“I wanted to do something nice so I bought my mother in law a chair. Now they won’t let me plug it in…” – Henny Youngman.
My husband actually came up with the idea for this article saying that I should write EVERYTHING about what I encountered with his mother.
I have had the PLEASURE of having two mothers in law. One of them recently passed away (as in March) and the other is still alive, going to kidney dialysis every week.
My first mother in law, the kidney dialysis one, grew up without a sister or brother in a strict Jewish household. She was raised by her grandparents as her mother went to work right after her father died. She was warm and approachable. I met her when I was 19 years old.
Throughout the years my mother in law never gave her advice on any subject, unless asked. She was respectful and compassionate. When she came for a visit (before we moved down to Florida) there was an arriving and departing date – never wanting to overstay her welcome.
One time we were talking about marriage, she told me that the physical aspect of a relationship was equally as important as the non-physical aspect. And to always make alone time for each other… especially after children got in the picture.
She never once passed judgment on anything I said or did or didn’t say or do as it pertained to my marriage to her son or in raising her grandchildren. She was and remains a class act.
And then there was my mother in law that just passed away.
She also grew up without a sister or brother, but in a Catholic household. Her parents tried for another child, but it didn’t work out for them. She was super outgoing and very friendly. I met her when I was 35 years old.
I could take the high road here and simply write that she raised her son to be a fine man. Which would be true. But my husband wanted me to be honest; I will do my best to condense.
Right away, as an outsider to the family, you got the sense of being judged. An example would be when we were dating, we flew up to NY to visit and when she saw me cutting a bagel (apparently not using the “bagel slicer”) she quickly removed the bagel and knife out of my hands (without so much as a word) and put the bagel in the bagel slicer contraption. I didn’t know using a knife to cut a bagel was the wrong way to cut a bagel…
If it wasn’t nailed down, it was in her purse. After all, she was entitled to everything. She was superior to everyone, and she made you aware of her superiority.
We came home from a trip to our entire TV room rearranged – everything was put in a different place. A place she thought was better than how we had it. Not really sure. But I was pretty super ticked off. As was my husband. She did it again with his dresser, rearranged all of his clothes to different drawers…
I loved it when my friends would tell me what she was saying about me, all bad (in her mind), of course, behind my back.
One day she was so ticked off at my husband, that when we got out of the car to go inside a restaurant, she threw the car keys at my husband, only to miss him, and the keys fell down a sewer grate. I’m not making this up.
Apparently, I was doing the laundry wrong, as one day she took the t-shirts out of the dryer and laid them all around my house, hanging on the backs of chairs. I didn’t know t-shirts weren’t supposed to be dried in the dryer… The second time she did that I sat her down and explained that if she didn’t like the way I did my laundry, she could leave my house. I also explained that she could do her laundry any way she wanted in her own house – that I would never tell her how to do her laundry. The very next time she was over, guess what she did? The witch took my t-shirts out of the dryer again. It was the last time.
Several summers ago, while we were in our house in Maine, I was giving the little ones a bath upstairs. It was just the three of us at home that afternoon. I heard someone come through the door, go to the fridge, take out a glass, grabbed some ice and poured themselves a drink. I yelled, “Who’s downstairs?” She yelled, “It’s me.” I replied, “Oh, I didn’t know you were coming.” “It was last minute.” She would come when she wanted and leave when she wanted.
If I had a nickel for every time she told me I was raising my children wrong, I could own Google.
It was Easter several years ago when we sat at the table the Priest was sitting at. She introduced her son, my children, but neglected to mention who I was.
What I especially loved was how nice she was to me in front of my husband, but once he left the room, she would ignore me.
If I got something new, something on the expensive side, she never asked about it or complimented how pretty it was. Trust me on this, the woman LOVED anything with a brand name – the more expensive, the better.
Honestly, she made me feel like I was the other woman – no matter what I did or said or didn’t do or say, it was always wrong. It was as if I stole her husband from her.
Don’t get me wrong
It’s not that I didn’t love her. I actually did. About a year before she died, she was still driving. Not a smart thing, but she demanded her independence. Honestly, I didn’t blame her. Independence is such an enormous part of us. Who wants to give it up?
Long story short, she stopped over to an acquaintance’s house. She was only to stay about five minutes. Five minutes came and went. The acquaintance lived down the street from me, so after about 30 minutes, I drove by the house to make sure she was still there (and not driving elsewhere). She was. I texted her to remind her of a later commitment, that if she stayed any longer, she would miss it. No answer. Another 15 minutes went by, I drove by the house and this time I could see movement around the front door of the house, she was leaving. I purposely stayed back because I didn’t want her to know I was checking up on her.
After she got home, she called me to tell me how much she didn’t appreciate my checking up on her. I’m sure I don’t need to write the WORDS she used. I admitted that I did check up on her (I wasn’t going to lie) but that I did so because I loved her (I wasn’t going to lie). She went silent. She started up again about how angry she was with me. Some %$#@*! WORDS were exchanged.
The last time I saw her, about two weeks before she passed away, I laid in bed with her. The Olympics were on. She was a sports fanatic. She didn’t say much towards the end, just like my mom and dad didn’t say much. But when it was time to say goodbye, my last words to her were, “I love you.”
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