Our guest poster chooses anonymity today in of the slight chance that her mother-in-law could read this– because she does love her, even if she drives her completely crazy.
Sunday afternoons with 5 small children are chaotic at best with every toy called upon to maintain peace, meals spread throughout the long hours and disagreements breaking out every few minutes. I sat in a pile of puzzles that my baby had dumped on the family room floor when the doorbell rang. Three little children raced to open the door but before they could cover the 5 yards the door burst open and my husband’s parents entered the hallway.
Settling on the couches they surveyed the chaotic room while I maintained my station on the floor sorting puzzle pieces into their respective boxes, “Estella said you’d do this,”my father-in-law mused, “she said you’d be embarrassed that your house is always such a mess and start cleaning the moment we got here.”
Oh I fumed, I raged, and with a tight-lipped smile muttered, “I was doing this before you got here.”
Barely maintaining a facade of civility, I finished sorting the puzzles then wandered to the kitchen to stay on the periphery of their visit. My in-laws are humble, sweet, gentle people. Foreigners both, they immigrated to the U.S. over 40 years ago to raise my husband and his brother in a peaceful country. Subsisting under the poverty level all their years, they live simply, quietly and yet want for nothing. Still confused by Big Gulps and light sabers, my houseful of children with toys and books and wild antics is as foreign to them as their homeland is to me.
After a few hours, they gathered their coats and headed to the door. Escorting them out I said in a gruff voice that I scarcely recognized as my own, “Please, next time call ahead of time and let us know you are coming.”
Now here is where I get really unfair. My father-in-law made the comment, but I forgave him quickly(cause that’s just how he is) and saved the resentment for my mother-in-law(although that’s just how she is too). Why is it so difficult to feel judged by another woman? Is it because our jobs are so similar and I’m clearly not measuring up to her expectations? There seems to be more than enough blame to go around– they should have called, I should have set up boundaries years ago(but they keep changing!) and I could certainly be more forgiving.
I know many people that have warm, loving relationships with their mother-in-law. How do you develop those? And, someday I’ll be a mother-in-law myself– will I make all the same mistakes?