I’m sure I’m not the only one headed to the in-laws for the holidays. And what a mixed bag that can be, right? On the one hand, a retreat: two extra adults, people actually interested in your kids, daily hot square meals that you had no hand in preparing.
But there’s another side: you’re totally at the mercy of a matriarch whom you don’t have the privilege of grousing at (I’m thinking my own mom, here). Three weeks of frozen vegetables. Never really knowing what to do with my snack plate — leaving it in the sink feels mean, but putting it in the dishwasher is, in my case, akin to personal invasion.
And then? The subtext. So much subtext. Like, what does it mean on the mornings you’re handed the “I Heart My Attitude Problem” mug? What’s really being said?
The experts over at grandparents.com have provided translations of some common phrases, which may help you navigate the minefields. For example:
When your MIL says: How thoughtful! Thank you for this lovely present!
What she means is: I’ll be regifting it to your mother next year.
When your MIL says: Good for you taking her pacifier away. She’ll be upset for a while, but it’s time.
What she means is: Tell me again why you couldn’t do it tomorrow, when I’m out of earshot.
And if you’re tempted to just tune the MIL out, don’t. Grandparents.com gives some good reasons to keep listening.
Let’s build our own MIL/DIL phrasebook. I’ll start:
MIL: You look so rested!
Translation: Could you sleep any later? I’ve been up with your kids since 6 a.m.!
Fathers-in-law have their own messaging system as well. Let’s translate for them:
FIL: So Daddy’s putting them to bed again? That’s nice.
Translation: Damn, woman, does my son have to do everything?