31 Days of Stuff I Wish You’d Quit Saying: Day 28 “I hate my mother-in-law..”

Where to begin…

I know.  I am not on a soapbox.  I am sitting on the couch next to you.  I used to say this.   I am not here to lecture or boast.  Iris and I had our ups and our downs.  I married her youngest son.  She adored Justin.  Looking back I can see the heartache of losing your boy to another woman.  She took good care of him.  And he moved on.  As I watch, my sons turn into men I see more clearly the deep divide.  As a mom of young adult sons and toddler sons, it is even more apparent how great the divide is.  Sam and Charlie follow me around the house and call to me, they need constant kisses and hugs, and at bedtime they want me to lie with them and read “just one more book.”  John and Luke still need me.  But tackling the 6’3″ and 6’4″ man-children takes training, agility, and a scheduled pounce.

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And soon, their limited affections will be directed toward someone else.  Sooner than later.

When this happens, I will be the mother-in-law.

It is a shame.  Mother-in-law is synonymous with wicked step-mother.  Neither is fair.  Individuals shouldn’t be branded as villains based on marriage status.  But it happens.  Human nature I guess.  But as someone whose mother-in-law who is gone, I will say I wish I had it to do over again.

On the happier side, Iris and I shared the last months of her life in a unique way.  This time of year is most vivid in my mind with those last weeks.  Cooler, shorter days; the leaves were changing.  She moved in with us to die.  I am no nurse.  I was able to prove this quickly.  Although after many of the comical scenarios she would say, “put this in your book,” I doubt I ever will.  And they were funny, and therapeutic, but less than dignified on either of our parts.  And they are mine, Justin’s, and the children’s.

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Before it was terribly bad, we laughed.  We never talked about the contention of our past, although at some point we both did apologize, a non-specific apology.  We watched Law and Order and visited.  It wasn’t stressful, or boastful.  It wasn’t even sad.  She had lost much; she was ready.

I have precious memories of Justin pushing Iris and our baby Sam up and down the sidewalk in a wheelchair.  And him feeding her soup.  My children lying on the bed with her.  Visits from friends coming to say goodbye.  Her brothers, her sister, nieces, and nephews.  And on the night before she would lose consciousness for four days, and never speak again, her last word: Natalie.  And her granddaughter came to sit with her “Mimi,” and they needed each other much.

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And I am not naive.  I have seen and heard some pretty gruesome mother-in-law stories.  Some warrant hate.  But, as Christians, we cannot speak life into this hate.  As daughters of the Risen Christ, we are called to a higher level of speech.  And if your mother-in-law is as wicked as they come, and Christ dwells in you, He alone is your strong tower.  Iris and I behaved badly.  At times very badly. I saw an excerpt on Facebook where a mother-in-law shredded her would be daughter-in-law’s wedding dress the night before her wedding.  This is lunacy at best.  Still, hate is not therapeutic, healing, or from Jesus.  And the act of destroying the dress, it isn’t even unforgivable.

Nothing is unforgivable in Jesus.

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Perhaps your mother-in-law is a thorn in your side.  Perhaps you are one in her’s.  But surely I say to you, do not waste a moment of your time in hate.  Be bigger.  Be better.  Be above the world’s standards for cliche statements.  She can make you crazy, furious, horrified, and exhausted – still there is no place in the life of a believer for hate.  Dare I say, if you can’t say anything nice…  And even if she is in prison for hiring a hitman to take you out… she gave your man life.  He may not be perfect, he may not even be by your side anymore, but our God makes ALL THINGS work together for GOOD for those who love HIM.  Becuase of this we needn’t speak hate.  Your children exist as part of her deeds, if you can find one glimpse of good from her life, you have everything to be thankful.

You may have every reason to stay away from her, and I am not asking you to do otherwise.  I just wish you wouldn’t say you “hate.”  Honor you husband, who may not have warm fuzzy feelings about her, honor your children, and honor your future in-laws by speaking only that which is good.  For it isn’t what goes into you that makes you unclean, it is what comes out.  And when we speak blessings – we are truly blessed.

