When I was young and often dreamy, I had this idea that a Mother-in-Law was this woman who would take you in as their own daughter and everyone would live happily ever after.
Then I grew up.
Having two older sisters and a Mother that had been remarried made me quickly realize that Mother-in-Law’s aren’t all puffy clouds and sunshine and sometimes they aren’t very nice at all. I wasn’t looking forward to it to tell you the truth, but I also was getting to the point of thinking I wasn’t going to get married and have to deal with that.
Then I did.
My Mother-in-Law didn’t know what to make of me in the beginning I suppose. I guess I don’t blame her as I kind of appeared out of thin air and wham, bam I was marrying her eldest son, but he was so happy I figured she had to love me. Who wouldn’t love a woman who made their son exuberantly happy? I had to come to terms with the fact that she liked me, but she wasn’t going to start giving me praise or anything. I was at least thankful that I didn’t have a horrible out-to-kill you Mother-in-Law like some people I knew.
I never thought of myself as becoming a Mother-in-Law. I shut that idea away and locked it up forever, maybe like mine did. I wasn’t going to look at that part of life that hadn’t arrived yet. Then the other day I was talking to my oldest sister who was doting on her daughter-in-law who she has taken in as a best friend, confidant, greatest thing since sliced bread and I started to wonder… what kind of Mother-in-Law would I be?
I can’t see myself fawning over my son’s one day wife since I could barely look at the last girlfriend. Not that she was a bad girlfriend (at the time), but it was just that she was a 14 year old girl and I knew 14 year old girls. I was one! (once… a long time ago) It annoyed me to death when she and my son thought I was some cab driver escorting my teen to her house and back. The fact that she made me wait with my upset toddler in the car for 45 min before she decided whether or not to let him finish coming to her house that day (we were already on the way) actually put me in a nervous breakdown. I don’t deal well with these things. Trying to imagine a bossy girl-woman deciding when my son is going to visit me makes me very… upset.
That’s when I realized my Mother-in-Law and I had something in common. Even if this eventual fiance-wife showed up as the loveliest person on earth, I probably still wouldn’t care for her too much. The idea of adoring someone who is coming to take my son away to build some future that has me in it on a scheduled basis does not suit me well, even though it is eventual. As my Mom said to me once, girls come home and boys follow their girlfriends home. Since I only have boys and no daughters that will come back home, I don’t like this one little bit.
I can finally see what my Mother-in-Law saw when I arrived with a little 10 year old boy from 2000+ miles away. It didn’t matter that her son was already in his thirties, he was still her oldest. As these years have went by and we’ve grown a deeper kindness towards one another, I like to imagine it is because she is seeing what is coming for me, speeding towards me faster than I realize and is feeling empathetic torwards her naive daughter-in-law that refuses to think it will happen to her.
Or it could be that she feels it is some sort of karmic retribution, but either way it is nice to know that I’m not alone in this club. While my sister is off being the perfect shining example of what a Mother-in-Law should be, I’m going to sit over here with my coffee and seem threatening until they leave.