I just hate to be identified as that.  That designation just makes me cringe. Somehow I have visions of The Wicked Witch of the West. A few years ago Jane Fonda was cast as such a character in the movie called “Monster-In-Law.”  It was horrible. Not the movie… the woman Fonda portrayed. That character has left a lasting impression on me. I think that is the reason I do not want to be referred to as a “mother-in-law,” though I wouldn’t mind looking like Jane Fonda at her age.  I want to either be called by my first name or introduced as “my-husband’s-mother,” or “my kids’ grandmother,” but never “my mother-in-law!”

My own M-I-L hated to be called that too.  She was a wonderful lady!  And I mean “lady” in every sense of that word. As I recall, when I first met her, she wasn’t really that warm and fuzzy but she wasn’t put-offish either. She had a wait and see mind-set. Basically, she just didn’t know what to make of me.  I was shy and said little which I’m sure made her wonder what her outgoing son was doing with such an introvert.  Not too long after our initial meeting, my M-I-L and I became very close.  And, as family and friends will attest, I am no longer at loss for words. 

I have tried to model myself after “my husband’s mother.”  She was loving, kind, helpful, always ready to talk, and had good advice, but only if we asked.  I’m sure there were many times when she wanted to say something, but bit her tongue.  I could tell when that would happen.  She would wince. I’m sure in the years her son and I were together her tongue wound up well scarred.  Right after my husband and I were married, I began to call her “Mom.” That pleased her greatly. She was delighted and I was comfortable with calling her that because my own mother didn’t mind. If my mother wasn’t available, she was just a phone call away.  She was unbiased and down-to-earth.  She was a person I could relate to, confide in and joke with.

I have two sons.  They could not have picked out lovelier wives.  They are perfect mates to each of my offspring. Both my sons and I are very lucky!! I am following my M-I-L’s example: I try to be to them what she was to me.  I stay out of my children’s way; I provide encouragement and what I am sure (from my point of view) is sage advice, but only when asked; I’m there emotionally or physically when they want me; and they know I love them with all my heart. 

That’s what makes a comfortable and loving relationship between us.  We are there for each other but not on top of one another.  Basically I want to be part of their lives, not in their lives!  That, as I see it, is the polar opposite of what I imagine when I hear those three unpleasantly linked words….. “Mother-in-law.”

I just can’t get Jane Fonda out of my mind!!!