I Don’t Want to Be THAT Mother in Law!
Q: What do you do if you see your mother in law rolling around on the ground in pain?
A: Shoot her again.
Mother-in-law jokes. There’s hundreds of thousands of them because mothers-in-law are traditionally seen as annoying, overbearing, aggravating, interfering bitches. Why? Because no woman is good enough for our sons!
Kidding…. (sort of).
Having had a mother-in-law and now that I am one myself I realise it is one of the trickiest roles women face in their lives.
I wanted to be close to my mother-in-law while she was alive but it was a struggle. She was a strict Catholic who did not believe in divorce and I was wife number two. It took me years to convince her I wasn’t evil incarnate and upcoming visits to see her caused vague bouts of nausea, heart palpitations and anxiety. I get that she wanted the very best for her baby boy but did she have to view me through those narrowed, judging eyes making me feel stupid and inadequate? Everything I did and everything I said was examined under a microscope. How clean was my home, how well did I look after him, what sort of cook was I? Probably never as dust-free as hers, not good enough and when I did manage to rock up to family events with a knock-out potato salad she got mad when mine was eaten before hers. Damned if I did, damned if I didn’t.
And now that I’m a mother-in-law myself I find that it’s an equally tricky role to navigate. I am fiercely protective of my babies. They’re ALWAYS going to be my babies even if they’re now in the hands of another. I want what’s best for them and I want them to be above all else, happy. I want them waking up happy and I want them going to bed happy. Happy and healthy and loved.
And dammit I want to be a great mother-in-law. I really do. I don’t want my kid’s partners to feel the way I felt. Because whether they believe it or not, I’m not secretly glancing around their homes judging the cleanliness, or worrying that their meals aren’t perfect. And I sure as hell don’t want to be like Marie Barone barging in the front door without invitation so I try not to pop over unannounced either for the very fact I don’t want them feeling unprepared and uncomfortable. As far as I’m concerned, my kid’s partners have their own mothers and don’t need a second one. If they want advice I am more than happy to help but I know they probably have their own mums on speed dial as their first go-to. And I’d prefer to just be their friend thank you very much so no calling me Mum, call me Carolyn. And when Mother’s Day rolls around each year, I get it – you have to spend time with your mums (let alone when the day comes when you’re a mother and endure burnt toast in bed PLUS see your mums) before I get a look-in.
And if I do overstep the bounds I hope I’m wise enough to recognise it and gracious enough to apologise. But it’s an on-going learning curve and when grandbabies arrive I guess I will have to accept that their kids will be raised the way they see fit and not in accordance with what I think.
If my kids love you, then that’s good enough for me. But…….. just so you know………. if you hurt my babies, all bets are off and I will take you down. xxx
How’s your relationship with YOUR MIL?