Hosting is demanding enough on its own, but when a person is also a caregiver, hosting for visiting family and friends takes on a new meaning.
It’s worse, though, when the visitors don’t appreciate all the effort the host has to put in, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
With her husband on bedrest, Redditor Question-56735 was taking care of him full-time while also accommodating her in-laws, who insisted on visiting her home on a daily basis.
But when her mother-in-law acted particularly entitled during her latest visit, the Original Poster (OP) finally had to put her foot down after everything she’d been required to do.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for pointing at the kitchen when my MIL (Mother-in-Law) asked, ‘Where is our dinner?’?”
The OP was having a hard time hosting her husband’s family while also caring for him.
“My husband had a serious injury weeks ago. My husband suffers from 2 major injuries and he’s got a long recovery ahead.”
“He’s bedridden and his family comes to see him every day.”
“My MIL keeps drilling me on what I need to do to make my husband comfortable but does nothing to help. She just visits every day and sits around, expecting to be fed and entertained.”
“Sometimes my BIL (Brother-in-Law), his wife, and kids join them and turn the house into a mess.”
The OP’s in-laws came over again the day before she posted.
“Yesterday my MIL, her husband, and her son came again. They checked on my husband and then went to sit in the living room for hours. I served them coffee and croissants.”
“Hours later, my husband threw up again (for the second time), and I had to take care of changing his clothes and cleaning the sheets to avoid infections.”
“I was exhausted, I came downstairs, and my MIL looked at me and asked, ‘Hey, where’s our dinner?'”
“I was shocked that after seeing me go up and down the stairs many times, cleaning and bringing new sheets, and running the washing machine that she’d expect me to prepare dinner.”
“I’d already eaten a sandwich and yogurt at 6 (I have problems with my stomach and stress, and pregnancy made it worse, as I’m 4 months in).”
The OP didn’t feel prepared to take on cooking dinner at that moment.
“In response, I pointed at the kitchen and told her to help herself out.”
“She gave me a look and then said she didn’t expect me to ask her to cook dinner at my house.”
“I said I didn’t expect HER to ask ME to cook dinner while I’m taking care of her son.”
“She started arguing about the way I spoke about my husband, saying that as his partner, this is the least I could do, and she called me unhinged for throwing in her face that I’m helping my husband.”
The argument escalated.
“She got her husband involved, asking what his thoughts were on me making guests go hungry and forcing them to cook themselves when this is supposed to be my duty as a host/homeowner.”
“My FIL said they could order food and call it a day and yelled at my younger BIL to stop playing on his phone and order food.”
“My MIL got mad and lashed out, criticizing me, and saying I wasn’t up to the challenge of taking care of my home and my guests like an adult.”
“I lost it on her and told them to leave since she kept yelling and disrupting my husband’s sleep.”
“She left after saying she felt sorry for her son and grandbaby with an ‘aggressive wife and a mother like me.'”
The OP’s brother-in-law talked to her about what happened.
“She told everyone, and my older BIL said he understood I had a lot on my plate but lectured me about how I should have respect for his mom, who was a guest.”
“He repeatedly said that if it had been his wife, she wouldn’t have acted this way, and that I shouldn’t use taking care of my husband against them.”
“He asked me to apologize but I didn’t.”
“Right now, there’s so much pressure to take care of him while keeping up with house chores and work.”
“My mom and sister help but not my MIL.”
“Also, she claimed that when I told them to leave, I was refusing to let her see her sick son, but I’d never do that. I’ve lost a loved one before getting to see them, so I understand her fear, but my BIL also thought that was my goal.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some suggested establishing strict visiting hours.
“Don’t let them in anymore. Or give them strict visiting hours and kick them out when they’re done.”
“They are real AHs for sitting on their arses all day at your house expecting to be waited on. Their dinner wasn’t in the kitchen at your house, it was in the kitchen at their house!”
“It’s not your responsibility to feed unwanted and unhelpful guests.” – Taleya
“For guests, visiting hours are 1-2 PM, and there will be no snacks.”
“For family members who want to help, bring groceries, and fix a meal, come by anytime.”
“This is a succinct and completely reasonable proposal, and it should be OP’s first, last, and final offer.”
“The problem is that these people suck and will throw a fit about it, either when it’s presented or when they show up, creating more stress for her.”
“Ultimately, if they can’t be trusted to accept terms that are in the obvious medical best interest of OP’s whole family, they deserve no quarter.” – imtchogirl
“I’d set visiting hours and preface those terms with a short summary of what is currently going on that should cover the following points:”
“OP being pregnant.”
“OP having to do all household chores on her own.”
