Breaking news: moms are people, too. I know, I know — it’s shocking. But for some reason, giving birth can reduce women to moms in the eyes of society (a title that is an honor, for sure, but only part of the package), erasing years of her main identity in the process. Spoiler alert: the same treatment doesn’t happen to men. It all came to a head on Christmas for one woman on Reddit, who is tired of being thought of “being just a mommy now,” and I completely understand her frustration.
“I have 2 kids, 2f, 4f. I f*cking hate how everyone thinks of me as being just a mommy now,” she wrote in the “Am I The A—hole?” subreddit. “I don’t get to be my own person. I’m just mommy.”
Many moms have felt that way at one point or another, especially when (usually) well-meaning relatives only seem to ask us about our kids and not say, our careers or hobbies. For this mom, it also translated to only giving her mom-related gifts. “Husband doesn’t face this,” she continued. “He gets gifts from everyone that have to do with his hobbies. Me? I get a bunch of mommy sh*t. Tee hee, mommy needs wine!”
“And like matching outfits. I don’t mean like, one of those cutesy matching pajama sets,” she continued. “I mean like, people actually think I’m going to go out in public wearing some cutesy matching outfits with my toddlers. As though I think they’re mini versions of myself? Or dolls?” Yes, it can definitely get old.
But it’s not just about the presents. These in-laws only refer to her as “mama.”
“From the time we got to the in-laws, it was ‘mama’ this and ‘mama’ that,” she wrote, adding that she snapped back, “You know my name is (Carmen), right?” The resulting confrontation was a little weird. “She just looked at me funny and said ‘Of course, silly?’ I said ‘So why do you keep calling me “mama”? You aren’t going around calling (husband) papa?’ SIL just looked at me like I had 2 heads and was like ‘Um, okay.’”
After that, things just … didn’t change. “This went on all over Christmas. Here you go, mama. Want another slice, mama?” she wrote, adding that she addressed that it was bothering her again.
“At that point I was just like ‘Do you guys mind calling me by my name instead of calling me mama?’ The same SIL as before did the whole golly-gee doe eyed thing and said ‘But you’re such a good mama!’”
So annoying! Being a good mama is beside the point — it’s just basic human decency to call someone by their preferred name, especially when you know it’s bothering them to be called anything else.
“I said that I’m not JUST a mom. I gestured to the things that husband got for Christmas from them, and said ‘Why didn’t you guys get him anything that says ‘papa? Everything you gave me is somehow related to me being a mom. Why does HE get to be his own person?’”
The woman’s mother-in-law seems to be the only one filled with genuine remorse, as she “grabbed my hand and squeezed it and said that she was sorry that she made me feel like this. She was just ‘so excited’ about being a grandma and she never really thought of things like that.”
That’s understandable — and a sweet reaction from the mother-in-law. Hopefully now the MIL will do better now that she does know it bothers her daughter-in-law. The sisters-in-law, on the other hand, still aren’t getting it.
“I was feeling a little better until SIL2 and SIL3 started going after me. One of them did that whole ‘Are you okay? Do you need to talk someone? You sound so angry, it isn’t healthy’ faux concern thing that’s meant to shame you for having any emotional response,” the woman continued. “The other one was angry and saying that ‘is being a mom somehow beneath you’ and ‘do you think you’re better than the rest of us?’ and all that.”
Of course, because the fact that she doesn’t want to be seen as only a mom doesn’t mean she thinks motherhood is beneath her (I’m rolling my eyes as I type this). But wait, where is the husband during this whole exchange, you ask? Well, he definitely wasn’t jumping in to defend his wife.
“When we finally left, he asked me why I’d kept it in for so long, and I said that I haven’t,” she said about her husband, who has apparently been clueless to his wife’s stress and frustrations for years. “No one listened to me before. I’ve said these things plenty of times. I’ve always asked them to call me by my name and not some disgusting nickname that boils me down to giving birth.”
“He nodded, but said that I’d put a big pallor on the weekend and that I need to apologize for the outburst at some point,” she continued, showing that her husband completely ignored what she was saying and just believes she should apologize for her “outburst.” The casual dismissal clearly runs in the family.
“I said sure, as soon as SILs apologize to me for dehumanizing me for years,” she continued. “We’re at a stalemate. AITA?”
Redditors quickly came to her defense. “No. Your SILs owe you an apology and you owe them … f*cking nothing. Even after,” one person wrote. Yes, so true!
“I’m so petty, I’d start calling them ‘sister-in-law’ all the time and only getting them SIL stuff,” another wrote. “Oh SIL, here’s your birthday present! (Sister-in-law rides horse) stuff even if I had to special order it. Erase them and replace it with SIL stuff.”
“Nah, make it related to the kids,” another added. “Auntie this and auntie that. Get duplicates so they both get identical items. Go a step further for MIL with Granny stuff (only if necessary).”
Others counted that this strategy probably won’t work. “Odds are they’ll love this stuff, though,” one person said. “All 3 SILs and MIL seem obsessed with babies in the family and being aunties & grandma. They’ve given up their individual identities to become moms and can’t understand why OP doesn’t want to do to the same.”
Someone else wrote, “A TON of women believe that the singular reason they even exist on this Earth is to serve their husbands and raise children and they are worth nothing if they aren’t doing that. OP may not ever get the apology she wants.” Especially if the husband isn’t even backing her up!
“This is one of the worst ways of dehumanizing and hurting someone,” one person wrote about the fact that she has politely asked her in-laws to stop for years. “When they’ve told you, politely, many times over and are completely disregarded, ignored, and the behavior never, ever lets up. Then the recipient reaches a breaking point and everyone is a victim! She didn’t keep it in. She politely told them numerous times and they willfully and hurtfully continued.”
The same person noted that the family probably knows nothing about this woman. “The mommy themed gifts and matching outfts? WTAF y’all! Who does that, and does it repeatedly/ I’ll bet none of them could tell you one thing about OP and her taste, preferences, or interests that would make buying the ideal gift easy,” they wrote. “Her favorite music, books, colors, fragrances, sports, any hobbies? tech, decorating. No? How about a generous gift certificate to buy some clothes, accessories, make up, whatever she wants, or to have a lunch out with her own friends while apathetic hubby and the uncaring SILs babysit.”
In all the chaos of the in-laws, many Redditors reminded the woman that her husband is also TA.
“Yeah OP has a husband problem more than an in-law problem … this is all happening cause he allows it,” one person wrote. Another said, “Yeah this husband sounds like a really huge asshole. I cannot f*cking believe that he told her that she needed to apologize. Holy sh*t.”
I couldn’t agree more. How is it so hard to fathom that a woman wants to have a personality outside of raising children? It’s wild that other women — who also seem to be mothers! — don’t understand this concept in 2022. You definitely do not need to apologize for wanting autonomy, OP. Your sisters-in-law (and your husband) could learn from your mother-in-law, who simply apologized for her mistakes and moved on. We shouldn’t have to say this, but even though being a mom is wonderful — it doesn’t have to be, nor should it be, your whole entire identity.
Before you go, check out some of Reddit’s most coal-worth holiday stories.
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