Some people would say three mothers-in-law is three too many, but not George Burden, a son-in-law who knows a good thing when he sees it.
Much has been written on the adverse effects of divorce on children. Now, with divorces occurring later and later in life, I’ve discovered there is a neglected sub-group of individuals who also suffer an undue burden because of this phenomenon. I’m referring to the poor, unfortunate son-in-laws (or daughter-in-laws) who end up having more than one mother-in-law.
My father-in-law, Wayne, has been married three times, which means I have THREE mothers-in-law. Someone once defined the word ambivalence as watching your mother-in-law drive off a cliff in your new Mercedes. In my case I’d have to figure out who’s driving and how many are in the front and back.
One of my patients (who only had one mother-in-law) told me he wouldn’t feel the least bit ambivalent in this situation. He’d gladly forgo the Mercedes. I seem to have been more fortunate in my choice of mothers-in-law however in that they are actually all lovely women.
Even more bizarre is the fact that they all get along together. We often have family functions in which, Wayne, my father-in-law, his present wife and both of the ex-wives are in attendance. One would think this would rapidly lead to fisticuffs. But not so.
In fact, having three mothers-in-law can have definite advantages, especially when one has a three-year-old. Since our Ariana is the most beautiful toddler in the world (Don’t believe me? Ask any of her four grandmothers.) it’s never difficult to find a babysitter.
Mother-in-law # 2 (Faye), lives in Vancouver and is chomping at the bit to get her hands on Ariana for a week while my wife Krista and I endure a one-week Alaska cruise.
Mother-in-law # 1, Bonnie, has gardening skills which neatly counterbalance the “brown thumb” that Krista seems to possess. And don’t ask me to garden. I’ve never been good with living things. Additionally, Bonnie works with an airline, which gives us access to certain perks. Actually, Faye (#2) also works with the same airline (as did my father before retiring). God forbid that their pension plan goes under!
Mother-in-law # 3, Kay (for goodness sake don’t mix the names Faye and Kay up when talking to them) is an excellent chef and likes nothing better to come over and cook a complete dinner. Her Chinese food is to die for. While Kay is cooking up a storm in the kitchen, Wayne insists on puttering around the house fixing anything that needs fixing. Since I’m not particularly handy (at least in most of the rooms in the house) this is a special bonus. In fact, I sincerely invite them both to come and stay often.
Having a mom and two stepmothers is a plus for my wife as well. In addition to have easy access to babysitting services, avoiding cooking and not having to garden, she has three sources of maternal advice to rely on. If she doesn’t like what one has to say, she can ask the other two and go with the majority.
Of course, having a doctor for a son-in-law can have its advantages and disadvantages. Two of my three mothers-in-law smoke, which doesn’t bother me as long as it’s done at least ten meters from the house. This doesn’t make our home a popular winter destination.
On the other hand, the first night mother-in-law #2 stayed at the house, I diagnosed her sleep apnea. Waking to stentorian snoring I noticed ominous 15-second silent spells. I mentally diagnosed the ailment, then fell asleep again and forgot all about it until about two weeks later, when I phoned her and told her my suspicions. She passed these on to her family doc who starting her on a CPAP machine. This controlled her blood pressure and improved her energy and spirits tremendously. I was rewarded with a lovely basket of vintage wine.
In any event, with three mothers-in-law the possibilities are endless. Now that I think of it, we may have the makings for a new reality show here. Any interested networks are invited to contact me through this publication.
“Jane Fonda plays JLo’s mother-in-law in Monster in Law.” (2005) © New Line Cinema.
“Mothers-in-law Barbra Streisand and Blythe Danner in Universal Pictures’ Meet the Fockers” © Universal Pictures
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