Fam­ily can be tricky at the best of times, but there seems to be a par­tic­u­lar set of ten­sions when it comes to women and their moth­ers-in-law. They’re not all bad, we know that. But in the in­ter­est of hav­ing a good vent (and get­ting some wel­learned sym­pat

Fairlady - - CONTENTS - Com­piled by Liesl Robert­son

& 25 other moth­erin-law sto­ries that will make you feel bet­ter about yours!


A VERY GOOD COOK, but I’m also a bit of a Jamie Oliver wannabe in my own right, and peo­ple love my cook­ing. They of­ten come back for sec­ond help­ings. But when she comes over for din­ner, she loves pre­tend­ing that she’s al­most too scared to taste my food, even go­ing as far as trem­bling slightly when she brings the fork up to her mouth.


HIS MOM IN QUITE A WHILE, and dur­ing that time he’d picked up a few ki­los, which is normal – life hap­pens. His brother, mean­while, had lost weight. So they met her for lunch and with­out bat­ting an eye, she said to his poor brother, ‘Oh, I al­ways thought YOU were meant to be the fat one!’


COURT – you’d think that would have been enough of a sub­tle warn­ing as to what would tran­spire that day. As my hus­band (now ex) fin­ished say­ing our vows in front of our near­est and dear­est, I heard a yowl, then a howl, then a clat­ter of foot­steps down the cor­ri­dor – it was my mother-in-law, flee­ing the scene, sob­bing in hor­ror at the fate of her son. That was pretty much to be ex­pected of her – what I didn’t ex­pect was to see my hus­band go run­ning af­ter her. The first two hours of my mar­ried life were spent hus­band­less as he con­soled his mother in the car park of the mag­is­trates’ court. Need­less to say it didn’t last. SHE’S OB­SESSED WITH PHOTOS, and spends hours try­ing to set up the per­fect mo­ment. The prob­lem is, she in­sists on do­ing this just as your overly tired child is scream­ing to go to bed. She had five hours to cap­ture the mo­ment and the per­fectly be­haved child… but it’s bet­ter to wait un­til the aw­ful daugh­ter-in-law wants to go home. Then the tired chil­dren are dragged out of the car, clothes have to be put back on and hair combed for the per­fect pic­ture.

EVERY TIME WE VISIT MY MIL, SHE ASKS: ‘When are you giv­ing me grand­chil­dren?’ I’m get­ting tired of bit­ing my tongue!

AF­TER DAT­ING FOR A YEAR, MY THEN-BOYFRIEND PRO­POSED TO ME, and a week later we had din­ner with his folks. His mother: ‘You know, I had vi­sions of my son’s wed­ding and the wife I saw looked just like you. Ex­cept her hair was longer than yours, she wasn’t as dark as you and she was thin­ner.’ Me: …

I HAD SPENT MONTHS LOOK­ING FOR THE PER­FECT SWIM­MING COS­TUME, and spent a fair amount of money on the one I even­tu­ally set­tled on. When we went on hol­i­day, my MIL kept beg­ging me to let her try it on. First of all, I hadn’t even worn it yet. Se­condly, hy­giene?! Every time she asked, I changed the sub­ject, but she didn’t take the hint. Af­ter the fifth time, my hus­band had to step in. He said, ‘Mom, it’s gross. You can’t try on her cos­tume, get your own!’ To this day, she still doesn’t think there’s a prob­lem with try­ing on your daugh­ter-in-law’s swim­suit. Did I men­tion we’re not even the same size?

SHE LIKES TO PUT HER FEET up on my hus­band’s lap af­ter a long day! Is that normal?

IN MY FAM­ILY, WE HAVE TEATIME AT 4PM ON A SUN­DAY – we gather in the liv­ing room to drink tea, eat cake or koek­sis­ters and chat. Af­ter we got mar­ried, my hus­band en­cour­aged me to pre­pare some teatime treats for the Sun­day we vis­ited his fam­ily, so I went all out: I made pep­per­mint tart and even laid the table. But when I called him for teatime, he’d made a plate for him­self and his mother, and they sat in her bed­room and watched a movie (which they’d al­ready seen a gazil­lion times) while I sat at the table hav­ing tea by my­self. My hus­band’s rea­son­ing? ‘You must re­mem­ber, we do things dif­fer­ently in my fam­ily.’

MOST PEO­PLE TAKE ABOUT SIX WEEKS TO RE­COVER FROM A BACK OP­ER­A­TION. (In fact, ac­cord­ing to some sources, you can have sex six weeks af­ter a back op.) My mother-in-law, how­ever, was still ly­ing in bed af­ter four months. The fam­ily had to draw up a vis­it­ing ros­ter to make sure that she had at least one vis­i­tor every day, and for those four months, every fam­ily event cen­tred on her. Her bed was moved into the TV room and we all had to sit around her and eat lunch on our laps, and rush over to help her take an oc­ca­sional sip of wa­ter through a straw.

EVERY STORY MY MOTH­ERIN-LAW TELLS ME STARTS WITH A MEN­TION OF HER OWN DAUGH­TER – in her eyes, my sis­terin-law is ba­si­cally Martha Ste­wart and [child­care au­thor] Gina Ford rolled into one. My chil­dren are also con­stantly com­pared to her daugh­ters’ kids and, of course, they’re just not as clever, pretty or gifted. My momin-law makes it very clear that she has a pref­er­ence – all you have to do is look at her What­sapp pro­file pic­ture: it’s al­ways of my sis­ter-in­law’s kids.

I RE­CENTLY TOOK MY DAUGH­TER FOR HER MONTHLY VISIT TO MY MOTHER-IN-LAW – a ritual my MIL ab­so­lutely in­sists on. When we ar­rived, she told me that they’d al­ready eaten lunch and there was no food left for us. It was quite cold in the house, so I sat out­side in the sun with great-gran and we watched the chil­dren play­ing in the gar­den. My mother-in-law, mean­while, sat in­side in her room. Then, at around 4pm, she came out­side and told me it was time for me to get go­ing.

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