I had an entirely different post percolating, when my lanky Lurch said from the kitchen “Hey Mum….” Long, hard-won experience has told me that NOW was when I had to turn from my computer, my deadline, my headphones and listen. Listen, and ease into the conversational tempo that best works for my son… like a calm ocean strolling onto a deserted beach. Unhurried, considered, and deep. I, of course, am naturally more like the toddler shrieking and bouncing at the waves coming to kiss my feet, or like the shark telling itself it’s going to nibble off just a little toe…
Turns out, a question I asked more than an hour previously had soaked in, and he was ready to share. Turns out, it involved feelings, and relationship potential with someone, and rules that her parents have in place, and his request that I more clearly define my rules and expectations on the subject.
Somehow I managed not to stomp my foot and boom “NOT UNTIL YOU’RE THIRTY!” As much as it galls me, I have my monster-in-law to
thank for attribute that to a significant degree. Know, right from the start, I don’t use the term lightly – she was incredibly awful to me for over a decade. She’s now my EX monster-in-law, but I’ve been thinking of her as my oldest has grown ever closer to legal adulthood, and closer to girls he’s not related to.
I thought of her surprisingly last year, when I looked around Relief Society at the four youngest sisters, and realised my son had been on a date with each of them, and not that long ago. I thought viciously of her the other Christmas, when she unexpectedly sent me a gift in with the boys’ presents, and the boys looked at me wide-eyed and asked “Is it ticking?” (It was Ferrero Rochers, and I threw them away uneaten). I think of my monster-in-law painfully whenever I saw incredible examples of mothers-in-laws and women discussing how they were/going to approach the women in their sons’ lives, and eventually hearts and homes.
That decision making, that planning and what-if considering is right up in my face and emotions now. It’s gouged the scar of the pain and suffering my ex-in-law caused me – which does not improve my rationality or objectiveness to the situation – and considering my son’s future heart is making my mumma-bear kinda tense and battle ready. I don’t want my son to have his heart broken.
It’s not my choice though. But my treatment of his choice is. So I find myself in my pyjamas at the computer, thinking of every example I can remember of women interacting with their son’s choice. Like most times I try to work out what to do with parenting (or callings or friendships or decisions), I’m drawing on a rich banquet of choices, a startling selection of “what to do” and “what not to do”. The do’s are nothing I’ve experienced first-hand, but I have collected a great supply of them. One woman has given me a truly impressive and horrific catalogue of nots, and that – I’m grudgingly realising – is a weakness finally being made into a strength.
I’m still a while off being a mother-in-law, and I’m seriously plotting to be a never ever off being a monster-in-law. I’ve seen the damage it does, the sourness that digs in deep, the scars it leaves behind. I’m looking forward to my son being in love, and loved, and having a family, just like I also find myself looking back, hoping and praying I’ve taught him and loved him and encouraged him enough to be able to love and be loved as he should be. I’m hoping and praying the exact same scenario is happening for his future mother-in-law, wherever she may be right now. I hope we all leave our monsters behind us, all the better to dance at weddings, barbeques and whenever we are loved.
What advice, possible rules, do’s and do not’s do you have or intend to follow when your loved ones start dating and/or get married? What have mother- or monster-in-laws taught you?