I like my mother-in-law. This confuses people, mostly co-workers and acquaintances who initiate a conversation by giving me advice on how to deal with her. Some people don’t believe me. Other people smirk and say, “That’s great” in a monotone voice as if they were talking about traffic or the weather. Apparently, I’m a rarity because when you google “in-laws” you get page after page of mother-in-law jokes, articles containing coping mechanisms, and www.ihatemyinlaws.com.
I should probably not that I’ve never been fond of any of the marriage acronyms: MIL (mother-in-law), FIL (father-in-law), DIL (daughter-in-law), SIL (son-in-law), DD (darling daughter), DS (darling son). DH, which stands for dear husband/hubby or darling husband/hubby, is my least favorite acronym ever. While I was still in the process of wedding planning, I avoided every single wedding blog and/or site because seeing this acronym was inevitable. Besides my overwhelming hatred for the word “hubby,” the meaning of the acronym manages to sound both infantile and patriarchal at the same time.
Anyway, my in-laws don’t give unsolicited advice, visit unexpectedly, insist I call them “Mom” and “Dad,” or any of the other complaints that frequently overtake message boards. I like the fact that we share the same sarcastic sense of humor and a love of baking. I’m sure that another reason why I like my in-laws is because I grew up in an alcoholic household and I like spending time with families that are vastly different than my own. I tend to avoid co-workers who mean well by offering me tips on how to survive my mother-in-law. (Also, how to survive her? That phrasing makes her seem as if she’s a natural disaster. I use the term survive for a layoff or an earthquake, not a human being.)
The mother-in-law stereotypes play into the assumption that the wife’s mom is the ideal cookie-cutter mom and the husband’s mom is a vindictive control freak. My parents weren’t the worst parents ever — I’ve met plenty of other children of alchoholics who had it much worse than I did — but they were definitely not the ideal parents either. Also, the whole mother-in-law complex is simply pitting women against women.
Wikipedia explains: (related: why is there even a Wikipedia for this?!)
Humor and jokes about one’s mother-in-law (the mother of one’s spouse) are a mainstay of comedy. The humour is based on the premise that the average mother-in-law often considers her son-in-law to be unsuitable for her daughter (or daughter-in-law unsuitable for her son), and usually includes the stereotype that mothers-in-law are generally overbearing, obnoxious, or unattractive.
Oh, so that explains it. My mother-in-law has already expressed that she doesn’t think that I’m unsuitable for her son, nor does she fall into the stereotypes of being overbearing, obnoxious, or unattractive … which means I’m living in an anomaly.