1 : the mother of one's spouse
I'm not sure what the title of this post conjures for you. Maybe someone who constantly criticizes you for doing things differently? Or someone who tries to subtly undermine your authority by reminding you of how she did things when she was a mom? Or someone who makes absolutely no effort to welcome you to her family? I have friends who might describe their mothers-in-law in these (or less favorable) ways. But they aren't how I would describe my own mother-in-law. Instead, here's what I would say...
Supportive and Affirming: In more than a decade of parenting, my mother-in-law has never once criticized my mothering. Far from it. Instead, she supports our methods of parenting and affirms the choices and J and I make with our girls. When I worked outside the home, she didn't judge me for that. When I decided to stay home, she was supportive in that. My MIL thinks I'm doing a great job as a mom and she tells me so. (And what mom doesn't need to hear this?!)
Loving: My MIL loves each member of my family - from my husband to me to each of our three daughters - unconditionally. We don't always meet her expectations, but that doesn't change the way she feels about us. She doesn't play favorites with her grandchildren and she consistently communicates to us how much she loves us.
Patient: My husband didn't marry a woman exactly like his mother. In fact, I'm pretty sure we would be the exact opposite of each other on the Myers Briggs personality assessment. I'm a solid introvert, she's an off the charts extrovert. I'm more thinking, she's more feeling. And on and on. But that has never stopped her from trying to understand me throughout the fourteen years I've been married to her son. I'm glad she was patient with me in the early days of our marriage, when I was immature and less likely to try to understand her point of view.
Grandmotherly: My MIL loves being a Me-Me. She does exactly what I hope to do as a Shug (my grandmother moniker): she loves on her grandchildren, adores spending time with them, wants to get to know exactly who they are and disciplines them only when absolutely necessary. I love my daughters dearly, but I already look forward to the day when I can leave the training of children to them and just get the joy of loving their kids.
Helpful: While you're reading this, I'm at the beach while my MIL hangs out with my girls and helps get them to and from school in my absence. I'm grateful for that, but even more grateful to have her as a mother-in-law. Not just because she raised J, whom I love dearly, but for all of the things she is to our family and to me.