Mother in laws have a special place in American popular culture. The mother in law is a figure that can inspire fear, trepidation, or downright contempt just about anywhere. The mother of your spouse has a complicated relationship in your life: they've dedicated their lives to protecting their precious children, and now, suddenly, you're the most important person in their child's life. It's a precarious position. For one person, however, a long-standing feud between wife and mother in law became more than just a petty inconvenience. This story was posted on Reddit by a woman who we'll call Stephanie.
Stephanie and her mother in law, Jill, got along OK in the beginning. There were a couple of red flags, though. Jill had really strong ideas about what a person could and couldn't do with their bodies, and Stephanie strongly disagreed. Jill thought that tattoos and piercings of any kind were an abomination that directly contradicted the purity of the human body. Stephanie had a few of each, and really liked them, though she thought she was generally pretty reasonable on that front, with only a few mostly hidden tattoos and four piercings, two of which were ear piercings. Jill mostly just retaliated with passive aggression and snide remarks about the tattoos and piercings, which was fine with Stephanie, though not ideal. When Stephanie and her husband began searching for a place to live, however, things got a little more complicated.
Jill told Stephanie that she and her husband would be moving into a new house fairly soon, so Stephanie and her husband Matt would be able to rent their old house for a few months until they were able to purchase it. Stephanie and Matt figured that this would be a pretty good deal since they could help out Jill and have a cheap place to live for a while. They might even get the house for cheaper than it was worth, which would be a big win!
Of course, the only problem is that when you rent a home from someone you still have to deal with a landlord. And while landlords and parents in law can both be a lot to handle on their own, each of them is a walk in the park compared to a combination of the two.
Jill decided that if Stephanie was to live in her old house, she was going to have to make some changes.
Jill told Stephanie that included in the lease would be a clause that would prohibit Stephanie from wearing any piercings while living in the house.
"Fine," Stephanie thought. "It's only for a few months, who cares. I can live without it."
Then a couple of months went by. Stephanie's piercings were closing up, and she decided that it wouldn't be a big deal if she at least started wearing earrings again. What could be the harm?
Well, when Jill saw that Stephanie had begun wearing her piercings again, she freaked out. Now, Matt had a soft spot for his momma, and had a bit of a bad habit of siding with her instead of his wife. So when Jill reacted to this little tiff by definitely closing the door on Stephanie and Matt's purchasing the house, allowing them only to rent for an indefinite amount of time instead, Matt didn't even tell Stephanie. But Matt was doing a lot more problematic things than that.
In the meantime, Jill had been acting abusively towards Stephanie and Matt's young son, John. It seemed to be just little things for a while. Jill would ask if she could take John out to do things while Stephanie and Matt were out at work, and Stephanie would decline, saying that the baby needed to stay at home.
Little did she know that Matt was continuing to allow his mother to do these things with Stephanie's child without her permission. That was bad enough, but Jill was also treating John horribly, calling him names whenever he would misbehave in the smallest ways. Stephanie certainly didn't like it, but she knew that confronting the issue would start a huge fight with her husband, so she let it slide for a while. Until one day, Jill did something that Stephanie could not abide.
One day while Stephanie was at work and Jill was watching John, she hit him. She hit him so hard that it left a hand-print shaped bruise that lasted until Stephanie got home and welted. When Stephanie saw this, she knew that she had to do something, so she cut Jill out of John's life indefinitely. She forbade Jill from seeing John, and would no longer let Jill watch John while she and Matt were at work. After a few months, though, Matt began to take John to see Jill without telling Stephanie, going so far as to make up excuses for why they weren't at the house, leaving notes saying things like, "out to get ice cream!" or "gone to the park!" Stephanie finally found out when John mentioned to her that he was going to see "Nana," except Stephanie's parents didn't live in town.
In the months since Stephanie had last seen Jill, she had become a tattoo artist and had amassed quite a collection of body art. Importantly, she had also given Matt his first tattoo, initially keeping it pretty covert, but he had become pretty tatted up as well by this point. When Jill saw Stephanie, she freaked. She claimed that Stephanie was violating the lease again, and demanded that she leave the house without John or Matt. Matt attempted to rectify the situation by offering to rent Stephanie an apartment with the money his mother had been giving him. Stephanie hadn't even known that Matt's mother was supplementing his income, but now he was trying to use it justify kicking her out of the house?
Stephanie was rightly irate. She refused to leave the house without John, and eventually Jill relented, allowing her to live in the house with Matt. Though everything was tense for the next few months, things generally went OK... right up until they didn't.
Matt and Stephanie sat with Jill and her husband Dave around a fire while John ran around the yard playing at Jill's house. Jill had purchased John a huge jungle-gym style playset, and he absolutely loved it. So although Stephanie really didn't have any desire to socialize with Jill and she thought that Jill might be a bad influence on John, she thought that it would be best to just bite the bullet and allow him to play on the set. It's only a few hours visit, anyway, right?
The visit was going well. Jill had ordered takeout for the group, John was having fun, and the conversation was flowing without too many problems. Dave pulled out his phone and showed Stephanie a picture of a beautiful tattoo, asking her whether she thought she could recreate it. She said she wasn't sure, as the tattoo had a lot of complicated shading and was done by a master artist, but she would certainly be able to after she practiced on it for a while.
