Top 10 Topics In-Laws Should Avoid

Hello, Parents-in-Law! Today’s PSA is brought to you by adult children everywhere.

First of all, we adore your child, and we think you did a mighty fine job of raising him/her. Thank you for that.

Secondly, since we love our spouses so much, we also really want to have a good relationship with you, too. REALLY, we do.

We promise to respect your position as their mother, but there are some things you can do to make this relationship a little smoother, too. In order to make our interactions as pleasant as possible, we ask — we beg — you to avoid broaching the following topics with us. Or at least stop bringing them up over and over and over and over.

1. Where we live. We know you want your kids and grandkids to live near you, but that’s not always feasible for a number of reasons. We don’t appreciate when you keep bringing up the house for sale just across the street from you, or how you know somebody who knows somebody at the a bank who might be able to help us with the mortgage, or how this school district is SO wonderful and how you couldn’t find better neighbors if you searched the world over, and how the neighborhood we’re currently living in seems to be getting *ahem* a little rough around the edges. Enough already. We get it. And it’s not bringing us any closer.

2. The names we’ve chosen for our kids. Your best bet is to just smile and lie if you need to, “That’s nice, dear. Is that a family name?” We’re probably pretty stoked about the names we’ve chosen, and your poo-pooing won’t end well.

3. Feeding our kids. As long as your grandchildren are not wasting away due to malnutrition, this should be a no-brainer. We don’t need a 45 minute lecture on the health benefits of the vitamins you made their dad take when he was a baby, or how you breastfed until he was four and look how he turned out. We’ve got this. And by the way, if you could avoid filling them up with sodas and candy and cookies and stuff while they’re over there visiting with you, after we’ve clearly and specifically asked you not to, that’d be awesome. We know you love our kids and want to make them happy, but if you could find a way to do that without undermining our choices that we have clearly and repeatedly reiterated, that would be swell.

4. How we spend our money. We may be better off than you think, or we could be two seconds away from calling a bankruptcy attorney. Either way, if we wanted to talk about money with you, we would. Even if we had to swallow our pride like acid-soaked broken glass to do it. We’re doing the best we can, and we’d like for you to treat us as adults and respect the fact that we can balance our own checkbooks and we know if we can afford to take the kids to Disney World this year or if we need to wait for a clearance sale to buy that new shoe rack for the kids’ room.

5. How we discipline our kids. While we DO appreciate those funny anecdotes about how our husbands misbehaved as tots, and we probably find ourselves at our wit’s ends with the kids’ temper tantrums sometimes…unsolicited nagging about how we’re letting our kids run amok and how that would never have stood back in the day is distinctly unhelpful. (And even more stressful than the tantrums, truth be told.) You had your chance already with your own children to do things your way. We’re living with a product of your ways, remember?

6. How you never get to see the grandkids. Especially if this comes up during another one of your unannounced middle-of-the-day visits that send us scurrying. Trust us, we know exactly how often you see the grandchildren. If you’d like to see them more often, maybe we could get together with our handy little pocket planners and set up a nice visit sometime soon when it’s good for both of us.

7. Taking sides in our arguments. Sometimes, we’re going to go head to head with your sweet baby boy. Hopefully, we’ll keep our fights to ourselves, but every now and then, one of us may open our mouths and say something unfortunate. While this is going to totally suck for you, you’re going to be in a lose-lose situation, no matter who you side with. If you say he is right, then obviously you’re biased because he’s your son, and if you say we are right, then obviously you’re biased because women stick together in their man-bashing. The best thing you can possibly do is keep it zipped and just suggest they talk it over again when they’re both calm, and leave it at that.

8. Our housekeeping skills. No more passive-aggressive comments about how our house looks “lived in,” or gifts of cleaning products or cookbooks, okay? We get it. We don’t cook as good as you, and our houses will never be as clean as yours. You win. Here’s your trophy. Can we drop it now?

