DISCLAIMER: I just want to state for the record that my daughters-in-law are wonderful women and great mothers and I love them both dearly. This column is not about them. It’s about me. As usual.
When I had sons I never really thought about the fact that I would some day have daughters-in-law. Worse than that, I was going to become the dreaded Mother-In-Law everyone complains about. It’s harder than it looks, not that it ever looked particularly easy. Let’s just say that getting old sucks. For every advantage (wisdom, senior discounts, early bird specials) there are many more disadvantages (hearing loss, fatigue, creaky joints).
To that indignity add the fact that you cease to be a superhero to your kids and become instead a pathetic relic of an age gone by. Multiply that by a thousand and you have what it is to be a Mother-In-Law. Everything I try to do while interacting with my grandkids is considered hopelessly out-dated if not downright criminal by their mothers. (And my sons get behind whatever their wives think because at least I taught them THAT much.)
It’s hard on the old self-esteem to be told day-in and day-out that everything you know is wrong. I beg my sons for understanding. When I point out that I managed to raise THEM without causing too much damage, I get the old eye roll. “Things were different then, Mom!” When I point out that lots of people pay GOOD MONEY to hear my advice, I get sass. “People pay for horoscopes, too, Mom, and they’re just bull crap.”
It would all be unbearable if not for one thing. Well, two things, really. My grandkids! When I’m with them I experience unfettered joy. At last, little people who think I’m a genius because I can replace the batteries in their toys. I’m a magician because I can spin them around and make them dizzy. I’m the quickest woman in the world because I can catch a grasshopper and hold it still for them to touch.
When I show up I get bright smiles and happy squeals of something like “Grandma!” They run into my arms with the enthusiasm of rabid tweens at a One Direction concert. I get shown their toys and invited to read them their books. I tell you, there is just nothing like having a little, diapered butt back up into your lap. For a few hours, at least, I’m a valued human being. And that makes it all worthwhile.
For my sons and their wives, I only have this to say, “Some day it will happen to YOU!” One day you’ll wake up to find that your kids think you’re an idiot. You will have become a painful source of embarrassment to them. And as much as you try to helpfully nag them, they will not have as many grandkids as they are supposed to as soon as you would like. Just call it Gam Gam’s revenge!