After I married, my mother-in-law and I had the same name, although the spellings were slightly different. She: Gerry. Me: Geri. That’s where the similarity ended. She was slender, blonde, and elegant.  I was chunky, dark haired and decidedly inelegant.  She was cautious and dressed conservatively.  I took risks and dressed on this side of flamboyant.  She was a woman of few words. Not I. She didn’t like to spend money. I love to.

Eleanor Roosevelt sitting between her husband, Franklin, and her mother-in-law, Sara. The women had a contentious relationship.


I wasn’t comfortable around Gerry for many years.  I felt fat and sloppy around her. I was neither fat nor sloppy, but I was terribly insecure. Which brings me to my point.  When we lack confidence, we often become exasperated at others.  We give them power over us they don’t really have—and don’t usually want.  Self-confidence makes us feel happy.  We don’t worry about what others think about us. We pay more attention to what they think. We hear them better.

As my confidence increased over the years, I enjoyed, and appreciated, Gerry more. Her style started rubbing off on me. After her son and I divorced, she traveled with me to visit my son, in camp, a trip I’ll never forget.  She and I had become friends. We could talk about our differences with humor and understanding.

Gerry died at 89, about six years ago. I miss her.  She wasn’t a wicked mother-in-law, competing with me for her son. She was a woman, just like I was.

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3 Responses to “Monster-in-law?”

  1. Julianne says:

    I’ve always had my “own” style. I’m not quite sure what the style is, but it’s definitely my own. When I married my wonderful husand, I acquired a mother-in-law with exceptional style and now I just feel blessed. Because she makes me think about styles I didn’t think of before. She awakens an new “ME”. Love you mom! :o)

  2. Catheirne says:

    Loved this post..
    Having Confidence is Everything!

  3. Duchesse says:

    Some mothers in law have the knack of building confidence in a young spouse, just as a parent builds confidence in a child. Others, because of their own wounds, try to dominate or compete. Other mothers in law are somewhere in the middle; humans are messy and inconsistent. It sounds like you grew up to Gerry, and she was patient enough to wait.

    I’ve had three MILs, each very different personalities but each on my side. I hope I can borrow their qualities when it’s my turn.


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