When Rina’s mother invites her in-laws over for her birthday dinner, she is anything but pleased. She is well aware that her mother-in-law doesn’t like her. Still, her mother insists. But on the night of the dinner—a horrible present and a screaming match are followed by a birthday cake being thrown.

The air in our living room was thick with the scent of my mom’s favorite flowers and the savory aroma of a well-planned birthday dinner.

A birthday party set up | Source: Unsplash

A birthday party set up | Source: Unsplash

It was Mom’s special day, and whatever she wanted, was exactly what she got.

“Tulips for the table, Rina,” she said, smiling at me from behind the shopping cart the day before when we went shopping for her dinner.

“Always tulips,” I grumbled at her, although I smiled.

A bouquet of tulips | Source: Unsplash

A bouquet of tulips | Source: Unsplash

My mother was everything to me, and so, her birthday was going to be exactly what she wanted it to be.

We went around the store, adding things to our cart as Mom ticked them off her list.

“Champagne!” she said loudly as we stood in line to pay.

“Coming right up,” I said, running down the aisle to pick up a few bottles.

Champagne bottles | Source: Unsplash

Champagne bottles | Source: Unsplash

“And what about the rest of the drinks?” she asked when I got back to the cart.

“Timothy said he’ll sort it out,” I said, referring to my husband who was in charge of the dessert and the drinks.

The only thing that I wasn’t a fan of for the evening was that my mother had invited my in-laws, despite my specific request.

A woman blocking her face | Source: Unsplash

A woman blocking her face | Source: Unsplash

“It’s nothing fancy, Rina,” she said. “We’re just having a birthday dinner at home. It’s normal except for the cake.”

“But you know how they are,” I whined while sipping my tea.

“They’ll be fine; they cannot say anything to you in my home,” she said.

A smiling older woman | Source: Unsplash

A smiling older woman | Source: Unsplash

Despite what my mom thought, Timothy’s parents had made no secret of their disdain for me since day one. There was nothing that they liked about me, except for the fact that Timothy went home to a person and not an empty house.

“It’s going to be fine,” my mother said. “And anyway, there’s still a week before the dinner. They may not even come.”

A smiling older woman | Source: Unsplash

A smiling older woman | Source: Unsplash

Of course, they would.

Timothy and I hosted the dinner because it would allow my mother to actually relax.

“If we have it at your place, Mom,” I told her, “you will fuss over everything. This way, you can just sit back and let Tim and I sort everything out.”

After a while, she gave in.

On the day of the dinner, Timothy and I were getting ready in our bedroom together. He stood in front of the closet, trying to decide whether to wear a tie or not.

Clothing on a shelf in a cupboard | Source: Unsplash

Clothing on a shelf in a cupboard | Source: Unsplash

“Do you think your parents will try anything with me?” I asked, looking for a pair of earrings to match my outfit.

“Like?” he asked, buttoning his shirt.

“You know how they are. Lots of personal digs. Your mother is probably waiting to insult me,” I said, chuckling.

A woman showing off her earrings | Source: Unsplash

A woman showing off her earrings | Source: Unsplash

Although I tried to laugh it off with my husband—there were many things that I couldn’t stand. I hated the way that Timothy’s parents spoke to me, especially his mother. She always made me seem like someone I wasn’t.

She judged me constantly—from the food I cooked, the way I dressed, to even the music I listened to.

An unhappy old woman sitting down | Source: Pexels

An unhappy old woman sitting down | Source: Pexels

I could barely survive the odd Sunday family dinner—which my mother-in-law insisted on having twice a month. It was awkward and forced, and I had to bite my tongue from going crazy.

As the guests began to arrive, Timothy began to play bartender—happily making up his own concoctions as he went along.

A man pouring drinks | Source: Unsplash

A man pouring drinks | Source: Unsplash

I set the table and everyone came over hungrily.

After dinner, the moment to open the gifts arrived, and my mother—ever the people pleaser, chose my mother-in-law’s gift to open first.

A fancy table setting | Source: Unsplash

A fancy table setting | Source: Unsplash

Sandra, my mother-in-law, with a thin smile, uttered softly but audibly.

“It would be better if you opened it alone,” Sandra said.

Mom laughed it off, but I felt uncomfortable.

Wrapped birthday presents | Source: Unsplash

Wrapped birthday presents | Source: Unsplash

I knew that Sandra would take any chance she got to embarrass me, even if it meant dragging my mother into the mix, too. This is the type of woman she was. She didn’t care about anyone but herself.

“This is going to be good then,” my mother said.

She peeled back the layers of wrapping paper. The room fell silent as the paper hit the floor, and Mom opened the box.

My husband gasped as the contents of the gift were revealed—a shockingly revealing latex outfit.

A woman in a latex outfit | Source: Pexels

A woman in a latex outfit | Source: Pexels

The laughter died in my mother’s throat, her face drained of color.

My heart ached and my eyes watered when I saw my mother’s pained expression.

I couldn’t contain myself. It was one thing for Sandra to bully me, her daughter-in-law, but I wouldn’t allow her to start attacking my mother.

