My Mother-in-Law Frequently Visits Unannounced and Upsets My Son, So I Decided to Set Boundaries

Dealing with a controlling mother-in-law can turn an otherwise joyful household into a battleground of wills, especially when it comes to setting boundaries around major life events like raising children or hosting family gatherings. A new mother and wife’s story of navigating these turbulent waters reveals the emotional and psychological toll such forays can take.

In this scenario, mother-in-law Sally becomes an overbearing presence, complicating the already difficult task of managing the new baby’s sleep schedule. Driven by her desire to bond with her grandson, her unannounced visits upset the delicate balance the young mother is trying to maintain. Despite apparent goodwill, Sally’s lack of respect for her daughter-in-law’s new role and boundaries leads to increased tension.

Have you ever sat there with bated breath avoiding any window in the hope that whoever is banging on your door will eventually give up and go away? I know it sounds horrible, but I really needed to find a way to get my little guy a few hours of sleep and I could use some relaxation myself.

I live with my husband Frank and our six-month-old son Victor. While there have been occasional bumps in the road due to our inexperience as parents, overall I think we’ve done a great job. Getting Vic to sleep is the only thing I’m still having trouble with. I have to make a lot of effort to get him to sleep during the day because he wakes up at night.

Vic struggled to sleep but I helped him by playing with him until he finally fell asleep during the day and then I put him to bed. However, he is a light sleeper and the recent intruder did not improve the situation.

You know, my mother-in-law Sally moved into the house next door to us a few months ago. At first, I assumed it wouldn’t be a problem as we weren’t involved in the transfer and it didn’t happen during Vic’s first few months. Frank also benefited from having relatives nearby. However, Sally saw our proximity as an open invitation to visit whenever she liked.

Vic is our first child so I decided to stay home and raise Vic while Frank went to work full-time. Sally is aware of this and has taken advantage of my constant presence at home to see her grandson whenever she likes. Since Grandma could spend a lot of time with him, it would normally be beneficial for a young child.

But Sally was quite content to walk up and knock on the door and ask to be let in, even though Vic was asleep. And this happens all the time. You see, when Vic wakes up in the morning, Sally sees her friends. I would welcome any visit from Grandma during the early part of feeding and playing with my baby boy.

Meanwhile, Sally follows her own schedule.

Vic normally goes to bed in the afternoon, but as soon as he does, Sally gets a strong impulse to check on her little grandson. She doesn’t know exactly when Vic sleeps (after all, it can be very erratic), but she’s never thought to ask when would be the best time to pounce. It would be fine if it happened once or twice, but it’s become a bit of a habit over the past few months.

I only managed to put Vic to sleep during her last five visits when she knocked on the front door.

Since my little boy was sleeping, he woke up to a loud knock and immediately started crying. Of course, this meant I would have to try to rock him back to sleep for the next two hours.

I started locking all the doors and avoiding Sally which made me act like I was playing hide and seek.

When I hear a knock on the front door, I tiptoe upstairs to reassure Vic. After that, I’ll either stay there and try to calm him down or, if he’s not too upset about waking me up, I’ll sneak into the backyard and play with him for a while until Sally gives up and leaves.

After I finally confided in Frank about my problem, he went to talk to his mother because he is a devoted husband.

After spending almost sixty minutes there, he told me on his return that Sally would call or text me before she arrived. This made me happy because now I could tell her if now was a good time to visit. My enthusiasm was short-lived.

The very next day I was putting Vic to bed for an afternoon nap after keeping him busy for three hours straight when I heard an alert on my phone. It must be Sally. With a bit of a satisfied smile, I thought, I’m glad he’s fulfilling his obligation. I opened my mouth to reply that Vic was asleep but my little boy woke up startled and then I heard the usual loud knock. With a heavy heart, I got Vic and sat in the backyard for the next two hours.

After about fifteen minutes of her knocking, I gave up. I went to her and told her Vic had to go to bed. Sally replied, “I’ll see my grandson when I want to!” after a deep breath.

Despite my shock, I remained calm. I locked the door, closed it, and bided my time.

Frank eventually arrived home and we had another conversation. When he spoke to his mother one more time, she said that she had misunderstood everything.

I was surprised to find silence for the next three days. disturbingly so.

After I put Vic to bed on the third day, I watched a few reruns of old sitcoms while I went downstairs for a quick nap. Vic slept for a while with the video monitor on. After about twenty minutes I woke up and immediately checked the monitor app. I swear I left the screen on but it was black.

I got out of bed and went upstairs to see how little Vic was doing. Round the corner and pull out onto the rest stop. I knew I had left his door slightly ajar, so I opened it and went inside. My legs turned into two solid concrete bricks and my blood froze. A human figure was leaning over Vic’s cot, framed against the open window.

