Several questions about mothers-in-law. Without them, we would have nothing to complain about.

I’m getting married soon, and I’m not sure if I am going to keep my maiden name or not. I’ve made a list of pros and cons to keeping my name. The list is even except for one item in the pro category: keeping it would really piss my future-mother-in-law off. The idea of that makes me a little happy but I don’t want to make the decision based on such a spiteful reason. What should I do?

Easy. Re-write the list and just move that up somewhere in the order. Then have the last thing in the pro category be something neutral, like “Won’t have to go to DMV and wait in that horrible line.” No controversy there!

p.s. While making her angry is going to be a fun activity that you can (and will) enjoy for the rest of her (or your) remaining years, please keep in mind that much like your relationship with your future husband, it’s not going to get better over time. It’s going to get worse. So maybe save the antagonizing for stuff that really matters.

When my daughter “Sally” was born, my mother-in-law gave us a pillow for her crib. It’s very pretty but babies can’t have pillows or blankets in their cribs because of SIDS, so I put it in a drawer in my daughter’s room for when she’s a little older. The other day my mother-in-law came to visit, and apparently went through Sally’s drawers, because later that day I found the pillow in the stroller, and I took it out. When I mentioned SIDS and the fact that even my now five-month-old shouldn’t have a pillow near her face, my mother-in-law said that I was being over-protective and paranoid. Then she put the pillow in Sally’s crib. Of course I took it out and now she is mad at me. And my husband wonders why I get anxious and upset before his mother visits. Should I have just let it go?

The next time your mother-in-law comes to visit, sneak into her room while she’s sleeping and put a pillow over her face. When she wakes up struggling and gasping for air, yell in her face, “IS THAT HOW YOU WANT SALLY TO FEEL? SHOULD I GO PUT THAT STUPID PILLOW IN HER CRIB NOW?”

Or you could give a little the next time you interact with her. Like, definitely don’t let her put the pillow near Sally while she’s alone in the crib, but it really would have been fine in the stroller. Stand your ground firmly and unwaveringly on the important things, but let the little stuff go. You don’t have to make a big deal out of everything just to prove you’re in charge.

My mother-in-law wants me to call her “Mom,” but I don’t want to. I already have a mom. She’s insisting. Every time I say, “Hey, ‘Judy’, where do you keep the fabic softener,” or whatever, she says, “I won’t tell you until you call me Mom!” I just can’t do it. What can I say to make my feelings clear without hurting her feelings?

Just make up a cutesy nickname just for her. Call her Judibells or Judilicious or Judy Booty or Mother Judy or if you must, Mom Judy. Or Judy-Mom. She’ll feel special, and you won’t feel icky.

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