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.