Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Perfect Mother in Law

I constantly hear the stories about nightmare MILs (mother-in-laws in internet language). Just a few examples I pulled from the archives of Mamapedia:

My mother-in-law is OBSESSED with weight. She comments CONSTANTLY on how "fat" my 1 year old daughter is (she weighs 20 pounds for Heaven's sake!!!

My mother in law has been telling me that when we move out on our own "someone" will call CPS on us because we are so filthy. She keeps saying that CPS is going to take our daughter away because I don't keep things clean enough.

I am so sick of my mother in law!! We see her and my father in law once a week and sometimes more. She is constantly undermining what I say.

My mother in law drives me crazy. When I was pregnant she would tell me things like "Don't cross your legs or the baby can't breathe."

My mother in law is over bearingly nosey. How do I deal with someone so difficult? I have a very bad relationship with her, and we don't even talk anymore.

That is just a small sampling of what's out there - women needing advice on how to handle the mothers of their husbands. And I constantly hear stories from my friends and co-workers who deal with problems on a daily basis. One friend of mine had her MIL move into her beach cottage (their vacation escape they have been working for years on fixing up) and won't leave and won't pay rent. She says they owe it to her for raising him. Now they are unable to even visit their own home because she has completely taken it over.

What causes these MILs to become so difficult? Is it jealousy over their son's new lives that doesn't include them anymore?

My MIL comes to visit us once a year in her RV. She and her husband bring their RV and stay at a local campground for 4 weeks every spring. They come with the intention of visiting their grand kids and also helping us out around the house and yard during the busiest time of year (spring). She cleans, cooks, sews, babysits, you name it. She will bend over backwards to help us.

And she is the kindest, gentlest person you will ever meet. She doesn't gossip or have unkind things to say about other family members, she doesn't get her feelings hurt if we need a day off without seeing her (usually because of other commitments). They have been coming for 14 years - same time, same routine. Sometimes I think she's too perfect. She cleans the areas of my house that I overlook (the top of the dryer, the little hard to reach places in my refrigerator, the corners around the sink). She buys me cleaning supplies and leaves old toothbrushes for me to use to get all the grime out. Her house and car are always immaculate. Her clothes always have a little personal flair that she has added with her embrodery machine. She always makes my husband's favorite birthday cake, just how he likes it (something I can't seem to get quite right). The precedent she sets is very hard to live up to.
There are things I have learned over the past 14 years about her. She doesn't do well with last minute changes or impulsive decisions (her son can be very impulsive though!). I now print out calendars with both my husband and my schedules and give them to her the day she gets to town so she will know when we are around and when we need her.
And I have learned that the earth revolves around her boys. She will drop all her personal commitments to come to the aid of either of her sons no matter what the instance or distance. She will bend over backwards to keep them happy and sometimes I wonder why she has this constant need to please? I also see it in her relationship with her husband (her second marriage). She leaves all decisions up to him. She has to check with him first and she seems to expect me to always have to check with her son (my husband) before I make any decisions.

And she relies on her husband for everything. See, I am pretty self-sufficient. They bought us a DVD player for a gift and instead of waiting for my hubby to install it, I did it myself. This shocked her to no end. . .

I got a new lawn mower and instead of waiting to be shown how to use it by my husband, I just read the book and mowed the lawn. Again she was shocked. In fact she still can't get over that I even mow the lawn. She leaves everything mechanical up to her husband and I often wonder if he's not around someday what she will do to survive.

My husband leaves a pile of clothes that need repair or a button on them in the MOM pile. Each year when she comes she gets the pile and fixes all his shirts. . .I even add to it on occasion. . .this is something she wishes I would learn to do. . .

Sewing. . .no. . .mowing. . .yes!

I said to my husband the other day when he showed me how she had fixed the embroidery on one of his shirts, "I sure hope your mom lives forever."

Because without her, I'm not sure what WE would do to survive!


  1. Hi! Found your through mamapedia, and have been going through your posts.

    You are really interesting, engaging, and pick topics that are relatable to me.

    Glad I found you. And I look forward to more reading!!

  2. See, I think you are just a nice daughter-in-law. LOTS of women would be bothered by everything she does out of love. I have learned to accept the little differences between me and my MIL. She is also WONDERFUL and would do anything for us (and has). Whenever I hear a woman complain about her MIL I remind her that she will be a MIL someday, too. (especially if she has sons) How we react to them is indicative of how our own future DILs and SILs will react to us. I think that you and I will be just fine in about 20 years...

  3. Thanks for the kind words Empress and Tracey. I enjoyed reading both your blogs as well. Check out the newest post today. Happy reading!