If you’re still checking this blog, I think you already know that I’ve given it up. I’m writing a little post mortem, a self reflection on what I’ve learned over the past couple years. Maybe it’ll help any of you readers who stumble across my tiny, anonymous act of rebellion.

I started this blog to release some anger I have for a woman who imposes on my life. My mother-in-law turned into a hateful, spiteful woman after my (now) husband proposed to me. Her actions turned from passive aggressive to aggressive aggressive. In the beginning, I thought this blog was healthy. I was letting out my feelings without complaining to my friends and family, and I was using a creative outlet, something I had all but lost after graduate school. And at first, the posts were a little funny. They quickly turned into lengthy reasons for my growing anger.

I had also turned to an online community for support and guidance, and while I do miss those supportive women and their camaraderie, I had to give that up. See, instead of helping me see, think, and act clearly, it did quite the opposite. My anger and intolerance for Maude seemed to intensify. The advice the women gave me was often right on the money, and they never ceased to make me laugh, but my seeking advice turned into venting, which started to snowball. Boundaries are healthy, and that’s what that group of women helped me to understand. Boundaries and a backbone are important in any relationship, particularly between in-laws. For that, I thank them.

To be fair, I have not seen my mother-in-law since June. She did something that infuriated me, and I decided I needed a break. Maybe that has something to do with my softening feelings. In fact, I’m sure it does, but keeping a long list of complaints on the Internet does nothing for me. Once I get on a roll, I can’t stop thinking of how upset she makes me. It ruins my day, week, month. That’s not how I wish to live anymore. I am not ready to see Maude, and definitely not as often as she has asked, and certainly not just the two of us, but I am ready to let go of the anger.

I believe she will continue to be a rift in my marriage, but I am trying to feel better as a whole, and holding onto the negative feelings she stirs is not helping anyone, least of all me.

So there you have it. You can chalk it up to doing yoga or reading inspirational quotes on Pinterest. Whatever the reason, I am letting it go. Maybe with an eye roll or 53.

I told Jeffrey that I would not see his parents this week. That would break my never-more-than-once-a-month rule (except for the month of December, or as I like to call it, Suicide Watch month). He didn’t respond, I suppose thinking that I would allow him to pressure me into it on Mother’s Day.

He told me about his plans this morning, and I went on about my business, cleaning up, making tea, and doing a little laundry. He called ahead for brunch, and I overheard him calling Maude about the plans and saying “we” a lot. “We will meet you there.” “We’ll go to your house after brunch.”

I brought him tea while he was doing yard work. “I’m taking my mom out for Mother’s Day brunch,” he said. “You are more than welcome to come.”

I didn’t respond and went inside, since I already made it clear that I had no intentions of spending Mother’s Day with Maude.

He didn’t realize I was serious about not going until I asked, “So are you all going over to her house after lunch?”

“Yeah, I’m going to pick up the gifts they brought back from their trip. So you’re not going?”

“No, I’m going to stay here,” I said.

He stormed off into the office, and came out a few minutes later with a card. “Will you sign ‘and Tina’?” I shouldn’t have, but I did. I shouldn’t have had flowers delivered to her this week, either, since she is not my mother and has never been motherly to me at all, but I did.

“What should I tell her?” he asked.

“You can tell her whatever you need to, but she is not my mother, has never been motherly to me at all, and quite honestly, we’re not even friends. So I’m sorry, but I am not spending Mother’s Day with someone who is not my mother.” This might be the first time I’ve laid it all out for him. I’ve talked to him about her characteristics, like her racism, her nasty comments, her passive aggression, her jealousy, but I’ve never told him that she and I have no relationship. I’ve never told him she means nothing to me.

He slammed the door on his way out.

If there’s anything I hate worse than a visit with the in-laws, it’s an impromptu visit with the in-laws. Let me explain.

