10 Topics Mothers-in-Law Should Avoid At All Costs

316 Comments

mother-in-law

Hello, Mothers-in-Law! Today’s PSA is brought to you by disgruntled daughters-in-law everywhere.

First of all, we adore your son, and we think you did a mighty fine job of raising him. Thank you.

Secondly, since we love him so much, we also really want to have a good relationship with you, too. REALLY, we do.

We promise to respect your position as his mother, but there are some things you can do to make this relationship a little smoother, too. In order to make our interactions as pleasant as possible, we ask — we beg — you to avoid broaching the following topics with us. Or at least stop bringing them up over and over and over and over.

1. Where we live. We know you want your kids and grandkids to live near you, but that’s not always feasible for a number of reasons. We don’t appreciate when you keep bringing up the house for sale just across the street from you, or how you know somebody who knows somebody at the a bank who might could help us with the mortgage, or how this school district is SO wonderful and how you couldn’t find better neighbors if you searched the world over, and how the neighborhood we’re currently living in seems to be getting *ahem* a little rough around the edges. Enough already. We get it. And it’s not bringing us any closer.

2. The names we’ve chosen for our kids. Your best bet is to just smile and lie if you need to, “That’s nice, dear. Is that a family name?” We’re probably pretty stoked about the names we’ve chosen, and your poo-pooing won’t end well.

3. Feeding our kids. As long as your grandchildren are not wasting away due to malnutrition, this should be a no-brainer. We don’t need a 45 minute lecture on the health benefits of the vitamins you made their dad take when he was a baby, or how you breastfed until he was four and look how he turned out. And by the way, if you could avoid filling them up with sodas and candy and cookies and stuff while they’re over there visiting with you, after we’ve clearly and specifically asked you not to, that’d be awesome. We know you love our kids and want to make them happy, but if you could find a way to do that without undermining our choices, that would be swell.

4. How we spend our money. We may be better off than you think, or we could be two seconds away from calling a bankruptcy attorney. Either way, if we wanted to talk about money with you, we would. Even if we had to swallow our pride like acid-soaked broken glass to do it. We’re doing the best we can, and we’d like for you to treat us as adults and respect the fact that we can balance our own checkbooks and we know if we can afford to take the kids to Disney World this year or if we need to wait for a clearance sale to buy that new shoe rack for the kids’ room.

5. How we discipline our kids. While we DO appreciate those funny anecdotes about how our husbands misbehaved as tots, and we probably find ourselves at our wit’s ends with the kids’ temper tantrums sometimes…unsolicited advice about how we’re letting our kids run amuck and how that would never have stood back in the day is distinctly unhelpful. (And even more stressful than the tantrums, truth be told.) You had your chance already with your own children to do things your way. We’re living with a product of your ways, remember?

6. How you never get to see the grandkids. Especially if this comes up during another one of your unannounced middle-of-the-day visits that send us scurrying. Trust us, we know exactly how often you see the grandchildren. If you’d like to see them more often, maybe we could get together with our handy little pocket planners and set up a nice visit sometime soon when it’s good for both of us. Like a Friday night maybe, since God knows we haven’t had a date night in like two years. Or maybe Wednesday afternoon, you could take the kids to the park, so we could take a nice, hot, longer-than-three-minute shower in peace.

7. Taking sides in our arguments. Sometimes, we’re going to go head to head with your sweet baby boy. Hopefully, we’ll keep our fights to ourselves, but every now and then, one of us may open our mouths and say something unfortunate. While this is going to totally suck for you, you’re going to be in a lose-lose situation, no matter who you side with. If you say he is right, then obviously you’re biased because he’s your son, and if you say we are right, then obviously you’re biased because women stick together in their man-bashing. The best thing you can possibly do is keep it zipped and just suggest they talk it over again when they’re both calm, and leave it at that. 

8. Our housekeeping skills. No more passive-aggressive comments about how our house looks “lived in,” or gifts of cleaning products or cookbooks, okay? We get it. We don’t cook as good as you, and our houses will never be as clean as yours. You win. Here’s your trophy. Can we drop it now?

9. Our family planning decisions. Whether you think we should have more kids, or think we’ve got enough already and need to look into sterilization, our reproductive business is frankly none of your concern. We do not want to discuss our sex life with our husband’s mother. Ever.

