You know those annoying non-moms who think they know everything about motherhood? For sure you do; everyone does. We’ve all come across them in our most insecure and shameful moments as parents. Just when we need the most encouragement — because one of our kids is having a tantrum, or talking back to us, or being unruly, or making a scene at a public place like a zoo or park — these know-it-all non-moms vow out loud to never be the kind of mom we are.
And then when these NM’s become moms, guess what happens?
Actually I don’t know what happens because I’ve never done a longitudinal study following non-moms into their eventual mom-hood. But I’m willing to bet that if we tracked those woman and interviewed them years later, we’d find some pretty overwhelmed and possibly not-so-sure-of-herself types. Just my guess. Nothing scientific here…just some good-ol’ deductive thinking.
Well, I was a know-it-all and high-horse type of person but not about motherhood. I was that way about MIL (mother-in-law)-hood. When my kids were little and I’d see MIL’s say or do things to their DIL’s, I’d wonder how they could ever be so insensitive. For example, when a MIL gave her adult children (gasp) advice, I’d think she was being intrusive and completely out of bounds.
When a MIL worried about her adult married kids’ financial situation, I thought to myself how it’s really none of her business.
And when a MIL called too often, I thought to myself that when I become a MIL to my sons’ wives, I will be really careful not to do any of those things.
And you know what? In the beginning of my MIL-hood, I was pretty careful. In fact, I became a pretty caring MIL. I probably did refrain from much of the behaviors that my own MIL and other
normal people do when they become MIL’s.
And then something happened to me.
I grew up.
I grew into MIL-hood and relaxed my inhibitions. Maybe it was due to old(er) age or just plain lack of energy but my attitude became, what the heck? I’m the mother (and yes, mother-in-law) and I’m going to say what the heck I want to because I already wrote the book on being a mother-in-law and….
I relaxed my standards because I’m human. And I goof sometimes. As my adult children grow into more mature adults….and to parents of not just babies or toddlers but of pre-school and elementary school children, I find that I’m becoming slightly more involved.
More outspoken. Entitled. Opinionated. Yup. All the horrible things I vowed I’d never say or do, I find myself saying and doing.
I mean – hello! We have opinions too. Right? Maybe that’s it – as we get older, we fear becoming invisible and so we assert ourselves and our opinions more.
When the grandkids were babies, it was easy to hold back from expressing the opinion of how to burp the baby, or whether the baby should be bottle-fed or nursed…or whatever the monumental decision was. I mean – who cared about that?
As the grandkids got older, (and we got older) we feel the need to compare and contrast how they do things with how we did things.
And sometimes we see things in different ways than we saw them when we were the parents. Maybe it’s that we kind of sort of “forget” what it was like being a new mom? Could it be that? Is it the old(ER) age factor? Like having those senior moments (I talk about them in my book) where we selectively forget how it was to be a young and busy mom and we just shoot our opinions from the hip.
In our old(ER) age, we say something, rather than put ourselves in their
inexperienced shoes and just let them figure things out themselves.
Sometimes I have discussions with my husband about stuff and one of us says to the other “Nah, don’t make an issue. It’s none of our business.”
To which the other one promptly goes and makes an issue. Big time. Just because.
See? It’s hard. It’s tough. So never say never. You just never know when you’ll be in the exact situation as someone else and maybe – just maybe – you will react as they did or do.
So- now I’m here to express that I have sympathy for all those MIL’s – including my own — in how she raised me.
Yes – you read that right.
I know this is huge that I’m writing this after writing a book all about my insights on being the perfect grandmother and mother-in-law.
I know this may even ruin my credibility as an author because, hey, how can I basically take back all I said about being conscientious and just change my mind with the click of a publish button on a bubby blog?
Well, bubbies and Omi’s, I’m doing it. I’m here to tell you that I now do all those annoying things I vowed never to do.
I ask too many questions.
I hate noise. I get upset when they play ball in the house.
I sometimes contradict the parents in front of their kids.
I tell them to bundle up the kids. I comment on their or their kids’ clothing (not always favorably).
I worry if I hear them arguing.
I post every last letter and drawing on my kitchen wall and Facebook page (even my own MIL didn’t do that last one! Yay her!).
All of it some of the time. And some of it all of the time.
Bottom line is I (and all my MIL friends) try our best. We really do and that’s what counts.
So – my message to all the future moms out there –
Never say never.
You just never know what kind of mother you will be. Don’t make promises about how you’ll be because even when you become that role, and follow your vows to the Tee, you will evolve over time into another role. Another stage. Another season. And just what you thought worked for the previous stage, just doesn’t work anymore.
And then one day you may find yourself doing all the behaviors that you vowed never to do. And that will be pretty embarrassing.
Because all your ranting and raving about how you’ll never do or be this way or that way got turned on its head.
And aside from the embarrassment here’s the biggest problem: you may just have to confess on your blog or write a whole new book that contradicts your first book. Nope. Not worth it.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.