Told MIL that we’re going to bed, it was like 9pm at the time.
We’re currently hiding out in the bedroom. Riku is playing baby games on an old cellphone while I try to relax for a few minutes.
I’ve been complaining about my husband a lot lately, not without reason though. So, I’m going to take a few minutes to change the focus of complaints to, yes, you guessed it, my MIL.
**Going to throw in a warning here. This post is long, and sort of boring, and not written well. It’s basically me just dumping complaints onto the screen. Also I didn’t proofread for errors. Continue at your own risk**
Now don’t get me wrong, she’s great in some ways. She cares about my kids AND me, which I think is a huge deal. She’s letting us stay at her house because HER son is being an idiot and doesn’t want his family around. She does a lot for us. I’m grateful, I really am. But no matter how awesome she is, the woman just drives me nuts! I’m not writing this because I dislike her, quite the opposite in fact. I’m venting here so that I can keep the peace with her as much as possible. So any MIL’S out there who may be reading, please don’t take it the wrong way!
I’m going to start off by saying that I am 27 years old with 2 children. I’ve lived here in Japan for 3 years now, and I speak enough Japanese to get by on a day to day basis. I’ve been finding my way around on my own, because my husband doesn’t help much, without too much trouble for quite a while now. Despite this, I can’t even take a walk without her tagging along. Now this wouldn’t be a problem if she was coming because she wanted to spend time with us, but that’s not the case. She thinks I’m incapable of finding my way around. She thinks I’ll get lost. She thinks it’s too dangerous. She thinks taking 2 kids out alone is too difficult. On top of all that she’s constantly complaining that her hips and back hurt. I get it she’s not young, but that’s why I don’t expect her to come along every single day. I mean, I’m trying to lose some post baby weight here, if I don’t walk every day I’m probably not going to make any progress. Plus since this isn’t really our house it’s not like I can just lounge around when I don’t have anything to do.
Another reason why I want to get out of the house is that I have nothing to do here. I’ve offered to help with household chores. I’ve offered to help do the laundry, I’ve offered to even just do mine and my children’s laundry. I’ve also offered to help cook, and I’ve offered to only cook for me and my children. She never accepts the help. I have to literally say “No, I’ll do it myself” or I can’t do anything. And frankly, it comes out sort of rude, not on purpose but it does, and she seems to take it that way too. She always seems a bit offended.
Another thing that offends her is food. I’ve asked her repeatedly to not worry about feeding me so much. I appreciate that she wants to feed me, but I don’t need her to cook every single meal for me, especially if she’s going to stress about what to cook. I get that she’s trying to be accommodating, it’s very considerate of her, but I can feed myself sometimes too. We can all eat together sometimes too. I can also feed my kids.
She also makes a big deal about Riku’s food too. She wants him to eat healthy, which is great, but she gives him way too much food. She gives a little bit of a lot of different foods with every meal, it’s very Japanese of her. The problem is, Riku is only 2. He doesn’t eat well like that, he’s not used to it. A bit more of 1-2 foods at a time, rotating different foods on different days works a lot better. She’s asked me how to feed him, because she wants to give him Japanese food (which for some unknown reason, she seems to think I’m against, and I’m not, not at all). So I explained this to her, how Riku eats best. I told her that he will only eat the thing he likes best if you give him a variety of foods, and I told her to try to look at his eating over a weekly period rather than a per meal or even daily thing. Sometimes he eats, sometimes he doesn’t. I told her these things because I think it’s great that she can expose him to foods that I probably won’t make, ever. I want her to succeed. I want him to be able to eat anything, unlike me. But she doesn’t listen, and then gets offended when I point out that she only failed (can’t think of a better word) because she didn’t do it the way I explained it. She seems to think listening to the explanation and then doing something different will still work. It’s not like I’m trying to make things difficult for her or anything!
Today Riku wouldn’t eat the rice and eggs she made for breakfast and she couldn’t figure out why. I pointed out that she’s been giving him rice and eggs everyday. So she exclaims “but I’ve changed the ingredients!”
“But Riku is 2,” I say. “No matter what you put into them, rice is rice and eggs are eggs.” She wasn’t happy but unfortunately that’s just how things work for us. Riku isn’t a picky eater at all, he’s amazing so far. He’ll eat almost anything, until you give it to him repeatedly.
And speaking of MIL not listening….
