BY MADISON FREDERICK
Don’t you think we need a special day to celebrate our wonderful mothers-in-law?
And isn’t it appropriate for it to be AFTER we celebrate Mother’s Day?
And shouldn’t we acknowledge that mothers-in-law will always be second in our hearts?!
Yes, yes and yes!
I do not mean for this to be a sarcastic barb. It is true. The relationship between mother and child is the closest one this side of Heaven. It is supposed to be. So honestly, even the most loved and treasured mother-in-law will never gain the position of mother. (The age-old conflict occurs when your child puts his or her spouse’s mother first. But that, too, can be a blessing.)
In many families, there are two mothers-in-law. His and hers. Often couples take great care to be inclusive of their extended families. Then the children arrive. Things change. A new mother reaches out for help and advice from her mother. She needs the comfort of a mother, herself. This is the most dangerous time for mothers-in-law to retain their happy, healthy relationships. Every mother is used to being the “first mother.” But as I have already stated, there can only be one first mother. But, hey, you can be the first mother-in-law! A good way to start is to review your rule as mother of the groom at the wedding: Keep your mouth shut and wear beige.
In order to be successful in your mother-in-lawhood and become much-loved, you should know the code. The code is the way your daughter-in-law translates your statements. “My goodness. I’ve never seen it done that way.” Translation: “You do not know the right way to do it.”
“I don’t know where they got that habit.” Translation: You must be a poor mother because I never had that problem.
“I’d be happy to help out when you get home with the baby.” Translation: Your house is a mess, and I don’t have confidence that you can handle everything.
I learned this code when I came home with my first son, and my sweet, well-meaning mother-in-law came to help. She completely organized and cleaned my linen closet. I took it to mean that she thought I was a poor housekeeper. Not until I became a mother-in-law did I realize that she merely wanted to help out. She wanted to feel purposeful, and she wanted to do something for me. I regret that I cannot hug her now and genuinely thank her for being the loving mother-in-law she was.
And that is why we should have a special Mother-in-Law Day. Let’s celebrate the second in line. Own up to the fact that she is most often the backup. She knows that she will be second to learn the news. She will wait her turn to hold the new baby, to see the pictures, to get the visit. She understands the mother/child relationship because she is a mother, too! Honor her and don’t wait until it is too late to let her know how important she is in your family.