Mothers-in-law get a bad rap. They have such an ugly stereotype – there are whole movies based on this stereotype. Jane Fonda in Monster-in-Law represented this negative image very well. And I hear people complaining about their in-laws in general more around the holidays.
October 28th is National Mother-in-Law Day, and I feel so fortunate to have hit the mother-in-law jackpot. My husband’s mother is one of the most amazing women I have ever met. She is kind and caring and would do anything for her family. When our son was about a week old, she and my father-in-law drove an hour and a half at 8:30pm to bring us an infant suppository that our small town didn’t have, and she taught me how to give it to my newborn son when I was terrified. She was there for me when I went through late onset postpartum anxiety when my son was six months old. She went on walks with me, listened to me cry and helped me through that season of my life. I don’t even know if she knows how much that meant to me. My MIL is one of the most supportive and encouraging people involved in my life.
My children are only 2 and 5 but I’ve already thought about the kind of mother-in-law I want to be to their spouses.
Supportive and encouraging. I want to be unconditionally supportive of my children and their spouses. I want to respect them and support their goals and their decisions as parents. I hope to remember that I got to raise my kids and that this is their turn. I’m in the process of finishing my degree and my MIL has supported and encouraged me every step of the way when things get tough or when she knows I need to hear that I can do it. The selfless things that she does for our family are inspiring.
I will love them because they love my children. And I will love their children because I plan to be an amazing, hands-on grandma. Sometimes I get SO excited when I think about being a grandma. Grandmas get to have all the fun! I have the dreams of a big, close family when my children grow up and have their own families. I want them to want to come home to be with us on the holidays.
A resource. I want my son or daughter-in-law to know me. And to know their spouses, my children. I will tell them all the funny things that they did when they were little. I will tell them that they were non-sleepers and that they got that from their dad. Then I will apologize to them for that since they’ll have to pay that price if the non-sleeper trait is genetic just as my MIL did to me. I’m already working on my children’s “baby” (aka all stages through life) books imaging going through them with my future son/daughter-in-law just as I do with my husband’s mother. If she ever thought it wouldn’t be worth it or her son wouldn’t be interested in his baby book, it is definitely not because I enjoy it so much. Every year on his birthday we get to go through all the work she put into creating those scrapbooks. I appreciate her for that.
I want to have a close relationship with my children as well as their spouses. In my experience, families tend to work better as a whole if this is the case. I want them to call me any time they need anything. A babysitter, advice, grace, someone to listen to them with no judgment. The best advice I’ve ever gotten from my MIL is that everything is temporary, everything is a season. That one piece of advice has gotten me through many tough times as a parent, a wife and as a person. Nothing lasts forever and things are always changing. That is such great advice to remember in the tough stages of motherhood.
My mother-in-law is a great mother. She (and my father-in-law) taught my husband, her baby, how to love and how to be respectful. And as a result of that, my husband is an amazing father to our children. If I can have half of the qualities that my MIL has, then I’ll be okay. Not all mothers-in-law are great, but at the very least they deserve some respect because after all, if it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t have our spouses and for that I am thankful. So thank you, Ma, for being the amazing mother, grandma and mother-in-law that you are.
This article was originally written in 2020.
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