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Sharing Happy News With Unhappy People

By Amalah

So I am currently 6 weeks pregnant with our first (SURPRISE!) baby and we have already hit a big of a snag.  Though my parents will be ecstatic when we tell them (after the first ultrasound in a week), the same cannot be said for my in-laws.  Whenever we’ve discussed our desire to have kids, my MIL has been not so quiet about her displeasure.  She thinks that we should wait at least 5 more years to have kids (we’re pushing 30) and she has never been especially quiet about the fact that she does not care for me.  She once told my husband that he should’ve slept around more in medical school so he could’ve settled down with a trophy wife.  Seriously.  And if you had been present for the lecture she gave, in a restaurant, when her 32 year old daughter announced she was pregnant with her second child, you’d understand.  She is no typical MIL.

My husband and I have agreed to not tell them until 12 or 13 weeks, or a few weeks after the baby is born if at all possible, but I’m struggling with how to do it.  I’d really like my husband to tell them without me because I know that hormones + the lecture we’re going to get about how we don’t have the money and it’s going to ruin our lives is going to push me right over that edge right there.  But he says that he can’t do it without me because the only way that my MIL will temper her crazy rant is if I’m there.  Not that my presence has ever stopped her rants before….

I’m just not sure what to do.  Do I force him to take one for the team and refuse to attend all of his family events until he tells them, or do I just prepare for the impending train wreck and dream about all the alcohol that it would take to cushion the blow?  I’m assuming sending an email and turning off our phones and locking our doors isn’t the best way to do it.

Help please.

So I’m kind of laughing right now — not at all at your predicament, for which you have nothing but my utmost sympathy, but at MYSELF, because I’d come up with a solution before I even finished reading your letter. And my brilliant solution was to send an email and be done with it. And then I read your final sentence. Whoops. I am a bad, cowardly person, I guess.

Look, I’m all for keeping peace and respect in families — especially when we’re talking about grandparents and grandparents-to-be, but there comes a breaking point when you have a person who is not giving you one IOTA of respect in return. Then they simply don’t deserve the amount of mental headspace you’re devoting to them, in a futile effort to get them to behave ANYTHING EVEN CLOSE to how grandparents are “supposed” to act. Your mother-in-law isn’t even aware her grandchild exists and yet it seems pretty safe to say that she has already crossed that point, with you, with her daughter, etc.

Thus, you would TOTALLY have my support to simply send a dang email, or have her find out via Facebook with everyone else, and if she dared get bent out of shape and ranty and joy-stealing, to hold up your hand and tell her that she’s made her opinion known loud and clear, and you don’t expect her to agree with your decision to have children, you DO expect her to not be completely awful and loathsome about it. Or…something to that effect. And replace “your hand” with “your husband’s hand,” who does kinda sounds like he needs to sack up a little around his mother.

If you want him to do it without you because you don’t want to hear the rant, that’s PERFECTLY FINE. I just wonder why HE needs to hear the rant either, instead of telling her to shut up the second she revs up. “Mom, these things you are saying about my life, my choices, and especially my wife and my unborn child are completely unacceptable, and I need you to keep these kinds of opinions to yourself, because I’m done listening to you disrespect us like this. DONE.”

And then LEAVE if she starts disparaging you again, either at that moment or at a family function two months from now or whenever. Obviously, you can’t make her not think all these things about you and your choices, but you should absolutely be able to not listen to them. Screw that. I’m guessing she isn’t the warmest or fuzziest grandma to your sister-in-law’s kids, so I fail to see much point in bending over backwards to avoid in hopes that she won’t make you cry at the Thanksgiving dinner table by insulting your pregnancy. (Unless she improves once actual children are involved? In that case, feel free to feign morning sickness for nine months and stay the hell home until you think you’re out of the Crazy Talk danger zone.)

You’re in a tough spot, since it’s not YOUR mother, and it can be difficult to convince a significant other to have it out with THEIR parent. But it sounds like your MIL is saying all this stuff with no real repercussions from anyone, and it’s time for SOMEONE to put their foot down and tell her she’s not allowed to disrespect them that way, then follow through with leaving or disinviting her to functions if she can’t manage to stay civil. If my mother or mother-in-law let loose with some humiliating, public rant in a restaurant right after I announced a pregnancy, I would have GOTTEN UP AND LEFT. What a bully, man.

The whole “oh, that’s just how she always is, just ignore her” approach can be fine for minor in-law/grandparent/adorably-dotty-aunt peacekeeping missions, but the fact that you and your husband seem prepared to spend your entire pregnancy in fear of this woman’s mouth suggests that is a situation that’s going way beyond what anyone should have to deal with. Map out some hard boundaries now, before she’s bullying you in front of your child.


Photo credit: Thinkstock

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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