I have a secret, guilty pleasure that I have to come clean about: I love to binge read a Reddit sub called JustNoMIL, where poor daughters-in-law and sons-in-law share horrifying stories about their real-life mothers-in-law (MIL) who put Disney villains to shame. I’m sure most of the lurkers read the stories because they can relate. I read them for pure entertainment. See, I was blessed with not only a caring, unselfish mother, but also a mother-in-law who can be viewed as a saint. If I had to point out any of her negatives they would be caring too much, worrying too much, and loving too much. I guess that’s what happens when you worked as a preschool teacher for almost 30 years. Now don’t get me wrong; I don’t share all the same worries or concerns that she does, especially those about my pregnancy or parenting, but I know they come from a place of love.
There are a few key characteristics that make a mother-in-law a JustYesMIL. These include:
When dealing with a daughter or son-in-law, there should be boundaries in place. Not everyone has an open door policy, while some might welcome their in-laws dropping in without notice. Marriage and parenting advice should be given when asked, not when you don’t agree with how your grandchild’s parents are dealing with a situation. Some of the most horrifying stories I read on JustNoMIL revolve around mothers-in-law overstepping boundaries at the hospital while their daughter-in-law in is labor or after the new family gets home. Please, please remember that a new mom’s hormones are on edge. Offer to do housework or get groceries instead of being catered to or expect to hold the baby the entire time.
Respect is such a simple value that so many people ignore or refuse to practice because they feel as though they are entitled to treat others another way. If you want a good relationship with your daughter or son-in-law, respect them as a person, as a parent, and as a member of your family.
If you gain a daughter or son-in-law it’s because your son or daughter has started a new life and a new family. Letting go doesn’t mean you are forgetting he or she is your child; it’s respecting them and their new path in life. Even if it does break your heart to let them go, that is no excuse to take your pain and anger out on your new in-law.
Maybe examples of my mother-in-law will help drive the point a bit clearer. I love and appreciate her for so many reasons. They include: Driving the four-hour drive to Chattanooga to watch my daughter when we had no other options (multiple times); cooking me a chocolate chess pie because her recipe beats out anyone else’s I have tried; loving and treating my parents, siblings, and extended family like her own on multiple occasions; helping us out financially in ways that might be insignificant for some but have helped us during hard times; helping Gray create beautiful Pinterest-worthy artwork that I don’t have the time or patience for; and so much more.
Gray absolutely adores her Granna and also looks just like her.
That alone would normally annoy me, but there is no way I can stay annoyed at my mother-in-law. She has shown me so much love and acceptance in the past 10 years. There are even times I think she might prefer me to her own son. Sorry, Steven.