Have you had a mostly positive or negative experience with your mother in law? I would like to think that mine was mostly positive. In fact, I think even with the negatives, you can pick out the positives.
My mother in law died some years ago but I still have fond memories of her. It didn’t start off very well, though! But as Mother’s Day is approaching, I’ve been reflecting on the fact that a lot of accolades are almost always given to our own mothers. Should we not spare a thought for the women who raised our husbands and boyfriends.
As I trekked up into the hills of the rural community in Jamaica over thirty years ago to meet the woman who I would later spend many pleasant years with, I thought about what our first meeting would be like. Would she be miserable? Would she have a soft, welcoming voice? Would she give me a hard time? What about her expectations of me? Does she know she how nervous I am at the thought of meeting her?
The trip was long but before I could go through all the nervous questionings on my heart, I was stood right in front of her! My smile was a nervous grin and I could sense a little apprehension on her part too! Then she grabbed me in a loving embrace that wiped away all my fears in an instance! She exclaimed that I resembled some of her own family members and that I had a face that looked like she had known me for years.
To say I felt relieved is an understatement. We chatted that day as if we really had known each other for years. And over the years I had known her, she was nothing but positive and encouraging. She never interfered in the marriage and even commented that she wished her own marriage was like ours.
Of course I am aware that not all mother in laws are as hassle free as mine was. Some constantly stir and meddle and make life unbearable. Taking their son’s side often seem like their prerogative, no matter what the story or issue is. I’ve heard of some horrible stories that many women have gone through with their mothers in law.
As for me, I have learnt some positive lessons from my mother in law. Who knows, one day you will be a mother in law too. How would you like to be viewed? Here are some of my best lessons learnt.
Kindness goes a long way and will leave lasting positive memories. On the first meeting, offer a gift which can be a treasured keepsake.
For this one I was going to say, stay neutral. However, on thinking some more, I realise that staying neutral can mean upholding wrongs by virtue of not saying anything. Although I don’t think that mothers in law should get too deeply involved in the personal affairs of their chldren, I do think they should be fair and not just take the side of their own child. Justice should be split fairly. I once saw an episode of Judge Judy where the son was so angy with his mother (and destroyed some of her property in the process) because she was still friendly with his former wife. He expected her to take his side in the break up of the marriage.
Keep in touch
My mother in law and I remained in constant touch with each other even outside of my then husband’s knowledge. I saw my relationship with her as a friendship where I was concerned about her welfare and she was concerned about mine.
Live a simple frugal life
My mother in law had never really sat down with me and told me how to manage my finances. But I must say that I learnt a lot from her. Her frugal living tips have stayed with me for years. These include saving up for large purchases rather than using expensive credit. This one has been my best frugal living tip from her.
At my mother in law’s house, meals were simple, aromatic and delicious. Poor or elderly neighbours were sometimes catered for, and children who came by the house always left with something nice- even a piece of fruit. Her Jamaican Jerk Chicken was the best, and the community knew it.
My mother in law believed in herbal medicines and remedies and some of these I practise even today. She really emphasised looking after your health without becoming ‘preachy’. She lived a fairly long life so I suppose it has paid off for her.
Be genuine and let people know how you feel
Establish a genuine and honest friendship that is open and true. People enjoy that more than when you seem cold, uncaring and unfriendly.
We all need human associations to validate us and to help us feel our sense of self-worth. So what to do with your mother in law? Embrace her, flaws and all (you do have your own), and remember that if you are not already, one day you too will be a mother in law.
I hope that when I become a mother in law that we will share a beautiful friendship that is built on love, trust and mutual respect.
Let me know in the comments what your experiences have been like.
Gift ideas for your mother in law (be appreciative of the positives)
This post was proofread by Grammarly