My husband and I have just had a baby girl and she’s the first grandchild. My problem is that my mother-in-law who’s very attractive keeps on making comments about my appearance in relation to me having a daughter. (She’s the mother of two boys.)
She repeatedly says strange stuff like “You know a daughter steals her mother’s beauty and I see it’s already happening.” Or I hope you’ve prepared yourself for people to always be looking at your daughter and never at you.”
Then there’s the constant jabs of “Have you looked in the mirror recently” and “I know you’re tired but you look like you’ve been hit by a truck.” The worst is when she says a “wife who loses her looks also runs the chance of losing her husband.”
It’s just so weird and to make things more uncomfortable I’ve always had the feeling that she’s competitive with me about who’s prettier. Again, my mother-in-law is gorgeous, and she spends a lot of time and money to keep herself that way. But she’s also 35 years older than me.
Luckily, we live about four hours away from my in-laws, so I don’t have to hear the comments everyday but we’re going to see them at Christmas and I’d like some advice on how to deal with her.
Signed, New Mom
Dear New Mom,
I suggest a three-prong attack. One is to ignore her. And most assuredly that would be the mature thing to do. But you wrote Dear Snarky so I’m also in favor of having some zingers at the ready. This is because it’s not great for your mental health to feel like a punching bag that’s just going to take it.
When your MIL makes that old wives tale remark about a daughter stealing her mother’s beauty you can say, “Well, it’s a good thing I’ve got enough of it to share.” Or “I have no problem with that because my happiness isn’t predicated on my looks.”
As for her digs about your appearance being less than perfect I would say, “thank you so much for noticing and yes I am tired and it would be great if you could watch the baby while I get some sleep and have some time to myself.”
In regard to her ridiculous comment about your husband leaving you because you’re not all glammed up 24/7 I would respond that thankfully your marriage is not based on such shallow and superficial issues.
Lastly, I would ask her to put her money where her mouth is and by this I mean tell her that you would appreciate any help she could give in the beauty department from a spa day to the gift of cosmetics she would recommend.
Is any of this going to get her to stop making comments – probably not but they might decrease in frequency. Also, if your MIL is competitive with you I’ve found the best way to deal with that personality type is to give them the affirmation they’re seeking. A couple of “you’re so beautiful” and “I hope my daughter looks just like you” (and by that you mean you hope she has some of her father’s characteristics) will feed her ego and redirect her attention to her favorite person – herself.
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