“OP having to take care of her husband, who, it seems, is bedridden and prone to vomiting, and probably other things, too.”
“OP having no help with the actual care for her husband. Is he even able to go to the toilet? Can he change his position in bed?”
“(If not, OP will have to do it for him, which can take a lot of strength, depending on how bad her husband is off and how much he weighs. Remember, OP is pregnant. She shouldn’t do any heavy lifting, and helping her husband into a different position can be the equivalent of heavy lifting.)”
“OP’s husband getting ‘visited’ daily by his mom, and often by his brother and brother’s family, who stay for hours on end, and expect to be entertained and fed during that time. Time which OP needs to take care of chores, and her husband, and, yes, herself.”
“As a consequence, I’ll introduce the following visiting hours:”
“If you’re actually here to help, be it with cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, or similar: Come whenever. Stay however long you want.”
“If you’re here to be entertained: Your visiting hours are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 2-3 PM. You won’t be entertained. You won’t be fed. Non-alcoholic cool drinks are in the fridge. You can serve yourself.”
“If you’re here to berate me (for not entertaining you, for not feeding you elaborate meals, etc): Get out. Police will be called if you don’t.” – melympia
“If OP is smart, she’ll post something reasonable and polite along the lines of:”
“‘As you may know, we’re struggling right now with David’s recent injuries. Taking care of David and myself and the house is full-time work at the moment, so I’m very sorry, but I need to ask that people be mindful of our limited resources.'”
“‘If you’re coming over to help (bringing food, helping cook, or cleaning), you’re welcome anytime! Please stay as long as you like. But if you’re just coming to visit with David, please limit visits to 1-2 hours. I hope everyone can understand that I’m not able to feed and entertain guests at this time beyond that.'”
“‘Thank you for your patience with us right now. And thank you to everyone who has volunteered to bring a meal or do a load of laundry for us!'”
“A post like this would serve 2 purposes: First, it would probably result in more help from her social support network (assuming she has anything in the way of real friends on FB). I know if I posted something like that, anyway, I’d have folks volunteering to bring over meals, etc., right away.”
“And second, it would make it clear that an overwhelming number of people agree with that as a reasonable boundary (if not overly generous of the OP).” – ChimericalTrainer
“I’ve tried dealing with narcissistic family members like this. They do not understand boundaries like this, and the more complicated you make them, the harder enforcing is going to be.”
“It needs to be one clear line in the sand that you stick to; a mantra you can repeat until they understand that you mean business. Like, ‘Help or get out.'”
“Repeat it, and then kick them out when they don’t help.” – arachnophilia
Others were furious about how entitled the in-laws were acting.
“I’m really not sure how it counts as ‘visiting’ when the patient you’re visiting is on a different floor of the house from where you’re hanging out all afternoon.”
“Sounds like they really just want a free hangout lounge with catering, not to visit the invalid.” – mxzf
“The OP is four months pregnant. Four months. While out of the miscarriage stage (20+ weeks), she’s now in the preterm labor stage which can still result in death.”
“Between now and 36 weeks, and factoring in that she’s in a high-stress situation and unable to hold foods down, she’s in a high-risk category for having issues with her pregnancy.”
“The MIL is beyond selfish.” – zadidoll
“It sounds like they’re the type to throw a fit no matter what you do. Set boundaries, and stick to them.”
“If they cared about their son, they would’ve pitched in to help, instead of using his illness as a free ride to hang out at your place and expect you to be their cook and maid.”
“NTA.” – threadsoffate2021
“I’m having flashbacks of my husband telling me about the time my ex-BIL invited his entire family over for a big Sunday dinner and then expected my SIL to prepare it all by herself. My niece was a week old.”
“At one-week postpartum, standing up is difficult for long periods and your organs are still shifting back into place. NTA, OP.” – arahzel
“It seems like the ILs are taking the wrong point away from this and are acting like OP is complaining about having to take care of her husband instead of having a problem with their behaviors.”
“OP should make it clear that it is them coming over to visit (without actually helping like others who visit do) and expecting to be cared for as guests as opposed to visitors to a bedridden individual that is the problem.”
“As others have stated, if they are just coming to visit the son, then it needs to be for a short period of time and they won’t be waited on. If they are coming over to help care for the son, they can stay an extended time, but then they need to actually help and not make more work for OP.” – GlobalDragonfly1305
The subReddit was upset on the OP’s behalf for having to take care of her ailing husband while sick, but they were furious for her when they discovered her kindness was being taken advantage of by her in-laws.
While it would be an entirely different matter if they were visiting daily to help out around the house, it was clear they were looking for a place to go for a free meal and entertainment while under the guise of visiting their sick family member.