Anonymous Stories in Motherhood: When Resentment Divides Families


Stereotypes. The worst. 

Even worse than a stereotype’s existence? When it reigns true.

Why? Why? WHY…must the in-law stereotype be true? You know, the one that deems in-laws to be challenging, irritating, difficult, overbearing, and even oddballs?

I’m a fan of breaking a stereotype, busting up societal norms, coming through a seen problem as victorious. Unfortunately, there are sad truths in life and bad people are one of them. There is NO effectual change that can be expected from a person who is inherently so self-focused and non-reflective that they themselves cannot see where they HAVE EVER been “in the wrong” or made an error in their own judgment in their entire life. Self-righteousness. Woof.

I cried at one of my baby showers, years ago, when my older friend, nearing retirement age, brought up the fact that she herself was going through a hard time of conflict with her own sibling via their in-laws’ interference. I internalized the feeling, for my own reasons and own experiences. Helpless was the feeling at that moment. I’d lost my own sibling via his spouse. Did I need my brother to run around and play tag? No. Lend me a shoulder when I had a bad day? No. But did I need him to be my “team” in regards to our aging parents and the adulthood decisions that have and will befall us? YES. 

I’ve since found no solace. I very much have lost a crucial staple in my child’s life experience. And at no point did any of this come from anything other than resentment. 

Resentment from my sister-in-law just (making an attempt at) digging at the inherent growth my family has sustained and the joys we have (thankfully) manifested in our lives over time. Resentment exhibited through biting comments at holidays, or a very obvious dig in a side-armed comment in a large familial group text. At some point, I know there are hurt feelings about family units and apparently just my family’s mere existence bothers her. Ours is a cohesive existence in which my child’s grandparents are heavily involved in his life. Theirs is a world where career is all that matters under their home’s roof. I have to remind myself that everyone is fighting a battle we know nothing about, but can her internal battle at least be something she…I dunno…tries to reflect on and resolve? Why the hate?

So if this were a “Dear Abby,” I’d truly value the advice that Abby might have in all of this. Is resolve possible when the objectives for what constitutes “a great life” look so vastly different among people who will inevitably sit across a table and have to make some hard decisions some day about the fate of our collective parents? Can we agree to disagree, and find some peace in all of this?