There is no one size fits all when it comes to mothers in law. The butt of comedians’ jokes since time began, the mere mention of them can cause a “you know yourself” eyeroll by understanding company. For many sons in law, the mother in law can be viewed rather indifferently. They’re their partner’s mother, a bit annoying perhaps, the devil incarnate at worst, but not really worthy of a conversation with their mates. Us women however, can have a very different take on things and entire friend meet ups can revolve around their antics!
As I was dropping my children to school today I met another mum to whom I mentioned my mother in law had come to visit. With a sympathetic look she asked me “oh, how’s that going?” In fairness, I’d probably react similarly to someone who mentioned that their mother in law had come to visit, uncertain whether to empathise or celebrate! I’m one of the lucky ones. My mother in law has almost forgiven me for stealing her firstborn and is a wonderful support to me and a doting grandmother to my children. As a very precise and organised woman I’m sure she is baffled by the chaotic scenes she encounters when she visits but she mucks in and generally supports me as I do things my way. Some of my friends are as lucky as me while others have, shall we say, more “challenging” relationships!
From differing opinions on children’s discipline, family size, insistence that the grandchildren bear not even a passing resemblance to their mother (well except maybe for their feet and even at that only maybe) to out and out mud slinging, it seems everyone has a tale to tell about their partner’s mother. For some people it’s a bit more than a passing annoyance and they may never be bosom buddies but for others, mother in law difficulties can be enough to put a real strain on the family. I have laughed at some of the stories my friends have told when we have got together and cringed at some of the others. Not everyone seems as bothered as I am when I hear of some of the more difficult situations but I think that might be because of my tendency to personalise things. While one particular friend shrugs off her relationship with her mother in law as a lost cause, I imagine a “what if” situation for myself in the future.
Having, as I mentioned before “a fair few boys” I could potentially be the paternal mother in law on several occasions. I’m not sure I could be as forgiving as my mother in law of anyone who steals my second, third or even seventh born. The phrase “a daughter is a daughter for all of your life, a son is a son until he takes a wife” rings in my ears and scares the bejaysus out of me to be honest. Although in all likelihood my opportunity to be a mother in law is many years away I have decided on a new motto for the future “keep your enemies close, keep your daughters in law closer”! Forward planning and all that
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