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It seems rather common to hear of "horror stories" between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law.
You probably have heard stories from your friends, relatives, colleagues, or even your own mother. You probably even have stories of your own to share. And those with wonderful relationships with their in-laws seem few and far between.
But is it really so difficult for the two most important women in our husband's life to get along with each other?
Or have we been conditioned by society into believing that it's natural for us to not get along well with our mothers-in-law, that this predisposition reduces our inclination to work hard at making our relations work in the first place?
I've joined my husband for weekly Sunday family dinners since our dating days. I've always found my mother-in-law to be very out-going, energetic and cheerful. She's very dedicated to her work and takes a lot of pride in what she does.
I've seen how she enjoys long conversations with her sons and the ease with which she and her son can share candidly about what goes on in their lives.
It makes me wish that when I have a son of my own, I would also be able to share such a close relationship with my child, all the way into adulthood.
My MIL welcomed me with open arms into their family when my husband and I got married. We also traveled together as a family.
She has always been very generous towards us and never interfered with issues between my husband and me.
If anything, she would put in a good word for me and ask her son to take better care of me.
So things have actually been going on very well, until my son came along.
My MIL is a very loving and doting grandmother. She's always full of energy, is very spontaneous and carries a sense of adventure.
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It is easy to see why my son enjoys grandma's company so much. Not to mention all the toys she gets for him!
But I was the possessive and paranoid first-time mom who wanted to have a say in everything. I was Mom-zilla.
Don't keep buying so many toys, Mom.
Please don't let him watch YouTube when he's having his meals, Mom.
It's almost time for his nap/bedtime, Mom.
Please don't give him sweet drinks, Mom.
Okay, I think that's enough of fruit juice for him, Mom.
In my defense, these are the things I would also tell my parents if it happens, and I try my best to speak to my MIL in an amicable tone.
But still, all my statements and opinions seem to be telling my MIL, "no no no no no no", just expressed in different words.
Fortunately for me, my husband and I are always on the same side. So we don't quarrel over issues related to how my MIL takes care of our son.
But the truth is, there really isn't anything wrong with how my MIL takes care of my son.
After all, didn't she care for my husband when he was a little boy? Doesn't that make her a much more experienced mother than me?
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But times are different now!
My son is different from her son.
I have my own ways of bringing up my son.
As the mother, I should have the final say in what my son is allowed or not allowed to do/eat.
The truth is, I think my MIL dealt with similar issues with her MIL when she was a young mother.
I'm not sure how things actually went for her and her MIL, but I have to admit she has been the most patient and accommodating with me.
When it comes to my objections, opinions, and suggestions, she almost always gives in, save for the times when she still tries to sneak some sweet treats to my son even after I said: "no more please".
Why do I always have to be the bad guy?
Why am I always the one having to say "no"?
Don't you think I don't want to be fun and agreeable to all the things that my son asks for?
But if I don't set the limits, who would?
To be honest, I can really understand why my son adores his grandma. I love her too, for all that she is to my children, in a big way that I'm not.
I'm also very thankful that she's always so tolerant and patient with me, even when I don't always show her my friendliest face.
It's definitely not true that mothers- and daughters-in-laws can't always get along. It just requires a lot of hard work.
But doesn't it ring true for all relationships?
Fortunately for me, my MIL doesn't have any issues with me, or so I hope. Whereas my complaints are always regarding how she's "spoiling and over-indulging" the children.
Then again, grandparents are hardly disciplinarians to their grandchildren even if they were very strict parents to us.
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I realize I just have to learn to accept that their role as gramps is to simply love and dote on their grandchildren.
Of course imparting of values to the little ones would also come naturally. But I simply can't expect them to treat my children the way I treat them -- rules, expectations, discipline and all.
After all, they have already spent a great part of their lives disciplining us, so they really just wanna have some fun without the "parenting obligations".
So when I have learned to take a step back and do less micromanaging and less Mom-Zilla, naturally things got better between my MIL and me.
After all, there is no doubt that she loves my children with all her heart.
Things have also changed with having more children. From "I wanna have my son all to myself!!" to "please take all 3 monkeys off my hands if you will!!"
Mom-Zilla wants some fun too.
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