Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Heavy Heart

Before you read any further:
I've been debating with myself about saying anything at all about this big fat mess over here, but in the end I have decided that I stand true to what I have always said about this blog.

This is my story.

I hope that one day Jack and I will share this story together and that when I am gone he will have this story to reflect upon. I hope that it helps him understand where I was coming from at this moment in time.
My relationship with my in laws (all of them) has been strained from the very first minute they learned that David and I were having a relationship. At one point it caused big problems between Dave and I. It has ALWAYS been a hot mess.

When Jack was a baby I decided that it was worth it to try and have some kind of relationship with them for Jack's sake.

I have ALWAYS said that the moment I felt it was harmful to him in anyway that would be the end of it.
And folks, we are there.

Yesterday my FIL sent an incredibly nasty letter to my husband about me. Only about me. I am not sure what he hoped to gain by sending such a letter.

The letter was, for me anyway, the nail in the proverbial coffin.
David and I live a pretty quiet life. We don't scream and yell, we rarely argue, and we work our asses off making sure that we are doing right by Jack.

Over the course of all this "visiting" there was a big nasty middle of the night argument (while Jack and I were trying to sleep). I thought that was as bad as it could get, and I got over it.

I was totally wrong. My MIL called Jack a "twit" after she made him cry when he wouldn't stop what he was doing and pay attention to her immediately so that she could give him a "present". A present that I swear she held over him and tried to make him act like a circus pony to get. She laid on the guilt trips hot and heavy by saying things she couldn't believe how he was acting when she came all this way to see him and how sad it all was and blah blah blah.

To a four year old.

To my sweet little boy.
I knew things were getting bad for Jack when he started whispering things in my ear. Jack doesn't whisper. Ever. He is a loud, rambunctious kid. And suddenly there was "I love you so much mama" in my ear.

Mama. Something he has not called me in a year or more.

Jack told his father that he wasn't sure his grandfather loved him.

And then, this morning, Jack and I had this exchange:

"So Jack, how do you feel about your visit with grandma and grandpa?"
Silence.
"Not very good mama."
(He had the opposite response when asked about the visit with his aunt).

Honestly. It kills me to type it.

I mean, I know that I cannot protect him forever. I get that. And I know that they hate me (which was made impeccably clear by their email), and I am ok with that.

But God. My kid.

I just don't even know what to say beyond that.

I mean how on earth do you help a little boy who says his grandparents don't love him feel better?

Sigh.

58 comments:

  1. Oh for heavens sake! What kind of person calls a 4 year old a twit?!? Cut them out, tell them why, and close the door - for now, at least. I'm sorry for your husband, but mostly sorry for you and Jack. That SUCKS.

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  2. Oh honey! This breaks my heart! Poor Jack... all of you. I'd sever ties. Doesn't sound like Jack would mind all that much. It would be better for him than the worry he might feel about another visit... Surely your husband feels awful about this, too. ((hugs)), because I can't offer any good advice. I'm just shocked.

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  3. I agree. We've cut my husband's father out of our lives. My older (9yo) son sometimes asks about him and I try to be honest yet not hateful.

    I hope your husband is with you on this. It's good for him to stay in touch with them (if he wants) but he needs to protect you and your son from them.

    And, I'm so sorry for what they did and said to your little boy.

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  4. Oh Sarah. I'm so so sorry. For all the issues I have with my in-laws, I know that they would do anything for my kids. That's beyond sad, that they can't see past themselves and their own issues to have a good relationship with their grandchild. They don't deserve him.

    Big hugs. I'm going to go sew your quilt block now and put extra love into it.

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  5. The upside to this (as much as I hate to call it that) is that you have an incredible little boy who understands that someone was hurting your feelings. And he tried to make you feel better in such a precious four year old way. I think that’s great. There are plenty of grown ups that don’t have that foresight. I really don’t think that there is anything you can do to make Jack feel better, because sometimes that’s just the way it is. But he is awful lucky to have two such caring parents!

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  6. I'm so sorry that you have to deal with this, as if marriage and kids are not difficult enough! You are a wonderful person, do not let them get you down!

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  7. oh my! I am so sorry that family has to be that way...I have a MIL who is the exact way...I am sorry, but once those feeling are put into b & w (email or letter) things will never be ok...I know.

    my MIL has lost her mind..I feel for you...I am sorry....

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  8. Oh my gosh...what a way to treat a 4 year old. And to call him a twit..how very childish of them. I am so sorry that you, your husband and poor little Jack have to deal with people like that. I would definitely not have anything to do with them ever again...not even an apology can make that hurt go away.