10. Our appearance. Obviously nothing negative (like a weight gain comment–HELLO), but beware even offering a compliment if there’s a hostile environment already. “You look nice today, dear” can sound a whole lot like “Wow, you do know how to brush your hair every once in a while, huh? Who knew!” to an already stressed-out and keyed-up daughter-in-law. We know it sounds counterintuitive to refrain from compliments, but if you were a good judge of our emotional state and how to react to it, you wouldn’t be reading this, anyway.

Related post: 10 Tips For The First Time Grandmother

8 Tips for Surviving Vacations With Your In-Laws

74 Comments

Vacations-With-Your-In-Laws

My husband and I took a few vacations with our respective in-laws before we had kids. We’d all stay in the same hotel and always catch up for dinner, but the hours leading up to it were ours to spend however we wanted. And that worked great right up until we had kids.

Once babies entered the mix, our family vacation dynamics did a 180. Where everyone used to go their separate ways, now we were all crammed into a one square foot radius for all of our waking hours. Calling it bloody would be an understatement.

It’s taken us five years and another baby to figure out the secret to surviving vacations with our in-laws. Here’s hoping that these tips will make it happen a little bit faster for the rest of you.

1. The first rule of vacations is that what happens on vacation, stays on vacation. So if at some point you find yourself lifting your maxidress over your head to breastfeed your little one in front of your husband’s entire family, you can rest assured that the story won’t come back to haunt you at Christmas dinner.

2. There has to be a clear division of labor. In most cases this means that the grandparents will do whatever they want to do and we parents will do the rest…and by rest I mean all the crap work (literally). The sooner everyone accepts the working arrangements, the happier everyone will be.

3. Helping out doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone. My idea of help was keeping my kid so I could go to the beach. My mother-in-law’s version involved serving ice cream to my four month old while I ate dinner. I’ve learned a lot since that first year about being really clear with my requests.

4. It’s never too early to drop and go. I’m embarrassed to admit how long it took me to realize that my kid could survive a few hours without me. Now I’ve learned that the best strategy is to give no warning at all. Drop the baby in their arms and say “you’ll be fine” as you run out the door.

5. Don’t assume that old people and kids will be on the same schedule. Aren’t retirees supposed to be the ones lining up for the early bird specials? Somehow no one in my family got the memo. The only upside to the continued 6am kiddy wake-up calls is that I can count on my in-laws to take over for a while after bedtime. Hello sunset walks on the beach!

6. Never let your in-laws make the hotel arrangements. Mine bought a condo and filled all of the bedrooms with twin beds…including ours. We’ve got two kids and my mother-in-law is still pretending we’ve never done the dirty.

7. Stop calling it a vacation. Call it a trip or a visit or whatever other word you can find. Just don’t call it a vacation. It will work wonders on your mental state if you can pretend that your real vacation is yet to come…which brings me to my last tip:

8. Plan a post-vacation vacation. I used to come home and exclaim, “I need a vacation after my vacation.” Now I book it in advance. This year I used the “I have to get back to work” excuse to finagle my way home five days earlier than the rest of the fam. Five days of peace and quiet in the office will be just the vacation I need after 10 days with the in-laws.

Related post: The Mother In Law Prenup

The Mother In Law Prenup

100 Comments

The moment you bring a baby boy into the world, you start to wonder when he’s going to leave you. That’s right. You know that one day he’ll leave you for another woman — even though he’ll propose to you all through toddlerhood and tell you that you are the only girl for him.

Liar. 

You’re already quite certain that the woman he marries will probably resent you for being so awesomely cool. And you’re betting she’ll do whatever she can to break the strong bond you have with your sweet prince. Women say it’s good to marry mama’s boys, but they don’t really want to deal with the mama part.

Wenches!

My husband has told me time and time again to cut the cord… no f*****g way! I’m waiting until that thing rots and falls off. I mean, for how much longer is he going to say “I love you” when he walks out the door, or hug me in front of his friends, or ask me to lie with him at night? Frankly, I don’t know, but I won’t be the one to stop it.

If he’s 40 and wants me to lie with him and scratch his arm, I’ll be all “Move over, Megan,” or whatever his unappreciative, son-stealing wife’s name is.

