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'AITA for being snarky when my MIL walked through the house unannounced?' 'She'd have to text us.'

'AITA for being snarky when my MIL walked through the house unannounced?' 'She'd have to text us.'


"AITA for being snarky when my MIL walked through the house unannounced?"

My living situation needs explaining. My house is built on a hillside and street level is the top floor. Bedrooms are one floor down. Below that is a "basement" unit where my retired MIL lives. She has her own bathroom, kitchen, laundry, etc. To leave the house, she can use an outside staircase which goes all the way up to street level.

Or she can come through our space where there's a door between her unit and the upper levels. We bought the house together for financial reasons. The agreement was that my MIL would use the outside stairs when the weather was nice, and use the inside stairs if it was raining or snowing.

But she'd have to text us and give us reasonable warning to avoid awkward encounters (e.g. give me enough time to make sure I'm not going to the bathroom with the door open).

Fast wife and I now have 2 kids (ages 3 & 5). My MIL needed back surgery around 4 years ago. Since that surgery, she's exclusively used the inside stairs to leave and I've bit my tongue and not brought up our original agreement.

The main issue is that she's very inconsistent in texting us. When she does text, it's typically with 2-4 minutes of warning. I live in constant anxiety listening for that door to open. When I hear it, the first thing I do is check my phone. I'd say there's a text message around half the time.

Yesterday, we took our kids out on a day trip and noticed that my MIL parked her car in a way that took me a few attempts to get our van clear. It was also very close to the mailbox. My wife texts her mom and asks her to move her car (literally just 3-4 feet would avoid an angry note from our grouchy mail carrier).

We get home 7 hours later and the car hasn't moved so my wife calls out my MIL for that. 2 more hours pass and I hear the door open. I check my phone and there's a "coming up" text from my MIL at 4:59PM. It's 5:01PM when I hear the door.

Afterward, my wife made it a point to remind me that her mom texted. Likely because I was visibly annoyed. I respond in an admittedly sarcastic tone "yeah, 2 minutes ahead." So my wife gets angry at me and lectures me about how her mom never does anything right, how it's uncomfortable for her to be in between us in an awkward situation, etc.

My wife has no issue with her mom coming up without warning. My kids have grown up with their grandmother coming up without warning. I obviously didn't grow up with her. Did I overreact to how this went down?

Here's what top commenters had to say about this one:

Suitable_cataclysm said:

ESH. Your family came up with rules, and MIL isn't abiding by them. You let it simmer for literal years and then get snippy randomly so from their perspective you are volatile and snap randomly so they feel on edge. You aren't doing them any favors keeping your thoughts quiet until they boil over at random times.

You need to sit down with wife and MIL and have a civil conversation about boundaries and personal space. Explain your need at least ten minutes notice EVERY TIME she comes upstairs, because your anxiety about potentially being walked in on is legitimate and needs to be addressed; it's exhausting constantly being vigilant and on edge about an intrusion.

Or consider a doorbell for that inside door that she can announce herself and wait several minutes. If she cannot respect your boundaries, put a lock on the door that you'll open after you see her text. Wife can choose to leave it unlocked if you aren't home, but you lock it when you're home so you have control over your personal space.

No-Actuary-9388 said:

ESH. I get that you let using the indoor stairs slide after she had surgery. But YOU need to sit down with your WIFE and have a conversation about re-establishing boundaries and talking with your MIL.

You two need to come up with a game plan TOGETHER. And you need to determine if there’s any particular reason why MIL still feels the need to use the indoor stairs. So you suck for not communicating like an adult.

But you also suck because…. Bro…. Just shut the door when you use the bathroom and don’t walk around naked?? I get that it’s your home and that you should be able to do what you want, but until things get resolved you’re just making it worse. You are MAKING this more stressful than it needs to be.

You KNOW she doesn’t give good warning. Yet instead of being like “yeah, I’m gunna shut the bathroom door until we get this resolved” you’re trying to make some insane texting rule that you want to try to enact with some “certain number of minutes” rule, which STILL won’t ever guarantee that you’ll actually SEE the text.

Now you’re using a text (seen or not) as ammunition and a way to point fingers. The text thing ain’t working. Stop having hissy fits over it. Have an actual conversation with your wife about her mother using the outside stairs again.

Your wife sucks for not dealing with this. You’re her partner. You’re clearly frustrated. And instead of trying to find a solution she’s just making it worse by not being a mediator. And your MIL sucks for the obvious reasons of not abiding by the original rules or at least communicating with you as to why she’s still having to come through the house.

downtocowtown said:

YTA. Your MIL also owns this house but you're trying to act like her landlord. You agreed to this situation, you let this text to use the stairs thing fester, and it sounds like you're just looking for things to pick apart.

slap-a-frap said:

YTA - she did text before she came in. You just didn't check your phone: 2 more hours pass and I hear the door open. I check my phone and there's a "coming up" text from my MIL at 4:59PM. It's 5:01PM when I hear the door.

Are you saying that you want your MIL to plan out her entire day and text you ahead of time when she will be leaving? Seriously?!?! It sounds like you are just hard up on not liking the living arrangements that you all agreed to. She's texting you according to plan.

Ok_Researcher9553 said:

YTA. She is old, hard for her to move. Have you thought of swapping areas of the house? She can't possibly continue to go up and down the stairs to appease you.

1568314 said:

ESH Y'all need a new plan. Everyone but you seems to feel that the readjustment made to the original plan are fine and make mom more comfortable. It's no one's fault but yours that you haven't brought to up that this doesn't work for you and want to go back to the original agreement.

It was honestly super dumb to buy a house with MIL and expect to banish her to the back stairs. She lives in your house. You're going to see her.

LopsidedLetterhead95 said:

You consistently need more than a 2-minute warning just so your elderly MIL, who had back surgery, can take the easier route through the house to leave? How much weird sh$t are you doing in your house that you need time to cover up? YTA.

While the opinions were divided for this one, most people weren't on OP's side. What's your advice for this MIL dilemma?

Sources: Reddit
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