Mother In Law’s Birthday

It was Ashley’s mother’s birthday yesterday.

I made a decision at the beginning of this year (a resolution, if you will) that I was going to take a bit of step back from Ashley’s family, in order to try and be less involved with various situations that I find stressful and unpleasant.  Sorry to sound so oblique, but the dirty laundry isn’t really mine to wash in public, if you know what I mean. 

Anyway, the plan seems to have worked so far, and has also avoided some of the round-and-round, no-solution rows Ashley and I had, so all good.

Until now.

I emailed Ashley at work last week to remind him that his mother’s birthday was yesterday.  When he got home, I checked that he’d received the email.  I asked him if he was going to get a present and card, and he said he’d get something in Edinburgh.  Fair enough, I thought.

Now, prior to my ‘stepping back’, I always bought his family’s birthday cards, wrote them, bought the gifts, wrapped them, etc etc. None of them ever remember my birthday, I might add.  But I made it clear to Ashley in January that I wasn’t going to do this any more, and to give him his due, he was absolutely fine about it.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, Ashley has invited his mother around for a Chinese takeaway this evening, to celebrate her birthday.  He’s at work at the moment and is picking her up on the way home from work tonight to bring her here. 

Her present, such as it is (a tin of teabags from Harvey Nichols – yes, I have expressed the opinion that this is not really an acceptable birthday gift for one’s mother), is sitting, unwrapped, on the kitchen surface, directly in front of the door through which she’ll be entering the house. 

Her card, as far as I’m aware, is in a bag on the floor of our bedroom, unwritten.

All this despite me telling Ashley last night where the wrapping paper is located, and reminding him that the card needed writing.

Sooooooo – do I wrap the present and write the card so it’ll be ready when she gets here (with me cringing in embarrassment that we’ve bought her tea bags for her birthday)?

Or do I leave it all where it is and let Ashley deal with it when he gets home?

Which would you do?


14 thoughts on “Mother In Law’s Birthday

  1. I’m afraid to say that I would wrap the present and write the card and have it all laid out neatly for her when she arrives – I’m sure Ashley thrives in other areas of your family life which doesn’t involve present buying or card writing!!

    • Maybe that’s an easier position to take, though, when you have a husband who always writes the cards to his family members. Ashley has NEVER bought or written a card or present to his mother in the almost 20 yrs we’ve been together.

  2. oh that’s hard isn’t it, because you know she’ll think that you bought it and got the card don’t you? And yet why the heck should you be the one doing the running around? I’d go out i think, make sure i get back about 10 minutes after they do so he can be the one to deal with the initial embarrassment.

    • Funnily enough, Heather, that’s crossed my mind! And I think it’s a really good idea. I have to go and pick Will up from karate around that time, so perhaps I’ll ‘need’ to pop into the shop for some milk to spin it out for a bit longer.

  3. ooh. ouch. I reckon the escape it and get back after it hits the fan!! WOuld Ashely be the kind of chap to fess up to buying the tea bags and apologise about the card? Will you be blamed anyway? And…. does it matter? or – maybe as a family they don’t actually care so much about birthdays? ? Just more questions really, but I shall be looking forward to hearing what happens!

    • Hi Mo – he may or may not confess to it. Re the blame – don’t know, really – and not overly bothered either way. As a family they’re certainly not massively hung up on birthdays, and you’re lucky if you get a card at all, let alone on time, to be honest.

      In reality, this whole thing isn’t just about birthdays, cards or presents – there’s ongoing, longstanding issues around a total lack of help or support with, for example, babysitting, which has got worse since FIL died. Ashley is often away in Sussex now, as he has to run his parents’ hotel (as well as his own business), which means I have problems with childcare for work (I work from 5pm to around 8.30 pm), and she doesn’t help out, even when asked. Sometimes I have to take William into work with me, and he sits on his own while I’m in meetings, which isn’t very nice for him.

      So yeah, I guess the present/card thing is a symptom of deeper issues.

  4. So glad I am not the only one stepping back from the inlaws. For the last 10 years I have been the one to ensure that my husbands family have nice pressies and cards for the yearly occasions. I can count on one hand the number of cards I have had back.

    This year I didnt get a gift, card, text message or even happy birthday via facebook.

    I too am now stepping back. MIL ended up with money in a card for her 60th as yet again he left it too late.

    I would stick to your guns and not wrap/write them. If you would feel bad then make sure you nip out to the shops and leave him to deal with it.

    • Hi there – thanks for visiting, and for the lovely supportive comment – it’s so nice to hear that I’m not the only one feeling like this. What makes it even more annoying is that while we were in Edinburgh at the weekend, I said to hubby on at least five occasions, oh that would be a nice present for your mum, why don’t we get that (and none of them were teabags!). And every time, he said no. So I really do feel like I’ve done my bit.
      Sorry to hear you didn’t get anything at all from them this year – exactly the same happened to me a couple of years ago, and it’s very hurtful, isn’t it?
      Anyway, I’ve bookmarked your blog and will be over later to visit, gotta go and school run now! Thanks again for nice comment xxxx

    • Hey, funny that – that’s EXACTLY what I decided to do in the end. Great minds think alike, huh?

  5. Early in our marriage, my mil called our home, and since my husband was outside doing a dirty maintenance job on the car, I chatted with her for several minutes, and before hanging up said I’d tell hubby she had called. A few minutes later the phone rang again, and it was my mother. I barely said hello before my mother said, “Why didn’t you let C___ talk to his mother?” Mil had called my mother and complained! That’s when I learned that I wasn’t who she really wanted to talk to. So I figure she would also prefer a crappy gift that her son gives her than a nice one that I get for her. Hey, she raised him, so the root of the bad habits lie on her doorstep.

    It’s really sad, because I would love to have a close relationship with in-laws, but we’re very different. I have to say that I have learned a lot about how to be a better mil, because of the difficult lessons I’ve learned with them.

    • Hi Kath – glad to hear I’m not the only one who has strange in-laws. And loved your comment about the MIL being the one who installed the bad habits in the son in the first place – so very very true!.
      I have also taken on board over the years what type of MIL I’m definitely never going to be!

  6. Oh I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when she arrived lol
    Moving the gift away form sight would have been my idea also – and then watching the look on A face when he tried to find it

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