faM-I-Ly

What is it about mothers-in-law? How did they become the evil characters of everyday life, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the stepmothers of fairy tales?

They really don’t deserve that reputation.

Well, maybe some of them do.

I have been blessed with an incredible mother-in-law. She’s sweet and caring, fills her house with the food and snacks she knows I love, invites me places, gives me gifts, has long conversations over hot tea, doesn’t call her son every single day to make sure he’s happy with me, and even trusts me with the childcare of her younger son.

And yet, you know, there is still something. I think it’s her perfectly cultivated mask of nonreaction that worries me just a bit. I can never tell what she’s thinking, or if I’ve stuck my foot so far down my throat there’s no getting out of it now, or if she’s inwardly incensed at the way I’m treating her son, or if she totally disagrees with my lifestyle or plans. Usually, everything is just peachy. But every now and then, gradually, over time, through the phrasing of a comment made to me or friends/family of mine, I realize I stepped in the dooky however many months ago and she was displeased.

Not that our purpose in life is to please our mother-in-law, but still. I’d rather she be happy with me. When she’s happy with me, she tends to assume her son is happy with me (which he is), and things sail a little more smoothly.

Another tiny problem with the relationship is that my outgoing love is expressed through gifts. But what can you get for a woman who has everything already? Who isn’t too into the homemade? And who, you know full well, can afford to buy what she wants, whereas newlywed you…can’t? When someone has everything, and even when they don’t, my answer is always food. Consumables, right?! It’s like a renewing gift – when the box of truffles runs out, you’re ready with a tin of freshly baked teacakes or what-have-you. However, my gracious mother-in-law prides herself on always being prepared – always having everything anyone could want (and she succeeds, unbelievably enough). So her house and pantry are stocked beyond comprehension with foods of all types, sweets and savories, teas and coffees, wines and hard alcohol, fruits and vegetables, soups and baking mixes. You name it, she has it. This leaves me with nothing to give in that category. Why give food when the shelves are so full, there isn’t even really a place to put it?

A quandary.

So, time and again, I arrive at her house for tea empty-handed, because she’s even got fresh flowers. Always.

<sigh>

And really, if these are the only problems I have with my mother-in-law…what’s not to love? 🙂

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