I was ready to own this thing called motherhood when I got a slap in the face from my mother-in-law. Okay, not a literal slap in the face (that still could happen) but more of a slap to all my mothering instincts, wife abilities, and don’t even get me started on what she thinks of my cooking.
At first, I did a lot of HIB (hiding in my bedroom) whenever my MIL was around.
Hiding is about as effective as frantically trying to clean your kitchen floor with a baby wipe while she’s on the doorstep ringing your bell.
I’m still hoping maybe my partner was switched at birth, but since I don’t yet have actual proof, here are the survival techniques that got me through the first year:
When she says: “We didn’t need all that fancy stuff when my kids were young.”
As much as we have nostalgia for the plastic rocking horse with springs that could take a baby’s finger clean off, innovations in baby gear have been great. That said, never try to convince a MIL that our new sign-language teaching, ring-sling wearing, BPA-free ways are better. Get some points by asking her if she’s saved any favorite toys from the old days that your kid can play with (at her place!).
When she gives you “The Look”
You know the look. The look that says you have not properly sanitized that baby bottle. The look that you are feeding your baby too often, not enough, covering yourself while nursing, not covering yourself. B*tch please! The only way to deal with the look is to take a deep breath — not to calm you down, but to get over the pain of you biting your own tongue so hard it hurts.
When she talks behind your back
You may at some point overhear her talking to your partner or your kids about you, or probing them about information before she cross-examines you. Yep. This is my world. Do not confront, do not approach, listen from the other room, and then take a note from Elsa and LET IT GO!
When she doesn’t help at all
No one with a newborn wants a guest who expects to be waited on hand and foot. Hopefully your MIL got the memo. If she didn’t, she may need explicit instructions or may be trying not to step into your ranch (gasp!) and give you space. Ask her politely if she can help you with something specific. If she doesn’t come through, you have full license to limit your exposure to her until your baby is sleeping through the night.
When she helps too much
Sometimes it’s worse when she just won’t get out of your ranch. One way around this is to shower her with compliments about how amazing (ha!) she is and how you really appreciate her help but want to start doing things your way so that when she’s gone, you’ll be able to get into the groove alone. They love it when you praise them. This is your ticket. Let the love flow.
When she guilts you because your husband is hands-on
Many a MIL raised her kids while simultaneously waiting on their father hand and foot. Thankfully times have changed, but now she’s insinuating that you are lazy if you’re not doing it all yourself. Remind her that he’s not the “help” — he’s the dad (in your nicest tone of voice of course).
When you realize she’s not evil
Overall there are mostly great MILs out there. After years of HIB, I’ve learned to love and respect my MIL. It took me a while to see that she was coming at me from a place of love — love for my baby, my partner, and (eventually) for me.
Brought to you by Tommee Tippee who’s there to support you on the road to motherhood and to learning to love your MIL.