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to not be the cheeriest of elves at having to spend Xmas day with hoarding inlaws

(26 Posts)
lauralaughs Wed 12-Dec-12 04:34:00

I had made plans to finally spend Xmas with my parents, not having done so for 3 years, with our 2 young dds, the youngest being 18 months old. And otherwise they would be spending it alone.

We never usually spend more than a few hours at mil's house (she shares it with her mother, who, being a stroke victim, needs round the clock care) as she is a compulsive hoarder, as well as being rather controlling and manipulative. She blames this mess on being too old and busy to tidy it by herself (she's 64!) Mil has managed to keep nan's room on the ground floor of the small 2-up 2-down relatively tidy, but, as an illustration on our last visit there was a chest of drawers interestingly positioned in the room with the drawers taken out and left on the floor with books and papers shoved into the gaps where drawers should be, and we had to squeeze past this in order to sit down to eat our dinner. Also, in order for mil to enter her room, she has to clamber over a pile of random objects left in front of her door.

It turns out that dh's brother and his wife who live near mil are expecting a baby, by cs as there have been slight complications, on Christmas Eve. So mil is planning on being around to allegedly 'help out' with household chores etc at their house and to look after their first son (aged 4) when they go into hospital. Therefore, dh will need to look after his grandmother - including assisting her with lavatory duties etc.

I have now agreed to take the kids over to mil's on Christmas Eve, and we will now leave to go to my parents on 27th. As we do not currently own a car, we will be at the mercy of the public transport system so will be stuck there for 2 whole days. I have told myself that poor nan may not be around for much longer, so at least we are doing our best to spend as much time at Christmas with her, although a lot of what she says is repeating the same phrases again and again, as she does not remember what we mentioned from one minute to the next.

The kitchen seems to me to be rather a health hazard, as there is always food left out on the counter. One time I visited before, there was a humungous pile of detritus and cans etc piled up on the floor near the bin needing attention. On my last visit, this had improved. Another question is, once there, should I leave well alone or, as I feel like doing, should I get stuck in and attempt to clear it all up for Christmas day. Especially as mil may be elsewhere?

Even more amusingly, in the heat of an argument, dh says he would never spend Christmas with my family (beautiful house in the country) as he does not get on with my father (a compulsively tidy workaholic!grin) and he would call the police if I attempted to take the kids there for Christmas! I am damn well going to spend Xmas next year with my parents! So, as a matter of interest, how far could he legally go to stop me? Things are already fraught between us, he is a stay-at-home dad while I work full-time in a rather stressful job.

Any survival tips welcome! I want Christmas to be lovely and magical for the kids, so will be putting my bravest face on. My concern is where they will be able to move around! We'll have to go out to the park. And it will only be for 2 (whole) days, after all!

Hopeforever Wed 12-Dec-12 04:42:31

There are many things going on here you can't control and resent, but what can you change?

You could hire a car

Talk calmly to DH without judgement about his family and their standards

Good luck

MidniteScribbler Wed 12-Dec-12 04:50:32

YANBU to want to spend time at christmas with your family. But YABU to think that it would be acceptable to leave a disabled woman to try and fend for herself. MIL is going to help out her other child who is having a baby, so I don't think she IBU to expect your DH to step up and help care for his grandmother. It's not as if she's off on a cruise (although I don't think she WBU to want a holiday either after caring for an ill family member. It takes a lot out of you).

I would not be able to help myself though, and would probably hire a skip to be delivered after MIL left and spend christmas day merrily throwing out any crap that I could. wink

And I think a good long conversation with your DH is in order to point out the concept of fairness and spending time with both families. If he flat out refuses to spend christmas day with your family next year, I think you would be in your rights to refuse to spend christmas with his family (caring for ill, elderly relative aside). Maybe you need to find your own traditions and start going away on holidays over christmas instead? That said, if I were with someone who told me they would call the police if I tried to take my children to see their grandparents, then, for the first time since I've been on MN, I say LTB. But I don't take too kindly to threats.

stella1w Wed 12-Dec-12 04:51:39

Don,t understand why cs is scheduled for christmas eve, seems unlikely. Why inflict that on your kids? suggestions... you look after the four year old at your place and have your parents to stay or you get a carer in for gran or you stay home with the kids and leave dh to it.

lauralaughs Wed 12-Dec-12 04:53:07

Thanks Hope,

Dh could hire a car, but unfortunately I don't drive. On my to do list.

