Mother In Laws. What can we say? We can't live with them, and yet we can't live without them. We hate it when they are in our presence or overstay their welcome and yet when they are not around we (sort of) miss them. If it were not for them, we wouldn't have ended up with our spouse and if it were not for them, we wouldn't have birthed this wonderful baby of ours. Monster in law's, no wait, I mean mother in law's may turn our lives upside down once in a while and irk us to the point that we fantasize about punching them in the face.
While violence is uncalled for, one cannot deny the pleasure of dreaming about it, or talking about it (hey, we gotta release that pent up frustration somewhere). Surely we can't complain about our in laws to their beloved son. Oh no, that would be catastrophic.
One must never ever (ever ever!) dish about her spouse's mother directly to the spouse - so we talked to fifteen mums to help reduce their stress and allowed them to talk freely about their grievances. After all, what better way to destress than to spit things out to other mums who can empathize with one another ? Let it out of ladies, don't keep the frustrations to yourself. We're all in the same boat.
15 The Nagger
No one likes to be nagged, especially when you are tired from looking after a few babies (a few babies meaning the actual baby that is only a few weeks to a few months old and that spouse of yours who somehow thinks and acts like a baby when you least expect it) and have tried your darnest at making your house into a decent home.
Alice (not her real name) shared that her she regretted accepting her mother in law's offer to help look after her child. What initially seemed like a dream arrangement quickly escalated into a nightmare when her in law started nagging at her. The nagging would range from something seemingly innocent like, 'Alice, have you had your lunch?' for the umpteenth time to borderline dictatorial commands, 'Alice, you're holding the baby wrong. You should use your right arm and tilt it at 10.00001 degrees. No no no. Not like that! You're putting your baby in danger!' to the socially pressuring advice of 'Alice, have you breastfed your baby yet? Remember, breastmilk is the best!'. While her mother in law meant well, the constant nagging got to a point where Alice felt like giving her a punch in the face every time she opened her mouth. Luckily that never happened.
14 The Baby Hogger
It is without a doubt that every single mother on the face of the earth appreciates having their child being cared for by someone else once in a while. Yes, the word here is 'once in a while'. This gives us some time to ourselves, be it to take a nap or to have a relaxing day out. It is also a fact that most mother in laws are more than willing to help look after our babies. But there are some who cross the line and hog over the baby so much so that the mother has no time with the baby and has practically no say in what she wants to do with her baby.
Brenda ( again not her real name) was elevated when her mother in law first offered to help look after her first born during the day while she went to work but this arrangement eventually evolved into a nightmare. The hogging got so bad she didn't even have a say in what her child could wear ( no no no dearie, baby shouldn't wear black, it'll attract mosquitoes), let alone bring the baby for a stroll in the park (Oh no, mother in law would say, the park is too cold for the little one). You get the drift. Brenda got so frustrated she eventually hired a nanny instead. Nevermind her mother in law giving her and the nanny the evil eye every time she visited.
13 The Kitchen Hogger
If you think a baby hogger is bad enough, wait till you meet a mother in law who also hogs the kitchen. This happened to Brenda as well. When her mother in law came, she practically brought her own kitchen set over and reorganized Brenda's kitchen ( granted it probably wasn't very neat in the first place but hey , she wasn't exactly Master Chef material).
It soon dawned upon Brenda ( light bulb went ding!) that she couldn't even decide what to have for dinner, let alone a midnight snack. Mother in law dictated their every day menu. While many would line up for such a treatment ( who wants to crack their heads over what to cook for breakfast?), her mother in law made it a point to not only hog but also nag at Brenda about the state of her kitchen and how 'privileged' she was to have someone cook 'healthy delicious meals' ( read bland and tasteless) for her every day.
12 The Grumpy MIL
Ever watched the movie ' Grumpy Old Men'? Take that, change the gender and multiply the grumpiness by ten times and tadaa! You'll get a grumpy mother in law who sees the worst in everything. EVERY SINGLE THING.
Cassie ( who is generally very compliant and good natured) almost punched her mother in law in the jaw ( literally). Her mother in law complained about everything. The grouses ranged from the silverware that Cassie used ( why aren't they polished?) to the brand of diapers on her baby's butt ( brand xxx leaks too much) to Cassie's career ( why don't you stay at home? You're never going up climb up the ranks anyways) and how she did her laundry ( the way you hang your clothes, they'll only dry in a decade). In the end, a great big argument blew up between the two women ( while the husband / son took refuge in the TV room pretending he hadn't heard anything. Ahhhhh, ignorance is bliss).
11 The Sister In Law Comparison
While comparison fuels one to perform better, too much of a comparison can be toxic. Diana (again, a fake name lest her mother in law finds out and all hell break loose) and her mother in law never really saw eye to eye. Things got worse when Diana gave birth to her daughter and her mother in law offered (more like demanded) to help out for the first few months. She would compare Diana to her other seemingly perfect daughter in law (who luckily lived in another continent and only saw her mother in law once every two years).