    Big hugs to you and Jack (and his daddy too!)
    Michele

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  9. Wow, you've opened up a can of worms with this post. The stories I could tell you about my relationship with my in-laws... but I won't in a public forum such as this. Suffice it to say, the word "strained" doesn't even begin to describe it. We live on the other side of the country from them... for a good reason. You absolutely have my sympathies. It is no easy thing to try and do what's best for your child when that "best" means protecting them from their own family. But you gotta do what you gotta do. Stay strong!

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  10. I am sorry. I do not have any excuse to make calling a child a name. So sad. The grandparents are the biggest losers. They do not know that, but they are. Your son has 2 parents who love him and put him first. That is the important thing.
    I am a grandmother of 4. I would walk through fire for any of them. I hope that given time your son can come to understand that not all adults make good decisions. Talking down and holding a gift over a child's head is an example. Grandparents are supposed to be part of a child's support system. I would sever ties with them, maybe not forever, but for a really long time. Until they show they can put the child's needs ahead of their own selfish wants.
    Blessings. Roxie

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  11. No words, just *hugs*

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  12. sad, really truly sad! We had a similar situation with Ryan's brother who decided that Peter wasn't worth his time (previously, they had been great friends) after he left a mess in the house. This was about a year ago and Peter's speech skills weren't even to a point where we could explain it to him. I think and hope that in the end what will be most important is how much you and David love Jack, which is obvious!

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  13. I am so sorry this all happened, Sarah. I don't know why some people feel the need to go through life dictating the actions of others when the person that needs to better their behavior the most is themselves.

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  14. Hugs. It is so hard not have that relationship with a grandparent - but you sound like you have given it a good try and it isn't worth the heartbreak...especially for Jack. It is your job to nurture and protect Jack and give him a happy life...some times you have to give things up to accomplish that.

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  15. Since I am in the middle of a shockingly similar situation I wish I knew the answer to make it all go away. My heart aches for Jack just as it aches for my own little monsters. I hope that you are able to find a solution that brings you peace.

    -whispers- The way I find peace is that I know that my in-laws won't live forever. bwah ha ha!

    And now I will continue on pretending to be a nice person. *hugs*

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  16. Sarah - I am SO sorry you're living through this. You're right - you have to do right by the kiddo. *Big hugs.*

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  17. Poor Dave - how's he feel about them?

    My in laws never liked me. My FIL never even bothered to learn my damn name. My MIL only liked my son while he was little enough to sit on her lap, which made me cringe because she was not a very hygenic woman. Once he grew up and wanted to play and run, she ws done with him. They came to his 4th birthday party empty handed - "We forgot to get him anything", they said. How can you forget to buya present when you remembered to come to the party?????? I finally drew the line, kept him with me and had DH got visit them on his own. They wre not invited to my house ever again. They were NOT f*cking with my kid anymore. I never knew how I was going to get through life with them in it. But, out of the blue, he died and she died a year later, and as sad as that is and how sad it sounds like I should have been - I was not sad. I did not have to watch them ignore my son. To this day he refers to them as Daddy's Dad and daddy's Mom - he never called them Grandma or Grandpa.

    The point to my rambling is this - do whatever you have to do to protect your kid. You'd keep him out of school if his teacher was mean or not take him to a store because the clerk treated him badly. So, tell the In-laws to go BLEEP themselves. BLEEP BLEEP BLEEP.

    PS. That picture of Jack by the rusty door looks like he's going into the hatch on LOST.

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  18. I completely understand! Mine have never liked me, even told my hubby that the only reason he wanted to marry me was to "get me out of my white trash family"
    I hope you come to a good and peaceful decision.

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  19. i am so sorry...hugs to Jack. Just make sure he knows how much mama and daddy love him always.

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  20. Oh that's just horrible. Poor Jack. I'd sever ties with them, at least until Jack is older and able to deal with their behaviour. My own grandfather once sent my mother a horrible letter about me and painful though it is to have no contact I am glad I have that negative influence out of my life.

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  21. Sigh. The thorns among the roses. (And, when I wrote that I instantly thought of your "flowers bed" that Jack loves so much.) I feel for all of you and hope that time eases these painful feelings. You and Dave have built a **beautiful** life for Jack. As for writing down the story. The truth is worth preserving. Years from now Jack will appreciate reading the raw emotions behind your choices.

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  22. Too much for a comment - I'm e-mailing.

