The Un-Monster-in-Law


monster in law
A mother-in-law helps a new mom accept the loss of her own mother.

Again, I felt territorial. Why won't they back off? Being a first-time mother, without a mother, stressed me out. I thought everyone would judge me, and I didn't want my mother-in-law there. I didn't need witnesses to my ineptitude.

Embracing her was out of the question. I could not do it. At first, I deemed her overbearing and meddlesome. I needed to place a five-foot bubble around me for metaphorical space. She and my father-in-law always stayed in our tiny New York apartment when they visited. (Hadn't they heard of hotels?) I didn't want help. I didn't want her affection. I wanted her back in South Carolina. Give advice: How do I get my mother in law to move out?

They arrived. Marsha took that little six-week-old baby in her arms, rocked her, soothed her, even got a giggle out of her. She was a baby whisperer. Although I'd never admit it, I was taking mental notes. New ways to hold her, burp her, quiet her down.

With the birth of my daughter came the clarity to see why I rebuffed her: I did not want my mother-in-law to replace my mother. That hole in my heart was purposefully empty, a placeholder for the mother I couldn't have. My immature behavior was stuck back in my 23-year-old mind, the one that lost her parent far too young.

I've learned to accept Marsha and all of her good will. I never want my daughter to see my unwarranted distaste for this very warm-hearted person, and I especially don't want her to treat her grandmother this way. I learned how to develop a new bond with someone who wants to share—not take.

It took gaining a daughter to find a mother—not the one I was originally given, but a supportive, giving parental figure nonetheless.

I can't have my mother back. But I can be a good mom to my daughter and show her how to love in the face of loss.


Sign up for our daily email and get the stories everyone is talking about.

Must-see Videos
Stories we love
  • 25% of people tend to gain weight when they get into a new relationship.