Alone time and silence can be a mom’s best and worst friend

Sep 12 2013 - 10:15am



I usually hold clarity at arm's length, same as if my infant had a blown-out diaper.

Alone time and silence can be a mom's best and worst friend.

In those moments we have time to think about our mistakes, whether we are good mothers, if we made the right choice to stay home or get a job, maybe dream up some E.L. James situation that really would just take too much effort when I could be folding a basket of laundry.

Those reverent moments fill me up with worry, getting my innards stewed.

These clarifying moments often happen while rocking the baby, TV remote across the room, where even the slightest movement will destroy my win in the wrestling match that just took place. I have no choice but to be alone with my thoughts -- nightmare.

Last week Bodie lay in my arms, back and forth, back and forth, when it hits me -- I have two boys. One day they will grow, get married, have children, and I will be the mother-in-law.

Talking with many women, combined with my general ability to see, girls are more inclined to schlep the grandkids over to their mother's house than the lowly mother-in-law's. One's MIL is often an afterthought for baby-sitting gigs, family events and drop-ins. My mother didn't have a lot of choice, since her MIL lived in California, turning out to be a perfect excuse as there is no love lost between those two. Some women are lucky enough to have a few thousand miles between them and their MIL.

My relationship with my MIL is very different from most for two reasons. One, I met her when I was 16, so she's watched me grow up, actually playing a major role in why I turned out the way I did. Two, she's a genuinely nice person.

I would use the word "chill" to describe her. My MIL works all week, but every so often the kiddies and I trek out to her work for a visit, and every Sunday we're at her house for hours and hours. It's not a chore, but a short vacation to spend the day at her house. We're close to sixes on the amount of time my children spend with the grandmas because both are lovely to be around.

I believe myself to be an exception to the rule, despite many of you shaking your head in disagreement, saying to yourself, "I took the kids over to my mother-in-law's last month".

Why do so many women dislike their MIL? Why is she left in the dust when it comes to baby time? Is it that Dad doesn't care if his mother gets fair time? While mothers of a slew of girls may get their butts kicked in the short run, they come out on top in the long run, because they're most often the number one draft pick as backup parent to the grandkids.

The Sanders' family was blessed with only one sister-in-law who, so far, gets along well with my mother. My heart breaks for my mother as I think she may be the back-up grandma, a first for her, since her other grandbabies spawned for her spawn.

I'm not alone in realizing the maternal grandmother gets more play. My dear sister has two boys and has also feared being benched when the time comes. She has created a game plan wherein she bribes the daughter-in-law to come around with family heirlooms, like rings laced with precious gems.

All I can do is try to be "chill," let my boys and their future wives enjoy their space, hoping they'll want me in their life.

I've created a list of why a MIL may be cut off. If you fall under any of these headings, maybe you ought to rethink your approach to your daughter-in-law.

1. Are you demanding, overbearing or bossy?

2. Do you make your daughter-in-law uncomfortable by pushing your beliefs or views on her, the children or your son?

3. Do you attempt to follow your daughter-in-law's rules even if they are insane, OCD rules that force a choke hold on the kiddies?

4. Are you making questionable decisions in your own life, like too much drinking, men, language, diet that make you seem a bit irresponsible?

Remember, the daughter-in-law holds most of the cards. On the other hand, if you're a totally normal woman who loves her grandchildren, you may need to come to terms that your son married a brat. Dear daughters-in-law, if you are a brat, here's my advice to you -- get over it, buck up, let your MIL watch the kids, and go on a date. How does it hurt to have another free baby sitter?

Hopefully the issue of grandchildren will arise in another 24 years, giving me time to change all my neuroses, eccentricities and general nasty demeanor. In the meantime, I'll work a little harder to shut down those quiet moments where I'm left to think. Thank goodness for Real Housewives, and the return of Bachelorette.

Meg Sanders fell down the rabbit hole of motherhood four years ago, quitting her job as a news producer. Now she spends her days grasping onto her sanity, striving to be a good person and fighting the urge to eat her young. She can be contacted at

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