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A sad little girl | Source: Shutterstock
A sad little girl | Source: Shutterstock

My MIL Would Only Babysit Two of My Three Kids – When I Learned Why, I Gave Her a Reality Check

Junie Sihlangu
Jul 08, 2024
08:25 A.M.

Sometimes adults allow their feelings to take over their common sense, and that's the case in this story about my mother-in-law. She became distant and dismissive of my daughter, but I knew how to make her learn from her mistake.

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My marriage with my husband was wonderful, but my relationship with his mother was terrible. One day, my daughter finally opened my eyes to how badly the rift with my mother-in-law had become. It had infiltrated the once-healthy bond my husband's mother had with her granddaughter. Read on to find out how.

A grandmother bonding with her granddaughter | Source: Pexels

A grandmother bonding with her granddaughter | Source: Pexels

I have a wonderful seven-year-old daughter named Lily and two four-year-old twin boys, Jake and Josh. My mother-in-law (MIL), Margaret, has always doted on the twins. She frequently asked to "see the boys" or for me to "bring the boys over."

This behavior started shortly after the boys were born. Before that, Margaret had no issues with Lily, but as time progressed, she seemed to start avoiding her. One evening, as I was getting the boys ready to drive to their grandma's house, Lily looked at me with her big, questioning eyes.

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A little girl looking at something | Source: Pexels

A little girl looking at something | Source: Pexels

"Mom, does Grandma not love me anymore?" she asked, her voice trembling.

I was taken aback. "No, of course not!" I replied, trying to sound reassuring. But the truth was, Margaret had been ignoring Lily for a while now. She didn’t even buy her Christmas presents anymore!

"Then why did she say that I don’t deserve to come since I grew up to be 'just like my pathetic mom?'" Lily’s words hit me like a ton of bricks. I had suspected there was more to Margaret’s behavior, but hearing it from my daughter made it real.

A sad little girl | Source: Pexels

A sad little girl | Source: Pexels

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Margaret had always been challenging, but I tried to keep the peace for the sake of my husband, David, and the kids. But this was too much! I knew I couldn't ignore her behavior anymore and needed to get to the bottom of this.

I called David and asked him to come home early. When he arrived, I shared what Lily had told me. My husband looked shocked and concerned. "We need to talk to my mom," he said, his voice firm.

An man sitting on a couch, face down with his hands clasped | Source: Pexels

An man sitting on a couch, face down with his hands clasped | Source: Pexels

As we drove to my MIL's house, the twins chattering happily in the backseat, oblivious to the tension, David turned to me. "Emily, I had no idea she was saying things like that. I know Mom could be harsh, but this..."

"Believe it," I replied, my voice tinged with bitterness. "She's been doing this for months, babe. I just couldn't take it anymore."

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As we pulled into Margaret's driveway, David squeezed my hand. "We'll sort this out. Together." My daughter had been silent, probably anticipating the worst from this trip. She wasn't stupid and could sense the tension. Her father's inclusion in the trip clued her in that something significant was happening.

A couple inside a vehicle  | Source: Pexels

A couple inside a vehicle | Source: Pexels

I sighed, feeling a mix of anger and sadness. "I just didn't know how to bring it up without causing a rift," I confessed to my husband.

David nodded, his jaw set in determination. "We'll get to the bottom of this."

When we arrived, I pulled my daughter to the side to reassure her. "Lily, I want you to know that you've done nothing wrong, okay? Daddy and I are going to have a serious chat with your grandma about her behavior."

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She didn't say anything but only nodded her understanding.

A mother rubbing her nose against her daughter's nose | Source: Freepik

A mother rubbing her nose against her daughter's nose | Source: Freepik

When we got to her door, Margaret greeted the boys warmly, but her smile faded when she saw me and David with Lily. She gestured for us to enter, and inside, her house smelled of freshly baked cookies. This smell usually comforted me, but it now made me feel nauseous.

"Margaret, we need to talk," David said, his tone leaving no room for argument. I dismissed the children to the playroom where they'd be distracted with cartoons and all kinds of toys.

A woman looking pensive | Source: Pexels

A woman looking pensive | Source: Pexels

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We adults sat down in my MIL's living room, and I explained what Lily had told me. Margaret sighed, her shoulders sagging. "I never meant for Lily to hear that," she began. "But yes, I have been distant...Look, she looks and acts so much like you, Emily. And you know we've never seen eye to eye."

