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A happy woman smiling while surrounded by flowers | Source: Amomama
A happy woman smiling while surrounded by flowers | Source: Amomama

My DIL Spoiled My Long-Awaited Vacation — I Taught Her a Lesson in Respect

Junie Sihlangu
Jun 04, 2024
07:45 A.M.

I thought I was a good mother-in-law and grandmother by availing myself to my son and daughter-in-law (DIL) as they needed. But I soon realized that I was getting the raw end of the deal when my DIL disrespected me. I had to take matters into my own hands to remedy the situation once and for all!

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An exhausted woman sitting by a computer as her children play in the background | Source: Pexels

An exhausted woman sitting by a computer as her children play in the background | Source: Pexels

My tale is about learning to set boundaries, standing up for yourself, and demanding the respect you deserve. Maybe it's also a little about internalizing societal expectations. So finally, after two years of working hard while babysitting my grandchildren for three hours daily, I was free for a bit!

When I wasn't working and babysitting, I spent time suffering from excruciating backache and joint issues. I was worn out and completely exhausted so I had booked myself some time off. I was ready to take my well-deserved and much-needed vacation!

A woman sitting with a laptop | Source: Pexels

A woman sitting with a laptop | Source: Pexels

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I had spoken to my son, George and my daughter-in-law (DIL), Sarah, way ahead of time about my plans. "Darlings, you are going to need to make babysitting plans for the next few weeks," I told them. "What do you mean? Where will you be," Sarah asked, unintentionally annoying me.

Now don't get me wrong, she wasn't annoying me because I was a mean mother-in-law (MIL) who hated her. But because of her selfish question. It seemed I was expected to always be around. "I am going on a vacation to the Bahamas. I already bought the tickets and booked myself at a lovely hotel."

An older woman talking to a young couple | Source: Pexels

An older woman talking to a young couple | Source: Pexels

My son and DIL exchanged surprised looks before staring at me as if I'd grown a second head. "This is so unlike you, mom. Who are you going with?" I rolled my eyes at George's response. He'd somehow forgotten that before he had kids, I was jetsetting every few months!

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"That's not true my love. I used to travel all the time when my time was mine," I replied a bit irritated. I couldn't believe how clueless he'd become when it came to my life. "Well, where are we going to get someone to babysit the kids for free every day?"

An older woman talking to a young couple | Source: Pexels

An older woman talking to a young couple | Source: Pexels

I realized at that moment that I'd spoiled these two. "Your parents are a start, Sarah. Arrange play dates with your friends' children or something, I don't know," I said in frustration. Why was I the one who had to figure out what THEY did with their own children?

It dawned on me how much I had made them dependent on me. It wasn't my intention, I think I took the Gam-Gam role a bit too far, and I so loved my little munchkins! They gave me so much to live for. But I was tired and needed a break.

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A happy woman in the kitchen with her grandchild | Source: Pexels

A happy woman in the kitchen with her grandchild | Source: Pexels

Without waiting for their response, which I anticipated would make me angry, I turned to leave. "I will send you the details of when I leave, where I'll be staying, and when I'll return. Toodles!" I heard them falling over themselves as they tried to catch up to my quick stride.

They were LITERALLY trying to get ME to tell THEM what to do with their children! But I was having none of it and quickly closed the door before rushing to my car and driving away. Yes, I felt like I was escaping and running away from my responsibilities and I HATED that feeling!

A woman driving | Source: Pexels

A woman driving | Source: Pexels

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When I arrived home, my DIL had left several voice messages that I had no intention of listening to. My therapist was the one who made me realize I was overworked and needed some time off. I was oblivious to that as I continued stretching myself to my limits.

She, my therapist, knocked it into my head that I was overcompensating by trying to be the best MIL and grandmother while losing myself. I stuck to my promise and sent George and Sarah all the details of my travels as a courtesy.

A therapist taking notes while talking to a client | Source: Pexels

A therapist taking notes while talking to a client | Source: Pexels

The next few weeks were filled with Sarah trying to convince me to leave with the kids. When she wasn't trying to do that, she tried to get me to stay and not leave. "I need to do this for ME, Sarah. You won't understand," I explained, trying to get her off my back.

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If my DIL wasn't the one pestering me, my son got in on it. But with the words of my therapist playing in my head, "Stick to your guns. You are doing this for YOUR well-being," I remained resolute in my decision.

A younger woman negotiating something with an older one | Source: Pexels

A younger woman negotiating something with an older one | Source: Pexels

When the fateful day came, I announced my departure to my son and left. For two glorious days on vacation, I had nothing but massages, long beach walks, drank piña coladas, and enjoyed the sunsets!

On the third day, my mood was spoiled when I suddenly received a disturbing message from my DIL. "George is on his business trip, my parents have house repairs, and I'm going on MY retreat," her text began.

Unhappy-looking woman looking at her phone | Source: Pexels

Unhappy-looking woman looking at her phone | Source: Pexels

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"And you know what? It's in the Bahamas!! Isn't it amazing? We're already boarding, I need you to watch the kiddos!" Annoyed is an understatement for what I was feeling! I couldn't understand, so HER parents have repairs, and I have a vacation, so I can babysit the kids?!

