There have been so many feelings to sort through after my husband passed away. I was always close to his parents. We live in the same city. They picked up the kids from school before I was self-employed. We had lunches and dinners with them at least once a week for over twenty years. They treated me like a daughter from the beginning.
Until the end.
I didn’t really notice much of a difference in their treatment of me at first.
Well, I felt as if they wanted me to fill in his place, but I wasn’t him—so that didn’t satisfy them. After a few months, I realized that they wanted to replace him in my life (see my last post), but that was definitely not going to work for me.
Right away, my kids told me they noticed a difference in how I was treated at their house. My older child said it was obvious days after their son passed. My younger one sees it as blatant disregard for me.
It’s a fresh new form of grief for me.
After seeing two of my recently-widowed friends have completely different and loving relationships with their late husbands’ families, I understand how inconsequential I am to them. I’m just the mother of the grandchildren now.
For a while, she would text my kids and ask them to do things with her. She never asked me if the kids were available. If they weren’t available (meaning if we didn’t change our plans to do the thing with her), she’d get fussy and passive aggressive about how much she missed seeing them.
I understand they are grieving for their son. No parent wants to lose a child. However, they need to respect my feelings—and those of my kids. If they want a closer relationship with them, pushing me away isn’t the way to do it. They also need to respect my role as the parent and the keeper of the schedule.
The depth of the passive aggressiveness in which we lived during my marriage became starkly obvious without my late husband’s blatant aggressiveness to buffer me from it. Now that I’m not tethered by his aggressively-controlling behaviors, I damn sure don’t want to be controlled by his passive-aggressive mother.
If you have former in-laws who no longer treat you the same way, learn to set boundaries with them. Insist they communicate with you if they want to make plans with the kids.
You are NOT obligated to them. You are obligated only to yourself and your children.