This winter, Jeffrey and I talked long and hard about moving to a city an hour and a half away. It’s bigger, there are more job opportunities for both of us, and we have friends who live there already. (Added bonus is a longer stretch of road between us and the trolls.) As far as both of us finding a job at the same time went, the stars just didn’t align. We tried and tried, and got frustrated trying, and then we drove by a house downtown in our current city and both said, “Wow. That’s a house.”

That solidified my perpetual misery, being glued to the same city where Jeffrey’s parents live. It’s a 23-minute drive according to Google Maps, which is a shorter drive than I would like, obviously. I thought being so close to the supposed bad part of town would keep the in-laws away. I was so young, so naive.

In the month of December, I saw them 10 out of 17 days. 10 out of 17! That’s criminal. I was ready to trash the tree and skip the holidays altogether, and I really don’t mind the holidays generally. There were constant excuses. Family reunions (which occur every two months), birthdays, my mother in town and “we want to take her to dinnir,” even though they’ve met a handful of times and decidedly don’t like each other. I was ready to stick my head in the oven.

My mother told Maude to back off with her religion, which only made her worse. Hey, points for trying.

That month, for the most part, I knew when they were coming at least a day in advance. Still not enough notice for me, but I don’t think an entire year would be enough time to prepare myself.

I told Jeffrey that once the holidays were over, I wanted to avoid seeing or hearing from them for an entire month. This didn’t go over, as Maude’s birthday is in January. I wish I could spend my Decembers and Januaries in some foreign country where Maude would never go, but I digress. I had to celebrate Satan’s birthday, and then I put my foot down. No more visits for at least a month.

Two weeks later, in unseasonably warm weather, Jeffrey, Penny, and I spent the afternoon in our backyard, talking to our neighbor and doing yard work. It was nice, until I saw that salt-and-pepper poof peek around the corner.

I wish a photographer could have captured the look on my face. Jeffrey was facing me and only saw my eyes bulge. He rolled his eyes.

“Neither one of you would answer your phone, so we just thought we’d come on over!”

“Whose parents are these?” our neighbor asked.

“HIS.” I said. Then I took Penny inside and closed us in the bathroom, where I proceeded to call my sister, who also has a mother-in-law from hell.

It took me two hours to leave that bathroom. I wanted to be sure they had left. When I got out, I met Jeffrey in the living room. “I know what you’re going to say,” he said.

“What if we were having sex?” I said.

“That was my thought. And I told them we needed advanced notice if they want to come over.”

“And they have to ask first,” I said.

And I would love it if I never saw them again, I thought.

It has been over a month of blissful silence, minus hearing Maude screech over the phone. My good fortune ends this Saturday.

“I want to warn you that she has a gift for you,” Jeffrey said.

“Know what the greatest gift of all would be?” I asked.

Was I lying, y'all?

She couldn’t have matched those ruffles better if she tried. And thanks for stepping on my dress.

It’s been over six months since the wedding, and Maude has yet to stop terrorizing me over it. The second Jeffrey and I got back from our honeymoon, Maude started in about the professional photos. They weren’t ready for another month and a half after we got back, but don’t think I didn’t hear about it every time Jeffrey or I saw her.

“Win are we going to get to see phoe-toes?”

“I can’t believe the phoe-toes aren’t riddy yet.”

“Your photographer is garbage. I’m going to leave her a bad review.”

I believe she threatened to leave every vendor a bad review. I had contacted each of them to let them know they were not to accommodate Maude’s requests, as I was paying them, and she was trying to change things like the music, flowers, cake, food. You name it, she tried to sabotage it. She even tried to push for using her friend to coordinate the ceremony so that she could get her way and have Jeffrey walk her down the aisle, even after Jeffrey said no. She hated my vendors by the end of it, and I believe they hated her.

Once the phoe-toes came, Jeffrey and I spent around eight hours making Maude and her husband a custom album. The pictures were big and glossy, and it turned out really beautiful. I never heard from her when the album arrived, but the next time I came over to her house for some kind of canned dinner and boxed dessert, Jeffrey’s father pulled it out from their dining room, which is also their catch-all room.

