Mother-in-Laws! That’s right! I know, I know. Media images fill our psyches with images of the Marie Barones of the world. But hey, they gave birth to our husbands, right?

Last night I went to visit my grandma and record her telling stories from her life. She spoke of her mother-in-law, my great-grandmother Etelka White. They didn’t
get along. Etelka was a bossy woman,  and my grandma and grandpa wished she lived a little further away.  But they loved her.

I am fortunate to have an exceptionally amazing mother-in-law. She is a smart, compassionate, practical, fun, non-meddling mother-in-law. I love to be with her, and she makes the best bread on the planet.  I love her.

As Mother’s Day approaches, let’s hear it. What do you love about your mother-in-law?

32 Comments

  1. Stephanie

    May 2, 2011

    I married the youngest of seven children – the beloved baby. My new sister-in-law let me know how hard this was for my mother-in-law, but my MIL didn’t. She welcomed me with open arms and has been nothing but complimentary and supportive of me as a wife and mother.

    As I lost my own mom, she took over parenting both of us – never interfering, just giving me the extra love and encouragement she knew I was missing.

    My mother-in-law is nearly 80 and her health is failing. I dread losing her. She has been everything a mother, mother-in-law and grandmother should be.

  2. Nancy R

    May 2, 2011

    I have a wonderful mother-in-law who never interferes and makes lots of adorable dresses for my two little girls. I love her.

  3. Kerri

    May 2, 2011

    I adore my mother-in-law. She loves me completely and has never judged me negatively (as far as I know, that is!) When my husband and I had our first little argument as a married couple and he mentioned it to her, she said, “That is between you and Kerri. You are a couple now, and your dad and I have nothing to do with it.” I LOVED that and felt even more accepted by them.

    She supports me in all the things I do, doesn’t criticize me even though I don’t iron my husband’s shirts and am a left-leaning independent (and voted for Obama! The horror!), and adores our children. She tells me I’m a good wife and mother and that I look pretty. I’m blessed in the mother-in-law department, and I am so grateful. I hope I can remember all the lessons she’s taught me when it’s my turn to be one.

    I think it helps that my husband is one of the later kids in the family. She is seasoned in life and has learned to be accepting, but it also helps that she tries really hard to be a true Christian and loves the Lord. Also, she’s just a great person.

  4. Carina

    May 2, 2011

    My mother-in-law stayed with us for a week last week. She took me shopping twice, took the kids to a movie, played with my boy while I worked, and then sent me off for a nap while she folded all the laundry, swept the kitchen floors, shined my faucets, and tidied up everything. I love her.

    She declares me a saint for marrying her son. I’ll take it 🙂

  5. jks

    May 2, 2011

    Well, let’s see. She doesn’t sleep around. She’s a law abiding, self sufficient, responsible person. She is happy to feed us when we visit her. She reads books to the kids. She loves the kids. She loves my husband. She sometimes “tries” to understand me or how we do things. She buys clothes for the kids sometimes. She encouraged my husband to go to college.

  6. Science Teacher Mommy

    May 2, 2011

    I love my MIL so much. She truly considers me one of her kids. My mom is great, but my MIL understands things about me that my own mom doesn’t. I’m so blessed to have two families.

  7. ssj

    May 2, 2011

    Living with my MIL 6 months after marriage was NOT a good idea. Not only was I adjusting to being married, she was also adjusting to the fact that her 3 sons were all married off within a year (well more like 4 months). I did not like her after that summer!

    5 years later, a little maturing, getting to know this family better, and a grandchild (not mine). I can now say that I love her. She has her faults but she loves her family and she is an AWESOME grandma.

  8. Naismith

    May 2, 2011

    @ jks, too funny!!!! Thanks, that made my day.

  9. Ana of the Nine Kids

    May 2, 2011

    When I first got married I wondered a lot about what Nephi’s wife must have felt, traipsing around with her in-laws. It was tough. But it’s been awhile and with time and space I’ve grown some and have learned to accept that my MIL and I are very different and it’s okay. So here is what I love about her–she is a fantastic grandma, a great listener, is very understanding and generous and she is very kind and charitable to all around her (I am NOT exaggerating when I say that either.) I have been very blessed.

  10. Ana of the Nine Kids

    May 2, 2011

    @jks–your comment made me laugh too!

  11. snakerivermama

    May 2, 2011

    With a mother who is rarely complimentary, always critical and barely tolerates my husband and children . . . I really needed the MIL I have! I don’t see her often but I don’t think she’s ever said a critical thing of me in the 18 years I’ve known her. She says and does kind things and has utterly endeared herself to my children! She is kind and nurturing. She lets us do our own thing and make our own decision without interfering. love you!

  12. Keryn

    May 2, 2011

    My mother-in-law is marvelous. She is funny, smart, and patient. She has totally accepted me, loved me, and helped me. She loves my kids and never makes me feel bad about the chaos that naturally follows 5 children under 8 years old. I love her!

