Friday, March 12, 2010


Ok. Let me just tell my husband at the outset that this topic was NOT my idea. It was the idea of "Anonymous." And because I asked for blog ideas-- nay, *begged* for ideas-- it would be downright RUDE for me not to oblige kind Anonymous's request.

The mother-in-law.

Let's do this thing.

Some people have great relationships with their mothers-in-law (MILs). I actually can't think of any of them offhand, but I know some people do.

I even bet that some people are as close-- closer!-- with their MILs than they are with their real live mothers. (Again, can't think of any right now, but I'm sure those people do exist.)

My relationship with my MIL isn't that kind.

Now before my husband breaks out in a cold sweat, or someone from his hometown thinks about forwarding this post to the MIL in question in a hateful attempt to further sabotage our relationship (I KNOW WHO YOU ARE, PERSON WHO IS CONSIDERING FORWARDING THIS TO MY MIL, AND I *WILL* ARRANGE FOR TERRIBLE THINGS TO HAPPEN TO YOU IF YOU GO THROUGH WITH IT), let me just say that my MIL is a very, very, VERY nice person. As in, so nice that even if given all the time in the world, you couldn't possibly think of anything unkind to say about her.

She just happens to be the EXACT POLAR OPPOSITE of me.

And this makes for some utterly excruciating moments. You have no idea.

See, whereas my MIL is soft spoken, polite, and understated, I tend to be loud, crass, and out of control. As a completely random example, a few years back I went through a short phase where I was affectionately calling everyone a pussy. Based on the look of abject horror on my MIL's face, I think it's safe to assume that she never went through this phase. (Ok so MAYBE she was looking horrified because I ONCE called my HUSBAND a pussy, IN my MIL's presence, long story but TRUST me he was being a pussy, ha!) I like to be the center of attention; my MIL tends to let others speak. I enjoy picking fights with people, just for the mental exercise of a debate; she apparently keeps her opinions to herself. So again, it's not that there's anything UNLIKABLE about my MIL... she's just not at ALL the type of person that *I* usually hang out with.

And that's the funny thing about MILs (and family-in-law in general). One day this person is just someone you make noncommittal small talk with when she comes to visit her son at grad school, how was the drive up, blah, blah, blah; and a few official signatures later, you're supposed to be calling her "MOM." As in, the same moniker that you use to address the person who CARRIED YOU IN HER BELLY FOR NINE MONTHS before GIVING YOU LIFE. Like, "Hi Mom! Great to see you! So tell me, do you have any siblings?" Am I the only one who finds something, I don't know, unnatural about that?

Fortunately, it appears that this disconnect has not gone unnoticed by my MIL. Whereas it would only add to the discomfort if I was over here, wondering why I am from Mars and she is from Venus, and she was over there needlepointing a BFF throw pillow for me; my MIL seems well aware of our differences. I know this based on her selection of greeting cards, which she very thoughtfully sends on a regular basis: somehow, WITHOUT EXCEPTION, she manages to find the one card that EXPRESSLY addresses me, right there in capital letters on the front of the card, as her DAUGHTER-IN-LAW. "Happy Birthday, Daughter-IN-LAW!" "Happy Flag Day, Daughter-IN-LAW!" "Happy Anniversary, Son and DAUGHTER-IN-LAW!" I mean, this otherwise positively unassuming lady never passes up the opportunity to remind me that she is extending a Hallmark sentiment to me ONLY BECAUSE SHE IS LEGALLY OBLIGATED TO. Never fails to make me smile. (In disbelief.)

But ya know what? I am not, not, not, NOT complaining. No, REALLY. Because I know that there are many, MANY less desirable versions of MIL out there: the Meddling MIL, the Oedipus-Complex MIL, the Are-You-EVER-Going-to-Make-Me-a-Grandmother??? MIL, etc. So PLEASE don't take away my Water-and-Oil MIL. She's well-intentioned, she doesn't interfere, and good golly, she's one heck of a nice lady.

Meanwhile I, as evidenced by this post, clearly am not. Wah-wahhhhhh.

p.s. You *must* read the comments to this post. There's someone on here who is WAY more funny than I am. Get ready to smile.


  1. Then there is my MIL, who once told me that I was never to call her "Mom," because she is most definitely NOT my mother. Um, yeah. Talk about polar opposites -- I am not a tall, German, devout Catholic who makes my own clothes, no. So sue me.