“I want to make my own scrap book,” she said.

“Did you know you can make books with words in them?”

“Where’s my copy of all the phoe-toes?”

How about a thank you?

Of course, Maude took several pictures at the reception, often getting in the way of the professionals. I have yet to see them, but apparently everyone else has. She even went to her local bank branch and showed all the tellers the photos she took. Who knows who else she’s shown, apart from every member at her megachurch.

Maude has given Jeffrey both a CD and a thumb drive to put all the professional photos on, to which I have said, “She is not getting all of the pictures.” Jeffrey has not said a word about it, no doubt remembering that I refused to give her any digital copies of our engagement pictures. She wanted those so she could have them printed in the local paper for an engagement announcement. To which I say, Who does that?

I’ve picked out the pictures to put on that thumb drive. I’ll include photos of Jeffrey, his father (who she could care less about), and her extended family, but she will not get any digital copies of me, my family, our friends, or the ceremony. Included with this package will be a Word doc. This is what it says:

Dear Maude,

Here are some of the professional photos from mine and Jeffrey’s wedding. You’ll notice that I did not include all of them, as I do not want our private ceremony shared with people who were not invited. If there are photos you would like of the ceremony printed for your home, I’d be happy to get those for you.

While Jeffrey and I were Christmas shopping, we ran into someone he had not seen since high school. He didn’t even remember her name. She said to me, “Hey! I don’t know you, but I’ve seen pictures from your wedding!” This makes me very uncomfortable, to be honest. It was a great day, one that I cherish, but I feel that it was a very private moment in my life that Jeffrey and I shared with family and friends, and that’s how I would like it to stay.

Of course, I cannot prevent you from sharing the photos on this thumb drive, or the photos you took that day. I can only ask that you use discretion with who sees them from here on. I also ask that no pictures of me (or my name) be printed in any church programs or newsletters.

Love,

TinaDoris

Maybe I’ll include one of her standing beside me with us in our matching dresses. She stepped on my dress, and she stepped on our wedding day. Wondering when she’ll stop stepping.

I’ve been getting Christian-related junkmail lately. I also got a letter addressed to me for a donation request from Maude’s church. The included envelope was marked to her attention. I sent it back with a note that said, “Please remove me from your mailing list. Thank you, TinaDoris White.”

I did this the week before Thanksgiving, when I will have to see her and her family. Why do I do this to myself?

I know I’ve promised to fill you in, and I haven’t. Bless my heart. I have Black Friday off, so expect a big update then.

Dear Reader,

I have so much to catch you up to speed on. I’m now Mrs. White Numero Dos, and I don’t think there’s enough room in this town for the both of us, so Jeffrey and I are looking into moving. I promise to fill you in soon (I am dying a little inside from all these clichés), but for now, here’s a fun email I found in my spam box. (Why in my spam box? I blocked her multiple email addresses because she was causing me more stress than was necessary or healthy. I found out she emailed me when she asked, “Why didn’t you respond to my email?”)

Hey there to all those I love,

I have a case of the Hibie-Gibies (inherited from Mama).  So the only way to get a cure is to take a trip.  We are going to [Native American town] to meet Jeffrey’s dad’s aunt and uncle.  We going to give some of Jeffrey’s inheritance to the Native Americans or maybe they’ll give us some of theirs.  We are going up on Wednesday (8-29) and coming back on Thursday (8-30).  I’ll have my cell if you need to get me.  We’re staying at the casino’s hotel.

Love to all of you,

Maude (to Jeffrey and Tina – Mom)

A list of grievances:
A hyphen is not an en-dash.
Hibie-Gibies is not a thing.
Stop constantly reminding Jeffrey and I that you are spending his inheritance. I’m well aware that you’ll take 10 years to die in a nursing home, which will take up all of his inheritance money anyway.
I will never “get” you.
You are not my mother. I will never call you “Mom.”

