How I Came to Appreciate Mothers-in-Law
I am fascinated by relationships. How people meet. Why people become friends. Why people mate for life or even marry. A particular musing is why relationships turn bad and, moreover, what could have been done in those early days to stop the rot.
As an example, I saw the world through the eyes of a mother-in-law the weekend the eldest of the gibberish generation brought home his first serious girlfriend.
Dropping her designer luggage onto the kitchen floor (after barely shaking my hand) and then demanding to be shown around the house, was my first clue not to have a kitchen knife in my hand when I was talking to this girl.
Later, she seemed surprised her luggage was still on the floor where she had left it - obviously expecting me to have ferried it to her sleeping quarters. More irritation occurred around supper time. In short, “If anyone wanted to eat, they had better start stripping skins off some vegetables - and soon.” did not go down at all well.
Sorry? No, go and tell your girlfriend I don’t have a man that does vegetables, and if you want to hang onto your man bits you had better straighten that woman out before my next sighting.
After this inauspicious start, I had the migraine inducing thought - “What the hell am I going to do if he marries this slut, I mean woman?”
So begins the proverbial mother-in-law triangle, where all parties would be hard pushed years later to understand how the relationship went wrong and went wrong so quickly.
One of my beliefs is that maybe we should stop treating people the way we would want to be treated but, instead, treat people the way THEY want to be treated. The son would have known his mother’s expectations having lived with her forever, and so could have guided his girlfriend. The mother, going forward, will have to accept that no-one will be good enough for her child. That, for the sake of harmony, she will sometimes have to bite her lip blood red and grind her teeth down to powder.
To prospective mates, I would say if a footman did not carry your bags in and a butler did not offer you a drink on arrival, the woman at the kitchen sink is probably not the maid.