She is HORRIBLE about respecting me as a parent. She has repeatedly done things I’ve asked her not to, and lets Riku do things that I’ve clearly said he’s not allowed to do, and sometimes just flat out ignores my requests. For example, I’ve asked her many times not to let Riku into the kitchen, because it’s dangerous. Her house isn’t baby proofed. Yet she lets him in and even plays with him there. Same with their junk room. They have this room, right off of the living room, that’s filled with all kinds of junk. A 2 year old should not be in there, but she doesn’t stop him, rather finds something from the room for him to play with.
Bigger than those, she likes to ignore my parenting choices. I’m fine with her giving advice, but she doesn’t understand that I’m not going to take all of her advice. Everyone has their own way parenting, you do what works for you and your child. You may even have 2 different styles with 2 children in 1 family, you just have to do works and feels right for you. When Riku cries, or throws a fit about something, I like to let him stop on his own, then explain what was bad/wrong/off limits to him. I feel like this gives him a chance to work through his own emotions. I want him to be able to handle being upset, and know what to do with his own anger. He usually stops crying within 2 minutes max. My MIL likes to ignore this though and instantly distract him with something so he’ll stop crying. Personally, I feel like this doesn’t give him a chance to learn anything. I feel like it teaches him that when you get angry, something new and shiny and fun will come to take your anger away. I feel like it’s essentially rewarding him for getting angry or crying. I’ve asked her so. Many. Times. to not distract Riku when he’s crying, but she just won’t listen. I’ve had to resort to saying something to her every time he cries, and she’s not liking it. She tries to defend her method, but judging by her sons behavior, unfortunately I don’t think it worked out too well. Maybe it works for some people, but it’s not my preferred method of parenting.
I’m in the -figured it out yourself and learn to be independent- parenting camp, not the -I’m going to teach you to rely on me forever- one. Okay, so those are admittedly on the extreme ends but, maybe you understand what I’m getting at.
The next thing is English.
Now this is also a big one. It’s number 2 on my list of annoyances, just after the crying thing. I’m trying to teach Riku English. We live in Japan so Riku will learn Japanese. It’s inevitable. Once he starts school everything around him will be Japanese, he’ll pick it up. English is a totally different story. English isn’t really all over the place in Japan. Now, Riku isn’t talking yet, but I’m trying to build his English foundation first because I know it’s going to be harder to keep up with in the future. So you can probably guess that I speak to Riku in English a majority of the time. The problem is that MIL likes to put her 2 cents (yen?) into everything. I’ll be telling Riku to get off the floor, or don’t touch, or put something back, or the name of something, like a train or police car, and MIL pipes in with the same thing in Japanese. I’ve asked her not to talk over my English for the sake of Japanese, and very nicely explained why, but she still does it! It’s insane how much this woman refuses to listen to reasonable explanations.
A bit more on the unreasonable, but still annoying, side is hand wiping. It drives me insane and Riku hates it and cries which starts that whole crying issue too. Wiping and washing hands is good. I get it. But kids are dirty. They’re going to touch thing. They’re going to touch dirty things. And guess what?! They aren’t going to die from it! My kids will touch the ground for like 2 seconds and she tries to wipe their hands. God forbid Riku sit down on the floor in public! She nearly had a heart attack from it. Now I don’t let my kids eat off the floor in restaurants, or put weird things in their mouth, or lick stuff (Riku has done this btw!) But really. The intensity with which she is adamant about germs is, quite frankly, stressful! I think a little germ exposure is good for kids. MIL tends to disagree with me.
All of these things wouldn’t be so bad if she could be a bit calmer about them. But she’s not. It’s like she’s constantly in super stress mode. Her voice gets all high pitched and she talks fast, it’s a big deal to her, no matter what it is. I’m more of a go with the flow person, so I don’t understand how she operates under so much stress all the time. She doesn’t understand how I’m not stressed about things. But my stress meter it’s full right now, my husband, her son, is using 100% of it. I have nothing left to stress about silly things with the kids. I do try to be considerate of her but she doesn’t notice. For example, I don’t care if Riku sits on the floor, but I try to not let him around her. I also don’t care if he spills a bit of water on his clothes, but I try not to give him open cups. I don’t care if he drops food on the table then eats it with his hands, but I try to pick things up when he drops them. There’s more but, it would take me all night to list everything.
All in all, we’re just different people. She’s just wound a bit too tight for me, and I’m too carefree for her. But that’s okay, at least for me. It drives her crazy though. She does love us though, and I guess that’s all I can ask for from her. I’m glad she’s around.