9. Our family planning decisions. Whether you think we should have more kids, or think we’ve got enough already and need to look into sterilization, our reproductive business is frankly none of your concern. We do not want to discuss our sex life with our husband’s mother. Ever. Or his father. Ew.

10. Our appearance. Obviously nothing negative (like a weight gain comment–HELLO), but beware even offering a compliment if there’s a hostile environment already. “You look nice today, dear” can sound a whole lot like “Wow, you do know how to brush your hair every once in a while, huh? Who knew!” to an already stressed-out and keyed-up daughter-in-law. We know it sounds counterintuitive to refrain from compliments, but when emotions are already high, it’s a really good idea to stay away from personal appearance remarks completely.
© 2015 MyLove Barnett, as first published on Scary Mommy

10 of the Dumbest Things Parents Say

As parents, we’ve all had those moments when we wonder “Did those words actually just come out of my mouth?” The WTF factor gets even higher when you realize that it’s probably something your own parents used to say– things that you swore you’d never say to your own children. Never say never. Chances are, we’ve all uttered at least one of these gems at some point…

1. “Who is the parent here: Me or you? Variations include: “Who’s the boss?”, “I’m in charge here” and “You’re not the boss of me!” If any of these come out of your mouth, you’re probably already losing this argument and in need of a mommy time out. It’s ok. Sometimes we do actually need reassurance that we’re supposed to be the authority figure, because it seems like the toddlers are running the show 92.843% of the time.

2. “Do you want me to turn this car around right now? Yeah. Like that’s gonna happen. After the two hours it took to get everyone bundled up and buckled into the car? Not on your life!

3. “Money doesn’t grow on trees! Okaaaay. And Skittles don’t really fall out of a rainbow, either. Can’t we just say “No, you can’t have that today” and leave the finance (and botany) classes for later? Any kid with any sense already knows that money doesn’t grow on trees because it’s magically embedded in Mommy’s debit card, of course.

4. “You need to put on clean underwear every day. Usually said even as we’re sitting in the same yoga pants we wore yesterday. And maybe the day before that, too. Hypocrisy, thy name is parent.

5. “You want some cheese with that whine? Umm, maybe? Is it string cheese? Who doesn’t love mozzarella? Puns usually don’t go over very well with the under 3 foot crowd. Your older kids probably won’t get it either. Unless you’re in the habit of taking them to wine and cheese parties for family night, no one under 30 has any idea what you just said.

6. “We’ll see… There is no kid in the universe who doesn’t know that this actually means “I want to say No, but I can’t think of a good reason right now, so ask me again later after I’ve come up with a plausible excuse.

7. “Go ask your Dad/Mom. Ditto #6 above. And/or “I don’t want to be the bad guy/make this decision/have this conversation/be responsible for the outcome. This is me passing the buck to your other parental unit.

8. “Finish your peas. There are starving kids in Africa. Will those kids not be starving anymore if Junior finishes his peas? Has science finally proven that guilt builds an appetite for veggies?

9. “If you don’t pick up these toys, I’m going to throw them away. Good luck with that. You paid good money for those crap toys and we all know full well it didn’t happen the last 50 times you said it anyway…

10. “Your face is going to freeze like that” or “You’d better pick up that bottom lip before you trip over it!” Neither of which is actually possible, but they’re still ever-popular warnings against the pouty face for some reason.
© 2015 MyLove Barnett, as first published on Scary Mommy

Social Media and Online Friends: Real Connections



Once upon a time, before FaceBook was even a thing, there was MySpace. There was probably something before that too, but I never knew it. I loved MySpace, and I spent many a non-productive block of hours connecting with people and playing Mafia Wars.

(Circle of Bosses–represent!)

 

I know many people criticise social media and look down on those who use it frequently, but I’ve truly met some of my best friends online, women with whom I share a bond just as real as if I’d met them in college, or at the grocery store, or in the school drop off line. They’ve been just a click away every time I’ve needed to vent, cry, laugh, or even just when I need to know another adult is available to validate my existence.

