I realize I may be in the minority. Before you click out of this post, hear me out. My relationship with my mother-in-law (MIL) is far from perfect. In fact, when my husband and I were dating and newly married, my relationship with my MIL was a source of anxiety. I wanted to be the perfect daughter in-law, and I desperately wanted her approval. The longing for her approval left me constantly on edge when we were together.
It wasn’t until months after my daughter was born that I was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief, and I became more comfortable with our relationship. I realized that my mother-in-law raised two boys, and she would never get to have those traditional mother-daughter moments like shopping for a wedding dress, going to an ultra sound appointment, or being in the delivery room. She was the mother-in-law. She wasn’t the person I called to cry to when I was having a bad day nursing or when my daughter was running fever. These realizations softened my heart towards her.
I came to understand that while she isn’t my mom, and she’s not the one I turn to when I’m stressed or need to vent about my day, our relationship could grow and become whatever we wanted it to be. I knew that I wanted our relationship to improve, and it started with me reaching out to her by calling her more, sending her pictures of her granddaughter, inviting her to spend the weekend, and finding little ways to include her in our life.
My mother in law raised two successful boys, has a very traditional marriage, is involved in her church, her house is ALWAYS clean, and she brings people food when they’re sick. She’s basically the perfect wife, and while that may have been an aspect that would have intimidated me in the past, I appreciate it now. The more time I spend with her, the more I realize that I can actually glean some important lessons about being a wife and a mom.
While there are still those moments when I feel as though I don’t measure up, they are fewer and further between. Like all important relationships, to build depth and meaning, it takes time, communication, honesty and work, and I think we are moving in the right direction.