“Hello!” When I finally found my voice, I screamed. Startled, the person looked up and I knew it was Sally who looked back at me with remorse in her eyes. She began to quickly explain that she had climbed through the second-floor window to check on Vic because she was afraid I wouldn’t answer the door.

I was obviously furious. After kicking her out of the house and threatening to call the police, I packed my things and waited for Frank to arrive. Upon his arrival home, I informed him that I would be picking up Vic and that we would be living with my mother until he convinced Sally not to sneak into my house one more time. He was seething when he found out what she had done.

After a while, Eugene, my father-in-law, texted me to tell me that I had gone too far. Grant and Sally had broken up a few years ago, but she still flocked to him, telling him I was preventing her from seeing her grandson. In addition, Sally wrote on Facebook that we were preventing her from seeing Vic, which led many of her friends to support her.

Frank told Dad what was going on, but Grant insisted we were being petty. To be honest, I’m not sure if I’ve already overreacted. How do you feel?

Here is another story about a controlling mother-in-law who refused to let her wife prepare food for her husband’s birthday.

When a woman is preparing to celebrate her husband’s birthday, her mother-in-law starts teasing her.

I really like celebrating birthdays. It serves as our excuse to spoil the people we care about with cake and love, much like personal holidays. So I was home for a lavish dinner prepared by my husband, Carl, and attended by the usual suspects: family and friends. Little did I know, thanks to my mother-in-law Sally, that this birthday would turn out to be more like a dramatic episode of a daytime soap opera.

Sally decided to visit a day early to lend her culinary skills for Carl’s special day. Since everything was going well in our relationship, we were really open to her help.

However, as they say, calm waters do not make good sailors, and I was about to encounter a storm I had not anticipated.

Sally and I played our parts in the kitchen ballet so it was a busy day.

Then, out of the blue, Sally started looking for some missing cookie ingredients.

But these were no ordinary cookies. No, they were a mainstay of a birthday custom she said she had followed since Carl’s early years. Even though I was busy when I got back, the urgency in her voice made me run to the grocery store.

I was racing against time in the store, imagining I was Carl’s birthday boy. That illusion vanished the moment I returned to our yard and was met not with recognition but with Carl’s rage. He said I left the ship and left his mother to work alone in the kitchen.

When I got back to our house, Sally was nowhere to be found, so confusion was my constant companion. When the guests started arriving, I was a wreck, both physically and mentally. My confusion and feeling of betrayal lingered even after a short shower.

As the evening went on, Carl and Sally continued to treat me like I didn’t exist.

It was a twist I didn’t see coming: Sally set up this drama to make herself look like the hero of the day and make me, her daughter-in-law, look bad. Carl’s birthday had become Sally’s stage and I was now the bad guy.

Once the birthday party was over and everyone had left, Carl still wasn’t convinced by my version of events. I was alone in my own house because of his blind spot regarding my mother’s manipulations. However, fate, or rather karma, decided to take center stage.

Carl received Sally’s thoughtful message, which was addressed to a friend.

The necessary plot was the phone Carl was holding the following morning. It was an acknowledgment of Sally’s planning and her motivations stemming from her dislike of my ideologies. Carl and Sally’s meeting revealed long-term wounds as well as a path to reconciliation and forgiveness.

After the incident, Carl and I decided to celebrate next year in Bali, just the two of us, without any fuss. While it’s still unclear if Sally has really put our differences behind her, I’m committed to peace for Carl’s sake.

This is the story of Carl’s birthday drama, which was less of a party and more of a Shakespearean tragedy. It showed me that sometimes even the best-laid plans can go awry and taught us valuable lessons about understanding, forgiveness, and how far we will go, whether elected or not. The theme for next year is “No Drama, Just Bali.”

Sally’s intense confrontations and unexpected events underline a larger narrative about the challenges and boundaries necessary in family relationships, especially with in-laws. While it is common for grandparents to desire closeness with their grandchildren, Sally’s actions crossed personal boundaries and invaded privacy, revealing a deep need for clear communication and firm boundaries in family dynamics.

When faced with such invasive behavior, it is essential to set and enforce boundaries respectfully but firmly. In this case, the intervention had to be escalated to ensure the safety and well-being of both the child and the mother. The support from Frank was crucial and showed that solving such family problems is a joint effort, especially between spouses.

Ultimately, this story serves as a stark reminder that while family love and involvement are valuable, they must be balanced with respect for individual autonomy and privacy. It is a challenge for all families to communicate openly, respect each other’s boundaries, and support each other in enforcing those limits, especially when the well-being of children and household harmony is at stake.

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