“What is this? What sick joke is this, Sandra?” I asked. “My mother would never wear this.”

An angry woman standing up | Source: Pexels

An angry woman standing up | Source: Pexels

Timothy reached out to hold my hand and pull me back from the angry spiral that I was falling into.

“Why not, Rina?” Sandra asked, blinking slowly, her voice dripping with disdain. “Why shouldn’t she? After all, her daughter wears what she wants and does as she pleases.”

The room gasped in unison. The insult hung heavy in the air, palpable and venomous.

An angry older woman | Source: Pexels

An angry older woman | Source: Pexels

I felt the heat rise in my cheeks as I began to quarrel with her, my words fueled by years of pent-up frustration.

Sandra was a fair contender to fight with. She met my anger with caustic sarcasm, lobbing insults not just at me, but at my mother too.

“Maybe if your mother raised you properly,” she said, picking up her glass of wine from the table. “Then you wouldn’t be such a mess in my son’s life. What do you even bring to the party? All I’ve seen you do is wear skimpy clothes and invite people over to the house.”

A glass of wine on a table | Source: Pexels

A glass of wine on a table | Source: Pexels

I was speechless. For once, I didn’t have anything to say. I sat on my chair and held my head in my hands, unable to bear the weight of her words.

Then, out of nowhere—my husband intervened, trying to defend us, only to be silenced by his mother.

“Shut up, Timothy,” she said bluntly. “You’re too foolish. You chose this girl.”

But amidst the chaos, my mother stood up, embodying grace under fire.

She picked up the latex outfit, folded it with deliberate care, and placed it back in the box.

A woman tying the ribbon on a gift box | Source: Pexels

A woman tying the ribbon on a gift box | Source: Pexels

She turned to my mother-in-law, her voice calm but firm.

“Thank you for your gift, Sandra,” she said. “I’ll be sure to use it at some point.”

Then, in a move that none of us could have anticipated, she took the birthday cake—the beautiful three-tiered vanilla sponge cake that she had been looking forward to all week—and threw it right into my mother-in-law’s stunned face.

A cake topped with fruit | Source: Pexels

A cake topped with fruit | Source: Pexels

The room fell shockingly silent, all eyes on the spectacle before them.

My mother-in-law, covered in frosting and berries, stood frozen, a picture of indignant outrage.

“What?” my mother asked, as Sandra wiped the frosting off her face.

“Can’t speak anymore?”

Sandra seethed—we could all feel it in the room.

“How dare you?” she spat.

An elderly woman looking down | Source: Pexels

An elderly woman looking down | Source: Pexels

“No,” Timothy chimed in. “How dare you?

Sandra turned to look at her son.

“What?” she hissed at him.

“You walk into my home and speak to my wife like she’s a stranger you’ve just met? And then you do the same thing to her mother? What is wrong with you?”

Without waiting for her to reply, my husband pointed to the door.

“I think that it’s time for you to leave,” he declared.

An angry man | Source: Unsplash

An angry man | Source: Unsplash

The command was not shouted but delivered with such authority that my mother-in-law, still wiping cake from her eyes, had no choice but to comply.

My husband was mortified. He apologized profusely, both to my mother and to me, assuring us that nothing like this would ever happen again.

Soon after, the guests left, leaving Timothy and I to clean up the mess.

A person using a mop | Source: Pexels

A person using a mop | Source: Pexels

He took a mop and began to clean up the remnants of frosting that had gotten smeared onto the tiles.

As we cleaned up the mess, both physical and emotional, he promised to address the issue with his mother privately once again.

Later, my mother and I sat on the couch, sipping some tea to calm ourselves down after the events of the day. She put her hand on mine.

A person pouring water into a cup | Source: Pexels

A person pouring water into a cup | Source: Pexels

“Never let anyone dim your light,” she said, her eyes reflecting not just the flicker of the decorative candles in the room but also a fierce protectiveness.

“Especially not in your own home,” she added.

Now, Timothy is fine when I decline the family dinner invites and ensures that I am taken care of before his mother.

I’m still not feeling great about the way dinner ended, and I’m going to start therapy to help myself recover.

A psychologist taking notes during a session | Source: Pexels

A psychologist taking notes during a session | Source: Pexels

What would you have done?

If you enjoyed this story, here’s another one for you |

My MIL Gave Homemade Dolls to My Daughter – I Forbade Her from Coming near Us after I Found Out the Truth about Them

When Katie discovers that her mother-in-law has been making strange dolls for her daughter, she confronts the old woman, only to discover that she has been holding onto grief for her entire life. But what does that mean for the mysterious dolls? And the little girl who plays with them?

My grandmother died when I was very young, but I always associated love and care with her. So, I always knew that when I had children, I wanted them to know the love of a grandmother. When my daughter, Lila, was born, that was exactly what I wanted.

A grandmother and granddaughter | Source: Pexels

A grandmother and granddaughter | Source: Pexels

My mother lives a few hours away from us, so she and Lila have more of a virtual relationship.

But the silver lining is my mother-in-law, Susan. She only lives a few streets over, and she loves spending time with Lila.

