mom-in-law vs. monster-in-law

Written by sherry. Posted in blog

Published on March 28, 2012 with No Comments

(my sweet nanabah, me me me and lovely lindsey)

One of the joys of having all guys is that you get to welcome daughters-in-law into the family. My Adam and his sweet Nanabah have been married for 12 years (gasp!) and over those years I have enjoyed my evolving relationship with Nanabah. I cannot imagine anyone better as a wife to Adam and a mom to my three Lovely Ladies. Now I am looking forward to experiencing my time with Lindsey, Nathan’s fiance. It is very exciting.

What I have always tried to do is be as good of a mother-in-law as possible. I have come to the conclusion there are three categories for this position: 1. mother-in-law: The mother who cares for her daugher-in-law but doesn’t put a lot of effort into being any closer. 2. mom-in-law: The mother who becomes so enamored with her daughter-in-law, she has to remind herself there’s an ‘in-law’ attached to ‘daughter.’ Then there is 3. monster-in-law: The mother who cannot keep herself from intruding and voicing her ideals and opinions to her son and/or daughter-in-law and is always frustrated because they don’t listen, don’t seem to care, and don’t appreciate her lauded advice. Then that frustration takes the three of them to a place none of us want to visit. And at times that is A Place of No Return (shudder).

I work diligently towards being a mom-in-law and, hopefully, am succeeding. I must be. Nanabah still talks to me and even giggles at some of my silliness. I take that as it being ‘ok.’ I have to keep reminding myself that evolving as a mom-in-law never ends. It’s a 24/7 job without any vacation days.

Knowing this, I listen and read whatever I can to help me stay on this course. Just recently I saw a wonderful video with Ann Lamott, an author of fiction and memoirs. Her most recent book is ‘A Journal of My Son’s First Son’, which writes of her first year as a grandmother to her grandson. I have this on order but am looking forward to reading it as she seems to have the same take on being a mom-in-law as I do and it’s with a lot of self-deprecation and humor. When asked by friends what is a good way to go forward with a grown son or daughter, I have two words for them: Shut Up. Now Ms. Lamott has supplied me with my new favorite piece of advice. It’s:  W.A.I.T.  which translates into ‘Why Am I Talking?’

Hysterical. And so, so wise.

If we were to use this in most all of our relationships, not just those with our grown children and their partners, wouldn’t it go much better? I know it would with me. I am always the first one with an opinion which is stated forcefully and with great zealousness, and without any regard to how strident I’m being. I need to calm myself down and be satisfied with having a strong opinion and then remember: W.A.I.T.



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