2014-THANKSgiving

10 Comebacks to Frequently Asked Questions From In-Laws

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Fall has arrived, and that means the holidays are soon upon us. (I know, I’m sorry.) But, at least I have a few ways to respond when your in-laws make those little self-esteem eroding comments that are just so adorbs (I learned that word from my kid’s 20 something gymnastics teacher last week).

1. So, you don’t cook much? No! I never cook. I usually feed the kids cereal. But don’t worry, it’s Froot Loops, and I read how pink colored food has beta carotene. Or was that orange? Either way.

2. Did you get the baby’s cough looked at? What, at the doctor? Didn’t we tell you? We use a homeopath now. At least I think that’s what the card says. They do a lot of stuff with incense. And fire.

3. Hmm, new couch? Thanks for noticing! Your hard working son got a bonus and wanted to put it toward the kids’ college fund, but I was like, I would rather spend it on jewelry for myself. So I did, but then you know what, I never even ended up wearing that tennis bracelet. Que sera. Oh, and we spent the rest of it on the couch.

4. Did you get our granddaughter evaluated for the gifted program? I don’t actually think she’s that smart, to tell you the truth. I did sign her up for some dance classes so she has a shot at working the pole if community college doesn’t pan out.

5. Are you still working full time? No! We won the lottery. We’re keeping it hush hush though, so every day I pretend to go to work and just sit in Starbucks reading US Weekly while our kids call the daycare lady “Mommy.” I also do Sudoku.

6. They need jackets in this weather. Not if they’re going to be prepared for moving to Halifax. Didn’t I tell you?

7. You look tired. Thanks! That’s the look I was going for. Well, actually, it was “tired and dumpy” so the night is still young if you want to mention my weight gain. Hint hint.

8.  Is my son getting to relax at all? I don’t really think so, to be honest. Between the trees I demand he chop into firewood, and the coal I make him push around in a wheelbarrow, he doesn’t really have time.  Oh, and I have him give me pedicures too.

9. You should make the kids listen. Oh my God, you’re right. I was just wondering the other day, should I make the kids listen? And I was waffling about it, because, really, it’s so adorable when they yell and scream and defy me. But now that you phrased it that way, I am totally on board. God, sometimes something just clicks.

10. When did your parents last visit? Never. We only hang out with you guys because we like you more. Don’t tell them though. They don’t even know about Halifax.

Till we meet again, I remain, The Blogapist Who Dares You To Use These.

Related post: 10 Topics Mothers-in-Law Should Avoid At All Costs

10 Tips For Being The Daughter-in-Law Your MIL Wants

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mother-in-law Image via Shutterstock

Dear Daughter-in-Law,

I’ve seen all the do-this-don’t-do-that lists for mother-in-laws, and I do try to abide by them. But if you and I are truly going to get along, then there are some handy little “rules” that you need to follow as well.

Ready?

1. Don’t tell me how I “am welcome any time” and then rant on your social media thingie about how I am “always at your house and up in your business. If you don’t mean any time, then don’t say it. I didn’t realize I’d need to make an appointment to see my own child and grandchildren, but if that’s what it takes to keep us copacetic, then that’s what I’ll do. I fully realize that dropping by without calling first is rude, but for some reason, you never seem to answer the phone. So…

2. Answer the damn phone! I am not a telemarketer trying to sell you carpet shampoo. I am the mother of your spouse, grandmother to your children, and you could at least give me the respect of picking up the phone, if only to say, “Sorry Diane, I’ve got my hands full and can’t talk right now.

3. As much as I adore my grandchildren, I am not your free ticket to eternal childcare. Contrary to what you may think, I do have a life of my own. If you want me to watch the kids for you, I’m sure I’d probably be delighted. But you DO need to ask first with plenty of notice, so that I can rearrange my schedule if needed and stock up on groceries. If you expect me to respect your time and space, (see #1), please extend me the same courtesy. I promise to answer the phone when you call.

4. Act like the adult you purport to be, and don’t bitch about me behind my back. I’m sure that my child doesn’t like being put in the middle any more than YOU would, so if you have a problem with me, put your big girl panties on and come talk to ME about it.

5. Passive-aggressiveness is still aggressive. (Not to mention rude.) Don’t tell me how nice my house looks, followed immediately by some snide comment about you would rather take more time to enjoy your children instead of cleaning. You have toddlers. I don’t; I did my time. It’s a pretty simple concept. My clean house is not an automatic slam against your housekeeping skills in your own house. Defensive much?

6. Don’t buy me clothes or decor for gifts, if they are drastically different than what I own. I hate to look a gift horse in the mouth, but I think it’s pretty clear that we shop from radically different catalogs. Gift certificates or something the kids made is perfectly acceptable and appreciated. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but my kitchen doesn’t have a single red rooster in it, so I’m not exactly sure where you expect me to put all this barnyard memorabilia you keep buying me…

7. It’s my money, so please let me spend it. If I want to lavish my grandchildren with gifts, it’s because I love them and I have the ability to do so. It’s not to shame you for not being able to match me dollar for dollar.

8. I want my son/daughter to be happy and have a happy marriage, but know this: I am the mother. I will always be the mother. If by death, divorce, or desertion, you two were to ever be separated, I will still be here to pick up the pieces. Your own children will grow up one day, and you will understand this.

9. Speaking of, you DO realize that I successfully produced an offspring that grew into such an amazing adult that YOU decided to marry and have children with…right? I may not be up on all the current parenting trends and psychological research, but by your own standards in mate selection, I must have done something right. You don’t have to hang on every word I say, and please forgive me if you think I’m overstepping with the unsolicited advice, but I have YEARS and YEARS of experience. It’s got to be good for something. Maybe you could at least try to listen to some of it every once in a while.

10. Contrary to what you might think, I am not trying to control you or judge you. Ok, well, I might judge you a little bit. I can’t help it. Really, though, I’m trying not to. I just want my son to be happy and have a good life, and I want the same for my grandchildren. Your spouse may be your spouse, but he’s still a son and a brother and an uncle and a nephew and a father, all rolled into one. You’re going to have to share, whether you like it or not. Might as well learn to be gracious about it. I had to.

Sound doable? I hope so.

And how about I watch the kids this weekend so you grown-ups can have a night out? Just promise me you won’t spend the whole evening complaining about me… ok?

Related post: There Can Only Be One First Lady

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

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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

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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

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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.