MySpace had this thing, called Top 8, where you got to choose people from your friends list whom you wanted to be in your row of connections listed on your profile. (Sort of like the older-than-dirt Friends and Family circle on your phone line–if you’re old enough to remember that!) Being chosen for someone’s Top 8 honor was a pretty big deal. So one day, I was glancing over my husband’s page, and I saw in his Top 8 a picture of THE most adorable little blonde girl with a ponytail. I’d never seen this woman before and I didn’t recognize her name, and I’m thinking to myself, “Who the hell is this bitch in his Top 8 that I’ve never heard of??”

As it turns out, she was an old high school friend of his, and we connected and started chatting. At first it was just a little comment here and there, and then direct message conversations, until one day, we exchanged phone numbers and all hell broke loose.

Now let me be right up front, I hate talking on the phone. HATE. IT. I’ve never been one for phone chatter. So when I say that we spoke on the phone that first time for three hours, that’s like a huge thing. I mean I feel like I should get an Olympic gold medal or something. But we did. We spoke for a little over three hours, about anything and everything and nothing. We discovered, much to our mutual surprise, that we are basically the same person inhabiting different bodies, and we couldn’t wait to put those two bodies in the same room. We made a date, forced our husbands to fall in love with each other as well, and we’ve all been best friends ever since. (Love you Shona!)

I know that not every connection made online (or in person) turns out to be a lasting one. Even given the previous story and his place in it, my husband still likes to tease me about my friends that live in my computer. But I’m willing to wager that for every horror story you hear about online wackos and trolls, there are just as many, if not more, connections that are made that don’t get as much spotlight. Connections that turn into long term relationships that would never have happened if not for social media. I say we shine a light on THOSE for a while, and let our online friends know what an impact they’ve had in our lives. They probably would like to hear that they are as important to you as you are to them.

I say this because a man died today. A kind, witty, compassionate, intelligent man that I met on Facebook five years ago, through a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend on a comment thread of no lasting importance. He was one of a handful of people I met on that same thread that day that I’ve kept in touch with over the years. I don’t know them in real life. I’ve never met them, and probably won’t ever. But I liked interacting with them. I liked reading what they had to say. Their words made an impact on me and in my life, some in a big way, some in smaller ways, but in ways nonetheless. But I never told them so. And now it’s too late to let him know that his absence will leave a hole in the world. We weren’t close, in any kind of way, and we only interacted directly a handful of times, but the world was truly a better place for having him in it, and I am a better person for having known him however slightly. And I wish I had taken a couple seconds somewhere over the last five years to let him know that.

I didn’t mean for this to get maudlin, but tragedy has a way of making one think. When I hear about bad things happening to kids, I want to hold my own children a little tighter. When I hear about an abusive spouse, I’m grateful that my partner is one of the good ones. When one of my friends loses a parent, I want to call my own and tell them I love them. Not that we shouldn’t be doing all this already, but losses in my face always make me more grateful for what I have, and remind me that I need to be more demonstrative of it.

So this is me telling each and every one of you, whether you are in my world by way of physical presence or DSL connection: I appreciate your presence in my crazy life and I’m glad that you have allowed me to be in yours.

***

Now on a lighter note, this blast from the past I submit only in fun, because I don’t want this memory lost! I just stumbled across my husband’s old MySpace account by accident when I was looking for the C.O.B photo, and this was the only video he’d ever shared. (Thanks for that, Babe.) I won’t embarrass everyone by naming names, but I will say that there was no small amount of alcohol involved in the production of this memory. And I still love that turquoise bra, but I think he wears it much better. (My husband is the one playing the guitar.)

