Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Mothers-In-Law ... From H*ll ...

Daughters of the Revolution
Grant Wood
1932

Raise your hands, those of you who have a mother-in-law. Now, raise your hands, those folks who are a mother-in-law.  Are you anything like your own mother-in-law?  Well, if you were, you probably wouldn't admit it, would you?  Unless, of course, your mother-in-law was one of those rare women, perfect and well-loved by her daughter/son-in-law.  Who are you kidding?

It seems to me that the worst mothers-in-law are the mothers of men boys males.  I know because my mother had two sons, and no one was good enough for either of them.  Not anyone...  My mother was a rather nice person whom everyone liked, but as soon as she walked into my brother and his wife's house, she transformed into a sniping, overly-critical, insensitive person that I didn't recognize.

"Those children don't look healthy.  I'll buy them some vitamins and they'll be much better..."

The children, of course, were as healthy as horses.

I know a woman who used to iron her adult son's blue jeans.  When he moved into an apartment of his own with a couple of his 22 year-old friends, his mother baked him casseroles and took them to his house, much to his embarrassment.  When he moved 2,670 miles to the other side of the country, and got married and started a family, his mother moved there too -- right . next . door.  Her daughter-in-law finally barred her from visiting their house.

I remember when I  got married and my daughter was about three months old, there was a very  heavy snowfall and our sidewalk was covered in deep snow.  I had to struggle carrying a squirming infant, trudging through the snow.  My mother-in-law called my husband and asked him if he would go to her place and shovel her sidewalk.  She had a husband and two grown sons living at home at the time, but my husband went and shovelled her sidewalk, and ours didn't get done.  I'll never forget the comment my father made when he heard of this.  I can't repeat it here, but I think you get the idea.

Mothers of men are not doing them any favours by over-mothering them.  They truly give their sons a false impression of what and who women are.  I heard a woman on The Joy Behar Show say something interesting tonight.  She said, "When I marry a man, I want to be his life partner and his equal..."  I think most women would agree with that.  No woman wants to marry a man who is really looking for a mother, or worse, a replacement for his mother.  Most women want to marry a man who is looking for a wife.

There is something a little bit creepy about a woman who wants to continue to wield power over her son, even after he has a home and family of his own.  It's sort of like the Oedipus complex in reverse, and the damage it does is devastating.  Everyone loses, and the person who loses most of all is the son, because he will never be able to see a woman except through his mother's eyes.  And unfortunately, his mother will make sure that no woman ever measures up to her. Ever.

31 comments:

Linda S. Socha said...

Powerful post Jo....And filled with truths
Linda

heartinsanfrancisco said...

My first husband had a mother who was really the hell creature MIL myths are made of. She badmouthed me to everyone she knew and I was too young and insecure even to defend myself. I just tried harder to be like a daughter to her. She even insisted that he drive her around to visit all her friends while I was in labor with our first child, and neither of them visited my daughter and me in the hospital. I once witnessed her asking my husband to help her change her panties (!!!) because she was feeling poorly. I was utterly shocked. He has been an "ex" for a very long time.

Kathryn said...

Oh, this is a funny thought.

I've mourned that i'm not going to be a mama, nor a grandmama, BUT i just realized i'll never be a mother in law, either! :)

My first husband had a mother who was an evil witch. She threatened to kill us both & we tried to file a restraining order against her.

I'm really so very fortunate now to have the most wonderful husband in the world & his parents are delightful, too. Of course, i do think he has been a bit spoilt. ("Kathryn, Duane's home. Go make him a sandwich." Um, he's a big boy & can do it himself?) Over all, i'm so very thankful for my ILs.

Sunny said...

I have to honestly say that I had a wonderful MIL. She was kind, generous, a confidant and friend.
She was the mother of five sons and treated me like the daughter she never had.
Her passing was almost as heartbreaking as when I lost my own mother.
☼ Sunny

Meggie said...

It seems my comment got trashed/binned.
I had the MIL from Hell
Even my rellies, who knew her agreed, she was so TOXIC!! And Evil, and ugly, in a personality way.

the walking man said...

Trust me once I left home at 17 and didn't return for 8 years by then my mother had forgotten how to get in my business.

