I will admit it, I love being grandma.
I will also admit that I am not so keen on being the mother in law.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my daughter in laws almost as much as I love my sons and their children.
I just do not always get along with them. Being so far away I never get the chance to sit down and get to know them. The same goes for them. How do you get to know someone with the short visits 2 or 3 times a year?
Short answer is you don’t. You try to be on your best behaviour and you bite your tongue when you see them doing something for the children that you totally disagree with, but the children seem to be doing well so you don’t say anything. But let’s face it you come away with a sore tongue and some hurt feelings.
What can we do to change this?
Honest answer to that is I don’t know. I have ideas and I have hopes but since every situation is different I really can’t say what would work for everyone. Heck some of the ideas I have tried have been absolute failures. We all survived them but it sure makes for some uncomfortable times.
Here are a few examples of things I tried being the daughter in law.
One time we were called to visit on a Sunday afternoon. I had a fairly expensive roast thawed ready to cook for supper so I took it with us and told my mother in law that I would cook it for supper there. I had all the fixings so just had to spice the roast and put it in the oven. Simple right!! Wrong.
I was adding spices and mother in law told me that if I put salt on it the roast would be tough and way too salty for anyone to eat it.
So I left the salt off. Later when she was out of the kitchen I added the salt and she was none the wiser. Everyone loved the meal and she kept on about “see, you don’t need salt.” I just smiled and said I was glad everyone liked the meal.
That attempt worked because I took her feelings into consideration and didn’t argue with her which saved her the embarrassment of either proving me wrong or proving herself right. I didn’t tell her she was wrong I just did what I knew worked without showing her up. 34 years later she can still think she taught me something she figured I should know.
One time the family had gotten together for Thanksgiving dinner. I do not like tense situations or downright fighting at any time and this day it was getting to the arguing about what salt shakers we should use. My husband saw it was getting to me so when mother in law said would someone pick up the turkey and put it in the sink and run water on it, Don looked at me and I nodded. He picked her up put her in the sink and ran water over her feet. Everyone laughed and the mood changed drastically. She was still telling the story years later when ever she had a turkey to cook. One problem was that Don’s youngest sister thought it was a horrible trick and now that she has her mother living with her we have not heard from mother in law for 6 years and have no idea how to get in touch with her. Youngest sister is married now and we were never told her married name.
So that attempt was a success for the time but it had bad effects for later in life.
I have only once gotten upset enough to tell my mother in law off and it was a doozy. She was visiting for a week and things were going well. It was as pleasant a visit as could be. But when she left my youngest son would not enter a room without the light being turned on and going down the hall he would turn on the light get to his room turn that light on then go back and turn off the hall light. He had never done this and at 4 years old I was getting concerned. I asked him why he needed the lights and he asked me “does god watch you even when you are in the bathroom” Now we are not a religious family so I was wondering where this was coming from and leading to. I said I was sure god had better things to do than to watch when he was in the bathroom. I asked him why he was wondering and he admitted that granny told him god watched him every minute of every day. It scared him.
I got on the phone and told granny that if she ever talked to my children about her god without Don or I there and I found out I would pack her bags and put her on the bus and she would never be allowed to see her grandchildren again. She told me that since the devil was around she wanted them to know that there was a good guy there to protect them. I explained that their father and I were their protectors and adding something else just confused them and scared the youngest one.
Maybe I was wrong in my approach but it worked and I was protecting my children. So I am not proud of my method but I am proud of the fact that I did what I had to do. My son remembers that talk with his granny and thanked me for never having to deal with another on that subject.
Granny however still thinks I am a horrible person for not being religious and following the bible and raising our children in the church. Not sure if that is a keeper or a failure it is a just had to do it.
Here is a definite do not do example.
My husband has a bad reaction whenever he eats pork roasts or pork chops or ground pork. It isn’t processed so it really affects his system. My mother knew this but never believed me about it. One time we were invited out for dinner and she had a ground meat pie. It had bear, venison, beef and pork all mixed together in gravy and a crust. No mention of the pork. It was really good but within 1/2 an hour Don was getting white and sweating and had a killer headache. I asked mom for some aspirin and she got all concerned. She mentioned the pork in the pie. I asked her why she didn’t tell us about it and she said she didn’t believe anyone could be allergic to pork. Don was sick for 2 days but mom learned her lesson.
So please do not try to sneak something through just because you don’t believe in something it could have disastrous side effects.
One final point on this segment.
Do not try to solve the problems while you are still upset. Let a bit of time and distance put a different light on the subject. If you think about what led up to the problem you may find that it is not as serious as you thought it was. Telling you husband or wife while you are upset will just make them as upset and then you have to deal with other people in the mix. So think and then talk works well in many cases.
More in the next post. Takes some time because some situations are embarrassingly funny and some are just embarrassing.