I am resigned to spending Xmas there, and once there I will do my damnedest to enjoy myself and make it fun for the kids!

IceNoSlice Wed 12-Dec-12 04:56:10

I don't think I could resist pulling on the marigolds and throwing a whole load of Cillit Bang at the situation.

lauralaughs Wed 12-Dec-12 05:05:07

Stella, baby is due on Christmas eve, is that not possible? Eiither way, the baby will be there around Christmas and it's wise to make plans. We live in a small flat approx 2 hours away on the opposite side of London no real space for guests at the moment, much to my chagrin. I don't really think their son would be happy staying so far away from his mum and dad at Christmas and my parents are in Devon. Do carers do Christmas day? Dh is insisting on spending Xmas with his mother and with the kids. Athough at this rate we will not be together much longer!

He doesn't get to 'insist' - it needs to be agreed between you or you split and take it in turns.

He is telling you that you will never be allowed to go to your parents for Christmas, why aren't you listening?

When a person tells you who they are - listen!

I'm afraid it sounds like you are being bullied.

GetorfsaMotherfuckingMorrisMan Wed 12-Dec-12 05:18:23

With that attitude of his not 'letting' you spend christmas with your parents, I would be tempted to hightail it back to your mum with your kids and leave him to it.

(But that could be me being moody because I"m up at this time of day)

But - aside from everything in your op, which does sound tiresome, the main thing that sticks out is you thinking you need to know the legal position of if you can take your kids to your parents to christmas without your husband's permission. That's not bloody good. I think you could do with thinking about why he gets to call the shots tbh.

I personally wouldn't want to spend any time in a hovel. It would be really uncomfortable. But if you do go there, I wouldn't bother tidying. Your MIL would possibly view it as a massive affront, she probably assumes there is nothing wrong with how she lives. As horrible as it may be.

But - I would seriously think about it. Your dh doesn't sound particularly pleasant, to say the least.

PurplePidjChickIsNotTheMessiah Wed 12-Dec-12 05:21:28

You sound enormously unsympathetic - have you any concept of what round the clock care means? The relentlessness? The physical and emotional demands? Think back to the worst of the cluster feeding newborn days then imagine it's your own mother you have to look after, when the only release from it is death. Feel like a complete bitch yet? She's got all that going on and is prepared to fully support her other dil at avery difficult time.

Do your mil a favour and turn up with cleaning products and a large dose of empathy.

Oh, and try some of that new-found empathy on your husband by having a conversation instead of ordering him to go along with your plans hmm

lauralaughs Wed 12-Dec-12 05:30:51

Lauries and getorf, it works both ways as I have so far always insisted on spending time away from the inlaws for the reasons above. Of course dh's outbursts were an attempt to bully, it goes without saying, as they were said in a rage, but I'm sure I have said worse in mine! In practice we spend every other year at my parents and he generally goes along with what I want, but his problem is, he goes along with things for an easy life when he should let me know what he thinks before he snaps in a rage.

catsmother Wed 12-Dec-12 05:39:00

Good god Purple - the OP has NOT ordered her DH to go along with her plans. In fact she says she has agreed to go to MIL's, and appreciates poor nan might not be around for much longer. Whether she has sympathy or not for her MIL she's not refusing to go, has NOT attempted to stop her DH going and has simply asked for some "survival tips" while staying in an environment that sounds less than ideal (maybe not safe and/or hygenic) for 2 very young children.

