My ex-mother-in-law and I had a terrible relationship. It was the cause of many fights between my ex-husband and I and created great stress. I’m not here to write about those old stressors or air any dirty laundry. It was difficult to go through and hurt me that my MIL did not like me, but I made my mistakes too, and that time is over.
When my ex and I separated, and he went back to his parents to stay for a while, I worried that my relationship with her would be worse than it was before. I fretted about how much his parents must hate me since we were splitting up. I figured there would be comments left and right about me, the terrible mother and person. “My daughter would end up not liking me,” I thought, letting the worst thoughts run through my head. How could this go well?
Guess what… It did.
Sure, there were a few rough moments in the beginning and we don’t always agree on stuff, but what happened after that was beyond what I could have hoped for. They say that who shows up during the roughest times in your life are the ones you can truly count on. I thought it would be other people in my life coming to my side to cheer me on, but those people haven’t showed up yet. I never imagined in a million years that one of the people who would step up to the plate would be my ex-MIL.
When my ex and I divided our daughter’s life practically in half, I wondered who would take her to school on “my days” and pick her up? I could do before care and after care, but that would add up, and since I’m a mom who has just returned to the workforce, it would be a tough expense.
My ex-in laws stepped up to help me. It was for the greater good — for our child’s good they said. Never once do I hear a complaint. Never once am I told this is an inconvenience.
When we decided to put our daughter in play therapy — but I realized that my job is incredibly far from her therapist and her school — my ex-in laws agreed to meet me and my daughter at her therapist after the sessions are over so they can bring her back south to school and I can head north to work.
Never once did they say, “Figure it out,” or “So what? So you’re already coming into work late at 10:35. Make it 11:30. Too bad, lady.”
Never once did they say, “Why do we have to help so much?”
The other day my ex told me that in order to avoid ruining his credit completely, he would have to sign over the deed on the marital house — where I’m living — to the bank. I understood. First, I’m not on the mortgage and don’t feel the pain of a foreclosure or missed mortgage payments. Secondly, while this isn’t optimal for him, a foreclosure would be worse and I believe in the school of thought that says both parties in a divorce need to move on and thrive. I want both of us to be okay. I do not wish for my ex’s demise. I want him to be happy — that’s my daughter’s father!
But when I heard I had 73 days to leave the house, I cried. I just started a job eight months ago. I started a second job seven months ago. I am not financially on my feet and this puts me in a very bad position, but unfortunately, even if we aren’t ready for life, life is always ready for us.
One evening I asked my in-laws to watch my daughter after school instead of aftercare so I could look for homes. Did they complain? No. When I came to pick up my daughter, my ex-MIL could see the stress on my face. Just one day before this, I had sent my ex-in laws a card and in it I said how much I appreciated them, their efforts as grandparents and that their support makes all of our lives, especially our daughter’s, easier. I hadn’t heard yet if they had received the card and so I was anxious. Not to mention I was overwhelmed. The house hunt was awful. I told myself it was day one but in my head all I could think was, “Just 70 more days.”
“I got the card,” she said to me, while my ex-FIL played with my daughter.
“I really appreciate everything you guys have done for us — for her. Thank you.”
As she asked me about the house hunt, I started to cry. That’s when the woman who hated me reached in for a hug. And as she hugged me she said to me in my ear, “You will always be her mother. That will never change. I will never do anything to hurt that. And I’m sorry for everything. I know we are different, but that’s behind us.”
I told her I was sorry too and that I hoped the past could stay where it belongs — in the past.
When I went home that night, something changed between me and my ex-husband. His mother and I had finally given him the gift he had wanted for so long — a truce, but more than a truce. It is a mutual understanding that even though we are completely different and may not always walk to the same beat, we both have the same goal: a happy child and grandchild. Two happy co-parents. Yes, my ex lacked in helping his mother and I get along when we were together, but that doesn’t matter anymore. The old injuries are not to be tallied.
Instead I count all the blessings my ex-in laws have given me.
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