An Open Letter to My Mother-in-Law
The moment that I met Hannah I said to my friend, ‘that’s the girl I’m going to marry’.
That was over 11 years ago now and we’ve been married for nine of them. We have three beautiful children, Elliot who’s eight; Tobias, five; and Georgie who has just turned two.
When Hannah and I first got together she was very keen for me to meet her parents, which must have meant she had a good feeling about me! She was very close to her mum being more like best friends, so she wanted the seal of approval sooner rather than later. Normally I’d have said ‘sure, let’s get this done and out of the way, as I want you to be happy’. The only problem was that her parents lived in Spain. So it never could be a cup of tea, with them sizing me up and we leave…think ‘Meet the Parents’…
Apprehension of Meeting the Parents
If things didn’t go well, I’d be stuck in their house with nowhere to go and no escape for a whole week.
Fortunately, it turned out to be such a good holiday and we had the most amazing time. It was our first time away together as a couple and it involved meeting the parents, and – well…it couldn’t have gone any better.
After two years we got engaged, but with her parents living in Spain I had to wait to not only ask permission, but to pop the question when they were visiting us. So Christmas came, and while they were over I asked Hannah to marry me so that her parents could join in our celebrations.
- The Second Most Important Relationship in Your Marriage
- The Mum My Mum Made Me, Ft. ‘Anonymous’
- The Second Baby Mating Dance
A Special Wedding Guest!
The week of our wedding, four days before we tied the knot, we found out that we were expecting Elliot. Hannah’s mum was over the moon that her youngest daughter was getting married and was also pregnant – this would be her first grandchild.
Before the birth, Hannah’s mum came to stay with us so that she could support Hannah when I was working long days. The birth ended up being very overdue and those few days turned into two weeks before the baby arrived.
A couple of days before Hannah went into labour I had a major wobble. I had a full on panic attack and feared I would lose Hannah during childbirth. I got a bit snappy with Hannah’s mum, then went over to my parents and just broke down in tears. It was a whirl wind 18 months for us: we’d moved into our new flat; got engaged; got married; found out we were expecting – and my job was making me really depressed, so much so I nearly ended up on medication because of it.
All of this came flooding out of me, rounded off with the fear my wife was going to die.
When I got back home I apologised to Hannah’s mum and explained why I had snapped the way I had. As far as I was concerned, that was the end of it and all was forgiven and forgotten.
Strained Relations With the In-Laws
After two more pregnancies, relationships were starting to sour between Hannah and her mum. Hannah has a very manipulative sister who has spent her whole life lying to her mum and telling Hannah how much she dislikes their mum. Hannah’s older sister started to tell their mum lies about me. I’ve no idea what, but overnight Hannah’s mum started to be less supportive, less like a mother figure and more like her eldest daughter was: cold.
Hannah made the decision that for this pregnancy, she didn’t want her parents to arrive immediately before the birth, both because of how relations were and based on past experience that it was all a bit claustrophobic. She felt that it would be best all round if her parents arrived a week after the birth, to give everybody space (incidentally very much supported by her sister).
Hannah’s mum took it very personally and blamed me, assuming this decision was down to me. To try and get their relationship back to a point it used to be, when they did come over I booked and paid for a meal for two at one of Hannah’s favourite restaurants for them to bond again. I arranged for Hannah’s dad to go for a round of golf and also hired him some clubs to use as he couldn’t bring his own. Her dad is very old-school and didn’t have a phone but wanted one, so when he was out playing golf, I got him a new smartphone. I also gave them my old iMac as I had done previously with my iMac before that. I went to a lot of trouble – for nothing.
They went back to Spain not long afterwards and things really went downhill. After various emails, texts, and phone calls, came the final call between Hannah and her mum. It turns out that Hannah’s mum has never truly forgiven me for the troubles I went through during our first pregnancy and that they have never really liked me (despite always claiming to, saving their disgust for their eldest daughter’s partner).
Never Force Your Child to Choose…
The conversation ended with Hannah’s Dad saying he didn’t care anymore and Hannah’s mum saying that as long as I am part of Hannah’s life that they don’t want be.
This was over a year ago now and no contact has been made apart from one email. That email said that Hannah looks terribly unhappy and has done for a very long time!
I’ve obviously missed out a hell of a lot of this story down to not being able to include all the good and happy times we’ve all shared. I can hand on heart say apart from during our first pregnancy there were no other bad times. The main thing to come out of this is just how much of a coldhearted woman Hannah’s mum truly is. It’s one thing not wanting anything to do with me, but she has turned her back on her own daughter and grandchildren in the process.
However, for all the bad that has happened, there is some good.
As a result we’ve learned so many lessons about how we’ll be raising our children. We’ve learned that favouritism of kids really does show whether you mean it to or not.
When Hannah and I got together, the close bond she had with her mum was amazing to see. Hannah told her everything and they spoke every single day for years, for at least an hour each time. Her mum made her choose between us – based on lies from her sister – and then blamed it on what happened during our first pregnancy.
…You’ll Never Win That Ultimatum
I know you cannot choose your family but with parents like Hannah’s, there should be an exception.
There are always two sides to every story and this is mine. I personally would love to hear the other side of this story, but the problem with Hannah’s mum is that she believes 99% of what she is told by those that have influence over her, so I’m not sure she’d even recognise the truth anymore. Fast forward to now and despite Hannah occasionally feeling the full effects of realising that she isn’t good enough for her own parents, as a family we couldn’t be happier.
I wrote a blog post about purging, and in it I asked the question ‘would you purge people from your life if you could?’. This was the main reason behind that blog post!
Family are meant to be there for you and should love you unconditionally, but sadly family don’t always follow through with their promises.
We’ve had the last laugh though, as in this modern era of blogging and social media, it’s becoming easier and easier to see who is reading and looking at your posts. Someone needs to have a word with Hannah’s mum and tell her that we can see when she watches our IG stories and accidentally likes a post or comment on our Instagram posts!
Alex is the man behind ‘What Alex Did’, a family content creator and blogger (when he remembers to blog!). He is married to a fellow blogger, Hannah of ‘What Hannah Did Next’. He is passionate about using his GoPro and making videos for his Youtube channel.