10 Stupid Blog Comments

Most of us learned the saying “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” back when we were kids. Unfortunately, this phrase doesn’t seem to translate to mommy blog world, where anonymity presents a free-for-all in the comment section. And even then, it would be different if the same snarky, sanctimonious comments didn’t keep repeating and recycling over and over and over, with the same obnoxious tripe masquerading under the guise of “It’s just my opinion. Sheesh! Free speech, anyone?” Some of the more supercilious comments are as follows:

1. I don’t get this at all. My experience was nothing like this, therefore this entire post is completely ridiculous and in no way representative of life outside my personal bubble. It is incomprehensible to me than anyone else might have a life experience divergent from my own. But I won’t be content with happily regaling all the ways my experience was superior, I’ll also need to throw in a few smug lines to shame others about their own situations. Just to let them know how badly they’re failing at life.

2. My kids are not like that/have never done that. I don’t understand why people complain so much about whateverthispostisabout. My situation has been a breeze. You are probably doing something wrong or else you wouldn’t be having so many problems, therefore I cannot relate and have zero empathy for anyone who doesn’t do things exactly the way I do with the exact same outcome.

3. I don’t understand what the author is so upset about. It sounds petty to me. People are too quick to get offended over the least little thing. This situation has never happened to me, so I have no idea what I’m talking about. But I would still like to pretend that if it did, I would have a lot more grace and class about it than to rant and rave about it on the internet! In the meantime, I will continue saying/doing whatever it is that other people find offensive, because I cannot comprehend the point of this post is to tell me how and why those things are hurtful. And since it doesn’t affect me directly, I really don’t care that it’s hurtful to others.

4. If you weren’t prepared for the challenges of raising children, you should have kept your legs together. Birth control much? Stop breeding and stop complaining. Meanwhile, I will continue to bitch about my hideous non-career and what an asshole my boss is, but everyone else should just STFU and put their big girl panties on and deal with it. It’s called real life. Grow up and stop whining about it. I mean, it’s okay if I do it because I have free speech and I’ll say whatever I want, but when you do the same thing, you just sound like an entitled brat and it is my douchey prerogative to call you out on it.

5. #NotAllHusbands #NotAllWives #NotAllMoms #NotAllDads #NotAllKids #NotAllAnybody Since I happen to know that there are minute exceptions to whatever generalizations you are making, your entire post is invalid and should never be said at all, ever.

6. You sound really bitter and angry. I don’t have the comprehension skills to read the post and understand what you might be bitter and angry ABOUT, but the whole tone of this post is just…bleh. Not digging it. You should cheer up and be thankful for what you DO have. I don’t care what you’re particular situation is, it is my opinion that you should change the whole tone of your story to suit my emotional needs, complete stranger on the internet.

7. This snapshot of your life experience is reprehensible and irresponsible. So many people in the world will read this and only this and think that it is stone cold fact. You need a disclaimer that says “This is a semi-satirical post complied of hyperbole, humor and sardonicism, and should in no way replace expert advice from a licensed physician, attorney, or therapist,” or else no one will ever know any better because people are in general pretty stupid and are incapable of seeking information from more than once source.

8. Your sense of humor is not like my sense of humor. Therefore, I don’t find this amusing in the slightest and will now proceed to be a huge sandy vagina all over the comment section, berating both the author and other commenters who share the joke because I failed Internet 101 where they showed us how to scroll past things we don’t like.

9. I didn’t even read this post. But based on the photo caption or the title alone, I will now comment heatedly about an issue that is in no way related to this post, because I’d rather throw a pompous opinion into the pool before being unduly influenced by the actual article itself.

10. I disagree with everything you just said. I’m not sure exactly why, but it’s an emotional response that I can’t articulate, so instead of respectfully disagreeing using my grown-up words, I’ll just throw some sanctimonious name-calling around, and then get butt-hurt from the rebuttals. I might even say I’m unfollowing this page and storm off in a huff. So THERE.

© 2014 MyLove Barnett, as first published on Scary Mommy

Murphy’s Law of Sick Kids

1. Kids will share their nasty brought-home-from-school germs with everyone in the whole house. Don’t even bother trying to quarantine your kid from his siblings when he comes home sick. It might be the next day, or three days from now, but he will give it to all of his siblings, his dad (hello world ending), and probably the dog, too.

