MIL Keeps Calling Herself 'Mommy' While Babysitting Granddaughter


You have to hand it to this generation of grandmas, they’ve come up with an incredible variety of nicknames. If you’re not ready to be Grandma, you can be Nana, Gam-Gam, Grammy, MiMi… there are so many possibilities!

One term of endearment is off limits though. The title of ‘Mommy’ is already taken.

When a new mom’s mother-in-law repeatedly encroached on her title, she expected her husband to be equally weirded out. He didn’t seem especially alarmed, so she turned to Reddit’s ‘Am I Overreacting’ forum to find out if she was out of her mind.

“My daughter is just over 3 months old. Occasionally my MIL watches her when I have things to do or need a break,” she began.

Sounds lovely so far, but wait.

“Lately she has been calling herself ‘Mommy’ when talking to my daughter,” she continued. “She does it in front of me and my husband at least once (and sometimes more) every time she visits now, and she always brushes it off like ‘whoopsiedoodles I’m so used to being Mommy so I called myself that haha’. But today she gave me reason to doubt that.”

What happens next isn’t giving ‘whoopsiedoodles.’

“I called her over to come watch the baby while I took care of a house project that concerned chemicals,” she continued. “I took a shower afterward because chemicals. I went downstairs to grab some fresh clothing out of the dryer when I heard my MIL talking to my baby in the other room…”

Brace for it.

“She called herself Mommy four times in a three minute conversation,” she says next. “‘Do you want Mommy to play with you?’ ‘Are you having fun with Mommy?’ ‘Are you being a good girl for Mommy?’ And ‘Mommy loves you, yes I do!’ She didn’t know I was there, and she didn’t even try to correct herself.”

Real Hand That Rocks The Cradle vibes. Will her husband take her side and resolve the issue?

“I asked my husband to help me navigate this situation because it’s super weird and frankly I think unhealthy for my MIL to be playing out this fantasy delusion, she wrote. “He said to me ‘if it really bothers you that much, we can say something next time we hear her do it.’”

“Which makes me wonder if I’m making a bigger deal out of this than it should be, but it feels like a big f**king deal. AIO,” she says.

Is she overreacting?

If you’re having a visceral reaction to the idea of another woman calling themselves your baby’s Mommy, you’re not alone. Mama bears clocked in on this post.

“Under reacting,” one person wrote. You heard her. It needs to be dealt with now. There is no Oopsie moment here, it’s intentional.”

“Not overreacting,” another person chimed in. “She’s doing this on purpose. It’s weird and disturbing behavior.”

“Why on earth would a woman with grown children STILL be used to being called/referring to herself as ‘Mommy?’ It seems particularly invasive for your MIL to use as HER signifier to YOUR daughter,” another wrote. “But, I’d also be appalled by her using ‘Mom.’”

“You are under reacting and you have a husband problem,” another said succinctly.

People were not happy with the husband’s complacency.

“He should be all over his mother referring to herself as ‘mommy’ to the grandchild,” one person wrote. “Her doing it at all is a red flag and not normal. Him not wanting to deal with it is super cringe.”

Another commenter imagined what would happen if the scenario had been different.

“‘If it really bothers you that much?’ So he’d be fine with a male relative of yours referring to himself as ‘Daddy’ when interacting with your baby? Oh he wouldn’t? Then he can get his shit together and tell her to knock it off,” they wrote.

“Your husband needs to back you up on this and not make it your problem to solve,” another said.

And no one was buying her excuses.

“It’s f**king weird. My youngest one calls my dad, ‘Dad,’ because she hears me say it, and my dad corrects her every single time. Not overreacting.”

“Coming from a different perspective – my boyfriend is Indian and speaks Gujarati. He has both a Mummy/Mom (his mother) and a Mommy (his great aunt). But if you don’t have cultural hurdles to navigate, yeah, this is fucked up.”

“My daughters have cats and despite the fact that I do all feeding and litter cleaning, I’m Grammy to them!”

“My mom has had 7 children, and she also fosters. Not ONCE has she EVER called any of her grandkids ‘her kids’ or referred to herself as ‘Mommy.’ My eldest is only 2 years younger than my youngest sibling, so if anything, you could say she’s got FAR more of an excuse to slip up than someone with a middle-aged ‘baby.’”

Ideas on how to handle the situation ranged from diplomatic…

“You are Mommy. Ask your MIL what she wants your baby to call her. Is she ok with grandma or nana? What would she like? Then start using it and insist she does too.”

“Start the conversation gently. Maybe with, ‘I couldn’t help but overhear you calling yourself ‘Mommy’ in front of the baby.’ Explain that’s confusing, then set the boundary. But make her repeat what you said. Something like, ‘I need you to tell me you understand that you are never to tell the baby you’re her mommy.’”

“I’m not in the ‘husband is the problem here’ brigade. I see how ‘if it really bothers you that much’ comes off as if it doesn’t bother him, but I think most men don’t even hear half the stuff women say. Take his suggestion and the next time she does it, give him a signal to address it.”

To assertive…

“You need to set boundaries with this woman. Make it crystal clear she is NEVER to tell your child—or future children—that she is mom. You are mom. Period.”

“Do not allow her to be alone with your child until she can respect boundaries, and if that means she’s never alone with your child, so be it, that’s her choice.”

“You need to stomp on this immediately. You’ll be gaslit and told you’re making a big deal out of nothing, a mistake. Your husband will whine that he just wants to keep the peace. It’s tough. She was asked to stop, and she hasn’t, so now there are consequences.”

Or even aggressive.

“‘If you call yourself Mommy to my daughter ever again, she will know you as the grandmother she and I never see. Your call.’”

“Next time she does it, remind her she is grandma (or nanny or whatever). If she says, ‘Whoops I just made a mistake,’ say, ‘You make that mistake a lot. Are you okay? Should you maybe see a doctor about your forgetfulness?’ Chances are she’ll get huffy about it. Which is fine. I’d do it every time – make a comment about Alzheimer’s, etc. Repeat to your child ‘oh nanny gets so confused, we have to help her remember.’”

“I’d not-so-diplomatically ask her if she forgot she did not in fact get impregnated by her son and give birth to that baby.”

And the verdict is… YIKES!

We don’t know grandma’s intentions, but virtually no one was willing to let this BS slide.

Having grandparents around can be a huge help, but no convenience is worth risking the security of your relationship with your child. Heavy is the head who wears the crown of motherhood, but the role is sacred and everyone better keep their hands TF off that crown.



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