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How comfortable are you around your mother in law?

Photo Courtesy of Erin Zammett Rudy

On a scale of 1 to 10, (1 being you don’t speak to her unless spoken to and 10 being you walk around naked in her house), I’m a 12. When Alex was born, my mother in law, Debbie, came to stay with us for two weeks. Among other TMI she was privy to, there was this little gem: At every feeding, I would hold my boob in one hand and she’d stand behind me and hold Alex’s little hands back while I’d shove said boob into his mouth. (Have I mentioned how much I loved breastfeeding?) Debbie is a nurse and the gentlest, most easy-going person I know so I’ve always been able to let my guard/bra down in front of her. But I am starting to wonder if I need to dial it down a little…

We’ve been in Traverse City, Michigan, visiting Nick’s parents for the past eight days—we’re on our way home today (here’s hoping our flights are on time!). We had the best vacation and the kids, who are obsessed with their grandparents, were in heaven. Alex shadowed my father in law from morning till night and if either he or Debbie left the room for a second, Nora would say “Where Grandpa Pat go? Where Gamma go?” But among all the good old fashion lakeside summer fun (see Alex, above, in the crystal clear water), something occurred to me. I am shockingly comfortable with my mother in law. Unlike many of my friends, I feel completely at home in her home, I let my filter go and I am 100 percent myself (which is not always a good thing—just ask Nick). Here’s what I mean:

I let her do my laundry—thongs and all. Nick and I stayed in the finished basement and I would just toss clothes into the laundry room as I walked by. Debbie asked me to do this, but I feel like maybe I should have put up a fight. Or at least separated the whites and darks.

I yelled at my kids—and Nick—in front of her (and my poor father in law, who is equally laid back, thankfully). Sometimes this involved a complete meltdown on my part (Alex is in a bad behavior stage and I have not been handling it with grace). And sometimes this involved four-letter words (at Nick, not Alex).

I am completely honest with her—about not wanting pizza for lunch, about not wanting to take my kids on another 45-minute car ride, and about not being able to come to Michigan for Easter this year (or, well, any year—we’ve started a big egg hunt tradition at home, and she completely understands and is, of course, always invited).

I said this exact phrase: “Debbie, I’ll give you a thousand dollars if you put Nora to bed tonight.” Who says that? Why not just ask? Or put the kid to bed myself since it’s pretty damn easy. (Fortunately she didn’t collect.)

I slept late every day. In my defense, so did Nick and Nora. There is something about the air up there (and the fact that we were running ragged all day) that made Nora, who’s normally a great sleeper, turn into a champion Gold-medal winning sleeper. She’d go down every night around 7:30 and not even bat an eye until 8:30 or 9 the next morning. So Nick and I did the same. Alex slept in a bedroom upstairs and would get up around 7:30 and hang with his grandparents until the rest of us stumbled up. I always felt a little guilty about this, but apparently not enough to get my ass out of bed.

Alex and I had a full-blown dance party on the back deck one night (while my MIL took pictures). This may not seem that weird but Al and I are having a Top 40 moment, which means we basically replayed LMFAO, Pitbull, and that Britney Spears song that’s on all the Bravo commercials. I was sweating, we were twirling, there was definitely some inappropriate booty shaking going on and I’m sure it wasn’t pretty. Here’s hoping those photos never see the light of day.

And the kicker: As we were waiting for Nick to finish grilling dinner one night and I was finishing up a few of the things I was making, I began sampling. And couldn’t stop. By sampling I mean I cut into a chicken breast “to make sure it was done,” tasted and adjusted my salad dressing by basically eating half the salad and—wait for it—actually took a bite of a corn on the cob (which I then put on my plate, not the platter…). It was late, I was starving, the vibe was definitely laid-back BBQ, and there was wine drinking involved, but still….ack! This little episode led me to confront the issue and say, “OMG, I think I am way too comfortable in front of you Debbie, what am I doing? How rude!”

My mother-in-law of course just laughed at all of my antics and said she’s glad I feel so comfortable around her. But do you see what I mean about possibly being too comfortable? I’m just not sure my behavior is totally normal (although, in my defense, Nick and my in-laws seem cool with and, honestly, I don’t know how to go back from here!). How do you act around your mother-in-law? Do you speak your mind? Do you feel at home in her home? Let’s discuss. 

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