2. Just when everyone is getting better (see above), you will get sick. It’s inevitable. It’s also too damn bad. You will continue to cook, clean, nurture, and entertain your family who doesn’t give a shit how sick you are. Because moms are not allowed sick days.

3. You child will get sick at the most inconvenient time possible. Sitting with your head under the dryer at the salon, getting the first highlights you’ve had in eleven years? Your phone is ringing and it’s the school, telling you that your baby just puked all over the kid next to her during Show-and-Tell. Sitting in the dean’s office, working on finally getting re-admitted into college? That’s your phone and it’s the school nurse, informing you that your son is running a fever and you need to come get him right now. Third day back in the workforce and in a meeting with a new client? Yep. That’s the receptionist paging you with the daycare administrator on the line to let you know that there’s been a lice outbreak, and you need to come get your princess right now and stop by the pharmacy on the way home. Your kid will never get sick when you’re sitting around in your pjs folding laundry and watching Netflix.

4. You will always make the wrong judgement call. Though your precious cherub is acting as if she’s dying when it’s time to make the decision to either go to school or stay home, an hour later she will exhibit a miraculous recovery and bounce all over the house like a possessed jumping bean.

5. Some kids do not mind taking medication. Those kids are just as real as unicorns and the chupacabra. You do not have one of those kids. Your little angel will probably flail, wail, kick, and scream, while you attempt to manhandle her into a position that will allow you to squirt the poisoned medicine into the back of her throat. Even if this move is successful, (and it will be .001 times out of 10), it will probably be less than a second before it’ll be spit back out–all over herself, and you, and the floor. You can try to hide the medicine in her favorite drink, yogurt, or pudding, but you’re only fooling yourself if you think you will get away with that more than once.

6. 99 times out of 100, a visit to the doctor is pointless. It’s almost always a virus, or a common cold, and there’s nothing much you can do except try to keep him hydrated. This, you are told after you have sat with your child’s cranky and demonic evil twin in the waiting room with thirty other cranky and demonic sick kids for three hours. This, you are told after you and two nurses struggled to hold your child in a twisted version of a human straight-jacket while a third nurse tries to swab your child’s nasal cavity and throat with a Q-tip the size of a Sharpie marker.

7. You will take your child to the doctor, regardless of how many times #6 is repeated. And you will go through the entire process over and over, so that you don’t feel like a monster who doesn’t care that her child is sick. And then you will go home and coddle her the rest of the day, and send her to school the next day or the day after, while you yourself are stuck nursing the illness you picked up in the doctor’s office waiting room.

 

© 2014 MyLove Barnett, as first published on Scary Mommy

How To Survive The Toddler Years

Spawn got quiet. He was “brussin my’s teesh, Momma !”

From babies, to toddlers, to preschoolers, to elementary school, the tweens, the teens, and eventually adult children, all stages of development for our offspring have their own unique rewards and challenges. Having finally passed what we call “the toddler years” for our fifth and final child, I now feel compelled to share our biggest and most helpful secrets for survival.

How To Survive The Toddler Years


1. Learn to appreciate noise and to fear silence. It’s a cliche for a reason– because it’s totally true. No matter how many curtain climbers you have littered around your homespot, if your little slice of utopia is generally louder than a stock car rally, and then all of a sudden it gets quiet? Take a deep breath and brace yourself before you go looking. Trust me.
(Also– take a camera with you. You’ll want photographic evidence of this.)

2. Your toilet is as good as a garbage can-slash-toybox. Lock it up. No, seriously. Potty training be damned. You need either a lock on the bathroom door, a lock on the toilet lid, or an emergency contact for a plumber that you don’t mind financing Hawaiian vacations for. If it CAN be stuffed in the toilet, it will be. #FACT

3. Learn the proper rules of sharing. Sharing in toddler terms means that if I want it, it’s mine. Any time, any where, any thing. Give it to me right now or suffer my wrath. And don’t think you’re going to sweet talk your way out of it with some silly trade, either. Toddlers may be small, but they’re sharp. And worse–they’re ruthless.