The other daughter in law apparently was a super stay at home mum who waited on her husband hand and foot. Breakfast would be served piping hot every morning (Diana's spouse would just have coffee and a bagel), her babies were breastfed and 'never' got sick (Diana supplemented her breastmilk with formulated milk) and her house was ALWAYS immaculate. It was practically like an engineering firm's clean room environment where dust particles ceased to exist (Diana's house on the other hand coexisted with dust and mites).
It took all of Diana's willpower to swallow her pride and smile whenever her mother in law started shooting off the comparisons. Today, Diana is a successful guru for anger management. If she could survive all the verbal heat then she is definitely most qualified to guide the rest of us hotheads on how not to offend "cough" kick slap punch "cough" our dear in laws .
10 The Mother In Law Comparison
Some mother in laws are the answer to a new mother's prayers. Others are just your nightmare come true. Elaine's mother was your typical sixties housewife (no offense to anyone) whose life revolved around four walls and a ceiling. Her mother in law prided herself in having raised six siblings and four wonderful children while being able to cook up a storm for her husband every day and still be able to keep the house spic and span. This was no ordinary feat and Elaine's mother in law made sure to remind her about this every day.
Elaine would be changing her baby's diaper and her mother in law would sashay in to tell her how lucky she was to have disposable diapers. Surely Elaine would not be able to handle washing cloth diapers full of poop. Or if Elaine caught a flu while caring her baby, the mother in law would go tsk tsk, how fragile Elaine was compared to when mother in law had to slough through fever and diahhrea to look after her siblings. Her mother in law would remind Elaine how lucky she was to have help from mother in law and that Elaine couldn't live a life of challenges. So much for motivation and encouragement.
9 The Tattletale
The tattletale is one of life's most toxic species. The tattletale will spill any secret you hold dear to both friend and foe (with the occasional salt and pepper to spice up the details of your secrets. Very much like Desperate Housewives). Faith truly had her faith tested when her seemingly loving and caring mother in law moved in with her and started telling on her every move to both her husband and all her relatives.
Every move she made, from the way she fed her child, to the groceries she bought were exposed to all. At first, Faith thought of her mother in law as a friend (this lady must have been blind in the first place to even think this way) and confided some of her frustrations and fears only to find out later that her life became a form of entertainment gossip for her mother in law. In the end she chose to play dumb and finally got her mother in law to move back to her own place. For good.
8 The One Who Refused To Help
It's one thing when your mother in law over steps her boundary in helping (read dictator in the house) out with a your baby. It's another thing altogether when your mother in law refuses to lift her wrinkly finger to help. Grace was blessed with a pair of beautiful twins and almost shed some tears when her mother in law turned up at her apartment a week after she birthed her babies. She had expected her mother in law to at least chip in a teeny weeny bit in looking after the twins but no...her mother in law came, ate and slept.
When the babies cried, she would continue playing with her ipad mumbling, "a little bit of crying won't kill them" ( which is sort of true, unless the crying wakes up the whole neighborhood). When the babies both pooped or needed a bath, mother in law would have her facial mask on and couldn't (more like wouldn't move a muscle). When babies needed to have their bottles washed while mummy had to run some errands, mother in law would have no trouble waiting for mummy to come back and wash them.
Grace even had to prepare meals for her mother in law and chauffeur her around town (not that daughter in law's shouldn't, but when they are tired beyond reason, then shouldn't the mother in law try to ease their burden?). Things got so bad that one day when the babies were crying and spitting up milk, mother in law had the nerve to waltz into the bedroom and ask Grace to give her a pedicure. It took all of her might not to throw the milk bottle in her mother in law's botox ridden face.
7 The Overly Superstitious MIL
Every once in a while, we will meet with people who tend to be superstitious about the most mind baffling things. Walking under the ladder will bring you bad luck, trimming your nails at night will lull the ghosts to your room and etcetera. Sure, the world might house forces unseen but having to live with someone whose life revolves about superstition can very well drive you up the wall. Hannah who was (and still is) an atheist was extremely skeptical when her mother in law offered to babysit her child on weekends so she could have some personal time.
Still, she couldn't say no to such temptation (an afternoon off is considered cloud nine for many mothers unless of course you are a multi billionaire with an entourage of nannies at your beck and call). So in came her mother in law. At first, everything was tolerable. Her mother in law would sprinkle salt at the entrance of her door and hang garlic at the porch to ward off evil spirits and vampires (apparently she hadn't heard of the Cullens. I'd let them in with no hesitation. Rawr. Come bite me baby). But things became more and more extreme as the weeks progressed. One time Hannah found a pair of scissors underneath her baby's pillow. This was supposed to help sharpen her daughter's mind.
