Blogging is a great way to share insights and experiences. But, sometimes, as much as we'd like to start a discussion, it's not our story to share, or feelings could be hurt, or relationships damaged. So, for my guest posting series, I asked bloggers to share here, anonymously, posts they felt they couldn't put on their own blogs.
I hope you'll find them as compelling as I have.
It wasn’t always that way though. When I first met her, I liked her. I actually liked her.
But then something changed. And the change was mostly on my part. You see, I was young and impressionable when I got married. And I started reading message boards and talking to other wives and mothers, and watching horrid television sitcoms like Everybody Loves Raymond. And I started to think that I was supposed to not get along with her. I started to think that just because she had raised her babies differently than I wanted to raise mine, that we couldn’t get along. I thought that the differences in our parenting philosophies were irreconcilable. In my mind, I turned her into the hypercritical, passive-aggressive, television sitcom mother-in-law.
Oh, how foolish I was. So completely and utterly foolish.
You see . . . I was all into attachment parenting and breastfeeding and gentle discipline. And my mother in law raised her children with cribs and strict bedtimes and crying it out and bottle feeding and lots of spanking. And, I thought those differences in our parenting philosophies were more significant than they actually were. I thought she was judging me, when really I was judging her.
I would take every little thing she said or did and blow it WAY OUT OF PROPORTION in my mind to turn her into a horrible person.
For many years, I lived in dread of seeing her or talking to her on the phone. It’s not a fun way to live.
And, then slowly, slowly something changed in me. It started when I had an imagined near brush with death. And I realized that if I were to die with such hatred in my heart . . . it would not be good for my soul.
I stopped hanging out on forums and message boards where people routinely bashed their in laws. I stopped really talking to people who did the same. And I stopped watching television sitcoms about bad mother in laws.
And, I realized that I’m NOT a perfect mother. I make mistakes . . . mistakes a plenty. For all my parenting philosophy ideals, I’ve messed up. Many, many times. So, I stopped judging other mothers, especially my mother in law. I’m come to realize that she did the best she could, just like I’m doing the best I can.
I also realized that she raised my husband. Without her, HE wouldn’t exist. And I really like HIM. So, I’m grateful to HER for giving me HIM. I realized that she can’t be all bad, if she raised such a wonderful son.
As she’s gotten older, I stopped seeing her as a threat. I stopped seeing her as a threat to my marriage or a threat to my children.
And I’ve stopped caring about things she does differently. Who cares if she has different ideas about gifts and parenting and food? Does it really matter if she thinks aspartame is a health food? She’s old and set in her ways and I’m younger, but still set in my ways. And so what if we are different? So what?? I’ve realized . . . it doesn’t matter. I can get along with people who think differently than me, I really can.
I’ve asked God to help me love her. And slowly, he’s been changing my heart. We’re still not best friends. We still have very different philosophies in many things. I’m probably not going to call her up on the phone just to chat. But, when I do see her, we can now get along. I no longer feel the need to avoid her or hide from her. I no longer dread visits with every core of my being. Slowly, slowly things are changing. And the change has mostly been in me. She hasn’t changed . . . but I have. And sometimes, you really do just need one person to change, to change a relationship.
So, this is this story of how I changed my relationship with my mother in law.
Thanks to Kendra for giving me a forum to share this message.
Here are a few of my favorite blogs (besides this one of course) . . . ones that inspire me, and I hope they will inspire you too.
This Felicitous Life
A Fly on Our Chicken Coop Wall
One Catholic Mama