Yesterday, my MIL called. We were having a rather pleasant conversation, and I casually mentioned to her that I would be stopping, on the way to her house tomorrow (which is now today), at the mall to pick up something for our neighbor as a favor. We'd be leaving early, and this would not infringe on the time we were to be visiting for my husband's birthday/Christmas gift exchange. Immediately my MIL got upset and told me "This isn't just his birthday, you know. It's our Christmas celebration, and I have gifts for everyone. I really want you to be there!" As I continued to try to explain to her that we would all be there, she kept acting like it was some tragedy. I know, as well as anyone else who knows anything about my MIL and I, that she does not like me that much, and so it was odd she was acting like it was so terrible that I should have a 30 minute errand to run. Now, I also should point out, she will be coming to see us on Christmas Eve, so this is not her only Christmas celebration with us. Now, for the rest of the story...
After 12 years, I am used to a level of strangeness. I can predict, with impressive accuracy, when she is about to pull a stunt. I could smell it coming, but I was a little off on what I thought was about to go down. I thought maybe she'd have a Santa come to the house, like I do for our party. I wasn't convinced of that, because I don't think even she is brave enough to go that far. That part I was right about, at least for now.
When it was time to open gifts, she had gotten something for each of us. I was taking pictures and videos (as any great paparazzi mom would do), and so I held my package to the side. I watched as everyone opened their gifts. One by one my husband, brother in law, and sister in law opened their gifts. She had made everyone a personalized, photo calendar. She pointed out that "all of the important dates are marked, too!" I watched everyone ooooh and aaaaah over their calendars, and the pictures. How nice of her to do this for everyone! Everyone, but me. I opened my package, and inside was a Farmer's Almanac magazine. You did not read that incorrectly. It was the magazine that they sell in the check out lines at the stores. My "what am I looking at here?!" face was still in all of it's glory, when she looked at me and said "I felt bad, and I just had to get you something!" Like she was planning on getting me nothing, but at the last minute grabbed something to make herself feel good just simply knowing she gave me something. But wait, it gets better!!! (Hard to believe that, I know!)
When we got home, for some reason, the "All of the important dates are marked!" popped into my head. I checked July, and, sure enough, there was her boyfriend's birthday. I looked at march, there was my sister-in-laws birthday... So I flipped to my birthday. Nada. Apparently nothing important happened that day. Everyone else had their bday noted. My sister-in-law, who was also floored by the Farmer's Almanac, hunted through the calendar and eventually found some other day marked as my birthday. I understand. In the 12 years I've been around, it could be hard to figure out if my birthday moves around or not. And, even though I just explained to her, a few weeks ago, that we still would not be attending Thanksgiving because it's so close to my birthday, sometimes is on my birthday (and therefore we celebrate my bday with my side of the family on turkey day), she decided to put me in a corner in September instead.
I figured out that she did not want me to run my errand and risk me not being there to see the thoughtful gifts that she spent her time on for everyone but me... and that she couldn't even be bothered to get my birthday right on those calendars.
Maybe it seems like I'm being unfair, but after 12 years of this, I've earned the right to complain about it. Whether it's been to slip in an attack on my weight... "Here, you can have the low carb mashed potatoes *while everyone else got regular ones*, or "I was at BJs and saw these pants for you!" and handing me pants clearly way too large for me... or letting me cook a holiday meal for her, and then one hour in advance call to say she wasn't coming because she wanted to go out to campaign for a political election. Or, after I had been cooking for several hours to prepare a birthday meal and dessert for her boyfriend, calling to cancel because her COUSIN didn't feel well... who we found outside in the sweltering heat, walking his dog and smoking a cigarette when we stopped by her house to deliver the meal instead. It's years of this complete nonsense that had lead to me no longer "suffer in silence", which, you can imagine, was hard for me to do in the first place!
So, there you have it. I couldn't make this stuff up. I just don't have that big of a bag when it comes to my own brand of crazy. But, I will hand her this, she made that Home Depot gift card look pretty freaking awesome and like a gift with way more effort and thought than I was giving it credit for, originally. So there you have it. I didn't just wake up one morning with "Bitch Syndrome" or something, it took years to make me this cynical and cold when it comes to my relationship with that woman. I stopped caring so much about if my telling people what actually goes on would hurt her feelings when I realized she was, quite obviously, absolutely never considering my feelings.
I think I'll be sending random birthday cards to her and her boyfriend, whenever I feel like it. I mean I don't have a calendar telling me the actual date of their birthdays, and I can't be bothered to keep track of when they are each and every year, so this seems practical. It at least seems like I'll be extending the same courtesy to her that she extends to me. My sis says, and rightfully so, to get my MIL nothing. I pointed out that there are way worse things than nothing. Giving a waitress a penny is worse than leaving no tip. If you leave no tip, the reason could be you forgot, but if you give that penny, it's a hostile penny. You made the clear choice to give them something virtually worthless to them, and representative of your displeasure. That Farmer's Almanac is my penny tip. She clearly had chosen to give me nothing, but got me a token at the last minute to ease her guilty feelings associated with that. She didn't forget, she just purposely excluded me, and so obviously... in more ways than one.
You cannot make this shit up.