4. Develop an appreciation for the word “no.” It’s such a beautiful, simple word. Embrace it. You’ll be mumbling it in your sleep soon. And getting it thrown back in your face a lot more often than you’d like.

5. Harden your heart toward puppydog eyes, crocodile tears, and quivering lips. IT’S A TRAP! These tiny little terrorists have been genetically enhanced with super adorable fundamental traits that are so powerful, they can cut you off at the knees with just a look.

6. Embrace the power of a well-timed bribe. Find out your toddler’s currency, and then keep tons of it handy. (Handy, but hidden! Bribes only work when used sparingly.)

7. Stay informed but be flexible. What your toddler likes today might be what he hates tomorrow. Children can be fickle little creatures. All last week, she would eat only white grapes and goldfish. Today, she turns up her nose and shrieks at the mention, and only wants bananas and spaghetti o’s. Just roll with it. You really needed to make another trip to the supermarket anyway.

8. If you have nice things, or sharp things, or breakable things, or really anything that’s not kid-friendly, kiss them goodbye. I always recommend getting a storage unit that you can pay the rent on for at least a decade. If you love it, you need to protect it. That includes protecting your great-grandmother’s vase from your toddler’s demolition training, and protecting your toddler from the all-consuming curiosity of Sharpie markers.

9. Do not buy Legos. There is no rationale for this invention that is worth the pain. Just don’t.

10. Accept and embrace your role as the center of their universe. (For now.) Arrogant, irrational, and self-centered though toddlers may be, they pattern their behaviors on how you react to their shenanigans. That impressively long string of swear words that you ripped out after stepping in a pile of OMG what IS that?! may have been a one-off, but don’t be surprised if you get a call from the preschool about *ahem* language problems. Toddlers can be quite spectacular little mimics, and their timing is usually impeccable. And by ‘impeccable’ I mean repeating the worst things at the absolute worst possible moment. 

#TheStruggleIsReal

How To Survive Your Mother-In-Law

The relationship between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law can be…well…let’s just say that while some are fairly cordial or even downright friendly, some (can I say “most”?) are the things that nightmares, and Xanax prescriptions, are made of. Over the course of two marriages, and two completely different MIL-DIL relationships, I’ve learned a thing or two. Not only about how to get along better with dear ole MIL, but also how Mommy-in-law Dearest could shape up just a tiny bit, and how we both could learn to be better at this whole sharing-her-baby-boy thing, and also some things that I’ll want to remember for when my own children venture off into relationships of their own, lest I become that monster-in-law of legend. (Not that I can avoid my legend-status; I’d just prefer it be for awesomeness, rather than as a boogey story to scare new fiances across the universe.) With that in mind, here are some handy little tips that I’ve learned the hard way.

1. The first, and most important, item on this list is your husband. If he’s not on board with the priorities, then you are in for one hell of a ride, and it’s best you get that straight right up front. Mom may have been the most important person in his life, and she’s been loving him since he was merely a twinkle in his dad’s eye, BUT…he’s not marrying her. He’s marrying YOU, and you are trying to build a life together. I’m sure that you get the importance of that, but he may not understand all the nuances of the feelings his mom may have of replacement (resentment?) that are bound to take place, or how to deal with it. Mom may have understood it at one time, (after all, she was a young bride herself once), but I’m here to tell you as a mother myself that letting go is fucking HARD. Some women handle it with grace, while some just dig in their heels and turn it into a lifelong game of “Who do you love more? Who are you going to listen to?” 
(This game is also known as “His balls are in a jar on top of MY fridge, not yours.”)
Your man will not enjoy being the pawn in this game of one-upmanship, so if you love him, do him a favor: Don’t play. It’s HIS move; let him make it. Either he establishes the should-be-clear boundary lines, and sticks to it, or he deserves everything he gets. I mean, really. No one actively wants to piss off their mother, but in the Who-Do-I-Make-Happy game, I’d go with whomever I have to sleep next to every night until death do we part, nine and a half times out of ten.