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On the other side of this journey I wish I had been more grace-filled, less stressed and above the world’s perceptions of how a “perfect” mother/daughter-in-law relationship looks.  On the other side, I remember things I admired in her.  Things that she left behind, in my husband and my children.  I miss that the younger babies won’t know her. And although she did once threaten to call CPS if I put the kids to bed without a bath, and may have followed through, she truly wanted good for them. And so, this post may lack snarkiness, it may lack any humor, and it may seem as though I am preaching – but there are only a few days left of the 31 Day Challenge, and this is one –  I truly wish you’d stop saying…

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But Ruth replied, “Do not urge me to leave you or to turn back from you.  Where you go, I will go, and where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God will be my God.” Ruth 1:16

May your floors be sticky and your calling ordained.  Love, Jami

About jamiamerine

I am a wife, mom, & seeker of joy! I love to share funny and inspirational tales with my fellow moms. I fully believe that God intended laughter to be a form of rest and worship. I have a few kids. I have a few years on me. I have a great husband. And I love to laugh. I studied home economics in college, I can cook just about anything, but do not ask me to sew. In my graduate work I studied education and human development, I consider my life continuing education, my children are my ongoing thesis. If they survive that, I will let you know! I write non-fiction for laughter, respite, and inspiration. I also am in the process of submitting my first fiction mystery and have two more in the works! Mom life is hard work. My prayer for my readers is that, even if it you just have five minutes, you can be inspired and encouraged today. Keep it short and sweet... rest in Jesus girlfriend.
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13 Responses to 31 Days of Stuff I Wish You’d Quit Saying: Day 28 “I hate my mother-in-law..”

  1. Colleen B says:

    This is really quite touching and beautiful. Thank you for sharing. God bless!

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  2. Keri says:

    Bless you. I need this in my life 🙂 I need to save it and re-read it often. I need to speak life into others. I have never said “hate” but there have certainly been arguments, snarkiness, and hurt. I need to let it go. Share love. Smile. Be gracious. Honor those older than me and just sometimes listen and say “Bless your heart” and leave my opinions in the trash. Nobody needs to hear my opinions. I might need to stomp on my own foot to achieve these things until they become a habit but God gives us the desires of our heart and I desire to be a gentler kinder person and less of a “bull in a China closet”. I really hate chronic lyme disease and it’s co-infections. The neurological deficits are when the personality changes started to really take place for me but God is the great healer. I WILL be a pleasant person again and my God given filter will remain in place. James 1:19 Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.

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  3. Kimberly says:

    My MIL came to live with us just after our first anniversary. We saw her through early to mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease. Is it crazy that I’m almost jealous when other folks complain about their in-laws? I never really had that – I immediately went from daughter-in-law to caretaker. (My FIL passed away before I met my husband). It wasn’t easy and I often had to remind myself that I owed her SO much. She’s been with the Lord two years this week.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Kathy says:

    I am so glad you posted this. I have heard stories about mothers-in-law. Happily for me, mine was nothing like the stories.
    Interestingly enough my mother-in-law WAS a Ruth…Ruth Havins. to be exact I’ve missed her every day of the past 2 years and 9 1/2 months since she died. Everything I learned about being a mother in law I learned from her. I was very angry with my own dad when I was engaged. Ruth was the only person who totally supported my decision to not have him walk me down the aisle at our wedding. I asked my favorite uncle to be “that guy”. A few weeks before the wedding I changed my mind and I’m so glad I did.
    I found out after my uncle died, and in Ruth’s last months, they had conspired to get me to change my mind because they knew me well enough to know that I would later regret my decision not to have Daddy’s arm as I walked down to meet Terry. They were totally correct although it took me a year or two to see it myself.

    There is an old poem which says
    A daughter is your daughter
    all of her life
    A son is your son
    until he takes a wife.

    I decided early on Ruth wasn’t going to “lose” her son to me. I called her daily during the years he worked 18-20 hours a day to check in and let her know what was going on with him, with us, with her Grands. I made certain he called her as well…cell phones sure made that an easier proposition. She told me thank you in later years saying she knew him well enough to know I had helped them maintain a relationship. We was there when our oldest entered this world and was at home babysitting our daughters when our son was born and we were with Ruth when she left this life for her eternal home.

    Following is a link to the things I said at her funeral if you are interested. Each word is true and none of them said “because she was dead and you are supposed to say nice things about dead people”. http://havinsnest.com/2013/01/05/

    Again, bless you for your honesty and forthrightness. I love it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jess Guest says:

    My relationship with MIL has been rough the last few years. It’s been a tough adjustment for our family having a little girl who is medically fragile and profoundly disabled. There have been times when we have only just held it together as a family. MIL, Lord love her, has struggled too. She has wanted to help and managed to do so in almost all the wrong ways making life harder and hurting us and our kids in the process. She has tried to love on us and make it better and bestow good advice – by trying to control and manipulate and bully and pelt us with unsolicited and completely off base advice and judgement.

    And it’s been a learning curve.