Since Lila was born, Susan has played the doting grandmother that I wanted for my child. She came over and played with Lila, making her snacks and teaching her little things in the kitchen.

An elderly woman with her granddaughter | Source: Pexels

An elderly woman with her granddaughter | Source: Pexels

Recently, my mother-in-law and Lila have taken to creative hobbies—often painting away or making beaded bracelets.

“Gran makes such great things, Mom!” Lila told me one afternoon as I was making her a sandwich.

“Gran is really good with her hands,” I said. “She can do all sorts of things!”

A peanut butter and jam sandwich | Source: Pexels

A peanut butter and jam sandwich | Source: Pexels

Now, Susan has been obsessed with wanting to make handmade dolls for Lila.

“I just think that there’s something so special about homemade toys,” she told me when we went grocery shopping together. “I have lots of fabric ready.”

Colored fabric | Source: Pexels

Colored fabric | Source: Pexels

A few weeks ago, when we were having a family dinner, Susan gifted Lila a gift box.

“I’ve made you something, darling,” she said.

Lila opened the box with wide eyes, and there it was—the first of the handmade dolls.

“Wow!” Lila exclaimed, pushing her fork away.

A person holding a gift box | Source: Pexels

A person holding a gift box | Source: Pexels

“Okay, put your toy away for now,” I said, bringing out a cake for dessert. “You can play with her later.”

“No,” my mother-in-law said. “Lila, let her sit next to you.”

Lila beamed and she tried to get the doll to rest on her leg while she sat at the table.

A cake covered with fruit | Source: Pexels

A cake covered with fruit | Source: Pexels

Even that night, when Lila brushed her teeth, she couldn’t stop talking about the gift from her grandmother.

But then, things began to get stranger. One weird doll away from a weird dollhouse.

A little girl brushing her teeth | Source: Pexels

A little girl brushing her teeth | Source: Pexels

The other day, when Susan dropped Lila off at home, my daughter ran into the dining room where I was working on my laptop.

“Mom!” she exclaimed, her eyes alight with the wonder of a new treasure.

“What happened?” I asked her, delighted to see the joy in my child.

“Gran made these for me!” she said.

An excited little girl | Source: Pexels

An excited little girl | Source: Pexels

Lila placed three beautifully crafted dolls on the table next to me. I had to admit, they were stunning.

“This is lovely!” I exclaimed. “Gran really is good, huh?”

“Gran said that she’ll also make me a dress for my birthday!” Lila said, practically bouncing.

My mother-in-law was great with a sewing machine, and the more she practiced, the better she got. She had made a few outfits for Lila as she grew.

A person using a sewing machine | Source: Pexels

A person using a sewing machine | Source: Pexels

“These dolls have names,” Lila said, following me into the kitchen so that I could begin dinner.

“Introduce them to me!” I said.

My daughter put the dolls on the counter and touched their heads as she called out their names.

“This is Judy, and Vivi, and Kara,” she said.

“Those are some pretty interesting names,” I said. “Where did you get them from?”

Dolls on a wall | Source: Pexels

Dolls on a wall | Source: Pexels

“I didn’t pick them,” she said innocently. “Gran did. I’m taking them to my room to have a tea party now.”

With that, Lila bounced away.

Curiosity was piqued and unease began to settle in. I knew those names. They were three sisters who were a part of the dark history of the family—my mother-in-law had three younger siblings who all passed away when they were toddlers.

“They were just really sickly children,” my husband, Justin, told me once.

“I can’t imagine that heartache,” I said.

A sad woman looking to the side | Source: Pexels

A sad woman looking to the side | Source: Pexels

But now, the fact that Susan had named the dolls after her sisters—something just didn’t feel right.

I began to chop up vegetables for dinner when my mind continued to race. I wiped my hands on my clothes, picked up my phone, and dialed Jenna, my sister-in-law.

“Hey, Jen,” I said the moment she answered. “Can you look at something for me in the family album? It’s about the dolls that Mom has been making for Lila.”

A person chopping garlic | Source: Pexels

A person chopping garlic | Source: Pexels

There was a pause, the silence settling in.

“Sure,” Jenna said after a moment. “What’s up?”

I had to choose my words carefully—I didn’t want to offend anyone.

“It’s probably nothing,” I said, picking up the knife again. “But can you send me the photo of Mom’s sisters? The three kids? Lila said something weird today, and I just need to check something.”

“Sure thing, Katie,” she said and hung up.

A person holding a phone | Source: Pexels

A person holding a phone | Source: Pexels

Minutes later, Jenna’s message came through with the photo attached. My heart sank as I studied it—three young girls, frozen in time, wearing the same outfits and hairstyles as Lila’s dolls.

It was too precise, too deliberate to be a coincidence.

When Justin got home from work that night, I had to tell him about my discovery.

“Katie,” he said. “I think you’re overthinking the entire situation. Mom probably just wanted to introduce her sisters to Lila in a way. Like guardian angels or something.”

A man sitting on a couch | Source: Pexels

A man sitting on a couch | Source: Pexels

Want to know what happens next? Read the full story here.

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