Annie's Mailbox: Been There
Dear Annie: I've been married for 32 years to "Conrad," and we have two terrific adult sons. My mother-in-law will be 87 soon, and Conrad is her only child. I have never had a good relationship with her in spite of all my efforts. She chose not to attend our wedding reception because it was hosted by her late ex-husband's second wife. Instead, she told us that she stayed home, drank champagne and "cried all night." She has a long history of making snide remarks when nobody is there to witness them.
My husband and I are in Maui for a month. Prior to our departure, I provided a list (in a large font) of all contact information for family members, physicians, dentists, etc., and clipped it to a magnet on her refrigerator.
While we've been gone, her condo has developed a basement leak. My husband and I have been on the phone with her daily regarding insurance, repair work, etc. During one call, she commented that she had no one to phone while we were away. My husband reminded her that she can call our sons, who live nearby, and she replied, "No, your wife told me not to bother them." This was a complete lie. He told her that I would never say that, but she insisted that I had. My first reaction was to call her out on it, but I want my husband with me as a witness when I talk to her.
I want to be sure I am courteous when we see her. But how do I get her to stop lying? -- Annoyed DIL
Dear Annoyed: If Mom is still looking to discredit you after 32 years, it isn't likely to change. We would also add that, as she gets older, some of this behavior may get worse. You and your husband need to politely, firmly and repeatedly correct Mom whenever she does this, so she knows she isn't fooling anyone. Write it down, if necessary, so that when you are vacationing, there is a record. Also inform other family members of any instructions you have given Mom. You will be less aggravated knowing that others are aware of what's going on.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from "The Ones Left Behind," who said that she and her husband raised her three kids with no help from their birth father. Now that the kids are grown, the bio-dad is back in the picture and the kids are hungry for his attention. She feels they are leaving her in the dust.
I was like her children. At one point, I felt I needed to establish a relationship with my father so that I could be at peace. I did it for my own well-being and hoped my mother would understand, but she was upset and hurt. She took that anger to her grave. It saddens me to think about it.
Please tell "Left Behind" that a relationship with their father is probably very healing for her children. It has nothing to do with her. If she can joyfully support them in this effort, it would be the greatest gift she could give. -- Been There
Dear Been: Thank you for presenting the other side. We hope "Left Behind" sees this and understands.
"Annie's Mailbox" is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar. This column was originally published in 2016. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.