Sometimes the difference between my parents and my in-laws is really striking to me. I love my parents, especially my father, but I am amazed at the difference they have in their attitude toward their children.

My in-laws are really all about what they can do for us. They are obsessed with spending time with us. They send us thoughtful birthday gifts, send cards on our anniversary and enjoy treating us with things like trips and outings.

My mother, on the other hand, is all about what she can get from us. I think it stems from the fact that she never wanted children. But, regardless, she has always thought of children as her own personal servants or slaves. Growing up, we did all the work around the house. She was bitter about everything, and became irrationally angry if she had to take us to any extracurricular activities or if we wanted to do anything with friends. She cloaked all her controlling behavior behind God’s will. She really never let up on her controlling and borderline-abusive behavior until Ducks and I got married and she realized that I could choose between her and my in-laws on who to spend time with and that I could truly sever all ties with her if I wanted to. Even when she tries to do something nice, it’s in her own way. For example, she bought us a rug that she happened to find on sale when doing a real estate deal. She didn’t let me see it or anything beforehand, just purchased it, then expected me to put it in my living room, although it looks terrible and doesn’t match the style of anything else we own. And we can’t do anything about it, because she’d be mortally offended if we removed it.

That brings me to this past week. My father-in-law took Ducks and I to the coast for the weekend. He paid for the house, our meals, etc., without asking for anything in return other than our company. That’s not to say that he can’t exert his own form of selfishness or be wearing sometimes. BUT, I am offering this up in contrast with what my mother has done this week.

For my birthday (which is coming up in a few weeks), she gave me a starter kit of facial cleansers from a company that she recently signed up to do sales with. However, apparently, the gift comes with strings attached. To get this gift, she SIGNED ME UP AS A SALESPERSON. So now, what was supposedly a nice birthday gift to help me with shrinking the size of some pores near my nose, has become a nightmare of being bombarded with emails and phone calls encouraging me to go to trainings and to sell these products. Great birthday gift, right? I have less than zero interest in selling ANYTHING. In fact, I am actively disinterested in selling anything.

I do not typically have any free time. I can’t even keep with my work and professional commitments. There is no way that I’m going to go out shilling any kind of product. And, yet, she won’t get the message through her head. I’m trying to be kind about it, because she is very excited about starting to sell this stuff. However, what can I do? I feel deceptive when her director keeps calling me, asking me about attending training, etc. Should I return the gift to cut the attached strings? How should I handle this?

6 responses to “Strings

  1. Wow that is just crazy. It shocks me that anyone would do that!! However I can relate to you SO MUCH when it comes to the difference between parents/in-laws. My mom was the best mom ever when we were kids but the moment we grew up and actually did things that dissapointed her (you know, normal young adult stuff), her true colors came out. She’s still helpful and there for us, but definitely on her own terms now and depending on what we’ve done for her. I’ve never had her do anything to this extent but thinking about it now, I wouldn’t put it past her. If I were you, I would return the gift with the attached strings and tell her like it is. I’m finding as I get older (and braver!) that I can’t tiptoe around my mom’s crazy ways, I have to tell her what I really think or she’ll just keep doing it. She needs to know she can’t just do this kind of stuff and get away with it! Good luck.

  2. OMG. That is all a little crazy. I can understand your frustration, and I’ll send a few happy thoughts and prayers your way! Much love!

  3. That’s unbelievable. I think you need to give it back and put a stop to things as soon as possible. If not now, when?

  4. Woah. That is really kind of crazy. If the gift does have the strings attached of being a salesperson, I would definitely return it and stop it. Yikes.

  5. That is a just a little insane. You should simply keep delaying with the director citing other work commitments until you finally say you have no time to sell it.
    Your mom is your mom, but wow, relationships are a two way street. We need to spend time with our loved ones because we want to share their lives, not to get something out of them!

    Chic ‘n Cheap Living

  6. Thanks, everyone, for the comments. Glad to see that you all don’t think I’m the crazy one. My parents should be visiting next weekend and that’s when this drama will probably all play out.

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