Tuesday, May 17, 2011


I want to grieve. I want to cry. I want to feel something.

My mother-in-law smoked from the time she was a teenager until shortly after she was diagnosed with stage one lung cancer. She had a lobectomy, but the disease progressed quite quickly to stage four, where it has remained for about three years.

When my husband called me that day in June four years ago and told me that his mother had lung cancer, I wanted to want to sob, but I couldn't. All I could do was tell him the truth: "I'm so sorry for you."

My mother-in-law despises me, and I don't know why.

We've had disagreements that might logically lead to hurt feelings, but not hatred.

When I began dating Danny, I wanted to love her and I longed for her to love me in return. I was even excited at the thought of a "second mother". Instead, I got forced conversations and obligatory Christmas gifts, which gradually led to no contact at all.

I want to be imagining all this. I want it to be all in my head. But, sadly, I cannot. She has told my husband, "I hate your wife and I can't be around her."

I have tried to apologize to my mother-in-law for whatever it is that I have done to her to cause such intense feelings about me, but my apologies have fallen on deaf ears. She wants no relationship between us, and I've finally accepted that there's nothing I can do about it.

So, when the inevitable comes, when she finally succumbs to her dreadful disease, I will not grieve. I will not cry. I will not feel anything.

I will simply tell my husband the truth: "I'm so sorry for you."
This was written for the "Red Dress Club.".


  1. Being addicted to smoking is the hardest addiction to break, in spite of being told you have lung cancer...My Mother smoked until the day she died from lung cancer..I smoke, and have try over and over to quit.havn't been able to break this yoke yet...Was easier to overcome cocaine addiction..Promised God no more and that was the end of it...
    Mother-in -laws, well they can be a real pain. Some just don't want others to replace them with their children. They don't know how to let go! "Apron strings". I wouldn't take any of what she has said or done personally.
    You have her son's heart! That's the inportant thing...The rest is just baggage that we must put up with for the sake of who we love..Still his mother..Good or Bad. No mother, No Dan..Be Blessed, Just becuz...

  2. I like how this is so honest and told in a matter-of-fact way, but at the same time, there's a gentleness to it. I think a good relationship between a woman and her mother-in-law is pretty rare. Maybe the mere fact that somebody now "owns" their baby boy is just something that mothers can't handle.

  3. Does your MIL know my MIL? They sound eerily alike, except for the lung cancer bit. Ugh. I do feel, though, that your response to your husband is beautiful. Perfect.

  4. I am sorry about Danny's mother and her illness. It's a tough way to go, for her and very difficult for him to watch.

    My daughter in law and I were "estranged" for many years. Even now, she says it was much more her than me. For some reason, I made her very uncomfortable, although I never really understood why. I was born in San Francisco and still live in the Bay Area. Kate was from a small town in the country. I think she thought I "judged" her but I never did.

    After years of a strained relationship, I asked her to come down right before her birthday because I wanted to spend a day with her and take her shopping and to lunch for her birthday. Kate accepted my offer and we spent a wonderful day together. I pampered her all day, took her to Neiman Marcus for the perfect cocktail dress and shoes, to Macy's for more shoes and clothes and cosmetics too. We had a wonderful lunch with a couple of glasses of wine. Believe it or not, it changed everything. It's much easier to love than to feel stilted in a relationship. I just wish I had approached her better much earlier. But I'm still delighted that we have a new-found loving relationship as it should be.

    I'm only sorry you don't have this because it can be so rewarding. My best wishes for all of you to get through this difficult period.

    1. Melissa has re-posted her blog which allowed me to see your response. You sound like a very thoughtful and caring woman as my impression is of the writer. Your daughter-in-law is a lucky girl.

  5. I feel for you. Missie. I think that mothers of sons have it much harder, because just like "Ephesians" says, a man leaves his mother and father to be with his wife. And the wife never leaves her family. It's just a reality. You have done what you could, and she is losing out on a wonderful relationship because she can't let go.

  6. The hardest thing will be for you to support Danny in his grieving. You don't have to feel sad that she's gone, (she sounds horrible btw), but he will, it's hard to lose a parent. Just be his strength in his time of need. Everything will be fine.

  7. I think that sometimes we have to look deep deep down within us and find that last drop of sympathy, of empathy and just basic humanity. She can have those feelings for you until she passes. That's ok. Those are her feelings. Don't let it color your feelings. It's hard to plan what you're going to do/feel before it has happened. How can you know?

  8. Wow. My MIL and I were never especially close, but were were at least friendly to each other and she still sends me Christmas cards every year. But you can't fight an irrational hatred and I can't imagine why you would feel any grief for her.

  9. It's hard! I am one of the fortunate ones who has a great relationship with my MIL. I appreciate how lucky I am, it is rare!

  10. I am sorry you had such a bad relationship with your MIL. It is a testiment to your marriage that it survived that kind of stress.

  11. I know exactly how you feel! My mil did pass away and I was sad, but mostly just for the pain that it brought my husband. I honestly feel like our lives are better without her. And I feel like an asshole saying it. I only grieve for my husband's hurt and pain.