- Family and Parenting
You Can't Choose Your Mother or Mother-in-Law
I have tried, really tried, given all I have, and then a little more to liking my mother-in-law. Nothing seems to work.
I guess you can say it all started ten years ago when I met her. Maybe not that soon, but pretty soon afterwards. When I met my wife she had a four month old son and was living with her mother but more than happy to move out into an apartment she sincerely could not afford. Her mother had a perfectly lovely home with more than enough space for my wife and her son, so I wondered, "What in the hell is wrong with your mother?" Quickly, I started to notice other oddities and approached my wife about them. The skeletons in the closet were far more than I wanted to know, and I quickly gathered an opinion of her mother. I tried to push those things aside because I believed that I was wrong to judge her for mistakes in the past. But then she made the mistake of saying something that I will never forget.
When my wife told her son to do something, he didn't comply, so I, supporting my wife, repeated the command. His grandmother, not so discreetly uttered, "See that's what the problem is, too many mamas and not enough daddies." My wife didn't hear this unnecessary comment, but I definitely did. Since we were in my mother-in-law's home, I went to my wife and told her we needed to leave immediately. When we got in the car, I said all the things her mother deserved to hear. The fragile balance of toleration had been torn.
Through the years, she has constantly questioned my position in her daughter's and grandson's lives. According to my mother-in-law, I wanted to be a secondary teacher so that must have meant I don't like small children, code for her grandson in her mind. It took me six years to finish undergrad while I worked full time, overnight at a hotel, I must have been a loser. Her daughter makes more money than me; I must be a gold digger. Well, on that she is right, but quite honestly her daughter makes double the money I do. Why would things be 50/50? Just recently, according to her, we were unfit parents for not allowing my stepson to join us as we moved from Louisiana to South Carolina. Instead, we sent him to be with positive male figures like his godfather and grandfather while we got settled. (We have got to be the worst parents ever.) But what really bothers me is the look in my wife's eyes.
For two years, I wouldn't even enter my mother-in-laws home, but it was killing my wife. So I re-examined and realized that we were the two women who meant the most to my wife, and we were essentially pulling her in opposing directions with our feud. I didn't know who was going to lose her, but I knew that I wanted her in my life. So I decided to quietly end the cold war. I decided to be more inviting, giving, loving. But changing my approach did not result in reciprocity. After all these years, whenever we go home to visit her mother never offers her home to us. She won't even visit my wife unless my wife pays for the trip. And she is constantly suggesting that my wife is not a good mother. In spite of this, I would hate to see her lose her mother because her mother won't stop this non-sense. As a woman who has lived without a mother for practically all my life, it hurts me to think that my wife may feel to save herself she has to let go of her mother.
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