I can’t wait to tell you about her behavior at the wedding. Until then, here’s a teaser: Throughout the reception, she told multiple people she thought she looked good for having just given birth to a grown woman.

Why is this still up for discussion? Seriously. I ask you. Why is this still up for discussion? Why does Maude still think she has a say in mine and Jeffrey’s wedding ceremony? I’ve put my foot down, and yet it is still happening.

Jeffrey and I were on our way to Maude’s house for his birthday when he braced himself.

“Please don’t get mad.”

“Get mad at what?” I asked. I racked my brain trying to think of what it could be.

“My mom wants my dad to seat her at the ceremony.”

I laughed. Oh, I laughed my ass off. “How long have you been waiting to tell me this?” I asked.

“A month,” he said.

Readers, I call your attention to a post I made back in January regarding who should escort Maude to her seat, in which I said, “I’ve heard of the groom walking the mother to her seat in Jewish wedding ceremonies, or if the mother of the groom’s husband has died, but her husband is very much alive, and he’s a groomsman. He’s supposed to walk her in. It’s his privilege.” I have been telling them this since October, when Maude kept pushing for Jeffrey to seat her. Has no one been listening to me? I’ve been pretty clear this entire time.

Like later that night at Jeffrey’s birthday. Maude insisted on paying for the flowers for the mothers, my bouquet, and all the boutonnieres. She claimed it was tradition. Actually, it’s tradition for the groom to pay for that, but whatever. I told her what it costs, and she said she wanted to pay our florist directly.

From day one of planning this wedding, I’ve told all our vendors to only go through me. They are not to share information with anyone regarding a bill or our contract. I am cutting the final checks, so I am the one they need to go through, and only via email in case some impersonating happens over the phone.

About a month ago, Maude suggested that we have flowers at the ceremony site. She said she would even pay for the arrangement. At first, this seemed fine. The site actually has gorgeous orchids on the walls and pillars, but if she wanted something bigger, it made no difference to me.

Until she said that it was a memorial “for all the dead people.”

Once she said she wanted funeral flowers for the ceremony, I made up my mind. I told her no. I said we’re already having a moment to remember people who won’t be able to be there that day, for whatever reason, and Jeffrey wants to leave a chair empty in the front row for his grandfather. But funeral flowers in my face while I’m trying to say my vows? No thank you. So based on her long-standing record of pushiness, I’m sure she wanted to deal with my florist directly so that she can get her way and have a funeral arrangement in the middle of the ceremony site.

She brought it up again at dinner. “So you’re using the Flower Makers?”

“Yes,” I said.

“Great, I’ll call Deborah,” she said. She has known that florist from her previous job with another church. I did not know this, of course, when we signed our contract and paid a deposit. Otherwise I would have gone with someone else.

“We’ve got it,” I said.

She kept on. “I want to pay for-“

“We’ve GOT IT.” I said.

“No, no, I-“

“MAUDE. WE’VE GOT IT.” You can imagine how pleasant dinner was after that. I pulled out my phone and emailed the Flower Makers, letting them know again that they are only to deal with me, that my future mother-in-law is trying to circumvent me, and that’s not okay. They emailed back immediately and told me that they will not discuss anything with her. To that I said to myself, “Damn right.” Then I ordered another drink.

Later, I thought again about the way the ceremony would unfold, and again, we have the same problem. My mother wants to see the whole ceremony, from the moment Jeffrey walks in, and the way Maude rigged it, the mothers were going to be seated after the groom enters. Why? Why does she need such a presentation? Why is she so attention-starved? Again, I had to tell Jeffrey no.

“The mothers are always seated before the groom walks out.”

His answer? “Oh, OK.”

Really, why is this still up for discussion?

Everyone I know has suggested Jeffrey and I move to create some distance between us and Maude. I agree. We have to move. And Jeffrey told Maude and his father at his birthday dinner that I was applying for jobs about an hour and a half away.

Then I ordered another drink.

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