Tuesday, April 8, 2014

What do you call your Mother In Law?

My Mother in Law is friendly, kind and nurturing.  I've never had any spat with her.  She has never  intruded in my marriage or parenting.

But there is always this elephant in the room when we are together.  You see, I'm married to her youngest son.  She has 5.  So there are 4 daughter in laws before me.  Three of the daughter in laws call her "Mom".  Ugh.  I just can't do it.  

I was friends with my husband for several years before we began dating.  I knew his parents.  I knew one of his brothers fairly well.  My friends and I were in and out of their house just as Ironman was in and out of mine.  I referred to his mother as Mrs..  I grew up in a time before children called adults Miss Cindy or Miss Debbie.  My mother's friends were Mrs. Landry or Mrs. Hamilton.  I did not call adults by their first name.  Oh no.  Are you kidding?  That would never be tolerated.  To this very day when my mother and I are catching up on news she will refer to her friends that way.  So that I'll know who they are, I guess.  I mean, by now I've come to realize these ladies have first names but I better not call them that.  I better use their formal name.  At least when my own mother is around.

All that being said, I was perfectly comfortable calling Ironman's mother "Mrs. Campbell".  It felt right. A few of Ironman's friends called her "Miss Susan" but that….. well, it just wasn't for me.

When Ironman and I became engaged, his mother sat with me one day and came right out and asked me not to call her "Mrs Campbell" anymore.  Her reason was that she referred to her own MIL by that name and always felt very distant from her.  She didn't want us to have that kind of formal relationship. Okay, that was fine.  I appreciated her telling me.  But wow, that would……. that was a challenge.  I tried calling her by her first name.  But it felt so awkward.

Meanwhile my SILs called her MOM.  MOM?  She's not my MOM.  I don't even call my own Mom MOM.  I just can't do it.

I've asked 2 of my closest girlfriends about this dilemma.  Both of them told me "Oh no,  she's not your mom.  That's putting so much pressure on you"  Ugh.

Remember that Everybody Love Raymond episode where Debra and Ray are having the same problem?  And Debra tries to call Marie "Mom"?  Remember what happened?  Marie looks at her with a shocked expression and says "That's alright dear"

I know what Dr. Phil would say  He's probably say "How's that working for you"  Or he'd say, "What do you want from your MIL"   It's not working…. or maybe it is.  I don't know.  But what do I want from her?  I'd like her to go easy on me.  I'd like her to make it easy on me.  Give me a little slack.  She is fully aware of the distant relationship I have with my own mother.  In fact, she's tried to fix it.  Oh gosh, a story for another day.  I'd like her to acknowledge that I'm trying but that it's not easy.  I feel as if I'm being graded in a way.  How about some bonus points for effort?

Just in case you're wondering, I have tried to call her by her first name.  It's awkward but I just DO IT.  Most of the time, though, I call her "Meme".  It definitely got easier when my babies began calling her that.

I will one day be a mother in law.  I honestly do not care what I'm called.  It's their choice.

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