Granted it was with good intention but still a pair of scissors?! C'mon. Then she found a yellow piece of paper jammed in her water closet. It had caused a minor blockage on the bathroom. The yellow paper was to cleanse the household water from impurities. Then Hannah found a doll stuffed with hay hanging at her daughter's crib. That was the last straw and she literally kicked her mother in law out of the house.
6 The One Who Crossed Boundaries
Mother in laws who help out are wonderful. Mother in laws who help out without over stepping their boundaries are like a diamond in the rough. Mother in laws who do overstep their boundaries however come in throes. Joan had what you might call a mother in law from hell. The senior practically turned Joan's life upside down the minute she birthed her child. Mother in law wanted to choose a different name for her child (husband had a row with his mother over this and used the guilt factor to getting her way) and practically had Joan follow her step by step instructions on how to care for her child.
While it was done with the good intention, mother in law made it impossible for Joan to care for her baby independently and to learn from experience. Instead, she began to rely more and more on her mother in law until she had no confidence in looking after her own child. Even little things like sterilizing the bottles and feeding the baby had to be done according to mother in law's way. It took a lot of will power to break out of the hold and decide to raise her child her own way.
5 The One Who Turned The Spouse Against The Wife
You married your husband for a reason right? And you would expect to be able to live happily ever after (sans a few apocalyptic arguments and carnage of broken dishes) with your spouse. But what if you had to put up with a mother in law so devious she drives a wedge (and a pretty big one too) between you and your spouse? Katlyn had just the experience. Even before she was pregnant, she stayed as far away from her mother in law as possible.
But after the birth of her child, her mother in law would visit more and more often, each time sowing discord between the couple. Sometimes she would drop hints to her son like how uncaring the daughter in law was to the baby (baby was crying while Katlyn was trying to poop) and how irresponsible a mother she was (she had accidentally bumped her baby's hip against the door) and how a lazy woman she was (Katlyn fell asleep halfway while feeding the baby).
Husband of course got brainwashed and eventually both husband and wife would have arguments almost every day. She finally put her foot down and insisted that her mother in law visit less. That was an extremely wise decision. It saved her mother in law's face from being punched and socked and whammied.
4 The Control Freak
The control freak. The dominatrix (no, not in the sexy lingerie kind of way mind you). The dictator (imagine a female version of Hitler). That's not exactly what any mother of a new born child (or a few accident prone toddlers) want in their lives. And yet, Lois was faced with just that. A control freak, in the form of her very own mother in law. Absolutely everything had to be carried out according to get instructions, from how the baby was to be bathed to how to make milk (I mean all you need to do is mix the formula with water or pop the nipple in their little mouths). You'd think that changing the baby's diapers was a PhD paper in the making.
3 The Mrs Always Right
The modern man and woman are able to handle criticisms better and accept opinions other than their own without waging war on one another. Mandy's mother in law however was an exception. She felt that because she was decades older than Mandy, all her judgements and opinions were right and not to be challenged. Case in point, baby was cranky and unable to fall asleep. Mandy wanted to put baby in the rocker to gently rock her to sleep but mother in law came marching in and forbade Mandy from doing so.
Rocking your child will cause brain damage! This was her in law's belief. Mandy tried to explain that if one gently rocks the baby, no harm will come the baby's way. But no, mother in law was always right. Even a gentle rocking sensation could render the baby an idiot for the rest of the baby's life. After all, mother in law knows best. Clenched fists and gritted teeth ensued for the next few years. After all, mother in law was always right. To the left to the left, everybody else please move to the left.
2 The Dismissive One
Naomi gave birth to twins just a few days shy of Christmas and therefore had trouble booking a confinement lady (it is common practice for Asian women to hire confinement ladies to help care for their newborn 24/7 during the baby's first month. This allows the mother to recuperate aka sit back and relax before slaving over her child for the rest of her life). Her only option was to ask for her mother in law's help.
When initially asked during the second trimester, mother in law gave somewhat of a nonchalant answer. As D day loomed over the horizon, Naomi again asked her mother in law, just to confirm. Mother in law's answer was ' don't worry'. When the time came for Naomi and her babies' discharge, her mother in law went MIA. Upon answering her phone call to a desperate Naomi and husband, mother in law said she was vacationing in Hawaii. Suffice to say, both parties never spoke to one another again.
1 The Space Invader
Olive's mother in law loved visiting her daughter in law and kids. In fact she loved visiting them so much she made it a point to visit every other day, with her monstrous luggage in tow. Upon arriving, she would hug her grandchildren (a good thing), grill them about their day (slightly obsessive there) and made herself extremely comfortable in the house. In fact she made herself so comfortable she moved herself into Olive's room and dominated Olive's bathroom.
Once in a while she would wear Olive's slippers (acceptable), pajamas (still okay) and even her lingerie (a little weird there since her mother in law's twin peaks weren't exactly something to look forward to anymore). It got too personal when one day Olive found her mother in law checking the contents of her phone and notebook without permission. Talk about helping yourself.
Sources: Babycenter.com, Parenting.com