Melinda Eye Cooper
Most times in life, we don’t really understand how another person feels until we step into their shoes. I became a mother-in-law a couple of years ago. It’s been an adventure with two new daughters-in-law and becoming a Grammy for the first time.
I love it when my daughter-in-law, who recently became a mom, sends me videos and pictures of our sweet granddaughter or texts me about something new she’s doing. I’m thankful she thinks of me and cares enough to do these things. Lots of joy, for sure!
The strange thing I’ve discovered though, about being a mother-in-law, is that sometimes my feelings get hurt. I find myself a bit jealous. Which is something I never expected or even thought about before. There is also sharing when I don’t really feel like sharing.
Honestly, I was caught off-guard by this new role, to say the least. I did not expect to feel jealous or to begrudgingly have to share. Sadly, I never gave much thought to how it might feel to be the mother-in-law. I’m kind of ashamed to admit that.
In a way, it feels like a lot of things I learned as a child have now come back into play. I can hear my mom saying, “Toughen up. Don’t be jealous. Now share.”
As a daughter-in-law for over thirty years, I now feel I may owe my mother-in-law an apology. I might have hurt her feelings without even realizing it. Being young and busy with my own life, I didn’t consider her life too much. I’m sorry for that. I’m sure I leaned toward my own family for visits and such. I’m certain it was difficult for her to schedule family celebrations with so many extended families’ schedules to consider. Now, I know that this was hard for her. If I ever caused a tear to hit her pillow – I’m truly, deeply sorry.
If I could go back thirty years and have the knowledge I have today, I’d be more considerate and thoughtful toward her. I’d show my appreciation more for her hard work cooking meals, cleaning, preparing for family gatherings, and just going out of her way for everyone else.
So, for all the new daughters-in-law out there, here are a few things to consider about your mother-in-law and her feelings that you may not have thought much about. I hope they help you think of her in a new way.
Remember your husband is her beloved and cherished son.
Remember your husband was once her little boy. She still has flashbacks of him as a baby and toddler and smiles to herself.
Remember when you look into the eyes of your own precious child and experience the deepest love you’ve ever known that’s exactly how she felt when she looked into the eyes of her own son.
Remember her family grew smaller when your family grew larger. She will see her son much less as he fills the role of husband and father.
Remember she’s letting go a little bit at a time and finds it difficult. It’s hard to stop being the parent and to allow him to become one.
Remember while you’re growing up and growing a family – she’s growing older and experiencing a new stage of life that’s a little bit strange.
Remember she misses him.
It’s a beautiful thing to be a mother. But it’s also a lovely thing to be a mother-in-law. Walking this new path in life and having daughters-in-law who appreciate you and love you is truly a gift from God.
Strength and honor are her clothing; she shall rejoice in time to come. Proverbs 31:25 (NKJV)