overseas, I tried to get in contact to organise a visit. She ignored me and called my husband. She invited him to a family gathering at his brother's house.
My children and I were not invited.
What does a woman in her 20’s, 30’s and 40’s get targeted for on Facebook? (Post continues after audio.)
That's when I blocked her on Facebook.
I may have muttered, as I clicked the necessary options, "Bitch is blocked". That's how angry I was with her.
I felt betrayed and upset over her lack of regard for her grandchildren, who love her and miss her.
A couple of years ago, I decided that everyone who could view my private Facebook page needed to be a true friend or family member. I did this to keep my social media experience as happy and as healthy as possible. Everyone who could see my page had to have my family's best interests at heart.
My mother-in-law no longer made the cut.
I hated that she could see what the kids and I were doing, that she would comment on or share posts. I felt like she would use this information against me. I felt I had to protect myself.
Now all hell has broken loose.
She must have discovered she could no longer view my page and she has blown up.
She completely denies her treatment of me and has told my husband that her coldness, her choice not to visit, her cryptic responses, are all in my imagination.
She has feigned innocence and pretends not to understand why I have blocked her on Facebook.
Now, instead of her being in the wrong, I feel as though I am. Even though I know I did everything possible to address the issue before arriving at this last resort.
How can I ever let take my kids on a day out, knowing she would probably take them to see their uncle whom I no longer trust with my children?
How can I invite someone over to my home knowing they think the absolute worst of me and have mocked me and ridiculed me behind my back?
My husband is so upset.
He understands my reasons for doing what I did but his argument is that she is old and only has limited time left. He thinks we should just get over it and get on with it.
But that would require me apologising to her. It would require me to take all the blame and have to listen to her protests of ignorance and innocence.
I've been through so many conversations like that with her. I just can't do it anymore.
Family has always been so important to me and I've always made a huge effort to ensure we see each other regularly and stay in contact. If it wasn't for me we'd never see each other.
Now, I feel as though I am done or, if not 'done', deserving of a nice long break. I don't have to think too hard about what I post on Facebook, fearing her opinion. I can just relax and enjoy it. She can't access photos of my children without my permission and if she wants to see her grandchildren she knows where we are.
If she rang today, I would invite her over but I feel the rules have changed. This is my home and my family and if she comes to stay or to visit she has to learn to keep her opinions to herself. I am done bending over backwards to win her approval.
I've finally realised that with someone like her, seeking approval is pointless and gaining it impossible.
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