It finally became clear to me.

An upset woman | Source: Pexels

An upset woman | Source: Pexels

My MIL once loved my daughter when she was a baby. But as she grew older, Lily's similarities to me became even more pronounced. She didn't only act and look like me, she also spoke like me, which Margaret despised. The idea that my daughter was so much like me was something my MIL couldn't stand.

I was stunned. "So you're punishing Lily because she reminds you of me?" I asked, my voice rising.

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An upset woman reacting to something | Source: Pexels

An upset woman reacting to something | Source: Pexels

"It's not that simple," Margaret replied, looking down at her hands. "The boys remind me of my late husband and David. It's easier to bond with them."

David looked at his mother in disbelief, shaking his head, his disappointment evident. "Mom, that's not an excuse. You can't treat our children differently because of your feelings towards Emily!"

Margaret's eyes filled with tears. "I know, but it's hard. Every time I see Lily, I see all the arguments, all the disagreements."

An upset woman crying | Source: Pexels

An upset woman crying | Source: Pexels

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I couldn't believe that she chose to pick favorites and projected her love onto my sons over my daughter. I took a deep breath, trying to stay calm.

"Margaret, I understand we've had our differences, but that's no reason to take it out on Lily. She's a child." Feeling hurt for my daughter, I added, "She needs her grandmother's love just as much as the boys do."

Margaret looked down, ashamed. "You're right. I'm sorry. I'll try to do better."

A sad woman looking down | Source: Pexels

A sad woman looking down | Source: Pexels

David and I exchanged a look. "We appreciate that," he said. "But for now, I think it's best if my mom watches the kids."

Margaret looked up, hurt. "Emily, please, I want to see them. I'll change, I promise!"

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I shook my head. "If you get to pick favorites, I get to do so too." With that, we left, taking the kids with us. At that moment, I loved my husband more than ever for sticking by my side and not contradicting me.

A woman and a child holding hands while walking away | Source: Pexels

A woman and a child holding hands while walking away | Source: Pexels

But the next few weeks were tense. Margaret called several times, asking to see the boys, but I held firm. Lily needed to feel loved and included, and until my MIL could show that, I wasn't going to let her babysit.

One afternoon, my mother came over to watch the kids. She loved all three of them equally, and it showed. Lily was her usual happy self, playing with her brothers without a care in the world. I realized then how important it was for my kids to have a supportive and loving environment.

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A woman playing with children | Source: Pexels

A woman playing with children | Source: Pexels

A month later, Margaret invited us over for dinner. I was hesitant, but David thought it was a step towards reconciliation. When we arrived, my children's grandmother greeted us all warmly, including Lily. It was a start.

Throughout dinner, Margaret made a concerted effort to engage with Lily. She asked about her school and her friends and even complimented her drawings. Lily beamed, clearly pleased with the attention!

A happy woman having dinner with family | Source: Pexels

A happy woman having dinner with family | Source: Pexels

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After dinner, Margaret pulled me aside. "Emily, I've been thinking a lot about what you said. I want to be a better grandmother. I know it will take time, but I'm willing to work on it."

I nodded, appreciating her honesty. "That's all I ask, Margaret. Just treat all the kids with the same love and respect."

From that day forward, things slowly improved. Margaret spent time with all three children, making sure Lily felt included and loved. It wasn't perfect, but it was progress.

A grandmother with her grandchildren | Source: Pexels

A grandmother with her grandchildren | Source: Pexels

One evening, as I tucked Lily into bed, she looked up at me and smiled. "Mom, I think Grandma loves me again."

Tears filled my eyes as I kissed her forehead. "She always did, sweetie. Sometimes grown-ups make mistakes, but what's important is that they try to fix them."

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Lily nodded, satisfied with my answer. As I turned off the light, I felt a sense of peace. We still had a long way to go, but I knew we were on the right path. And that was enough for now.

A mother tucking her daughter in bed | Source: Pexels

A mother tucking her daughter in bed | Source: Pexels

In a similar story, a woman was humiliated when her husband's mother embarrassed her at a party by inviting someone unexpected— her husband's ex-wife. To make things worse, her MIL made efforts to bring her son and his ex closer under the woman's nose. Upon confronting her husband, the woman was disappointed when he failed to protect her.

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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