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  23. I had some seriously hard times with my MIL. My poor husband was always in the middle. I agree with Tami, cut them out completely, but leave the option up to your husband to stay in touch. And try not to be bitter if he does....they are his parents, regardless of how HORRID they are.
    What did they hope to gain by sending the letter?

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  24. You cut them off, and that's what you did. I'm sorry you have to endure this and I hope you get some peace and support by sharing your story.
    Regardless of how they feel about you, they should put the grandson and their SON ahead of their feeling for their SON"s wife!

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  25. Wow, this just really pisses me off. Here are people that have the opportunity to have a place in a child's life and they completely "f" it up. Being a grandparent is a freaking PRIVILEGE and it sounds like they do not appreciate their role. You should only surround Jack with people that truly care for, and love him.

    My ds's biological father AND his family have chosen not to be part of my ds's life, so although I get mad at times I have to remember that it is in HIS best interest.

    Stay strong and carry on.

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  26. I'm so sorry that you're having to go through all of this. Hopefully things will get better soon by not having that negativity in your life.
    I've learned that you can forgive someone for their shortcomings, (so you don't have to carry that hate around with you) BUT that doesn't mean that you need to have that person be an active part of your life.
    It is VERY apparent that Jack has some pretty wonderful parents. Go with your gut feeling.

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  27. Oh my little darling, I don't even know what to say. What are they thinking? I don't even want to say anything bad about them but where did their maternal/paternal instincts go? Please tell me that your David is on your side. Your maternal instincts kicked in..protect your baby at all costs. I would have given anything to have been able to have children and grandchildren. How in the world could your MIL say that to Jack? What makes me sick is that he will probably remember her calling him that for a long time. Please give him a big hug for me.

    You have support here Sarah and I'm glad that you were able to voice your unhappiness here.

    Mighty hugs from San Antonio,
    Deanna

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  28. i'm so sorry...but i know how you feel. i've had to cut my sister out of my life because of the choices she makes and i'd do the same thing if my parents or in-laws pulled that kind of crap. i also have cut my biological father out of my life. he'll write an email occassionally and i'll tell him that i'm not going to tell jerrett who he is because he'll question why he has a grandpa who's not there for him. apparently my dad is going to a therapist because he sent us his "soul cleansing" email a few months ago saying he was so sorry for not being there for us...blah blah blah. jerrett opened the email and wanted to know who he was. trying to expalin to jerrett that i had another dad other than his papa was difficult.

    if there's going to be a strain on jack, your marriage, and your happiness then you have to do what's best. maybe down the road they'll come to their senses and realize what they're missing.

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  29. You have to do what's right for Jack. You have to protect him, while he is young and vulnerable. When he is older, if he chooses to be around them, that is his choice. Right now the choice is yours.

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  30. i'm so sorry you have this to deal with. no one should be made to feel the way they make you and jack feel. your poor dear.

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  31. Oh Sarah, it makes my own heart heavy just to read about two people whose only job on this earth is to LOVE Jack, and they can't even manage to see past themselves to do that. :( No advice from me, just hugs.

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  32. wow. that is tragic, and I cannot even imagine what an awful spot this puts you guys in, and how that must be for Jack. no kid should have to go through that. sounds like you are doing the right thing by your kid and your family. i am sending lots of hugs and good ju ju vibes your way!

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  33. Anonymous8:36 AM

    Here's the hope in this situation: You have a son who knows instinctively that your in-laws' behavior is awful. I grew up in a very dysfunctional household and didn't know the difference (or that I deserved better) until I was an adult. I worried about my kids seeing their relatives' bad behavior and taking it personally, but they don't. Jack won't take it personally because you have raised him with unconditional love, and because he gets what he needs emotionally from you and your husband. Once, one of my demons was pulling out all the stops trying to manipulate my older son, then 6. The only thing I could think to do was clear out of there before I blew my stack. When we did, my son said, "She's tricky, isn't she?" I was so angry with her for preying on him, but he was fine. Kids are resilient, and you are doing the right line by drawing boundaries around unacceptable behavior. Would that some of the other adults in my life had done that for me when I needed perspective.

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  34. What do these people hope to accomplish with this behavior????!? Are they mentally ill? Whatever their problem is, you and Dave need to do what's right for your family. Don't let them get you down. They aren't worth it. Wish I lived closer to you, I could be Jack's adopted grandmother. I can't wait to have grandkids!

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  35. I know this is something you've endured over and over. Seriously these are disfunctional people. It is very sad that there isn't a good relationship. I am sure it is hard for your husband. It tears at him. You have to make your own family without others sometimes. Sad but true.