Katy said...

While I love my daughter's grandmother dearly, when it comes to her son the woman is completely illogical. You're right, it doesn't do her son any good.

Linda said...

Oh, I could tell you tales about my MIL. The one that sticks out though was one she told each of us girls as we were in the early days of our marriages. (There are 5 boys in the family.)

We had her over to our house for a meal I cooked, and she told my hubby that if he didn't like the way I cooked his food, to just call her. She would drop everything and come and cook. Needless to say, I was devasted. Then she went on to say...I'll cook for you like I cooked for your dad when we were first married...burnt, dry, tasteless, etc.

We all got a good laugh! She is still with us, and has never had a bad thing to say about anyone, is always cheerful, and I'm so glad she is mine!

She is in a nursing home now, and she tells everyone she is so happy in her new home.

I hope I am thought of the same way by my DIL's!

Allen said...

That is so true, my mom was the same way. My wife at the time would tell me all these things that my mom did it her. But I didnt believe her, I said my mom wouldnt do that.

DJan said...

My mother had six children, one male. She was the opposite: none of the men were good enough for her girls, especially the youngest ones. She tried her best to break up the family of her favorite, but it didn't work. She wasn't a great MIL, but she was sure an interesting mother!

The Bug said...

My MIL LOVES me. I think Dr. M's older brother had paved the way for me with all the bizarre women he dated & married - I seemed normal by comparison.

Of course, she was not really a typical mom anyway - had a lot of depression issues & wasn't the type to hover over her sons.

Lindy said...

My MIL chastised me for letting my toddler get dirty while crawling on her filthy living room floor. At that point I realized I would never win and gave up the fight. I just let the ex and the kids go visit and I would have a quiet weekend at home. Everyone was happy.

Nezzy said...

We have a sayin' here 'round the Ozarks (well, actually we have mountains of 'em) it goes...

(something...insert anything unlovable) is as cold as a Mother~In~Laws love.

Heeehehhe, just sayin'........

Powerful post sweetie!

God bless ya and have an extraordinary day!!! :o)

Dudette said...

I've been married for almost 8 years and I feel pretty lucky to have a mother in law that I can confide in when I can't talk to my own mother. My MIL has been and continues to be wonderful.

Alicia said...

I had such a mother in law Jo. She might have been the one that you mention preparing the meals. My mother in law used to send a box home with her little boy (my husband). In the box was all the fixings for the perfect meal little Jimmy liked. Not only all the fixings but complete recipes handwritten on index cards with instructions on how not to burn things and to remember to always use real butter because Jimmy can always tell when you use margarine!!! Need I say more as to why I am divorced??

Arley said...

HAHAHA!!!!! Don't even get me started about my Mother-in-law. Lucky for me, my husband saw right through her selfish tendencies and hasn't spoken to her in at least 6 years. That women is awful. Back when Declan was 2 and Cian was just a baby, she use to make us drive from Vt to Maine just so she could have Declan for a weekend. She never wanted Cian because he would always cry when he saw her. (Guess he didn't like her either.) On our wedding day, she was very anti-social with my parents because Sean would not allow her husband to attend our wedding. That was her way of showing her displeasure. I'm just glad she isn't in our lives.

A.M. said...

I've been blessed to have a mother-in-law from 'heaven' she's so gentle and kind. Don't get me wrong, we are two different people, but we're both good people so it works. As for my sister's mother-in-law...now that's is exactly what you have described to a tea and it's all about her, her, her. YIKES!

Pauline said...

I'm one of the lucky ones. My mother-in-law was a wonderful woman and kind to me, even after I divorced her son! I have a daughter-in-law whom I adore and two sons-in-law that are like two additional sons. I can't speak for any of them, of course, but they seem to like me back :)

Susie Hemingway said...

I loved this post and as the Mother of two grown men I have always tried to be a good Mother-in-law and think I may have possibly succeded when my very beautiful and loving French daughter-in-law invited me to be present at the birth or our grandson Emmanual. She tells the story well to her girlfriends when ask "who was present at the birth of your son?" their eyes roll in horror when she says "my Mother-in law" but we have been so very close since this time and she says she would never have wanted anyone else there. A compliment indeed.

