Old Folks Behaving Badly
I am married with children. Two months ago my wife visited a friend with the boys, then called my MIL to say she would drive and visit within the hour. She was apparently 20-30 mins late due to traffic. When I called MIL to ensure wife was safe, not knowing wife was not there yet, MIL burst out cursing at me: “@#$@% Jack, you know exactly where Wife is! Stop @#$%^ lying to me!” I was pleasant yet she repeatedly cursed and told me I am a liar - I had no idea why the outrage. Never lied to her before, told her I could not reach Wife’s cellphone, so I ended the conversation after her silence. Later Wife told me MIL was mad about Wife being late, not that anything was planned/missed. MIL left a VM two days later saying only `sorry she was upset and she “expects all will be back to normal” between us.’ I’ve been annoyed since as this was some “straw man argument” created by MIL and that she simply does not respect me - otherwise if she cared she wouldn’t have done this and certainly wouldn’t have apologized via vm (5-10 second vm) two days later. I will never forgive her for this – and she’s likely forgotten so the issue is moot anyhow. She does not get along very well with my BIL, primarily for political reasons (before entire family: "I like Steve but he's a @#$%^ [insert-party]!" I keep my political beliefs quiet. FIL is soft-spoken, does not care about emotional issues enough to involve himself. Wife always falls back to same arguments to substantiate MIL’s behavior - she’s a NYer and had a poor upbringing when a child after the Depression. Yet MIL left NY in early 1960s and bad upbringing was left behind. I wish to advise her that her meds, yoga and especially her therapist are doing her a disservice. Very feisty, frantic speech, arms/hands waving, rude, loud most of the time. Boys now pick up on her NY accent and make fun of her with several “woids” (which of course I love). She knows we do not want her cursing before the children, so she reduces that. Concerns go beyond this: bathes 3-4 times per week (“I didn’t do anything today”) and has a musk-like odor that kids carry home and I can smell the next day, have to bathe the boys. She never wants to hear my side of a story about anything (my folks are like this too) unless I claim info originates from someone else (“appeal to authority”). I’m polite with her and chats at family gatherings are fine. I get along with her as I do my folks but the outbursts/arguments have me baffled.
Any idea why my folks in their mid-80s are becoming more and more irritable and only want to do the talking? Until recently I had great hour-long chats with them. Getting very sarcastic (“No Jack, we left the front door wide open for intruders” now run through each and every conversation). Several cars, both drive and SUV has more dents, scratches and Pop blew up at me when I suggested he replace it when the loan expires with a smaller crossover or sedan that’s easier to navigate/park – even though I lightly insinuated all damage was solely due to others hitting his parked vehicle as it took up a large area. Are they annoyed that the end of their life could be closer and they’ve lived well thus far? Invited folks to sons’ (both are six) basketball game of which they had only had two practice sessions (never touched a bball before), and they openly griped, shook heads the whole time about how they lack drive for the game as compared to many others kids who play well and have been playing 1-2 years. Ridiculous statements such as we should make them practice in a small cleared-out garage rather than on a court at school or outside at the end of our cul de sac. I had to lie and say we just bought a big bball hoop for the street (although a neighbor invites us to use his) so folks wouldn’t run and buy another expensive toy when the boys only have a passing interest. Any thoughts? I am concerned to be losing my respect for these older “Senile Delinquents” and try to keep conversations lighter and more sporadic to once/week and visits to once/month - perhaps as a means of sorts to “punish them” for bad behavior as we just get griping about the boys, their development and how [poorly] we raise them. Never any praise. I care about everyone but find far too much resistance when trying to directly sorts things out in what I think is a polite and rational manner. Thank You! :)