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  36. Oh Sarah!! I'm so sorry. I don't even know what to say. (((HUGS)))

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  37. OMG I am so sorry. I cannot even imagine. It must have been a horrible visit for him to say that. Poor thing. My kids only have relationships with one set of grandparents, and that's DH's. My mom passed away when I was pregnant with Layla and my dad is in Tennessee, I dont have much of a relationship with him anyway.

    I don't have any advice, but it seems like being done with them is the best thing. It isnt benefiting anyone to have one.

    ((HUGS))

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  38. Oh poor you but at least you can stand tall and say that you tried to make it work and that when it started hurting Jack you were out of there. I think you have made the right decision - just imagine how hurt Jack would feel if you continued to see them and they still treated him like that. I'm sure it wasn't an easy choice to make but you have done it for all the right reasons. *hugs*

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  39. My opinion: The very moment any adult is unkind to a child they give up the right to be in that's child life. Period. YOU have to protect your child - physically and emotionally.
    As for making your son feel better I'm not sure. But I would certainly make sure he knows that adults do not always behave well and that he is not responsible for that in any way.
    Good for you for sharing this!

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  40. Sarah,I hope you are feeling better today. I thought a lot about you and Jack last night. Hopefully today is the start of a new determination to make Jack's life filled with positive voices in his ear and lot's of lovin from his mama. Mighty mighty hugs.

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  41. Sarah, my heart breaks for you. I'm sending you an email.

    (((HUGS)))

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  42. My heart goes out for you, Jack and the hubby. I don't think the grandparents will ever realize what they will miss.
    Hugs for all 3 of you.

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  43. I don't have kids. I can't possibly know what you are going through. Reading your recount gave me chills. All FOUR of my Grandparents were a Huge & Very special part of my life, this makes me SO sad for Jack. I guess no memories are better than bad ones!

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  44. wow.
    yikes.
    i'm sorry you have to go through this, but it sounds like you've definitely made the right choice. Jack's young. He'll bounce back - provided he doesn't have to go through that again!

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  45. Dee in BC7:36 AM

    Sorry to hear this- It sounds a lot like my in laws-except mine make a very weak immitation of trying with my kids-however they make it super clear they love, adore & think the world of my sister-in-law's kids- my kids get crapped all over for doing exactly the same things the SIL's kids do ( and get an indulgent smile for)This is in spite of the fact my kids are much yonger & are often just copying their older cousins- I wish I could just give them the boot right out of all of our lives -maybe some people shouldn't be grandparents!

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  46. Dear Sarah, it is your job to set boundaries around Jack (and yourself) to keep him safe. There is nothing wrong in what you are doing. You are a wonderful mom. If your in-laws are going to act in such unhealthy ways, then you have to separate yourself and Jack from them. Really it would also be un-loving to your in-laws to let them act in such inappropriate ways. But I am sooo sorry you have to go through this. Clarice

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  47. Anonymous1:40 PM

    Oh my gosh, I haven't read the other comments yet but you made me cry. I have a Jack which is why I read your blog. I believe in keeping children innocent as long as possible and if that means keeping them away from your in laws then so be it. Your child is more important that any adult. If they decide to visit again please take off somewhere until they are gone. Your child does not deserve that and to think he is unloved by anyone is hurtful. Good luck to you! Jack Scully's Mommy

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  48. I am so sorry. We have our ends and outs with my parents and hubby's, but most everything they do or don't do is out of love even if not with much consideration. I can't imagine someone being that angry and insensitive to their own grandchild. Protecting your child from mean-spirited people is not something to be ashamed of. I will fight to the death to make sure my boys know they deserve unconditional love. No one should make Jack feel like he isn't worthy of that kind of love. I'm just so sad it's his own grandparents treating him like this.

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  49. Lotsa hugs to you. I'm a burnin' bridges type of gal-- if you piss me off enough times, I'm done with you. You did the right thing. They're the ones who are going to be missing out, not you (or Jack for that matter!!!). xo

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  50. This just breaks my heart!!! I will never understand why adults can't control their mouths and actions!! And poor Jack, grandparents are suppossed to be fun and hugs and kisses. Really sorry to hear about the whole strained relationship with the in-laws, it unfortunantly reminds me of the one with my dad. (which by the way has never met my youngest, 2, and threaten to kill Abe if he ever hurt me one month before our wedding which was almost 10 years ago)

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  51. I stumbled into your blog via soulemama's, to button it up and so here i am. I am always astounded when i see adults behaving so poorly towards kids. insecure, manipulating, contentious - honestly, who is the real 'twit' here! if anyone spoke to my kids like that, i would take them on. our kids need our protection. being family can make it more difficult except that it' not ok for them to come into your home and walk all over your family and destroy your loving and warm atmosphere. If they are family, then their role is to make life better for you, not harder. i just want to scoop up my kids and hug 'em real tight when i see ur little boy. Seems to me you need to make those visits conditional. I sense you will know how to deal with this best for your family. You are a wonderful mum, you have a beautiful home and life - stay focused on that, and on the things that contribute to it. I am richer for having come here today.