    Last time we spoke to her was June 2007. [shrug]

  2. My MIL is also a VERY nice lady however she is both (but not limited to) the Meddling MIL and the Are-You-EVER-Going-to-Make-Me-a-Grandmother MIL! She is overbearing and I am close to telling her that I am unable to have children just to stop her asking me when! She treats my husband as if he is still in diapers which drives me INSANE!!! When she asked me 6 years ago (2 weeks into my relationship with my now husband) why I didn't/wouldn't call her mom, I told her I wouldn't because I have a mother and I felt like it would be diminishing her role if I was to call someone else 'mum/mom' she was VERY offended. I'm still amused. Is that wrong? lol!

  3. Kelly said.....

    My MIL wore a white gown with a small train to my wedding. She marched down the aisle wearing black sunglasses. She lives to stab me in the back and calls my three young childern "her babies". Ummmm, no, the kids are "MY" babies. Every holiday us ruined and I'm contemplating packing up my family and moving because of her. Even my husband can't take her anymore.

  4. Your relationship with your MIL is just like mine with my mother. We have NOTHING in common. So, I'm one of those people who has a better relationship with her MIL than her mother, but that's probably because my mother is extremely annoying and my MIL clearly gave my husband her personality genes. My MIL does things like, "Why don't you let me babysit while you two go away for a few days. I would love to spend the time with [baby] and I'm sure you guys could use some alone time." I am blessed. :)

  5. I guess I am lucky. My MIL does not speak English and I don't speak Spanish so all communication is made through my husband.

  6. You Bet Your Sweet Ass I'm Anonymous!March 14, 2010 at 8:51 PM

    This is a delicate issue, because (fortunately) MOST of the time my husband fully acknowledges the depth of crazy that is his mother and we have a great laugh together (because, you know, what else is there to do within the bounds of our pesky legal system?). Other times, however, he can only see her as MOMMY and I have to tread carefully not to trigger a defensive backlash by pointing out her, ahem, *unique* traits.

    In general, there is a HUGE culture clash between our two families and I, like a lot of you, have nothing in common with the woman. For instance, I am very liberal and she chastised my husband for wearing blue (blue!) on the 4th of July, because it “wasn’t patriotic”. I’m a ponytail kind of girl and she wears fake eyelashes (EVERY day), acrylic nails, and even (brace yourself) acrylic toenails. She believes anything anyone tells her (from her ultra-conservative and discriminatory pastor to any email forward she receives), openly pouts when things don’t go her way, and likes to throw in little back-handed zingers in her syrupy southern voice every chance she gets (“things sure are different now from when I was raising kids. In my time, we made it a priority to have a clean house and have a hot meal waiting for our husbands when they got home. [her sister’s DIL] is such a perfect little housekeeper”. My response: “that is interesting! I make it a priority to bond with my child”.). (Note: lest you think it’s always the sugary, backhanded approach with my MIL, consider that she’s also been in a slapping fight with a woman at her office and I’ve heard her tell a server to “go f*#k yourself”. Delightful.) This makes any time with her both maddening and exhausting. Just for funsies, though, here are a few highlights from the archives of crazy:
    - While we were dating, she once introduced me as "the girl [her precious son] is living in sin with".
    - She demanded that we get pregnant ASAP (even though we weren't even engaged at the time), because she was "the only one of [her] friends without a grandchild" and added "you could at least love me enough to give me that. I don't care if you end up divorced. I want a grandbaby". (Note to “Kelly”: we also have the issue of her calling MY child “her baby” and I’ve heard her several times call herself “mama” to him. More recently, it’s been “grandmommy”. Not. Okay.)
    - She has told my husband that "[anonymous me] sure has put on a lot of weight".
    - She once lamented to me that my husband no longer tells her everything, such as details about his sex life, since he met me. (Um, what?!)
    - When we got engaged, she demanded that her husband take out a loan to buy HER a new diamond ring set in white gold and paraded it around. (This is only one of many stories under the heading of "Really, It's All About Me", which seems to be her personal mantra.)
    - She once pulled a gun on me when we let ourselves into their house. WITH A KEY. AFTER BEING INVITED OVER. May I also add that she's told me numerous times that she "shoots to kill".
    - She is notorious for conveniently forgetting to bring her assigned items to dinners/gatherings, but somehow does manage to bring things you DIDN’T ask her to bring that are inevitably redundant (like a decorated birthday cake and ice cream, when invited to our house for a birthday dinner and told not to bring anything) and then feigns surprise that we already have those items. Naturally, we have to serve her version and give her lots of praise for said unsolicited item that usurped the hostess’s item.

    This is just a sampling and only of the variety that I can laugh about. There are plenty more that are decidedly not funny and are best saved for my inevitable sessions with a therapist.
    Without a doubt, my MIL is the biggest source of stress in my marriage. But what can you do? She, by some bizarre mutation, birthed the most wonderful man I've ever met...a guy I'd still choose to marry again today, even if he did come with a really lousy bonus package.