Every married woman has one -- the mother-in-law (dun dun DUN). Although she drives you up a wall, she might turn out to be a godsend for your kids for all the same reasons. Her overbearing nature and inability to keep her thoughts to herself can be a good skill set for keeping your kid out of trouble. Heck, she raised your hubby, right?
1. The Hardcore (Card) Gamer
She rules the tables at the casino and always invites you to her weekly Pinochle game - to your dismay. She also loses track of time at the penny slots and card tables in Vegas. Matter of a fact, the only time she comes up for air when it's game time is when she's looking for some nourishment before the next round.
But she also knows a bunch of games your kids love and will sit with them for hours. Games like Go Fish, War, or Crazy Hearts are easy to learn and engages the kids just as much as the adults. The MIL knows the rules more than anyone, too. She doesn't stand for cheaters so the kids better be playing fair and square because Grammy plays for keeps.
2. Old School Nostalgia
Does she bring ancient items and traditions to your doorstep almost every single time you see her? Maybe she carts over some wacky clothes washer that doesn't require power, keep stacks of your hubby's cloth diapers to pass on (ew), or insists that electric can openers are the devil while handing you a manual one from the 1800s.
Not to knock her methods, but you evolved into the 21st century. However, your MIL also puts great emphasis on a hands-on approach to housekeeping. Sacrificing quality for convenience is never an option, and that extends to your next of kin. Your kid's getting so many hand-knit sweaters, homemade meals, and some pretty interesting, not to mention potential, antique toys. Not so bad.
3. The Pet Lady
Yes, your MIL has three cats, a dog, a hedgehog, a parakeet, and a fluffy bunny - it's a small time farm in her house. Every time you head over, you have a hard time getting any couch space because one of the resident animals is curled up napping on the cushions. How the heck does she keep up with all of them? And just imagine her pet food bills!
Here's the thing, though. The kids are STOKED when they venture over to grandma's house. How often do they get to play with a bird that can talk back to them, or a sweet, little, roly-poly hedgie? Next to never, that's how often. They also learn some responsibility. The MIL will have them feeding and on potty duties, so your little ones learn how to take care of these fur/quill/scale/feather babies.
4. And How Does That Make You Feel?
Think Barbara Streisand in Meet the Fockers. Everything you say or do can (and will) be analyzed. In this case, poor Pam Focker suffered through a sex therapist MIL. Ouch. So for you, the psycho-analytics are a hardcore no-go. But it's in her blood - it's her career.
But the day will come when junior is going to need some grief counseling through the never-ending heartbreaks in junior high, the peer pressure, and the stolen lunches that jerk bully keeps swiping from him. And your therapist MIL will be able to tap into those feelings like the pro she is.
5. The Never Speaking English Ordeal
Your European, Central American, or Asian MIL speaks English - you know, you've heard her speak it before! But whenever she's with your honey, she speaks in tongues. How rude. If she has something to say, she should say so that you can understand it, too. It's enough to make your darn blood boil! Especially in your own home.
But there is a silver lining. She's also speaking her native tongue in front of your kid. That means the little one has a personal foreign language tutor free of charge. The only bummer is now your man and the kid use vocabulary that isn't in your dictionary. But you can always bone up, too! Why not? You won't be left out anymore!
6. Baby Fever
She has been giving you baby booties and matching infant outfits since the day you got married. Oh my goodness, it's not like you're going to forego children, but where's the darn fire? You don't need a stash of baby items years before you're ready to go into mommy mode.
But before you say anything, think of it this way. While it comes off as pushy that she's overly excited for you to expand your family, she will provide way too many items, some that you've never even heard of, by the time your little one enters the world. So just take all those items with a smile and hoard them until you're ready.
7. Having a "Free is the Right Price" Mentality
Your MIL hails from the school of hard knocks. She doesn't like spending unnecessary cash. She clips coupons like it's going out of style and is always knows where all the biggest sales are. Fifty cents off cheese? Sold! But it drives you nuts. What's an extra 10 cents, right?
Well, whenever the kids stay are with grammy, they learn how to find bargains, haggle with store owners, and negotiate free samples for everything. They can even teach you a lesson or two on money savviness. Heck, you might even save some bucks.
8. The (Uber) Bookworm
She's either an employed or retired teacher. She always has her nose in a book and constantly corrects your grammar. To you, it comes off as naggy and drives you up the wall. You graduated grade school decades ago - you shouldn't have to be worried about what's on the final this semester.
But the silver lining is she's pretty much a free, personal tutor for your children who can be called at a moment's notice. Your kids are going to ace those multiplication tables at record speed! And all the other kids are going to be so envious of your superstar students' skills thanks to dear old mom-in-law.
9. The "Cool Mom" Syndrome
She was the mom who allowed booze in the house and never knew when to go away during sleepovers while your spouse was growing up. No filter about pretty much anything you wouldn't want to discuss with your parents is the norm. No, you don't want to discuss your period or go out bar hopping with her.
Well to your kid, she's going to be pretty rad, but she also has you as the gatekeeper. Venturing off the straight and narrow isn't a bad thing from time to time, but if they venture too far -- you're there to rein them in. Keep reinforcing your moral ground rules, but it will be good for your kid (and your MIL) for you to let your hair down a bit too when she's around.
10. A Former Flower Child
She's the free-spirited flower child from the '60s. Everything is groovy, and she always lives in the slow lane. She's a little too loose with her lifestyle choices in your opinion. Let's face it, peace and love don't always get the job done. You're actually kind of surprised your hubby ended up having a respectable job rather than with a career in attending anti-war protests.
The great thing is not only does she have awesome stories to share - like the time she somehow got a lift in the Rolling Stones tour bus when she needed a ride to San Francisco -- she also accepts and encourages your child's creativity. If he wants to pick up drumming as a hobby, your MIL will be his biggest cheerleader. She'll always be open-minded and supportive no matter what your little one wants to explore.
Making the MIL Your PIC
Perhaps your mother-in-law is a tough son of a gun. But, lucky for you, her skills are transferable (in a good way) to your little one. All in all, your mother-in-law can be your partner in crime when it comes to child raising, if you let her. Who knows - maybe you'll even adopt some of her skill sets, too.