June 5, 2009

Today I came across a piece of practical employment advice: “Find new applications to your education.” Indeed, there are many unsolved problems that plague humanity.  What peeves me is that by the 21st century the educated sisterhood of emancipated women still does not know how to deal with the universal  “evil mother-in-law” phenomenon.  Stating the problem brought me half-way to the solution.  EVIL MOTHER-IN-LAW.  This is the problem.  Once I applied a fraction of what I learned in college, an elegant and simple solution revealed itself. Here is my logic.

The Jungian archetype of a mothers-in-law stands apart from all other familial archetypes.   We expect mothers-in-law to behave in a non-motherly way. Many of them live up to our expectations. Could it be a “chicken and egg” problem?

Semantics of words for MIL in different languages becomes evident from the following examples.  A Spanish word suegra and a Russian word свекровь, both meaning a MIL,  sound awfully close to “sangrar” and “вся кровь,” meaning “to bleed someone dry” and “all blood” respectively. In other languages we use aliases such as “monster-in-law” and “dragon lady.” One does not need Taro cards to associate a MIL with a cross between coiffed Madam Ceaucescu and Madam Mao Zedong, and a manicured reptile.

William Shakespeare reminded us that a name does not matter –

that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet

Personally, I believe that Gertrude Stein was more grounded in reality when she stated the obvious –

A Rose is a rose is a rose.

Is the phenomenon of an evil MIL nothing more than the Law of Identity in action? Do some MILs live up to their title?  If we evoke The Principle of Contradition, then someone by the name “blood-sucking-dragon-monster”, CANNOT behave as a loving mother (except towards her blood-sucking-dragon-monster darling).  The logical solution is to change the nomenclature.

EURIKA!  We just figured out how to rid humanity of evil MILs.  Let the words for a mother-in-law  in all human languages roll off our communal tongue like sweet pearls, gentle and suave. My friend who chose to call her future MIL “Tootsy” was on the right track. Is there a Nobel Prize in mother-in-law science?


A Half Blind Janus

May 15, 2009

Back during the Cold War, when the Soviet news agency routinely distorted facts to embellish the supremacy of communist leaders, there was a joke that went something like this:

Two presidents, Brezhnev and Reagan decided to race each other to prove which country was superior.  The Soviet news agency, being blind to any truth that overshadowed the glory of its government, reported the following –

“Our president ran well and took second place.  The American president finished next to last.”

What’s the connection between this tongue-in-cheek parody and troubled mother-in-law (MIL) / daughter-in-law (DIL) relationships? Consider a story from one of our contributors::

My MIL is an old-fashioned Italian mom who dotes on her grown children ages 37 and 43. She treats them like the irresponsible children they are, she still does my SIL laundry and shopping and cleaning. Both do not want to marry, because mamma takes too good care of them.  My husband is the only one who is married and she does the same when she comes over to my house. I hate it because when she leaves he says I will never measure up to the woman his mother is….. the cooking, cleaning, sacrificing for the family, “blah…blah…blah”. We have come to blows he and I, and it sometimes puts a strain on our marriage…what am I to do?


Wow!  This wife inadvertently found herself in a race with her MIL to decide who was the superior woman. The contest had been designed by her dear husband, and he was the one who reported the twisted results. Somehow he decided that “The Best Housemaid” would be the best woman.  This race had been rigged from the start.

The vocal judge in this competition, the husband and son, is a half blind Janus.  Unlike the two-faced Roman god who could see both forwards and backwards at the same time,  this guy only sees half the picture. He looks at his wife with blind eyes; the other face sees only his mommy.  Therefore, Mama always wins.

This judge should be disqualified!

Otherwise, in my opinion, if “L.” prefers to stay in this marriage she should quit the race by admitting that she is not the world’s best housemaid.  She should stand proud and coyly declare “Yes, Darling, your mom can cook and clean better than any other woman, but I bet no one else can make you happy the way I can…”  She is the uncontested winner where it counts the most.

eva goodmil