    I’ve learned to set firm boundaries, hubby and I have learned to close ranks and support each other, we’ve taught the kids that we can love people and disagree with them and to hold their heads high even under judgement.

    And I’ve learned to love a frightened woman who is just trying to help the only way she knows how when she sees those she loves most hurting, forgive her when she doesn’t deserve it and allow her a piece of my heart even if she may be careless with it. Because heaven knows, I’ll probably find all new ways to screw up when my kids are grown and I pray they’ll be gracious with me.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Heather says:

    Thank you so much for this today. Just a little over a month ago was the 2 year anniversary of my MIL’s passing. It was very sudden and unexpected, there was no preperation (not like there ever really is.) Anyway, we’ve got 4 kids total and the youngest (4 yrs old now) doesn’t really remember her like I wished she did. For the most part our relationship was good, but we had our moments where we were ugly to each other. My husband struggled with her and I know I didn’t really help those situations. Of course, if I could do it all over I would chose to Love her through Grace instead of being ugly. I pray that often over my whole family because that is really the only way we should live, Loving people through God’s Grace.
    Thank you for your ministry!

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  7. Mary H. says:

    I guess the Lord makes sure you read and see what you need to about certain things especially when it’s been bothering you for so long. My MIL is not a Christian and does drugs and lies and my husband of going on three years is only 28,met when he was 23 and myself 20 and he had basically raised his own mother. Which I didn’t understand because I have very loving and Christian parents with 10 kids in the family and I watched as my parents always taught me that no matter what they said or did that the other kids should always make their marriage work with their spouses, as should I, even if my parents were the reason they were arguing because they always said that they would be ok and that it was most important to put your spouse first abd jot worry about what mom and dad think. So I was brought up knowing Ephesians inside and out and how a husband and wife become one with each other and they leave and cleave, and that doesn’t include in laws including my own. I’m 26 and very stubborn in what I know and think about what God says about marriage and how my mother in laws opinion doesn’t matter when it comes to my husband and I and especially when she just tries to start trouble and for 6 years I have vent over backwards to make sure she felt ok and her feelings didn’t get hurt but I just had 4 brain surgeries and I’m a little bit tired of doing that. I feel like she’s the older adult and some what of trying to make up for not being a parent to my husband and her and I have always gotten along because I made sure of it and I changed how I thought and did but she’s made things harder than it should and this is mine and my. Husbands marriage and not hers and she continues to lie and try to say and do things to make my husband feel bad that he’s not holding her hand and raising her like he used to and she won’t talk. To us for months at a time and then make excuses as to why she acted the way she did and that she won’t so certain things again but it not long before she does the exact same thing again and it starts to bother me and has caused problems with my husband and I a time or too and that’s when I become very protective over my marriage and it outs a rift between her and I. I know God designed the husband to be the HEAD of the family and so far with nothing as a Christian father to look up to, my husband is in his Bible and reading and studying all the time and he’s been a great and wonderful Godly husband. I just get aggravated when he is always making excuses for her and not just handling the problem and telling her it’s not ok to disrespect us and our decisions and what we want and then act like she does. I’m finding it harder and harder everyday to even want to drive the two and half hours to spend time with her because of what she’s continued to do especially after I have tried so hard and honestly bent over backwards and even when she was put in jail, I made sure we paid for everything she needed while she was in there and that we went to see her every other weekend sometimes two weekends in a row. She’s not been thankful or grateful for any of it so I’m not really sure what to do but pray for her and about her and my feelings towards her. I want my husband to respect her because I know he will respect me but there’s only so much you can do and take from your in laws and sometimes in crosses a line, which doesn’t seem ok with me and my husband. Maybe I just need to continue to pray for what I said and for God to even “bridle my tongue” at times when saying she’s wrong really isn’t going to matter but learning when to say that she’s wrong to the things that matter and not every single thing? I’m just really confused at 26 as to how to deal with her but thank you for sharing that because I did need it, so I could rethink, again, my feelings and anger basically towards her.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jamiamerine says:

      Sweet girl, what a very very very hard situation. I pray God’s perfect wisdom over you and your husband. It is not easy. I am snarky and I argued with Iris a lot. If I had to do it over again I don’t know exactly how I would have done it perfectly. There’s no such thing. Your marriage has to come first and I believe a mantra of “God grant me grace and wisdom, you defend and protect us. We belong to you.” Maybe the best offense. Easier said than done. You have my prayers. May the peace of Jesus spread over you like wild fire! He is enough. Thank you for sharing your heart. Love you friend, Jami

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