Mother in law

Before I start, I would just like to say this is no criticism of my daughters in law, but a reflection on my behaviour with my own.  Of course I haven’t got a son-in-law yet, which must surely be the ultimate mother-in-law music hall joke!

It’s a fine line to tread, being a mother in law.  For one thing you become the butt of all those stereotypical jokes and you desperately don’t want to turn into that. But it’s not until you actually become one yourself that you know this.  I suddenly realised that all the times I’d moaned to my own mother-in-law about my husband, she must have really had to bite her tongue.  I was criticising her son, and in turn her. 

I have two daughters- in-law so far, and while they are far too well mannered to complain, obviously they have occasional niggles.  We joke about how their husbands have selective hearing, how they need to smarten up, drive too fast etc.  Then I think, hang on, this is my son you’re talking about, is it my fault?  Should I have done something more when they were younger? 

And then with a sinking feeling I remember all the whingeing I have done to my mother-in-law, telling her that her only son doesn’t help enough round the house, doesn’t take me out, never got up in the night with any of our four children, rarely made it to nativity plays, sport days or parents’ evenings.  I could cringe now thinking how she must have felt. 

This was her blue-eyed boy, the first born, the son she’d read stories to and bathed and played with and made her laugh.  The precious first grandson for her parents, the child they’d all been waiting for. And all I could do was moan that he never made the bed or wiped round the sink. 

Here was the boy that had passed his 11+, been the first in the family to go to university and held down a demanding job and I complained that he was never home.

Here was the man who supported me doing voluntary charity work while I sulked about not being able to afford to go out more. I’m sure my mother in law, like I am with my sons, is only too aware of their shortcomings and to have them pointed out is unnecessary.  After all it’s because of their mothers (and fathers) that they are who they are, and why we married them in the first place.  And they did choose beautiful, funny, clever and kind women as their wives!

9 Responses

  1. Aww…Sharon…this is really good. Although I have yet to find out what being a mother-in-law is like, it seems very realistic to me! Love the last line!

  2. I would like to say that this blog is no criticism of MY daughters in law, merely a reflection of my OWN behaviour with mine! 🙂 I was very young when I got married and didn’t really think about what I was saying to my mother in law. She may not even have noticed, but I just realised how it could have sounded to her.

  3. I’ve recently received greater insight on the whole MiL/DiL web and am benefiting from another point of view. My own relationship with my MiL is good, and gets better with time. It’s always an incredibly complex relationship, as you describe, and not always one that is approached with compassion.

    It sounds like you’ve got it right with your own children – I hope that I’m half as good when my time comes. Px

    • Thank you for that, you’re too kind. I still have the other two to go and I’m lucky in that I get on really well with my daughters in law and never doubted that they were right for my sons. I don’t know how I’d have managed if I hadn’t liked them or ‘approved’ of their choice. x

  4. It’s really interesting to hear the other side of the story! I know my mother struggles with her role in my SIL’s life. She doesn’t want to interfere, which can often come across as being disinterested. I shall be nicer to my MIL in future, it’s easy to not think of her as a real person, but as a caricature.

  5. I’m about to become a MiL & am having a few teething probs so this has been really useful!

    • Thanks so much for your comment, how do I set up an e-mail feed? I’m new to blogging and a bit slow!

  6. Yes – it’s quite an experience being a MIL. I’m blessed that I have two awesome sons-in-law. Love the post!

  7. I keep making my boys cook and clean cause I want my daughter in laws of the future to love me.

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