Friday, May 06, 2005

So Much More Than Their Bad Rep

On June 20th an unusual thing happened. My new husband and I were standing in line at Port Columbus International Airport checking in for a flight to Rome, when my mom made a joke to Mr. which he did not hear. Consequently, I commented "your mother-in-law is making fun of you" and then distinctly heard my mother say quietly "Oh my god. I'm a Mother-in-Law."

About a month later I made a joke to my husband's mum about "her daughter-in-law" which she reacted strangely to - something which I was unprepared for as everyone in my husband's family has a wonderfully sarcastic sense of humor. Now this may come as a shock, but it turns out the answer lies in the fact that my parents actually like their in-laws, whereas my mother-in-law is not so fond of her own, now ex-husband's mommy. I did not grow up in a house where the term mother-in-law had a negative connotation, although society as whole does treat it as a dirty word. It was bizarre to Mr.'s mum to think of my reference to her by that term as endearing.

Why is it that we as a whole voice this opinion that a mother-in-law is such an awful thing? Mine is an absolute blessing, she is funny, caring, generous - she embodies fun and yet when I am preparing for the absolutely huge second interview I have on Monday I will be calling her instead of my own mother for advice. My mother-in-law is someone I go to for advice when things get tough (except of course if Mr. and I are having a disagreement, that's just unethical.) She is in fact almost perfect, except for those moments when she tries to convince me to pick up our life and move to New Zealand (her country of origin.) In fact, my mother-in-law (not my husband, parents, sisters, best friend, college roommate, etc) was the very first person I called back in October when I was laid off. I walked dazed back to my desk, flipped through my rolodex, found her office phone number.

"I got laid off."

"Ohh. Doesn't that just suck?!"

Had I called my own mom, she would have wanted me to explain, she would have wanted to know all the details and how I was feeling, which I appreciate, but she was not the person I needed, when I was, quite frankly, in need.

I guess my real point is that while I am certain there are moms out there who are a pain in the ass or mean to their sons/daughters-in-law, this is not without exception and that if you are brought up without the concept of hating these people, unless they beg for you to hate them (or you're an awful person) its not gonna happen. Mr. and I have discussed how when we have children it is important to us that they never hear us use the in-law words with disgust, god forbid they learn that predjudice.


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