One of the great things about moving is getting to make new friends. One of my newest friends and I have starting walking together a couple of times a week, with some other new friends and although we have only been doing it for a couple of weeks, it is quickly becoming a highlight of my life here in Indiana.
During our walk last night, we were taking a break to check on my son at the park and we started talking about mothers and mother-in-laws and how precious, and sometimes contentious, our relationships are with them. She and I are blessed by our moms and moms-in-law, but that isn’t what you hear when you talk to a lot of people, women especially, about their feelings toward the mother figures in their lives. We hear the “woe is me” tales from our friends and acquaintances, see it on TV and in movies, and have read about it in literature throughout the ages. Let’s face it – human nature is to talk about the things that are going to garner us the most attention, sympathy, or empathy. So we typically talk about the bad in our relationships – all of them – not just our relationships with our mom and our spouse’s mom.
Ann Landers said
“80 per cent of the letters I receive pertaining to in-law problems are complaints against the mother-in-law. And 80 per cent of the mother-in-law beefs are against the husband’s mother – not the wife’s”.
I am going to be a mother-in-law someday. It struck me today, what kind of mother-in-law am I going to be? I have one daughter and three sons. My daughter and I currently have the same strained relationship I had with my own mom before I became a mom. I am sure you know what I am talking about. That “she can’t possibly know what it’s like to be me” disconnectedness that happens during the teen years and doesn’t go away until you are in your late 20s and realize that your mom knew exactly what she was talking about all those years. She is 24 and a mother now, and even though she isn’t married, the father of her children gets to bear the wrath of me every once in a while. So when it comes to my first-born and my only daughter, I am not a great mother-in-law and I am still working on being a great mom.
But boys are different. Boys ask different questions, they worry about things differently. They scratch and belch and pass gas at totally inappropriate times (at all ages) and think nothing of it. Boys love their m0mmas so much that when they are little, most of them ask their mothers to marry them. Am I raising my boys to be good husbands and am I raising myself to be the kind of mother-in-law that can step away and let another woman take a role of greater importance in my sons’ lives than mine?
That is what we as parents are called to do. Step back when our kids get married and take a back seat to their spouse. Daddies you are in the same boat as us moms.
For this reason a man [child] will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife– Mark 10:7
My mother has been gone for almost 24 years and I still miss her every day, but I was given an incredible example of what a mother-in-law should be like and I thank God for her continually!
Remember what Erma Bombeck said.
“When your mother asks, “Do you want a piece of advice?” it is a mere formality. It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no. You’re going to get it anyway.”
My challenge to you is regardless of how great or how terrible your relationship is with your mother or mother-in-law, look for the blessing and pass on the blessings to your kids (and kids-in-law!)