Mothers-in-law (MIL) have historically been the bane of daughters-in-law. As we celebrate mothers’ day, spare a thought for the woman who winds you up more often than you care to admit. Can you really grow to love her?
I have never had a mother- in-law as my husband lost his mum when he was very young. However, he was brought up by several loving aunties who claim, and rightly so, to have made him the man he is now. It also means I have not just one mother-in-law figure to deal with, but three. I have learnt a lot over the years but I am also beginning to see that I am likely to become one of those annoying mothers-in-law when the time comes.
I have a thirteen year old son and I am already praying to God about his future. I pray that he will marry the love of his life. I want him to find happiness with a good woman, of course I do. If I am honest, I am also dreading the time when he will prefer to spend hours talking to someone other than me. There will come a time when I won’t be the one to whom he pours out his troubles. I know I will never doubt his love; but it won’t be within my reach 24/7, as it is now.
Can you learn to love your MIL if you don’t get on? A friend of mine found that she could but it took her a long time to come to that realisation. Yes, I have many friends and yes, she knows she is the subject of today’s article! She got married in Nigeria about five years ago. Her husband returned to the UK where he has based and his new bride had to live with her new parents-in-law while her immigration application was pending. Unfortunately, she didn’t like her MIL and after a few months she found an excuse to move back to her parents’ home.
She finally relocated to the UK almost one year after the wedding and was blessed with a baby. She decided to stay at home for a year to look after her child before getting a job, and they were soon blessed with another baby hardly a year after the birth of the first child. However, she and her husband started feeling the financial strain of having one income stream to support a family of four.
It soon became apparent that my friend had to get a job to help with household expenses but there was the problem of child-minding. You can guess what happened next: her darling husband decided to surprise her by arranging for his mum to come to the UK to help out with the kids!
My friend and I didn’t get to see each other for many months after her mother in law arrived. In that time, my friend started a job which she enjoyed and her kids thrived under their grandma’s care. When we finally found time to see each other, I found that not only had her MIL come to the UK armed with enough supply of Robb and ‘alabukun’ for the whole of the geriatric population of the UK, she was actually a godsend.
Her MIL woke early each morning to get the children washed and fed; took them to the park to play when the weather was good; sang and played with them; watched their silly kiddie TV shows with them and put them on her back to rock them to sleep. She also tidied the house every day and on one occasion even attempted to hand-wash some of the kids’ clothes when she couldn’t remember how to operate the washing machine. My friend also confessed to enjoying her MIL’s company. At weekends, they watched Nigerian movies and Coronation Street and shopped together at Poundland where her MIL loved buying all sorts of tat and knick knacks.
Two years on and my friend’s MIL still comes to the UK for extended visits. She is in the UK at the moment as her third grandchild was born some months ago. Whenever her MIL goes to Nigeria, my friend seems lost without her and eagerly awaits her return.
Some MIL are truly evil, but majority just need to go through a period of adjustment after their son’s marriage to understand their new role in his life. Some take a few months and some take years, but it is a process that has to happen and the only objective person who can really facilitate this process is the daughter-in-law. If she has the right attitude, peace and love could reign sooner.
I know I am going to be a difficult mother-in-law. My son entrusted to another woman? It is going to be hard. However, I hope that my daughter-in-law will be a wise and sensible woman who will allay all my fears and show me that she is really a blessing to my son and our family. I will eventually back off when I know my son is in good hands, but until then I can’t promise not to make her life slightly difficult.
Show some love to your MIL this mothers’ day and always. Even if she doesn’t reciprocate, she most likely secretly appreciates your efforts and will come to love you more for it. You are building bridges that will last a lifetime. We all pray to become someone’s MIL someday. It is never too early (or too late) to start trying to understand how a mother feels when she becomes own son’s other woman.
Writer – Abi Adeboyejo lives in Birmingham, UK with her two children and her fabulous man, who by the way, prefers that his wife writes down her thoughts than listening to her musings on everything.