  13. FoxyJ

    May 2, 2011

    Kind of related to my last post, my relationship with my mother-in-law has really improved during the last two years that we have lived closer to each other. Before that we rarely saw each other except about once a year for a week while we either stayed in her home or she stayed in ours. It’s hard to get to know someone and feel comfortable with them that way. She and I have very different opinions about things, but she’s very patient and tries to understand (it also helps our relationship that my husband and I have similar views, so I don’t feel like the odd one out). We love living close enough to her to be able to spend the afternoon or evening hanging out; our kids love her and she is a wonderful grandma to them. Last night she spent the night at our house so my husband and I could go out to breakfast. This morning she even played three games of checkers with my four-year-old son. The kids love her and I love the fact that she likes being a grandma. She is also always kind and patient with me and I’ve never felt any disapproval.

  14. ErinMadamLibrarian

    May 2, 2011

    I actually met my MIL before I met my husband because I took a class from her (I’m glad I’d been a good student!), and she is amazing. She has a great sense of adventure, and sucks at the “I never” game because she’s done everything – competitive judo, living abroad, trailblazing as a woman in academia, you name it. She thrives in chaos. I don’t know how she does it, but she makes things come together when things are completely crazy. She’s amazing.

  15. Paula

    May 2, 2011

    I love my MIL! She has such a generous and kind heart. Last fall when my nephew died, she not only let me stay at her house but my sister, two of my nieces and my nieces husband (whom she had never met) as well. She fed us a wonderful dinner and breakfast. She did all this without even asking her. She just wanted to help. My niece commented on how wonderful she is and I had to agree!

    She absolutely loves being a grandma. When my in laws served a mission they would video call with us nearly every week. Because of this my son who was 17 months when they left, knew her when he got to see her! She was so worried but he went right to her and said, “Grandma!” and kissed her on the cheek. It was like she had never been gone.

    My one regret is that we don’t live closer but we probably see each other 3 to 4 times per year. My kids know their grandma and they LOVE her. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I have tried very hard to not be critical of her. She does things that bother me and I’m sure I do things that bother her but I never say anything because I want to preserve the relationship. I always ask myself. “will this matter in a day? a week? a year?” Most often the answer is no. Then I ask myself, “will it matter that I have a good relationship with my MIL in a day? a week? a year?” The answer is always, “YES.”

    I hope when I become a MIL I can be as good as she is.

  16. JK Frome

    May 2, 2011

    Well, I have an unusual situation. I have a terrific relationship with my MIL–but she is only 14 years older than my husband and I. His mother died when he was eleven. Since he was a “caboose” child, his father was nearly 60 when, three years later, he married a good family friend who was 28. This was back in the “olden days” when a 28 year old Mormon girl who’d gone on a mission and finished college and worked as a nurse was considered an Old Maid. So, this young woman inherited a 14 year old son. Who was traumatized by losing his mom and had been living with an older brother’s family for three years. He got to move back home but she wasn’t really like a mother. They got along okay, but–seriously–he was a regular 14 year old.

    Zoom out seven years, we were 21 now–we got together in a far away state–I went home with him to meet the family. (We grew up in the same small town, so they weren’t strangers.) Each of the three grown women–two sisters-in-law and MIL–all asked me, independently: “Do you know him very well? Um…he’s kind of a difficult person…” So, I wasn’t taking their precious little boy from them & I was fore-warned. They all were quite skeptical and trying to help me.

    We got married. We both worked hard to be better people—he’s a great husband and a terrific dad and my in-law relationships have always been fabulous. MIL and FIL would come to visit us in the sunny southland to escape a month of winter. My friends would gasp, “They’re here for a MONTH?” We had the time of our lives! She is an adventurer, generous, a hard-worker, calm, patient, funny, loving. We were truly her family, despite a total absence of gene sharing, and we love our grandma. The joke has always been that, if we were divorced, I’d get custody of my MIL. I feel blessed.

  17. Grandma Honey

    May 2, 2011

    I want so badly to be a great MIL to my 4 wonderful DILs. I love this post and reading the comments…I’m trying to learn. Please teach me more.

  18. Kellie

    May 2, 2011

    My (ex-)MIL showed me by example what I should avoid doing if I want to foster a good relationship with my sons’ wives.

    A lesson learnt well.

  19. Shantell

    May 2, 2011

    I lucked out in the MIL department. We used to live a lot closer, but we moved and I miss my kids getting to spend time with Grandma. She always remembers my birthday, she loves the kids, she came out for my daughter’s baptism — even though she isn’t LDS and easily could skipped it with no hard feelings.
    Grandma Honey, love them. Go out to lunch with just one DIL at a time — leave the kids home with your son!

  20. Shelly

    May 2, 2011

    I am so envious of all you with great MIL’s. My MIL told me the day we were married she was going to make sure I never fit into her family and she has kept her true to her word for the past 24 years. She has informed my sons they are not her favorite grandchildren. She sent a rumor around in our Stake that I have had affairs and none of my boys are her grandsons–yet they all look like my husband and FIL. She use to have us over for dinner and then attack us on something she knew nothing about, yet felt it was her right to tell us we were doing it all wrong. She told us we shouldn’t work so hard to save the life of our medically ill child as he was a burden to his brother and society. When we needed the support during that time, she refused to help out. She has stolen items from us, turned us into Children’s Protective Services and just two weeks ago, hit me in church in front of everyone because I openly disagreed with her. We are not in the same Ward, but Stake. She invited herself to our son’s priesthood ordain when we didn’t. My FIL will not cross her nor will anyone in our Stake because she will play dirty to get even.