On the other hand, her bloody husband has told her that he would call the police if she attempted to take their children to her parents for Xmas. And you tell her off for "ordering him" ??!! He has, by the sounds of it, threatened her into going to his mother's ..... as her grandson, yes, he might have a responsibility to help out his grandmother in his mum's absence but you know what, most normal people would have said "yes, I know you'd planned to see your parents (for the 1st time in 3 yrs) and I'm sorry you're disappointed but I'd really appreciate it if you and the kids could come over to MIL's too" or, many people would have said "you go ahead to your parents, I can see mum's isn't the best place for the kids, don't worry about me, but I do have to look after nan". Instead, he's threatened to call the police on his own wife FFS. And you accuse the OP of lacking empathy ?

What kind of "man" makes those sorts of threats ?

lauralaughs Wed 12-Dec-12 05:42:09

I find what you are saying interesting, purple chick, but it is far from hitting the mark and actually quite aggressive, I do know those cluster feeding days, in fact I am still bfeeding my dd2 as well as working full time, which can take its toll. I have already expressed my intention and willingness to help out, and I am perfectly entitled to express my feelings of disappointment. My own mother had to care for my grandmother in her last days, but the home was always reasonably tidy.

Amusing to note the difference in your perspective to lauries and getorf. Oh, the joys of mumsnet!

GetorfsaMotherfuckingMorrisMan Wed 12-Dec-12 05:47:33

It is very, very early in the morning. You have have got a different response at 11amgrin

I don't think you soudn unsympathetic, you do sound pissed off and you're venting on an internet forum. I think its a stressful situation all round really so no wonder you're complaining a bit.

bochead Wed 12-Dec-12 06:57:04

Caring long term is not the same as doing it for a finite period. Not everyone is a natural nurse or home maker by temperment. Great Gran sounds in a bad way. Many carers become clinically depressed over time due to isolation, lack of social life, boredom etc, etc. The physical health of carers often suffers too. Does your MIL ever get any respite or opportunity to pursue her own interests at all?

Get stuck in and give your MIL a hand with the house work over Xmas. She's not off on a jolly ffs! Lose your judgey pants attitude to the state of her house and give her a hand to tidy it up a bit while you are there. Perhaps as for Xmas gift you and your DP could give her a cleaning or carers agency voucher for a few hours a month to help her out a bit over the year?

Is your partner finding the power balance in your own relationship too scewed? He sounds as if he is at his wits end and is lashing out. Is there a way for the two of you to rebalance the childcare/paid job load a little so that things become more equal? Many couples choose to both work part time while the kids are small.

Your father and husband don't get along. Spending time in the home of someone who can't stand you is a horrible feeling to have to endure, yet your husband has agreed to do this from the 27th for your sake. Have you asked your father to reel his neck in and to be pleasant to his SIL when he stays? Any reason you can't just spend next Xmas in your own home like most adults?

In most towns there is usually a panto on Boxing day. If MIL's house isn't posh enough for you, you could take the kids out for a couple of hours to watch that while your DH takes care of his Gran. An hour in the park won't do them any harm either. I'm sorry OP but you do come across as rather self-absorbed and selfish. (You aren't the kids main carer so in the event of a split it would be your husband who would have residency).

3b1g Wed 12-Dec-12 07:13:13

Your mil's house doesn't sound safe for little ones, fine for a few hours when you can watch them like a hawk, but I wouldn't risk it for longer than that. If the 18m old injures themselves or chokes on some small object they find in the detritus, then it would be beyond horrible. I would let DH get on with caring for his gran, but go to your own parents for Christmas. You can have another 'Christmas' with DH on a different date. Let DH call the police: they won't be impressed and will probably ignore him or have a word with him about wasting police time.

highlandcoo Wed 12-Dec-12 08:29:31

I think your MIL's life as a carer for her mother sounds pretty tough.

It's understandable that she wants to be there for her DS and DIL to help with the new baby's arrival, and if she needs your DH's help to do that I think that's reasonable too. You do sound aggrieved about this, when you say allegedly "help out" etc, and I think that's rather harsh. Good for him for being willing to do it; I can't think that helping his grandmother to the loo is high on his wish-list of things to do at Christmas to be fair.

