Couple with new baby secretly moves away so mother-in-law can no longer drop in unexpectedly

Mary Duncan

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by a friend who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.*

I didn’t exactly take the life course that most parents probably want their daughters to take. I didn’t go to college right out of high school, deciding to move out and get a job waitressing instead, and a few years after that I was unmarried and pregnant. I was alone, well, with my mother when my daughter was born, but I was a single mom from the start.

As the years went by, I saw more and more of my friends following the path I wish I had taken. They’d graduate college, get married, buy a house, and start a family. It was like the way things were just supposed to go if you were doing it right.

It always made me so sad that I never got to have a baby and raise a family with someone that I love and who wanted to have a family with me. Part of this may be because I had such a dysfunctional family myself. It’s really just me, my parents, my sister, her husband, and my grandmother left. My mother disowned her siblings after one of them had a falling out with my grandmother, and my father had his ties cut with his whole family due to a financial spat after his mother died.

I see happy couples raising their kids together and celebrating with their big families and I wish I had had that. I wish I’d had a doting mother-in-law who would share in the joy of my children, and be there to watch them grow up.

Not everyone feels like that, though. You know, the grass is always greener on the other side and all that.

When my friend Lucy and her husband Jon were first married, Jon’s mother was so excited for the grand-babies that were sure to come, she moved hundreds of miles across the country so she could buy a house right down the street from her son. The woman, Diane, had the awful habit of dropping in unexpectedly, and the habit escalated and became intolerable after Lucy and Jon had their first baby, a boy they named Jude.

One morning Lucy and Jon woke up, took a look at their video baby monitor on the bedside table, and saw that their son Jude was missing from his crib. Horrified, Jon and Lucy sprang out of bed and into his room, but he was gone. Lucy was wailing in terror and grief while Jon searched for his cell phone to call for help, and that’s when Diane walked into the nursery holding Jude with a bottle in his mouth.

“Calm down, dears, I’ve got him,” Diane said, and Lucy was barely able to control her rage. She had to go back to the bedroom and decompress before coming back to tell Diane that she could never do that again. Diane did not listen.

She would constantly drop by unexpectedly when Lucy and Jon were home, and if they weren’t home, or weren’t awake for the day yet, she would often let herself in with the key she had and either tend to Jude or clean and rearrange their things in the house.

“You have to tell her to stop,” Lucy insisted.

“I can’t, Luce, she’s my mom, it would break her heart.”

“Well, I refuse to keep living like this! I’m applying for that job in the city. If I get it, we’re out of here,” Lucy swore.

“How can I tell my mom we’re going to move away from her after she moved all the way out here to be with us?” Jon whined.

“We never asked her to move here! She is interfering with our lives and my parenting and I can’t take it anymore, I won’t!” Lucy said.

So, Lucy went ahead and applied for her dream job as a graphic designer at a big downtown marketing firm. She was hired, and that meant to avoid a four-hour-a-day round-trip commute, Lucy and Jon would have to move closer to her new employer. It shouldn’t have mattered much to Jon, as he worked from home and it wouldn’t change his daily routine. Just his mother’s.

Jon fretted for months and then weeks before the move, having still not told his mother they were about to relocate, but Lucy forbid him from informing her.

Lucy arranged everything in detail. Movers came to their house on a weekend when Diane had gone to a casino with her lady friends, and they were packed up and gone before she came home.

Three days later, Lucy received her first call from Diane.

“Where are you? Why is your house empty? What is going on?” She shrieked at her daughter-in-law.

“I’m sorry, Diane, you’ll have to talk to your son about that,” Lucy said, and hung up the phone.

It took a long time for Jon to repair his relationship with his mom after what they did, and the only time Lucy ever saw Diane since was over the holidays.

Though it was rather extreme, I don’t blame them for moving away. What do you think?

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I write about the weird complexities of relationships to make a better life for me and my daughter through words.

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