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  52. Just rediscovered your blog after loosing all my bookmarks...You've been flooded with comments on this subject, but one more can't hurt. My husbands parents have been toxic to us since day one...after many attempts to deal w/ the situation, we pulled back as far as possible. Now, years later, my sons are grown, J's Dad died, and Mommy Dearest will be 89 in May and wants to know "why her sons hate her"...her words, not mine. I don't know if that chasm will ever be crossed while she is still on earth, and that hurts, but she has hurt us every chance she got, and I don't think that has changed at all. Guesss only time will tell...I know it's hard, but family baggage is something we all have to deal with when we fall in love with someone. Hang in there! *elaine*

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  53. That is so incredibly sad. Your in-laws are seriously selfish people. Life is too short to spend it stressed out with every visit. Forget it. It's not worth it. You've certainly made an effort on your part.

    It makes me so angry just reading about it. Although I'm not a mom, sometimes I just can't believe what I've seen grown adults say or do to children. It's horrible.

    You, Dave and Jack are a family. That's the important part.

    Hugs to you...

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  54. I know I'm commenting late, but I just have to say that you are so right on. You (with your husband) are your child's best advocate and you can't second-guess that. My husband's mother and I have always had a strained relationship (again, on her end, not mine--I'm very, very easygoing and not easily perturbed, she is quite the opposite). After a few very 'twit'-like comments that left my oldest daughter very self-conscious I called her and told her to cut it out or that was it. That SHE was the one making the choices that would lead to her not having a relationship with her son and grandchildren, but that I wouldn't allow that behavior to continue, and that her problems were NOT MY FAULT. Hmpf. Anyway. You are making a tough choice, but there's just no reason to go along with any of their bullshit.

    You take care.

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  55. My sons are 21 and 23 and don't have much of a relationship with either grandmother. They were very close to their paternal GM when they were small, especially the oldest one. The 21YO was born with a heart defect and she didn't think that he'd live (in spite of the fact that his type of heart defect repair surgery had people going into their 40s at that point). Anyway, I think she reserved herself there. She adores my oldest daughter but we left Tx and she has not seen the younger one much...and my youngest won't go see her without her sister and even that is iffy...my folks just didn't have time...too busy in jobs & after my dad died, mom was too involved in church & taking care of the minister's kids to see mine. She mentioned once that she was sorry that she didn't know them better, & I just kept my mouth shut.

    It has been their choice and I haven't forced my boys to communicate with them for a long time. I mention to them at times they need to give them a call, but apparently MIL said something about me that pissed off my boys so..her loss.
    Jack is your son, so you lay down the rules. If they don't like it, tough.

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  56. LynnW7:07 AM

    HI there! I know this is very late but your post prompted me to write.

    The best thing that comes out of this sad incident is that your little guy will remember how you backed him up and validated his feelings. Just by doing that, you kicked his security index up more than a few notches.

    Unconditional love is a wonderful thing, isn't it?

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  57. i am late on this one i know, but had to respond. i have been with my husband for 20 years. we have a 15 year old daughter. i have NEVER gotten along with my in laws. my fil used to tell my daughter when she was 6-12 that i kept her in a prison. he used to say horrible things about me to my daughter. i too thought the same as you, what possibly could someone have to gain by doing such a thing. it all boils down to a sick need to control. my fil has a sick need to be unhappy and negative, and isnt "happy" unless everyone else is as unhappy as him. it is not worth it to have a relationship with people like that. it is damaging. jack has you and your husband and that is all he needs. you are a good person. remember that

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  58. Oh, Sarah, this breaks my heart. You are such a nice person, that definitely comes through on this blog. YOu don't deserve their hatred, no matter what water has gone under the bridge. And Jack certainly does not deserve it. Hopefully Dave is on your side through this all, supporting you and defending you as necessary. Severing ties sounds like a not so bad option.

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Hi there. What say you?