Cloudia said...

Yes, sad.



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Russell said...

Interesting about how you walked through the snow while your husband shoveled the snow from his mother's sidewalks - even though she had a husband and two grown sons.

Not sure how to respond other than I hope it did not snow much more.

@ly said...

I have 2 sons -- 19 and 16 -- and I hope that I am a decent mother-in-law and it is my hope and wish that I can be most like my own mother who has been a great mother-in-law to my husband and all of the inlaws (there are 6 kids in my family). She never interferes and any little thing you do for her she is always satisfied. She never complains. I just hope I can be half as good as her and have a decent relationship with my daughter-in-laws.

myletterstoemily said...

i wholeheartedly agree! how strange
and "psycho" to continue mothering
grown sons. i am a mother in law
to a son in law and have heard it is
not at all the same as having a
daughter in law. i pray i will be a
blessing and not a source of heart
ache to her.

Nancy said...

Wise words, Jo. I've been lucky and had two very nice mothers in law. My first husband was very much a mama's boy. She was just wise enough to bring me into the fold. I still miss her. My mother in law now is very sweet and kind, and she never wants to come between my husband and myself. She is really old school - age 98 - I wonder if that makes any difference?

Jan said...

My MIL started out sweet, but soured through the years, or rather let her true colors show. About 10 yrs into our marriage, my DH finally told her to knock it off in no uncertain terms. She backed off, but hasn't sweetened up - lol. She's 86 now and in a nursing home. A bitter wasted life is a sad thing,

Jan

www.teensandtriplets.com

budh.aaah said...

Its very lucky indeed to be able to say that one had a nice MIL..I never knew the MIL virus affected everyone the world over :) I thought it was particularly bad here in India. It is in a way..

Paul C said...

My wife only felt threatened when my mother baked zweiback. No one could equal her prowess in baking the delightful roll.

PhilipH said...

My MIL was from Hull. No, not a typo, Hull is a place on the river Humber, N.E. England.

I once wrote to the London Evening News letter page one year, about 1960-ish. I complained about the clarion call from ALL mothers who wanted their now married sons/daughters to spend Christmas 'at home'. I pointed out that WE now had a home, and THAT was where I'd be spending Christmas.

The furore this created was amazing. "You ungrateful swine..." and "You've only one mother/mil..." and the correspondence went on for days!

The newspaper eventually said "Correspondence on this topic now closed."

Almost had to go into hiding!

Kathy's Klothesline said...

I suppose I would have to say that my mother was the worst mother-in-law. She absolutely hated my husband and let everyone know it. He took the blame for every thing bad in her world. He did it with a smile on his face and put up with all the abuse she could throw at him; but he drew the line when she would attack me! He is truly my white knight.
His mother liked me for the most part. She turned a little strange and distant as she got older. Her world revolves around his sister and her family and interests. She has yet to offer condolences for the death of my son. It is true that he was not related to her, but her son adopted him and she watched him grow up. I try to overlook this and let it go, but it is hard.

I hope that I have learned from the exmaples that life has presented me. I only give advice when asked and I give much thought to what I offer even then. My grandchildren know that I will not intervene with their parents on their behalf after a decision has been made. I never show up unannounced and I tell them how much I love and appreciate them every chance I get.

young-eclectic-encounters said...

Excellent post. Several years ago there was a VERY popular book titled "I'll love you forever" They read it at church to many a tear and at the bookstore I worked at we couldn't keep it in stock. The story goes where the baby is just a baby and mom says I'll love you forever. The mom rocks the child to sleep saying this. as the child grows she sneaks into the room picks him up rocks him and says I'll love you forever. as he leaves home she continues this tradition by sneaking into his house and room to rock him. The last page the son sneaks into the moms room and rocks her and says I'll love you forever. Now I love my sons but I just didn't get the Ahs and tears that came with it for most women. I thought it was ridiculous the way this mother cuddled her son. I can see from the reaction to this book how "Mother's-in-law From H*ll" could be a reality for so many.
Johnina :^A

kenju said...

I had the MIL from Hell and I try very hard not to be that.

My son-in-law paid me a lovely compliment on FB last week. He said he couldn't ask for a better MIL. I really appreciated that!