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Friday, March 8, 2013

Mother-in-Law Spring Training Begins

Chris Brady

Last Saturday, my son proposed to his beloved and she said "yes."  

"Yikes," I thought. I am going to be a mother-in-law (MIL)

For the record: I am happy about the woman my son has found to share his life.  She could not be lovelier if I had dreamed her character for a novel. Like that famous movie line, "She makes him want to be a better man."

I think about what lies ahead: the wedding, first house, babies, and all that goes with creating their own family. 

And as the mother of the son, I wonder: how will I fit into their story?

That song from the 60s plays in continuous loop in my head.

The worse person I know.
Mother in law, Mother in law!

Why are MILs portrayed so badly in pop culture? We have such good intentions.

She worries me so
Mother in law, Mother in law!

After two close encounters with my son's future MIL, I think he is blessed. Her Mom is smart, generous and fun. Best of all, she cares for him, and she seems excited about their future.

If she leaves us alone
We could have a happy home
Sent from down below
Mother in law, Mother in law!

I have a wonderful MIL. She was great during the marriage, but more significantly, after my divorce, my MIL was supportive in many ways, large and small. She never took sides or interfered.  Of course she loves her son and was a rock for him.  But she was always there for me, is still there for me. I am thinking fondly of her as I build a relationship with my future daughter.

Every time I open my mouth
Steps in trying to put me out
How could you be so low?
Mother in law, mother in law.

Let's face it Moms: it's hard to keep quiet when you think your kid is heading down a rabbit hole.  But most of the time, he is informing, not asking for permission. I think you have to say what you think (some of the time), agree to disagree, and move on. 

She thinks her advice is a contribution
If she would leave that would be a solution
Don’t come back no more
Mother in law, Mother in law!

My son is the only child of divorced parents. His love will have to navigate two sets of parents and their extended families. It will be complicated, but I think she will be fine because she has a big heart. It's what I love most about her.

I guess I'll use the lyrics of this song as "what not to do" as I build my relationship with them. And enjoy being part of the best times of their life.

Readers:  do you have any good MIL stories? What are the watch outs? What are the joys?   

In case you are too young to know the Ernie K-Doe song (written by Allen Toussaint), enjoy.


  1. Congratulations, Chris! What exciting news.

    I adore my mother-in-law. How did she win my heart? She accepted me from the beginning, is loving, kind, gracious, and funny, and doesn't give unsolicited advice. She has a rich, full life of her own, and is always glad when we are able to share time together. She gladly answers any questions I ask about motherhood, but shows respect of choices I make. In short, she is respectful, kind, and gives us space to make our own decisions.

    Also, when I was in rough shape postpartum, she showed up, cared for all of us, and scrubbed my bathroom floor to ceiling. If that's not love, I don't know what is.

  2. Julie,

    Thanks for the advice on how to become adored as a MIL. I smiled when I read about your early days after having a baby. My mother-in-law stayed with us that first week post partum too, though I wasn't hurting. She was from out of town, so my Mom gave her first dibs so that she could get quality time with her new grandson.

    Good advice about being there for the daughter in law but respecting their space. And you weren't insulted that she felt your bathroom needed cleaning from floor to ceiling? (smile) I would gladly accept that kind of help too.


  3. I loved that my MIL and I became friends. There were many ways we weren't alike, including her adamant opinion that her son should not do the laundry because that was the woman's job. She never cleaned my bathroom, although more than once I cleaned hers.
    We were married several years when she pointed out to me that I never called her anything to her face and she was right. I could never bring myself to call her mom, but after she called me on it, I very affectionately called her Mother Peggy. She was one of a kind and I miss her.
    My gut says that just the fact that you are thinking about all this will make you a good one.

    1. Thankfully, the burden of housework is shared these days. And I would probably be on her side of the debate.

      I won't require any terms of endearment until I earn them.

      I just want to be part of their life. Everything else will solve itself.

  4. I am the luckiest ever...I had two marriages, and 2 wonderful MILs. The second was the most gracious, lovely woman I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. But both were respectful of my space, and even complimentary of my taste in decorating and cooking.At the onset, I think we agreed to be friends. We had a mutual respect and in the end, a deep biding love for one another.

  5. Jacqui, Mutual respect is the key. I'll hold onto that wisdom.

  6. Lisa RamseyMarch 10, 2013

    Chris, congratulations to you, Blake, his bride-to-be and your family. This is very happy news. I have no doubt that you'll be as warm, generous and gracious a MIL as you are a mother, wife and friend. It sounds like you've had some lovely role models to follow.

  7. Lisa, It's nice that everyone who commented had positive stories, isn't it? Makes me optimistic that this is more about blessings and not conflict.