Beneath the gentle exterior of many a grandma flows a subtle undercurrent of competition. It’s difficult to resist the nagging desire to be like uber-crafty and clever grandmas. And—as is the case for many long-distance grandmas, such as myself—we often envy the more wealthy, traveled grandmothers their regular visits to see their grandbabies.
I do admit to playing a bit of Keeping Up With The (Grandma) Joneses, myself. Yet there’s one thing many fellow grandmothers have that I genuinely don’t wish for myself, and that’s a daughter-in-law.
I don’t have a daughter-in-law. I don’t want a daughter-in-law. I never have and surely never will. The relationship between a mother and her daughter-in-law is, for many, far too fraught with trials and tribulations, especially when grandchildren are part of the package. And that’s a package—more like a Pandora’s Box—I’m not particularly interested in opening.
I’ve heard too many tales of woe from friends on the multiple hoops they jump through, eggshells they walk on and fine lines they must consider when it comes to their relationships with their daughters-in-law. One friend can’t call her son’s house in the mornings for fear her DIL will object to her “intrusions” so early in the day. Another isn’t allowed to watch movies with her grandchildren, because the DIL—mother to the children—doesn’t like the little ones “sitting around doing nothing.” Even sharing recipes is out of the question for one of my friends, for her DIL takes offense to the (imagined) inference that the she isn’t a good enough cook on her own.
Now, I am a daughter-in-law, and I love my mother-in-law dearly. And I do concede that many women share delightfully warm and wonderful connections with their daughters-in-law. That’s not always the case, though, as the interactions of my friends and their DILs confirm. And considering my overprotective, super-possessive mama-bear instincts, I have no doubt there’d be trouble for all involved if I had to accept another woman taking top spot in my son’s life.
Thank God I don’t have sons, right?
The Difference Between Daughters and DILs
I do have daughters, though. Three of them. And there are so many things I do with those daughters of mine that I can’t see myself doing with daughters that are mine only by law.
For instance, I can yell and scream and cry at (and with) my daughters. They’ll be mad for a day or two, then we hug and make up. A DIL surely would not be so forgiving. Sharing family stories? Well, there are some extended family stories my daughters know and accept that a DIL would never understand, much less accept – if I had the nerve to share those stories with her, which I wouldn’t. And as watching movies together is our “thing,” if, like my friend, I had a DIL who didn’t approve of the sitting-around-doing-nothing-ness of enjoying a film as a family, well, then that’s no in-law I want sitting around with my family and me anyway.
Why I Love My Son-in-Law
Of my three daughters, one is married. Which means I have a son-in-law. He likes movies, and I like having him in our family. I like him for far more reasons than because of his affinity for films, though. Bottom line is that he’s an excellent partner in parenting, and an excellent partner in life for my daughter. On those two things alone, I accept him wholly into our family, accept him as a son, with no “in-law” label required.
Perhaps it would be the same with a daughter-in-law, if I were to have a son. Not likely, though—due, admittedly, to my own shortcomings and small heart. A son is something I don’t have. Daughters I have in spades. Considering the drama that comes with girls, multiplied by the drama that would accompany a DIL, wonderful or not, who claimed top spot in my hypothetical son’s life, I can’t see myself fitting another daughter of any degree into my life.
Thank God I’ll never have to find out.
Lisa Carpenter is a mother, grandmother and writer of the blog Grandma's Briefs. You can read more of her musings at Grandmasbriefs.com
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