God knows, there are some horrific mother-in-law stories out there.
A quick flick through the Mamamia archives will yield you some super cringe-worthy reading material. The mother-in-law who fed her grandson a hot dog against the wishes of his vegan parents, for example. There are the worst presents ever received from mothers-in-law. And there are plenty of mothers-in-law who so badly control the lives of their adult children the only solution is to cut off all contact.
But my mother-in-law is none of those things.
My mother-in-law is a very thoughtful, kind and funny woman.
She loves her son so much, but she has nothing but respect for him and his choices. And because of the kind of woman she is, that respect and love for him is extended to me.
Almost as important as that love and respect is the fact that it comes without pressure or expectation. There’s no manipulation, no conditions we have to meet.
When we coming home after a trip overseas, she pops over to put fresh milk in the fridge so we can have a cup of tea when we get home, jet lagged and decrepit.
She takes my sister-in-law and I out for girls afternoons, visiting the gallery or seeing a show.
She gladly helps us out at home when we need it. But she never does so before we ask. She respects us and our space.
Bless her, she’s just the sweetest woman I know.
Unlike my own mother.
My own mother isn’t evil. She’s not a horror story. My husband wouldn’t refer to her as a Monster-in-Law or anything like that.
It’s just that she’s not really trustworthy.
My mother comes with expectations. I’m sure she would be mortified to think she did, but she does.
I guess that’s half the problem. She’ll deny it until she’s blue in the face, but she is many things she likes to think she isn’t.
She says she’s always honest. ALWAYS honest. She will absolutely tell you that she has never told a lie. The trouble of course is that we are all telling lies on some level. But, you know, I’ve also caught her out in lies in recent years.
My mother will tell you that she doesn’t manipulate, that she’s absolutely upfront about what she thinks and what she wants. Buuuuuuuut. Well, she uses that narrative itself in order to manipulate us.
And hardest of all, my mother refuses to accept that any one else’s recollection of past history is accurate. We are, my brothers and I, told that it’s her version of events that’s correct. If we remember something different, it’s simply just deflected away.
It’s not that my mother has ever tried to make life difficult with these personality traits. It just that I feel like I have to constantly evaluate and re-evaluate what I’ve done, what I’m planning to do, how it might be received and what the effect of it might be.
And my brothers and I all feel the same way.
Surely it’s no wonder that my mother-in-law is such a breath of fresh air in comparison?