SO and I are not legally married, but I'll call his mom my mother-in-law. She has unhealthy boundaries regarding my SD, who's 7. And it really gets on my nerves sometimes. See, she favors her over her half-siblings and cousins. A lot of it has to do with SD's mother dying when SD was 1. Since then, SD has been given a lot of attention over the years because of that tragedy. To the extent that, to an "outsider", it could be seen as more of a detriment to SD than a benefit. SO and SD moved into his parent's house after SD's mom, SO's wife, passed away. So his mom helped take care of her. Lots of grandparents, for various reasons, do this. I do not see it as being a "mother" but rather a grandparent stepping in and helping raise their grandchild. But SO's mom sees herself as a "mother-figure" who stepped into that role. I came into the picture about 3 months in, and pretty quickly I was over every night after work and on weekends, and a big part of SD's life. They lived with his parents for about 2 1/2 years before moving out to an apartment we got together. That was 4 years ago. In that time, SO's mom has trained SD to call her EVERY night to say goodnight, which maybe wouldn't be such a big deal if it wasn't representative of her unhealthy ideas about her relationship to SD and her need to satisfy her own desires to fulfill that fantasy. She has even said things like "I always wanted a little girl" (she had SO and his younger brother and then had to have a hysterectomy). She often would call to check to see what we were dressing SD in for a holiday or family party because SD is so pretty and should be in dresses and have her hair done up. According to SD's ex, she does similar things with their daughter, SD's older half-sister, too, wanting her hair a certain way and stuff, when she wanted to do a funky color or style. But with SD, her level of involvement has always been over-the-top. I do not want to deny anyone a special relationship with their grandchild, or a child a special relationship with a grandparent. That's not what this is about. It's about the relationship being based upon the adults unhealthy ideas about the relationship, and them manipulating a child. This past Mother's Day SD had called her grandmother the night before (per usual *insert eye roll*) and grandmother asked if she was coming over the next day to wish her a happy Mother's Day. SO replied "But you're not my mother" giggling like "silly" (we heard that part from the living room). Found out the next day from SD that her grandmother had said "But I was like your mother when you lived with me, before you and daddy met Liz". I was really pissed off. I think I may have said "But now you have me" or something. She does tell people I'm her mom and step-mom. Anyway, so I'm still sort of simmering over that one, when today SO tells me that yesterday in the car on the way to school SD said "Mammy (- I'll get to that in a minute -) told me she'd be my mommy for as long as I want". WTF?! So SO told her "You only have two moms - your "mommy" who died and your mom Liz". I guess he was pretty upset too. I asked him tonight where he thought the statement came from, and he said probably from the day before when SD spent time at his parent's. That SD probably said something about her "mommy". Thing is, I don't think he's said anything to his mom yet, and maybe won't. They have a lot going on with his son's high school graduation (tomorrow) and drama concerning that (his mom favors him a lot too because he is disabled, and got putt off by the fact that he only got 4 tickets to graduation and chose his mom's parents to go in addition to his mom - SO's ex - and SO but now they got extra tickets so she can go) so maybe he didn't want to add to it. I probably shouldn't start anything by saying something - but then again, maybe I need to. SD's innocent and too young to understand her grandmother's manipulation, and since her mommy did die, and everyone's always making a big deal of it and has for all these years, she probably feels special and loved when her grandmother, Mammy, says these things to her, but I fear it is also confusing or just plain unhealthy for her. Even if I weren't here, even if there were no step-mom, it would not be healthy. But I AM here, and have been for 6 years, living with SD as her step-mom for 4 years, and I get so fucking pissed when she pulls this shit, because it is so disrespectful of me, and frankly, it's disrespectful of SD and simply selfish of her.
Oh, and there are conflicting reports of why she calls SO' mom "Mammy". SO's mother says that it's a combination of "Mommy" and "Grammy" and I think she remembers it as SD trying to call her "Mommy" after her real mother died. Remember, she was only a year old, and her mother had been sick for 7 months of that. According to SO, and his ex, she simply had trouble saying "Grammy" and SO's mother latched onto the "Mammy" and the idea of it being close to "Mommy" and re-enforced the term, training her to keep saying it.
Sorry I rambled. It's very complicated and emotional, and I thank you for reading this far, and thank anyone in advance for any advice they can offer.