Every time my mother-in-law gets a bug up her butt about me not posting enough pictures of my son on social media, I can feel my palms start to sweat and my chest start to tingle. It’s the beginning of an anxiety attack I simply won’t be able to get under control, no matter how many deep breaths I take, how far I walk away from the situation, or how many articles I write about it.
Even now I’m breathing in and out deeply, in the hopes of avoiding an attack just thinking about how angry it makes me.
Not that I don’t post on social media enough, I could care less. But when I do, all I hear about is that I didn’t tag her in it or she can’t share the photo for her friends to see. So every other photo, I will tag her in so that her friends can also view it – which is where the panic and anxiety attack comes from.
A little extra background: my family is a family of equals. Maybe because I’m not an only child, but also because my family is incredibly respectful. They believe to teach respect you also have to give it. When we disagree, we do it respectfully. (For the most part. Of course there can be arguments and there’s always at least one bad apple in every family, mine’s no exception.) As a result, that bleeds over to my husband and anything we post on social media.
If my parents can’t find something kind to say regarding both of us as parents and contributors to our son, they simply compliment our son. That is a compliment to both parents, not just one, and is a good way to make everyone feel included. My family friends tend to follow the same pathway, and it’s nice because I know all of those people. They are people I have met, usually more than once or twice, and have always been kind and respectful to me. The same people are respectful to my husband, even though most have never met him. My family always, always, always makes sure they tell my husband something nice in relation to him and our son.
“He has your eyelashes.”
“He looks like you!”
“Awww look at that smile, he definitely takes after you.”
“The baby is so sweet and calm, he must get that from you. Monster Mama was a wild child.”
And so on. These are distributed evenly between me and my parents, but they are always positive.
Inevitably, however, when I log into social media after tagging my MIL in a family photo, the glowing praise of my husband ensues, and the “jokes” at my expense follow. Before someone labels me as selfish, please read the rest of this post.
I obviously know how amazing my husband is. Out of all the men in the world, I chose him to be my life partner and the father of my child, eventually children. I think he is wonderful, handsome, kind, caring, etc.
When I log into a photo of our family and see people have echoed those things, it doesn’t bother me. This is NOT the source of my issue. It is that they seem to be under the impression that every single good trait about our son (even things like his hair color, which is clearly identical to mine, and his eyes are, too) is attributed in some way to my husband or his side of the family.
For instance, my natural hair color (before I started going grey) was red-brown. This is the color of my son’s hair, and it is identical to my hair from before it went grey. Not at all like my husband’s dark, ash-brown hair. And yet, somehow, my son’s “red hair must come from [some] third cousin once removed who has gorgeous red hair” and the baby “so obviously favors his father, I just knew he would.” This is just an example.
My favorite are all the negative comments made about me. For example: “What are you doing Mama, pinching that baby? No wonder he looks so unhappy in that picture!” Meanwhile, in that picture, my husband is holding the baby. I’m not even in it. I took it. Or another: “Mommy I don’t want you to hold me, I clearly want Daddy.” or “Of course I said Da-da first, he’s my favorite.” or “I’m going to crawl to Daddy when I crawl for the first time because I want to get away from Mommy.”
Not only are these negative and insulting at times, but they are incredibly hurtful. If my family had ever said these things, I would shut it down. I would instantly put a stop to that kind of dialogue because I feel like it’s unacceptable at best, and implies that one of us is a bad parent at worst.
Even more strange and rude, in my opinion, is that I don’t know any of these people, nor does my husband. These people passing judgment on our family, paying compliments to my husband and spending their time insulting me are people he doesn’t know or care about. And if he doesn’t know them, since they’re his mother’s friends, why would I? So why should we even give them access to photos of our family and our son?
That kind of negativity is hurtful and a huge contributor to the reason I shudder at the thought of her or her family spending time alone with my child. Why would I want him to be exposed to an environment where all my parenting decisions are questioned or ignored, and I am torn down in rude and negative comments? Because these comments aren’t just made on social media, they’re made in person as well. What kind of message would that send my son? Worse, when he’s old enough to understand, how do I explain to him that his grandmother shouldn’t be saying those kind of things without causing problems within our family? Why should I even have to do that?
Do you have someone in your family who makes it clear they’d rather you weren’t in the picture? Do you have a relative who only compliments one parent? Or a relative who thinks they are entitled to certain privileges with your child? How do you handle it? I’d love to hear suggestions, because I’m fresh out.
– Monster Mama