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Monday, 24 January 2011

Daughter-in-Law's Lament: A Monologue

Written by  Sherri Mandell

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Why isn't my mother-in-law more loving to the kids? She's only interested in them when they're sweet. If they say something naughty or have a tantrum, she doesn't want to have anything to do with them. She says that we're too lenient with them and that's why they misbehave. Well maybe we are but it's not so easy when you're pregnant and have two little ones. I don't have the energy to discipline them. She makes me feel guilty, like I'm a terrible mother. She should help or shut up.

She only sees the kids about three times a year. It's much better when she comes here because at least then I don't have to worry about them ruining her white couch. Can you believe it? She buys herself a brand new white couch even though she knows she has two little grandkids. So every time we're there I spend all of my time worrying.

I respect her ability to function after her husband divorced her. I know it wasn't easy for her to go to law school and get a job and all. But I can't say I like her. I just feel like she doesn't approve of me. I mean I only had a semester of college and then I dropped out. She's always asking Luke questions like: what's Mindy going to do when the kids go to school. And why is Mindy having all these kids?

She has no concept of who I am. That for me having kids is better than sitting in an office and writing legal briefs about tax law. She couldn't care less about me. I feel like I'm a nothing in her eyes. And I'm sick of it. I'm sick of feeling like nothing in her presence.

Meanwhile if she's such a genius, why doesn't she understand children? The presents she gives the kids are weird. Why doesn't she know that you don't give a baby pick up sticks? She's so involved in her own life she doesn't look outside of her own mind and see who she's dealing with. She doesn't care about anybody but herself.

In the mean time, I'm stuck with her. If my mom weren't dead, it wouldn't be so sad. I was looking forward to having somebody to share with, somebody who loved the kids the way that I do. She loves them but as my father says-from a distance.

Luke, of course, can do no wrong. Luke is perfect. If Luke is busy the whole entire time she's here well of course, Luke is doing something important. So I'm the one who has to wait on her and take care of her and talk to her.

Almost every time she's here, she gets one of her headaches. So then I have somebody else to take care of. Just what I need.

I tell Luke that I don't have the energy to care for her. So he tries. But he goes off to work and I'm stuck with her. Everything has to be perfect for her. If I don't have a sesame seed toasted bagel for her in the morning, she gets this sour look on her face. But when we go to her house in Providence, she sometimes forgets to buy us milk and I have to run out and get it. She apologizes but come on!

I'm so stressed out before she comes because I want the house to look nice. She never says anything about the mess. But she never says anything good either. She never tells me I look good. She never says anything nice about me at all.

And here I am struggling. Even if she takes us out to dinner, it's a disaster cause the kids throw food or something.

She knows that we have no money. But she'll only help us out if she gets something out of it. She'll take us out for a meal and I know I should feel grateful but I'd rather have the money to pay for a washer that worked.

I just hope that I will never be like her - so self-absorbed. All she is, is a model of how not to be. I am so sick of her. I'm exhausted and she won't even help me put away a toy. She won't even read the kids a book. Even when they watch TV, she makes them watch her shows or the news. She is so selfish. And I am fed up. I wish she'd stay home in her beige on beige living room and leave us alone.

Read The Mother-In-Law's Lament

Read Ms. Leah Shifrin Averick's Expert Advice to the Characters

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Last modified on Monday, 16 January 2012 17:50
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Sherri Mandell

Sherri Mandell

Sherri Mandell has a Master's degree in Creative Writing and has taught writing at the University of Maryland and Penn State University. She is the author of the book Writers of the Holocaust. She has written articles for the Washington Post. She is married with four children

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Did conflicts with your daughter-in-law ever get to the point of damaging your relationship with your son?




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