2. Having said all that, it’s also important that you have the self-confidence to stick up for yourself whenever you need to. Preferably with your husband’s 200% support, but even without, you need to make sure that your presence in your marriage is all you, and not just a shadow of her. I’m not saying you should have a lightning round of “Who’s the Bigger Bitch,” every time you’re in the same room, but you don’t have to lay down like a second-hand welcome mat, either. HOWEVER, if you can assert yourself without disrespecting her, do that. If she’s got advice (and she will), what will it hurt to listen to it? It’s a couple of minutes out of your life to let her have her say. Give that to her, at least. You don’t have to throw away all of your own thoughts and take her word as gospel, but who knows? She’s likely got years of experience and hard-won knowledge about life that just might make yours a little easier. It’s worth a listen. Probably. If not, you go on about your business completely disregarding her advice and let her stew in the inevitable I-Told-You-So’s for the next 30 years.

3. Pick your battles. As cliche as it sounds, it’s going to need to be your mantra right up until you’re holding your husband’s hand for the reading of the will, if you happen to land one of the truly heinous MIL’s that you just cannot get along with. Naming your children, buying a house, holiday plans, educating HER grandchildren, when exactly it is (and isn’t) okay for her to pop by unannounced, when it is (and isn’t) okay for her to remark upon the cleanliness of your kitchen (i.e. never), etc… Whether you like it or not, everyone will have an opinion on how you should be making these decisions and conducting your personal affairs, but none more so than dear MIL. You do have choices here, and it’s important to know what they are, so you can decide which one you want to make beforehand, instead of in hindsight. You could

(A.) Not say a damn thing, one way or the other. This includes uttering white lies, like “We haven’t decided yet. We’re still thinking about it.” Or if you’re the more honest and blunt sort, you could go with something like “We decided that we’re not going to talk about [this decision] with anyone else right now.” Or you could just nod absently with a dazed and vacant look in your eyes and then shrug and abruptly change the subject to Cousin Milly’s gallbladder surgery. If you go with that one, she may end up thinking you’re a little off your rocker, especially since Cousin Milly passed on in 1997, but that’s still probably better than entertaining a catfight in the sitting room over naming your first son after your father versus hers. You could also

(B.) Entertain his mother’s ideas and advice, whether you use it or not. If you choose to go with option B, but make different choices than you were advised, be prepared to back up the choice to ignore her wisdom with a well-thought out line. Preferably something beyond “That’s the stupidest damn thing I’ve ever heard.” I’m just saying. That one doesn’t work very well. Or, you could always

(C.) Move far, far away, and correspond only by hand-written letters sent via snail mail. You can say that you’re shunning technology by not having email, or that you prefer the quaintness of more personal hand-written letters. Whatever. And invest in either an old-fashioned answering machine, or a smart phone with an “ignore” feature in the contact setup that sends certain callers straight to voicemail.

4. Try to remember that she’s a mother, too. As interfering, out-of-touch, or flat out psycho as she may seem, she’s also a woman, just like you, and a mother, just like you. You could very well be staring into your own future every time she graces you with a visit or a phone call. Your own kids will at some point grow up, move away, and then show up at your door one day with some know-it-all interloper trying to usurp your place in their heart. Probably making bad decision, after bad decision, after bad decision, and ignoring all your years of experience at every turn, no matter how sweetly you try to “help.” Can you imagine how that will feel? You can try, but you won’t know it until it happens. All I’m saying is try to cut her a little slack, and try to understand where she’s coming from. And if that’s too hard, or she’s just too much, then take notes and use them as a “What NOT To Do” study guide for the future.