Let’s be honest: he may be 5 now, but before we know it, he’ll be shaving, and driving, and then he’ll leave us to go to college somewhere cold. Then he’ll get married and move to be near her mother, because that’s what girls make boys do: move near their mothers! Then he’ll be a father, and then one fine holiday he’ll have “wifey” call us to cancel our plans. Then he’ll try to make up for it by sending one of those Harry & David gift baskets filled with pears, because he’ll remember that we love pears, but they’ll be bruised — like our hearts.

No, we can’t go down that road. We have to take a stand against son stealing right now.

We’ll make those Jezebels pay… no, sign! Yes, a contract for us to make them sign, besides the pre-nup. That’s right, like using WiFi in Starbucks, they’ll have to agree to our terms.

This is a MIL-nup, and it goes like this…

Jennifer_Lopez_in_Monster-i

  • I will compliment my mother-in-law’s (MIL’s) cooking, her decorating, and, most importantly, the incredible way she raised her son, my husband.
  • I will marvel at my MIL’s beauty and miraculously never-aging skin every time I see her.
  • I will acknowledge that my MIL’s son is on loan to me so that we can make grandbabies, which will probably look like her and have her wonderful traits, which I will mention in conversation frequently and with great fervor.
  • I will remind my husband to call my MIL daily, saying, “Have you told your mother you love her today? You should, she rocks.” Plus, I will throw in phrases like this:.

         “That amazing woman raised you! You should call and thank her… again.”
             “You can truly never thank her enough.”
             “Let’s go over and thank her in person.”
             “We should bring her a gift when we go.”
             “She’s so deserving of gifts.”
             “Let’s take her on vacation with us.”
             “And get her another gift.”
             “Maybe a beautiful locket with pictures of you and our children.”
             “No, I don’t need to be in the pictures; she didn’t raise me… unfortunately.”

  • I will tell other women that their mothers-in-law are not as fabulous as mine, and I shall be willing to throw down in the event that said women disagree.
  • I will take my MIL to her weekly hair salon appointment and shopping at Loehmann’s, when it is deemed necessary by age.
  • I will spend all holidays with my husband’s family, because they are so awesome and gracious, and I realize how much mine sucks by comparison.

And lastly:

  • I will move to be near my MIL, whether she has retired to Century Village in Florida, decides to live in a nudist colony in Arizona, or goes bat-s**t crazy and moves to Alaska for the fresh sushi. She is so wise and wonderful that I’m sure her choice of habitat will suit me and my husband perfectly!

Oh, and:

  • My MIL can so live with me and my husband when she’s old and can’t remember who I am.

There. You can print this to be signed when the inevitable happens. I just saved you from losing your sweet, sweet boy.

You’re welcome.

There Can Only Be One First Lady

90 Comments

mother-in-law_620_1628437a

As much as I try to be a patient, understanding and overall über-cool daughter-in-law, I must admit that there are limits to my abilities in this area. If my mother-in-law were, for example, to try and publicly contest the position for First Lady in my husband’s heart, I may morph into a vaguely psychotic and paranoid jealous female and vehemently stake my claim to such rights. But surely, you gasp, such an abomination would never occur. Alas, in the crazy world of mother/daughter-in-law relations, such madness seems to be an everyday occurrence.

So here’s how it went down: It was a quiet, unassuming day and we were taking a stroll back to our car when my husband asked, “Do you have the car keys, love?” Before I could even wrap my porridge brains around the question, SHE pipes up, “Are you talking to me?” An awkward silence ensued until I stated what I thought was blindingly obvious: “I think he’s talking to me, mom.”

Ha! Apparently not so obvious because the next statement stopped me dead in my tracks, “Well, love refers to me clearly.” Now I’m not often rendered speechless (considering how I’ve often been handed down the prognosis of having untreatable verbal diarrhea) but even I was stumped by this one.

If that isn’t enough to stop you cold in your tracks, this should give you pause for thought. My ever-charming, 100% politically-correct husband decides to melt the dense frostiness that suddenly seemed to permeate the air with the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard him say, “No fighting ladies – you’re BOTH the loves of my life.” Hmmm…

Now perhaps you’re thinking that isn’t so bad. Give the guy props for using a cheesy line to defuse a ticking time bomb. Except that I forgot to mention that I was 6 months pregnant at the time, essentially the emotional and physical equivalent of a raging female elephant under attack. At this point in the game, mental stability had long since escaped my tenuous grasp on it, and my only claim to human-like behaviour came in the aftermath of a chocolate binge (which I consumed as a mood-altering substance to try and play nice from time to time). Needless to say, I was NOT in the mood to have the instigator of my current whale-shaped physique start comparing our relationship to the one he has with his mommy!

