By Alma Gill
NNPA News Wire Columnist
I was married for 12 years. I raised our son and his twin daughters from his first marriage. When we separated and divorced I was heartbroken. But all the children remained with me. They are adults now, all finished college, married with children and living wonderful lives of their own. I’ve never remarried. Recently after all these years my ex-husband married a very young woman. It works well for the local political life that he lives. He has a high-ranking position with the city and is constantly busy and on the go. Because of his career, I’ve always remained close to his mother, who is in her late 80’s, a widow, who raised her only son and everyone else on the block. She’s the nicest woman you could ever meet and has helped single mothers in our area with childcare for years. I lost my mother when I was young, so I’ve really enjoyed the bond that we share. She recently told me that, “I’ll always be her daughter-in-law (DIL) no matter what.” I’ve always shopped, cooked her meals and taken her to her doctor appointments, but I understand this has to stop. My ex and his new wife should take care of her now, although I don’t see that happening. My problem is, now that my ex is remarried, I want to step out of the way when it comes to my mother-in-law (MIL). How do I get them to recognize their responsibility to step up and start taking care of his mother?
I hear you Robin, but I don’t believe you. You don’t wanna let go, nor should you. You love your MIL like you would your birth mother, and that’s fantastic. What a blessing you two are for one another. Sadly, your marriage didn’t last but your obligation to family remains unmovable. Maintaining your role as a stepmother and DIL was not an easy task, I’m sure. There’s a reason you did and it’s bigger than you and your ex-husband.
Listen, the truth of the matter is the new DIL is not interested in caring for her MIL or she would have stepped up or paid someone to do it by now. In the same breathe, your ex couldn’t find his mother in the forest for the trees and that ain’t gonna change any time soon. When and if your ex and his new misses want to make a change, they’ll let you know. I’m sure both don’t find it broken, so there’s no need to fix it, at least not for now. Not to mention, your MIL probably wouldn’t welcome the change anyways. That’s why she told you your role, in her heart, will remain the same.
I say, continue to be her caregiver. I know this isn’t ideal, but it’s doable. Do it out of love for family, not as a favor to your ex. Your MIL is in her 80’s, commit to loving her delightfully for the rest of her days. I promise you, your heart will be glad you did.
Alma Gill’s newsroom experience spans more than 25 years, including various roles at USA Today, Newsday and the Washington Post. Email questions to: email@example.com. Follow her on Facebook at “Ask Alma” and Twitter @almaaskalma.