I'm not surprised your MIL is not completely on top of the housework. What could be done to help? Could you or your DH either find some time to go round and get stuck in to tidy up and clean (probably the best solution) or could you offer to pay for a cleaning firm to blitz it? This could be done a few days in advance of Christmas ideally, so that you don't have to spend Christmas Eve cleaning. With two young children it's reasonable to want a hygienic kitchen and a safe place for them to play if at all possible.

I do understand why this is not your first choice of how to spend Christmas btw! However, you do sound as if you're prepared to get your head round it and make it special and lovely for the kids .. which of course you can. Time to summon up some Christmas spirit and think of others before yourself and all that I think and if your DH is generally a reasonable man you'll be building up some credit for future years smile

ENormaSnob Wed 12-Dec-12 08:30:32

Yanbu at all.

Your husband sounds a bully.

I would seriously consider forcing the issue of him getting a job a you being a sahm or you continue working and get childcare. You may find it easier if you split up.

highlandcoo Wed 12-Dec-12 08:35:14

Overreaction I think, EnormaSnob OP has said his remarks were made while they were having a row and that she has said worse herself.

That's not really the problem here IMO

Whocansay Wed 12-Dec-12 08:42:40

It all sounds like a pretty joyless situation. Is there any chance you could take the grandmother to your parent's house for Xmas instead? Or you and the kids stay at a B&B down the road, whilst your dh looks after granny?

It doesn't sound like a good environment for young children to stay in. It sounds as if you'd have a job trying to cook Xmas dinner there at all!

ENormaSnob Wed 12-Dec-12 08:58:27

Overreaction? He threatens to ring the police if op takes the children to her parents.

That's not exactly normal in my experience of relationships.

It is manuplative and controlling. And downright cruel.

lollilou Wed 12-Dec-12 14:28:28

I would check the cs on Xmas eve. If the baby is due on that day they will want her to have it earlier, well my ds was due on Boxing day and I had to have my cs a week before.

LondonElfInFestiveCheerBoots Wed 12-Dec-12 14:50:12

WRT the CS on Xmas eve, if there are complications, Xmas eve may just be the earliest they can deliver safely and they want to get the baby out ASAP and don't want to wait til the New Year, and might not be able to fit it in in between, I know the same happened to my aunt with my cousin, her birthday is on April Fools as it was the earliest they could deliver her and be sure (as you can be) that she would be strong enough to survive.

I think WRT cleaning, offer strongly to clean the place up if you want to do it - 'I know how busy you are with your mother, we'd love to help out in this way, get the place spick and span for the New Year, weight off your shoulders, don't worry about it at all, we'll sort it all' blah blah, especially if she's been saying that she does't feel up to cleaning. Don't throw anything out though - my DDad is a terrible hoarder, and if you forcibly remove a piece of crap, 3 more take its place. Just 'organize' it as well as possible, and she may well not feel the need to keep it, it can be hard to get rid of hoarded stuff when the place is a dump already, if its nice and clean it looks out of place.

And he is being an arse threatening to call the police, but you know that and he's possibly just reacting to the fact that you don't spend much time with his family and he isn't the biggest fan of yours either.

lauralaughs Mon 07-Jan-13 06:09:58

an update - we all went over on Christmas Eve fairly late so as just to put the kids to bed but could hardly enter the house, it was scarily choccer, much worse than if had been a couple of months ago and the children's beds were not only unreachable due to piles of clutter e.g. papers but also unmade and very dusty. I suggested staying and just helping to clean up but dh insisted on getting a taxi home, took around an hour to get there. It was, however, a relief to be able to spend Xmas at home. I am suggesting that mil be referred to a counseller, for both her and nan's sake.

lauralaughs Mon 07-Jan-13 06:11:46

btw, some of the comments/ suggestions above are equally scary!

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