That’s right, I said, “Mother-in-Law Day!” I am well aware that this is the month to celebrate our sainted mothers, but what about our noble mothers-in-law? They certainly deserve a special day, too! I’m surprised that Hallmark has not seized on this marketing goldmine.
There are many occasions when one might need a very special mother-in-law card beyond “You are like a mother to me.” For example, who ran out to get the food when the new baby arrived, and the “mother” is by your side? Who kept your dog while you and the kids visited your mom? Who cooked a large dinner for all the extended family to come for the birthday party? Who helped clean up the mess while your mom rocked the little one to sleep?
Let’s get beyond the plethora of mother-in-law jokes, and look at the real place that a mother-in-law holds in today’s family. She is not ever as close as the “mother,” and physical proximity has nothing to do with it. She is the second one to hear the news. And most of the time she is the back-up in any situation dealing with grandchildren. News flash: you cannot fight Mother Nature, and the bond between mother and child (no matter the age!) is the strongest one this side of Heaven.
I speak from the experience of comforting many friends who feel “less than.” Oh, the heartbreaking stories they tell! “I can’t believe what she did…” “Can you believe that woman would….” “I bit my tongue when she said….” You get the picture.
Take a breath and realize the wonderful things about being a mother-in-law. You don’t have as much responsibility in the success or failure of the “mothering.” You are one step removed so if your daughter-in-law decides to take some of your mothering advice, be assured it is because she values it and not because she is expected to do it.
If you do not see your precious grandchildren as much as the other grandmother, it makes your time with them even more special. I’ve seen this happen. The other grandmother is a practical and important part of the children’s daily lives. She is a regular part of their household. So whenever they get to come to your house, it is so out of the ordinary that it feels like a holiday to them. Use that time to make them feel special. It is not about competing for their love with toys or games. It is spending focused time with them whenever you can get it.
And on the rare occasion that your son asks for your mothering advice, the love you feel for him, and his family simply radiates from your heart through your whole body. Most mothers know the old adage for the mother of the groom which is, “Wear beige and keep your mouth shut.” Something similar applies to mother-in-lawing. Don’t give unsolicited advice. Be supportive, not judgmental.
The key is understanding things from your daughter-in-law’s perspective. And this is advice I offer to you from my past! When my mother-in-law came to help me with the new baby, she cleaned and straightened my linen closet. I was embarrassed that she thought I was a poor housekeeper. In actuality, she thought she was helping me to feel organized and emotionally in control of a house in disarray with a new baby as I was recovering from a C-section.
Now that I am a mother-in-law, I have a different perspective, and I understand this complicated relationship. I’ve wished many times that I could hug her and genuinely thank her for all she did for me.
Honor your mother-in-law. She is a very important part of the family, and she deserves her own special holiday to prove it!