When you read about mothers-in-law, they tend to fall into one of four categories: the meddler, the pusher, the critic, and the manipulator. Things can get even more complicated when you have children. Not all mother-in-laws are toxic, though. In fact, you can grow to not only get along with your mother-in-law, but actually learn to like and appreciate her. After all, she can be a great resource. Not everyone is so lucky, to be sure, but there are some surefire signs your mother-in-law is going to be the best damn grandmother ever.
I am fully aware that I won the mother-in-law lottery. When I show up to her house, the woman has a glass of cabernet in my hand within five minutes of my arrival. She's smart, funny, warm, and easy to be around. Throughout the wedding planning process, she was a dream (involved and supportive, but not pushy). So it really didn't come as a surprise when, nine months later, she became a grandmother to our daughter and was freaking awesome at it. Our little girl adores her "Gaga," but believe me, I saw it coming from a mile away and thanks to the way my mother-in-law has always treated me.
If your mother-in-law sends you a bouquet of flowers for your first pole dance performance, that's a positive signal that she's going to rock (literally, like in a chair) this grandma business. So are these:
She's Interested In Your Pregnancy
My mother-in-law was absolutely thrilled when I announced my pregnancy, even though it was to be her seventh grandchild. She would check in on me to see how I was feeling, and I would call her after my doctor appointments to update her. She was delighted to know the baby's heart rate and find out the gender, but never asked me about my weight. I knew she was invested in my child and family from the get-go.
Pregnancy is no picnic. My mother-in-law went through it four times, and even though her pregnancies were fairly easy, she still had plenty of compassion for me. At Christmas I think I napped every single day, and she never said a word about it except to say that I should do whatever I needed to do to take care of myself. That kind of sympathy will come in handy when it comes to kissing toddler boo-boos.
She Supports Your Decisions
I did things differently than my mother-in-law. For starters, I had a midwife instead of an OB/GYN. She was curious about it, but not in a condescending way. Likewise, even though she formula fed, she backed my decision to breastfeed (she even bought me a Boppy). That early support showed me that when it came to crying it out or potty training, she would trust me to do what was right for my family, even if she herself would have made a different choice.
She's Understanding About Holidays
If your mother-in-law is unwilling to budge on holidays, it's not likely to get better when you have a kid. From the time we got together, my husband and I decided we would rotate between our families for Christmas and do Thanksgiving wherever it was convenient (we're military, so we move around).
When my mother-in-law's turn to host Christmas came during my partner's deployment year, she encouraged me to go wherever I felt comfortable — no hurt feelings. I could have gone home, but honestly, I was just as happy to spend the holidays with my in-laws (and I want my kid to have as strong a relationship with them as with my parents).
She Remembers Important Days
I always get a card on my birthday and our wedding anniversary. My mother-in-law also writes down all our travel on her calendar so she can wish us bon voyage and keep track of when I do trainings. This is a grandma who will never forget a birthday party, dance recital, or awards assembly.
She Makes You Feel At Home
When I visit my in-laws, my mother-in-law always makes sure to have my favorite drink. Usually, that's red wine, but during my pregnancy she stocked up on Dr. Pepper and sparkling cider. She makes me feel so comfortable in her home that I know it's a place my kids will love to visit. I mean, who doesn't want to ride in a golf cart and feed your own personal cow?
She Calls Before Visiting
It may seem like a small thing, but it's a sign of respect when your mother-in-law doesn't show up unannounced at your doorstep. Mine asked my permission to come stay with us after the baby was born, and honestly, I was more than happy to have her. She was a great help, and when it came time to host my daughter's birthday party solo, she's the one I called to come a day early.
When my in-laws found out we were expecting, they upgraded our tickets for Christmas to first class. Upon my arrival, I noticed that a stocking with my unborn daughter's name had been hung on the staircase with the other grandchildren's. That generosity is a wonderful quality in a grandparent, even if it means your kid will be just a little bit spoiled (I'm looking at you, giant stuffed pony in our playroom, although truth be told, I think that was grandpa).
She Thinks Highly Of You & Tells You So
My mother-in-law often comments on my ability to make friends and get involved in the community wherever we are (and that's important when you're a military spouse). She gives me pats on the back (hell, I even call her to get them), so I know she'll be a proud grandmother who celebrates the accomplishments of her grandchild, from kindergarten graduation to getting a driver's license.
She Nurtures Her Relationship With You
An investment in you is indicative of her future investment in your children. I talk to my mother-in-law at least once a week, and not only does she check in on my daughter and husband, she always asks after my own family. She's someone I can really talk to, and I thoroughly enjoy her company.
However, I think what's most important is that our strong relationship facilitates a strong relationship between grandmother and grandchild, and as I well know from my own grandma, you can't underestimate the power of that.
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