Let me start by writing that, as mothers-in-law go, mine is pretty good. She and I have always gotten along well. One thing I greatly appreciated about her especially when ds was going up were her boundaries about our parenting. In my mind, she has historically been a positive and upbeat person.
However, since fil died two and a half years ago or so, she has become increasingly negative and her boundaries aren’t as good as they used to be. Maybe she was always that way, but any criticism/negativity expressed by her paled in comparison to his. At any rate, at 82, her filter is not what it used to be. She also sort of gets unreasonably irate and defensive. Very harsh and “bite-your head off,” and one never knows what will cause that reaction. At least I don’t. Thankfully, those outbursts are very short in duration. She drinks a lot of wine, and this only seems to curtail her filter even more. She is quick to point out flaws in anything, is highly fixated on the outward appearances (beauty or lack thereof) of people, and kinda expects to be waited on. She will be staying with us a week.
Her last visit was the Thanksgiving before Covid, and it was not a great one because my dh was having terrible back issues at the time. I couldn’t give her the attention I would liked to and felt as though my hostessing was subpar for my standards. In hindsight, she should have canceled, but I guess given Covid, it was good she didn’t. My dh was having a lot of pain, and we were dealing with medical appointments, fitting back braces, etc. BTW, he’s fine now. So, I do want this visit to be “nicer” for her.
I am glad she is coming. Truly. But, I am turning to the collective brain trust of this group to help me come up with responses that are still respectful to her but also let her know when she is not being respectful to me. Does that make sense? I know some snark is coming. I know some criticism is coming. I know some snappiness is coming. I don’t feel the need to respond to every individual negative comment, but I want some succinct go-to replies in my head, so I don’t overreact and become snappy with her. Just sort of things that might diffuse her a bit. I can let a lot roll off my back, but if I stuff my feelings too long, I will snark back, and I am trying to avoid that. I hope I am making sense. I’m not looking for zingy come-backs or anything. I want to be “nice,” but not be a total doormat.