It's Either HER or ME

And so my new book begins:

I have loved all of my son’s girlfriends.

As if I had a choice.

As mothers of sons eventually discover, one day you’re relegated to the backseat of the car you helped pay for, while some young, nimble thing regally claims the passenger seat. It hits you at that moment: You’ve been replaced. Now the only way to retain some semblance of your cherished role as most venerated female in your son’s life is by getting along with his girlfriend.

As the girlfriend of this guy, you knowingly chose him for the whole package: his unmatched wit, boyish good looks, and genuine compassion. You just never considered the string attached: his mother. Whether she appears on the scene with polite reservations or intimidating enthusiasm, you can be sure certain of one thing: She isn’t about to give up her son without a fight.

There is no relationship on earth quite like the one between a man’s mother and his girlfriend/fiancée/wife. These two women connect in a parallel universe where no man has ever gone before. Nor does he want to. In fact, he’s often most content to keep his head securely in the clouds, in blissful ignorance of the world class competition unfurling around him.

I know without a doubt that if you are committed to a man who has a mother, or if you have a son who is in a committed relationship, you totally get this. Maybe you actually like his mom, but it frustrates you to know that even when he’s being a jerk to you, she still loves him. And worse, is that he knows it. Maybe you, the mom, actually like your daughter-in-law, but while you’re trying not to interfere in their lives (because your son would never stand for it) her mother seems to have a front row seat.

I loved my mother-in-law, and when my husband – her only child – died, I took care of her. I know the reason we got along so well is because she knew when to bite her tongue. Once I entered her son’s life, she deferred to me. Had she not, we would have had a very different sort of relationship.

I wonder if your mother-in-law treats you this way, or if she continues to take control of her son. Or maybe you’re the mother-in-law and from your perspective you’re the one on the outside, looking in.

We have a lot to talk about.

23
Feb
2010

A Glimpse into A Son's World

I have recently returned from a brief trip to Providence, RI to visit my son who’s in his first year of graduate school. Two days before Christmas he learns his landlord has been foreclosed on and all of the tenants (including my son) have been evicted. A helluva Christmas present.

Fortunately, he finds a new apartment on Craig’s List, and I go up to help. Either because he’s excessively organized, or he just doesn’t want his mother’s interference, when I get there he is completely moved in and unpacked. He humors me by allowing me to suggest where to hang pictures.

Truthfully, I am not surprised. I really go up so I can see his new surroundings (not bad) and meet his new friends (never happens) and see his new haunts (an amazing sandwich shop with 99 choices called Geoff’s).

It’s not that I’m prying. It’s that a mom has a certain level of discomfort when her child enters a world, such as college or a job, that is unfamiliar to her. The discomfort eases considerably when she has an opportunity to check it out – a glance is all that’s necessary. This same sort of thinking applies to a son’s new relationship with a girl. Whether it’s the girl he hangs out with at his school’s Friday night dance, or a woman he meets at work, a mom just wants to meet her. Even briefly.

Since this is my first blog, I also feel I owe my son an apology. Of my two children, I write mainly about him. My first book, Mom, There’s a Man in the Kitchen and He’s Wearing Your Robe, has grown out of my years as a dating single mom. It includes numerous anecdotes about my son and my dates. (I have memories both fond and mortifying.) His older sister is away at college and my son quite innocently falls into the role of wingman, getting roped into doing reconnaissance, poking his head through the curtains as a blind date climbs out of his car. I’m curious about the guy; my son is curious about the car. And now my newest book, It’s Either Her or Me. A Guide to Help a Mom and Her Daughter-in-Law Get Along, germinates from my son’s relationships with women.

At 24, he has had several girlfriends. When I first begin writing It’s Either Her or Me I am sure he and his live-in girlfriend are going to marry. By the time I finish the manuscript, I have to go back and rewrite the Introduction.

But that’s for another blog.

Although we’ll have plenty to talk about once my book comes out. (It goes on sale on March 23), I know there are moms (about to become mothers-in-law) and women (about to become daughters-in-law) that are itching to weigh in NOW.

I look forward to hearing from you.

16
Feb
2010


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