I was MAD AS HELL! I was practically seething! This time I leaned on my own faculties and decided to teach her a lesson on mutual respect. When they pitched, I was my usual affectionate self to my grandbabies and hugged and kissed them.

A woman bonding with her grandchildren | Source: Pexels

A woman bonding with her grandchildren | Source: Pexels

I then spent an hour bonding with the pair while Sarah mumbled about how SHE had to MEDITATE tomorrow. But the next day, I got an irritated call from her. "WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON? WHERE ARE YOU?!" she had the nerve to demand.

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All calm and relaxed as I had anticipated that type of response, I answered, "I'm at the spa, getting a massage. Why do you ask?" Sounding more frustrated, my DIL replied, "Why would you not answer your phone?!"

A frustrated woman talking on the phone with her baby lying in a cot behind her | Source: Freepik

A frustrated woman talking on the phone with her baby lying in a cot behind her | Source: Freepik

"The kids have been driving ME crazy, and I need a break!" I had finally had enough of her nonsense and took a deep breath before responding. "I hear you talking about what YOU need and want, but have you asked ME what my plans are?"

"Has it even occurred to YOU to find out if I WANT to babysit during MY vacation and time away?" I heard her gasp as she tried cutting in all respectful this time, saying, "Mrs. Thomas, I..." But I cut her off and continued my rant.

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A frustrated woman talking on the phone | Source: Pexels

A frustrated woman talking on the phone | Source: Pexels

"Do you know what I am doing here, huh? Do you even CARE?" My voice went up a notch. "You receive what you deserve, Sarah. And maybe it's time for YOU and George to learn a lesson about respect!"

My DIL was stunned into silence. She realized for the first time in two years the depth of her imposition. Her voice had softened as she stammered, "I... I didn't think... I just assumed..."

A woman talking on a phone in a bathroom | Source: Pexels

A woman talking on a phone in a bathroom | Source: Pexels

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I wasn't done with her as I replied, "That's exactly the problem we have, you assumed and KEEP assuming. I love my grandkids, but I also NEED my own time."

"This was MY vacation. It's time I took off so I can recuperate and have some self-care." I could hear from the silence on the other side that Sarah was feeling guilty. She was FINALLY understanding where I was coming from.

An upset woman talking on the phone | Source: Freepik

An upset woman talking on the phone | Source: Freepik

"I've given you and Georgie two long years of my love and dedication." I shared how I'd stretched myself because I wanted to be a good MIL and grandmother. I also wanted to be there for them as they transitioned into parenthood.

But then I went too far as they kept demanding more and more of my time. I confessed to my DIL that I started feeling burnt out. Yet, because I hadn't felt the feeling before, I didn't realize what was happening to me.

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A frustrated woman talking on the phone | Source: Freepik

A frustrated woman talking on the phone | Source: Freepik

A friend I confided in suggested I see her therapist. That's when it finally clicked that I was wearing myself thin. I was quite upset as I ended my rant by stating, "Next time, respect MY plans and ask, don't just assume I'm here to serve your convenience!"

Sarah paused for a long time on the other end of the line and I was about to say something when she finally sighed. It appeared she finally understood the weight of my words and where I was coming from.

Two women conversation | Source: Pexels

Two women conversation | Source: Pexels

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"You're right. I'm sorry. I should have asked. I'll make other arrangements," my DIL replied, sounding defeated. I won't lie, I felt a tinge of regret for how I approached things, but decided it was something that had to be done.

After all, as they say, people treat the way you teach them to. I thanked her for understanding. "Now, I'm going to enjoy the rest of my vacation. I suggest you find a way to enjoy yours too, without relying on me."

A woman playing with her children | Source: Pexels

A woman playing with her children | Source: Pexels

I didn't wait for a response before hanging up and felt the most serene wave of satisfaction! I had stood up for myself and drew boundaries that taught my DIL a valuable life lesson! I happily returned to my massage, content that I would not be disturbed anymore.

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I felt the stress melt away from my body as the masseuse kneaded longstanding knots that had built up over the years. I was pleased to know that I had managed to reclaim my well-deserved break.

A relaxed woman getting a massage | Source: Pexels

A relaxed woman getting a massage | Source: Pexels

Unfortunately, Mrs. Thomas isn't the only person who's had to take measures to teach people important lessons. Mark's mother kept nagging his pregnant wife to the point that the younger woman had to leave. Not wanting his mother to miss her mistake, Mark found a clever way to teach the parent about respect and boundaries.

This work is inspired by real events and people, but it has been fictionalized for creative purposes. Names, characters, and details have been changed to protect privacy and enhance the narrative. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.

The author and publisher make no claims to the accuracy of events or the portrayal of characters and are not liable for any misinterpretation. This story is provided "as is," and any opinions expressed are those of the characters and do not reflect the views of the author or publisher.

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