Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em.Oy. All I have to say is “in-laws,” and you know exactly what I'm talking about. The strange and often delicate relationship we have with our significant others' parents. Even if you get along swimmingly with your in-laws, there will always be (at least) one thing about them that drives you crazy to the point of…well, insanity. That thing that makes you want to launch across the kitchen table and strangle them. Maybe it's the way they seem to live in their own parallel universe. Maybe it's the way they always seem to mockingly placate you, ever so subtly, when you assert yourself as a spouse or parent. Maybe it's the need you feel to prove to them you're good enough to partner their child, and parent their grandbaby. Maybe it's all of those, and more.
According to Time Magazine (http://www.time.com/time/
Adam's Mom and I have always gotten along famously--even better than they get along themselves. Near the end of the pregnancy, she and I talked every day, and I think we both enjoyed the companionship. But something seemed to change once Maddie was born. A list of events on both our plates made for a stressful concoction, and in the end resulted in Adam and I feeling overwhelmed, asking (politely) for some space, and her feelings being hurt. Since then, there has been a disconnect between she and I, and sometimes I feel as if Adam is keeping two cats separated in opposite corners so they don't hiss at each other. Or maybe my imagination is getting the best of me.
“In [Cambridge University psychologist Terri Apter's] study [of in-law tension], two-thirds of women said they felt their mothers-in-law were jealous of their relationships with the sons, while two-thirds of mothers-in-law said they felt excluded by their sons' wives.” (I hope that's not the case with my MIL.) I think whatever rifts we experience with our MILs stem from the intense bond each of us feel for our children. That fire that churns within us when we feel someone challenges our comfort zone, within which our parenting skills, relationship adroitness, and love for it all lie.
You can't pick your family. But even when we're at odds, we love those crazy goons. What I do find comfort in is this: even at our worst odds, there is one link--one truth--that forever bonds us: the love, and willingness to do anything, for our children. In that, if nothing else, we can look at each other and share a genuine smile.