As any of my regular readers can tell you, my mother-in-law and I have had many…how do I put this nicely?
“Creative differences” In the seven years I have known her, we have rarely seen eye to eye. We are talking about a woman who after we were engaged she whispered behind my back to all of her relatives at Thanksgiving dinner asking them if I was really “The One”? Like maybe I was an impostor or something? I don’t know. Right before our wedding, she nearly ruined my family bridal shower (oops, I never told you that one). On the actual wedding day, the first thing she said when she saw me in my bridal splendor was “Aren’t you getting your make-up done?” For the record, my make-up was done. There just wasn’t 5 inches of foundation and spackel caked on like she would’ve liked there to be. After the wedding, things didn’t improve much. Oh what’s that? You missed my posts about the fertility toilet? Go back and read them. Good times.
Basically, our history is we no likey each other too much.
The truth is that after all of these years I really just wanted her to acknowledge that I was worthy; that I was woman enough to marry her son, and to be her daughter-in-law. I wanted her to accept me for me, not what she thought I needed to be, or what she hoped I might be after I learned to cook better, speak fluent Korean, or take better care of her son. Hmmm, well, I’m pretty sure my six figure student loan debt isn’t the result of taking too many home economics classes. So maybe I could take better care of her 30 year old son, but I was raised and educated to do more with my life.
But even though I told myself a million times that her opinion didn’t matter, it did. I was always looking for the green light from her, or some shred of evidence that she kinda sorta accepted me. She would say that I was “part of the family”, but through her actions, I knew she felt differently. I felt cheated, because I love her son more than she will ever know. Wasn’t that enough?
Until recently, I had pretty much resigned myself to the fact that my MIL and I will never be close. I didn’t trust her after all of the things she did and said behind my back. We were basically civil to one another, and that’s it. I always hoped for understanding, for common ground, for acceptance. But that’s all I could ever do. Keep hoping and keep trying. I never quit, but I faltered many times.
Well there’s been a break in this seemingly cold case. We may have light seeping in through the clouds, folks. I don’t want to get ahead of myself. My MIL and I aren’t skipping into the sunset holding hands, and I don’t call her every night before I go to bed. But we have made some progress.
First of all, I think she is finally beginning to realize that I am not the enemy. I didn’t “steal” her son away from her. L will always be her child, and God knows I am his wife, not his second mother. Secondly, I am here to stay. Marriage is forever, baby, and we aren’t getting rid of each other. She and I might as well get comfortable with each other, because no one is going anywhere anytime soon. Thirdly, she is really showing me that she cares about me as a person, a woman, and her daughter-in-law. I am a person separate from my husband. That’s a concept she seems to be embracing and respecting, which is HUGE to me.
So we are taking it slowly. But each day means a new opportunity to trust a little more, forgive a little more, and loosen the grip on a tightly-wound grudge.
I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, and I have learned to keep my expectations relatively low. But I keep hoping. And it seems that these days, in her own way, she keeps hoping, too.

April 5, 2010

thelessthandomesticgoddess

8 Comments

  1. Reply

    My Dream Ring

    April 6, 2010

    That is a huge positive step at least. Fingers crossed that it gets even better πŸ™‚

  2. Reply

    D.

    April 6, 2010

    Just came across your blog and I think that you're a fantastic writer. You definitely summed up a lot of Asian mother-in-law/daughter relationships!

  3. Reply

    MayLove

    April 6, 2010

    I know how you feel. My relationship with FMIL is about the same. Whenever I think we're making progress, she says/does/implies something that kicks me back down the ladder. You marry your husband, but you're stuck with their family (just liek our own). I try not to let it bother me, but the hardest part is not having anyone to complain to. If I complain too much to FH, he thinks I hate his family (which I don't- they just annoy sometimes, like any family). This is why I blog; unfortunately FH is the only person who reads the blog. I tell him that he can't take offense b/c he chooses to read it, so it's not as bad as me just straight complaining to him. I feel your pain, and I hope it gets better for all of us "not good enough" DIL's. BTW, she once wrote my fiance a thank you card for a gift I picked out for her… and in it she wrote "I hope Katie knows how lucky she is to have you." She has also told me the same thing in person "You're so lucky to have him." FH thought it was a compliment to me…am I the only one who thinks it was a dig??? Best wishes! Love your blog!

  4. Reply

    Chic 'n Cheap Living

    April 6, 2010

    Hope is a great thing. Good luck!

  5. Reply

    Heidi

    April 6, 2010

    That's great! I hope it continues to improve!

    My relationship with my MIL is good. She's a little weird (even her children think so), but I just take her for who she is.

  6. Reply

    junghwa by amy stewart

    April 7, 2010

    I LOVE my MIL. She is an amazing woman and so incredibly kind. I am very fortunate. But I totally know what it's like to not see eye-to-eye with someone's mom. Glad she is slowly starting to see the wonderful person you are. πŸ™‚

  7. Reply

    Brandi

    April 7, 2010

    I'm so glad she's starting to treat you better! Mothers can be so protective over their sons, and in turn- be hurtful to their daughter- in- laws. I hope that this is just a starting point and soon… you two will be running off into the sunset holding hands lol I just loved the imagery when you said that πŸ™‚

  8. Reply

    thelessthandomesticgoddess

    April 8, 2010

    @D: Thanks so much for stopping by and reading!
    @MayLove: Oh my goodness, YES, it has been inferred how "lucky" I am. I do think I am lucky to have my husband, but the way that it is said – it's a dig. I connect with a lot of what you wrote here. Hang in there!
    @Heidi: Thanks for the encouragement. Your relationship with your MIL sounds a lot like my mom's relationship with my paternal grandma (her MIL). My grandma was a different kind of woman, but she basically meant no harm. They got along fine.
    @junghwa: You are lucky! Cherish your MIL!

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