In this month of May, Mary and Moms, it seems only natural to consider what it means to be a mother-in-law too! Mothers-in-law are fair game when it comes to jokes and dark humor. They seem to be an easy target for a quick and funny punchline. Even Pope Francis seems to have an issue with “mothers-in law!”
I have often wondered, why is that?
It seems most of the mother-in-law jokes and stereotypes are about older women who don’t want to let go of their children, don’t give them enough privacy, or who are so focused on how they want things done, everything their new in-law does is “wrong.”
And honestly…I get it.
It is hard to let your children go – even though you know that if they are independent you did a great job raising them! So yeah!!
And sometimes it can be hard to give them privacy. When my son and his wife moved away right after their wedding, it was all I could do to keep from texting them all the time or checking there Facebook pages to see what they were doing and if they were happy. (OK, I will admit to checking the Facebook – but I didn’t post anything on their walls or send messages!)
And it’s hard not to tell them how to do things – because honestly, why recreate the wheel? I’m older, have lived more, had more experiences and can see things with a perspective they don’t have yet!
But that wasn’t my experience as a young wife. I had a great mother-in-law! She was always kind and sweet, offered suggestions that were actually helpful, and loved her grandchildren. And I think my husband, Mr. Pete, would also say that my mom was a great mother-in-law to him. They sure seemed to kid each other a lot and at the end of her life he helped take great care of her.
As a newbie at this mother-in-law thing, I seem to be on the right track to a long, loving and strong relationship with my new daughter-in-law, and I’ve thought long and hard about how to keep that going.
- I include her! When I send a group family text, I make sure my dear DIL gets that text too. In fact, most of the time, she’s the one who responds first. I especially like to let her know about her younger sisters-in-law and her brother-in-law because she has known them since they were little and it thrills me to see her interest, love, and concern for them as a big sister.
- Treat her like a young woman, but not as a kid. I’ve known my DIL since she was 16, with braces in the marching band. But now she is a young wife, working a job and caring for a home and husband. She has a lot of responsibility and I respect that.
- Talk to her like a friend, not a child. This has been the most pleasant part of being a mother-in-law – having another woman friend to talk to! We’ve only had a few long phone conversations but they were very enjoyable and I felt like we were really friends – not just related by marriage, but bonded by friendship too.
As the years go by and we have more shared memories between us, I hope that our relationship only gets stronger, and that if Sarah ever does hear a mother-in-law joke somewhere, she won’t understand the punch line!
Copyright 2016 Elena LaVictoire