This guest post is bought to you by Devon Mama.
They’re the butt of many a joke and have a (mostly) un-earned nickname as the ‘monster in law’ but are they really that bad? Yes, some of them are nightmares and some of them are complete dreams but what about when they’re yours?
When I first met my (now) husband, I didn’t think about his mother. I met and fell in love with a man who made me laugh, who made me feel safe and who enjoyed the same things that I did. We worked together and, since it’s my family’s business, he’d already met my parents; a fact that came with it’s own set of issues and it’s own story! It took moving in together, three months after our first date, to finally force the issue. I’d had enough of his evasiveness, it was time to meet the mother in law.
I should point out my mother in law isn’t a nightmare. She’s sporty, hardworking and has raised five children pretty much single-handedly. My husband adores her and I can’t fault her relationship with my son but when it comes to the two of us, it could do with a bit of work. Ultimately, she isn’t my mum. She’s got different values, different priorities and different mannerisms. What I think of as rudeness may just be her way. My fears that she doesn’t like me could just be shyness on her behalf of not knowing what to say. She may not offer to help us for fear of stepping on toes and whilst her ‘disinterest’ drives me crazy, it takes everything I have not to say too much to my husband.
I hate that he takes her side. That I cannot say a word against her without receiving a strong rebuttal. There’s always justification even when she’s genuinely being unreasonable. She’s currently stuck in her home with a broken arm because she can’t drive and she refuses to put her daughter on her car insurance. So instead, my husband has to play taxi. Her stubbornness drives me to the edge of distraction and yet he sees it as completely normal. And so the bickering begins.
But ultimately, would I rather a man who feels dispassionately about his mum? Do I want our son to grow up seeing a man who doesn’t value his mother’s input? Would I rather he just didn’t care? The answer is (almost definitely) no. Yes, I find it difficult when I’m in the position of wife but I also have to remind myself that I’m not JUST a wife anymore. That one day, hopefully, I too will be a mother in law myself, trying to balance the feelings of no longer being the most important guide in my sons life with still being involved, still feeling useful, still feeling loved.
It’s times like that that I remind myself of how difficult that role must be. That, if my son is lucky enough to marry and start a family himself, the chances are that I will be the bone of contention. Me. The one who’s been there herself and knows how that feels. Suddenly it makes it easier to hold back my frustration. She might be different to my mum but she’s still been there in the middle of the night for my husband, wiped his bottom, wiped his tears, held him tight. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that the monster in law is a human, just like me. A mum who once struggled with a mother in law herself.
Devon Mama is run by me; Hayley – a 30 year old mama, wife and recovering sleep addict. Living with my husband, baby and the world’s bounciest dog in rural Devon, I can usually be found attempting to cook, Googling everything and embracing the strange new world that is parenting. Add in a house with ‘a lot of potential’ and a return to my ‘real’ job as a Company Director and it’s organized chaos at the best of times.
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