    My mom has been a wonderful MIL to my husband and to all her SIL’s and DIL’s. She could never be like my MIL is.

    Grandma Honey, let each of your DIL’s you care and do things with and for them. You get more with honey than vinegar.

  21. Rosalyn

    May 2, 2011

    My mother-in-law is the kind of person everyone likes, because she’s so nice. (Sometimes I wish she was a little less nice, so I wouldn’t feel I had so much catching up to do!) She’s been great to me and my kids–after I had a miscarriage earlier this year, she came over to let me sleep and cleaned the kitchen while I slept. She tries to be accepting of me, even though she doesn’t always understand me or why I do what I do (for instance, why housework isn’t one of my top priorities!). But I have to admit I lucked out in the in-laws category.

  22. Tay

    May 2, 2011

    I am so thankful for my MIL. Especially after witnessing the horrors of what my mom went through with her MIL. Oh man.

    She is caring, generous, hard working, full of energy and praise, trying to help in every way (which is, at times, overwhelming – but overall not the worst fault to have 🙂 ). My children know just how much she loves them and she loves spending time with them. And when I had my baby, she came over every week to help out with the cleaning or just watching the baby so I could spend time with my older boy. I am so blessed to have her in my life.

  23. Heidi

    May 2, 2011

    Most people on this earth would consider my MIL a saint, but we have a terrible relationship. I’m with jks…my compliments to her would be along the lines of “neatly groomed fingernails” and “shows up to work on time.” Despite our sordid history, I am grateful for the wonderful son she raised and that somehow he loves me even when she doesn’t. She is also very good to my kids, who are (and probably are destined to always be) her only grandchildren.

  24. Gabrielle

    May 2, 2011

    I’m so happy to see these comments on wonderful MIL’s. I have 3 boys and no daughters, and I worry so much about my relationship with my future daughters-in-law. I want so much to be close to them. Sometimes it seems like people have nothing but complaints about MIL’s, and that depresses me a lot. I’m really glad to see that the MIL-DIL relationship can be close and loving.

  25. Jeannie

    May 2, 2011

    ditto to Kellie’s comment…..same lesson learned…

  26. Catherine A.

    May 3, 2011

    mmiles – what a wonderful post. And a sweet experience – of listening to your grandmother’s stories. Are you writing them down for her?

    My MIL is a tremendous woman. I would not have survived the last two years without her. She has slept at our home and helped me feed both sets of our newborn twins. She is the only person on earth (next to my hubby) who is capable of watching all five of my little ones for a long stretch. And she offers often -always happy to say yes, bring a treat/project for my girls, and act like it’s the best part of her day. She’s truly amazing. Just today she came and watched my boys, while my husband’s father prepped our kitchen for painting and I peeled wallpaper. I’m indebted to them. To her. Forever.

  27. Jenni

    May 3, 2011

    Grandma Honey–good luck! When you start out, don’t take offense from your DIL’s. They are probably young, and just the fact that you are different from their own families might not bode well at first. When I was a young married, this is how I was. I was a bit disdainful of my husband’s family just because they were different. Twenty years later: I LOVE my MIL, and my entire in-law family. The way they do lots of things is BETTER than the way my family does things. She is so caring, smart, and righteous, and is now one of my best friends.

  28. Emily M.

    May 3, 2011

    My mother-in-law died several years ago, and I wish she were still alive to enjoy her grandkids. I know she would have loved interacting with them.

    I would be interested in a guest post and/or lots of comments from our readers who have daughter-in-laws and want to talk about what makes a good daughter-in-law.

  29. Grandma Honey

    May 3, 2011

    Thank you for all the comments and insight on how to be a good mother in law. I’m a continual work in progress. I have 4 wonderful DILs and I’m trying to learn how to be the best for them.

    I hope someone does write that post about a good daughter in law…I would find it most interesting!

  30. Laurel C.

    May 3, 2011

    I am jealous of you all with wonderful MILs. Mine is weird with a beard. My own mother doesn’t believe my stories about MIL (and I swear I make up nothing). Truth is stranger than fiction.

  31. Melissa M.

    May 3, 2011

    I loved reading these grateful appreciations of your MILs—and I love hearing that there are wonderful MILs out there. I’d like to be that kind of MIL when the time comes, but haven’t had much modeling in this department, so hearing about specific things that your MILs do is very helpful. Thank you!

  32. Cissy

    May 3, 2011

    After the recent birth of my fifth baby, which coincided with a painting job being done in my house, by mother-in-law took us all into her home for ten days. I think I wished for my own bedroom for about one night, then gave in to her kind caretaking: getting the kids to school, feeding and watching them, washing their clothing every day (I don’t even do that!), sending me back to bed with baby if I tried to work. She kept telling me–very lovingly–that soon enough I would get to do everything on my own. She cares for my family so often and in so many ways, and this latest situation was just the epitome of that generosity. I’m glad to be in her family.

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