But I have long since learnt that arguing with my mother-in-law is akin to trying beat Chuck Norris. In other words, you don’t. Basically, there is NO way to out-argue this woman. And in the unlikely event that my pregnancy-addled mind could come up with a witty repartee, she would simply swan right over it.

So I did what any intelligent woman would do under these circumstances. I had a righteously indignant go at the hapless victim of the man-territory wars, my husband himself. Poor guy! He honestly thought that he’d found an all-round winner in his clever comeback, but he forgot to account for the fact that his wife was essentially eating hormones for breakfast, lunch and supper. I’m happy to report that he’s learnt his lesson and won’t ever consider placing me on the same rung as ANY other human being EVER again.

So in conclusion, let’s extract the moral truths from this gem of a story:

1. Husbands, considering that you now live with your mate and not your mother, choose carefully when you find yourself in a checkmate situation. Your mother has limited access in terms of making your life miserable whilst your wife now has infinite powers. Remember: a happy wife = a happy home.

2. Mother-in-laws: yes, we understand that some uppity miss has usurped your place as numero uno in your baby boy’s life, but for goodness sake! We provide you with grandchildren to ease your strife. Surely that’s gotta count for something???

3. Daughter-in-laws and wives: Tough as it is to swallow, this is a package deal. You’ve got the man of your dreams so just suck it up and thank God that you’re not still with that loser whose idea of a hot date included a football match and cooler of beers. (Please note: if you are pregnant, none of the above applies to you. Feel free to make up the rules as and when they suit you).

The Secret to Surviving Your Mother-in-Law

49 Comments

o-GRANDPARENTS-facebook-1

It is kind of an awkward personal moment when you discover that you don’t like the main character in the book you wrote…even though she is based on YOU.

Embarrassing to admit, but here’s how it happened:

During my first pregnancy and after the birth of my son, I was a typical first time mom. I put headphones on my belly to stream classical music to him in utero, and I cared about all the little things once the baby was born. The feeding schedule and swaddle became as important to me as world politics. Only, I ignored everything beyond the state of my little home, so I wouldn’t even have known if a war broke out.

My mother-in-law fulfilled the role of driving me insane during this period by asking me every five minutes how much weight I gained when I was pregnant, napping on the couch in my labor room, and giving me all the passive-aggressive parenting tips I could ever want. Instead of screaming in her face, I began writing a book about — you guessed it– a girl and her annoying MIL. It was cathartic, and I could do it at home without having to get a sitter so I could go to therapy.  After writing about 100 pages, I put the the book aside as my son’s needs were more demanding and nap/writing times diminished.

By the time my second son was born, I answered the door for the night nurse that came occasionally, usually as she was still getting out of her car, offering a quick set of instructions such as “I have already popped an Ambien, bottles are lined up in the nursery and see you in 8 hours,” before taking the stairs two at a time and jumping into bed. The nights she wasn’t there, I actually contemplated trading a shower and hot meal to a homeless person if they would do a night feeding. That sounds crazy, but my older son woke up at 5 am for TWO YEARS straight no matter what I did, and I was just that tired.

The good old feelings about my MIL started to resurface at times, and I opened the BOOK document on my computer, certain that I had lots of new material to add. However, as I read what I had previously written, my feelings shifted uncomfortably… and I realized that I had changed as a person and as a mom.

Even though I was still a loving, nurturing, and doting mother the second time around, I was just so much more… relaxed. I stopped caring so much that my MIL fed my kids fast food to annoy me, and would stop over unannounced and let herself in with our key, yet refused to use the key when I actually asked her to if I was upstairs feeding the baby. At least she was there. You see, I realized that I could nitpick every little thing she did, or just be glad that she was doing it. I needed help, and as long as my kids were safe and alive, I stopped caring that she wasn’t doing everything my way. I realized that if I was going to ask for help I had to be nice, and the crazy thing was that the nicer I was, the more willing she was to help. Amazing how that works!

It is really hard to look in the mirror and admit that you need to change. I learned that self-reflection and the willingness to modify your behavior are the biggest components of personal growth. So, take it from me: Let your MIL in a bit so you can get out. Now when my kids are at their grandparents I’m at the gym or getting a pedicure.

Talk about a win-win.