Jill, faced with the prospect of her daughter in law giving her husband a tattoo, must have been piqued. She glanced over and made a remark about how Stephanie was a bad influence. Stephanie wasn't too bothered; she took it in good fun. She quipped back, "Yeah, I guess it kind of comes with the territory. I mean, I do stab people for a living." Jill's response to the joke wasn't exactly what Stephanie was expecting, though.
Almost instantaneously, Jill flipped the metal hot dog pick she had been fiddling with up and into Stephanie's upper arm, piercing the skin. The barbecue-style gathering immediately erupted into chaos, with everyone present beginning to scream and figure out what the heck was going on. Jill was restrained and ushered inside by Dave, who was apologizing profusely and begging Stephanie and Matt to refrain from calling the police. John was packed into the car, and Stephanie and John left while Matt stayed to confront his mother.
The gash on Stephanie's arm wasn't too bad, but the pick had been extremely dirty, so she was worried about infection. When Matt returned home, she was still deciding whether to seek medical attention and call the police, but Matt was on a different page. Stephanie's sister came to take her away from the drama, and when Matt saw Stephanie packing, he lost it. After hours of emotional battling about how to deal with the situation, Matt asked Stephanie whether he would call the cops.
"Yes," she said.
Matt said that he understood, but he needed her to talk to his mother one more time before calling. Perhaps Jill would apologize and recognize what was wrong with her actions. Maybe things didn't have to end right there. But of course, the sitdown didn't go as planned either.
Stephanie's meeting with Jill started out on poor footing. Jill was visibly angry, dismissive, and generally unrepentant. Her excuse for stabbing Stephanie was that she was riffing on Stephanie's joke about "stabbing people for a living." She said she had planned to tap her lightly and then say something like, "Well, now you know how it feels," but she hadn't known her own strength. Stephanie didn't buy it.
After some discussion, Jill started to wax poetic a little bit about how Stephanie was "not the woman she imagined" for Matt, and generally just being very dismissive of Stephanie, attacking her personally. To Stephanie's surprise, Matt responded with passionate anger, telling Jill not to call him anymore, and that he and Stephanie would be moving out and finding a new place. For that night, the family went to Stephanie's sister's house for the night. Stephanie and her sister left for the urgent care, where Stephanie received stitches for the wound and a few booster shots to stave off infection. Now she would have to decide whether to file a police report, but she had some doubts about where Matt's loyalties would lie in the coming days.
It turned out that Stephanie was right to doubt Matt. He called her first thing the next morning saying that he didn't want to move, and trying to apologize on behalf of his mother, saying that her poor treatment of John was just a misunderstanding, and that her stabbing Stephanie was just an innocent mistake. She just didn't know her own strength! Matt begged Stephanie to stay, but it was too late. Stephanie told him that she would be leaving and taking John with her, for now, she would be staying at her aunt's house until she could find a place of her own. Matt asked if Jill would be able to see John, and naturally, Stephanie emphatically replied that no, she would not be able to see him. She was a terrible influence on him and had just stabbed her! Things got heated when Matt resorted to screaming and cursing that Jill was John's grandmother after all, so he must absolutely be permitted to see her.
Of course, at this point it was pretty evident that the marriage was over, so Stephanie decided to file for divorce. She also filed for emergency custody. She was awarded it, so it seemed that things were starting to settle down. But then Matt lost control.
One night, after Stephanie had stopped responding to Jill and Matt, and told them to go through their lawyers if they wanted to communicate, Matt decided to take things into his own hands by driving down to Stephanie's aunt's house where she was staying and forcibly take John away from her, contrary to the emergency custody order that Stephanie had been given in court. He started banging on the front door, screaming to see John. Stephanie's aunt desperately tried to keep the door from opening while Stephanie barricaded John in his room and tried to stay back and calm Matt down in the meantime. Matt broke through Stephanie's aunt, pushing her to the floor, and started wailing on John's door, demanding that he come out "or else." Stephanie was shocked. What could "or else" mean? Physical punishment?
She started physically trying to refrain Matt, but he was stronger than her, and he started to become violent. Eventually, he started chasing her around the house, threatening to hurt her, until the police came, and he was arrested. He was quickly bailed out by his mother, and a restraining order was put in place against Jill and him. A few weeks went by. Stephanie and Matt split up. Matt agreed to all of Stephanie's demands in the court room, and revealed another bombshell.
Matt had been cheating on Stephanie for a while with a coworker, and even went so far as to request Stephanie's blessing to be with the woman he had been cheating on her with! She said yes, because she was ready to be done with it. Fortunately, Matt no longer wanted to see John, and allowed Stephanie to have full custody, so she wasn't too concerned about what he did with his own life anymore.
On the other hand, Jill was not letting go of the situation as easily. After weeks of strange occurrences, Stephanie finally confirmed that Jill had been following her, tracking her every move. After Jill attempted to attack Stephanie in a parking garage, she was arrested, and in her car, the police found detailed timetables of the schedules of Stephanie and John. Turns out Jill had been planning to kidnap John and take him for herself. With the evidence found, however, her plans were squandered by the heavy hammer of law enforcement.
Stephanie and John were safe now. John began to be homeschooled by his aunt, and Stephanie began to see a new man. After a long and arduous few months, kicked off by what could have been a simple joke gone wrong, Stephanie's life was finally returning to a new normal.