Chicago mom: Enough with the mother-in-law bashing

Over the last 10 years, I have noticed all kinds of parenting trends. Baby-wearing. Organic everything. Attachment parenting. Gender-neutral toys and clothes.

As a mom who believes strongly in raise-and-let-raise, I try hard not to question other people’s philosophies and techniques. If parents want to breastfeed their kids until they go off to college, I refuse to be the villager at the gate carrying a pitchfork and crying foul.

But lately, I have noticed a powerful new movement that has drawn my ire to the point where I need to say something.

Mother-in-law bashing.

I’ve witnessed groups of moms gather at parks and coffee houses for the sole purpose of criticizing their mothers-in-law. It is a cruel game of one-upmanship, “You think your mother-in-law is bad? You have no idea!” The infractions are usually minor. She doesn’t stick to the posted schedule. She gave the baby a non-organic banana once. She kept the kids up an hour past their bedtime to watch TELEVISION.

Has humanity truly forgotten what being a grandmother is about?

The generation of moms before us did not have the Internet to scour when the baby got croup. They relied heavily on the wisdom of family, including their mothers-in-law. If Grandma didn’t toe the line exactly, it was quickly overlooked and forgotten.

I may be more sensitive (or perhaps insensitive) to the subject because I do not have a mother-in-law. I never did. Joe’s mom passed away from breast cancer at 55.

Yet in life, there are only a few people who will love your children beyond reason. They can usually be counted on one hand and include grandparents. Who will be delighted to receive a phone call when your baby starts walking? Who will beam with pride at your child’s first basketball game? Who can be called to show up at 3 a.m. to watch your other kids when the baby needs to go to the ER?

There is not a day that goes by that Joe wouldn’t like to call his mom and share a funny story about our boys. I miss the love she would have had for them. Would she have criticized my cooking skills, mocked my over-scheduling, or given the kids chocolate cake before bed? I will never know.

But I would gladly take it all if she could have met my sons just once. To see the same love I feel reflected in someone else’s eyes? That connection is forever.

This Mother’s Day, I continue to be grateful for my own wonderful mom who, unfortunately, still gets those 3 a.m. emergency calls. But I will also be grateful to my mother-in-law. She delivered me the love of my life. She raised her son to be a loyal husband and loving father. He is my everything.

No organic banana can ever hold a candle to that.

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