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What an interesting post today! Not that they are not all pretty interesting, just that this one is great food for thought. Thanks!


This is a wonderful, thought-provoking post. Thank you for writing and sharing it.

I often wonder if I'm a strong enough and self-confident enough woman to raise my daughter the way she needs and deserves to be raised.

I love my mom dearly. She is an amazingly selfless and giving mother who is also one of my greatest friends. But still, she made mistakes raising me. I had low self-esteem issues that ended up taking me me to some very dark places. Places she never knew about. Places I don't think I'd ever want her to know about. Now, the question I ask myself is how can I teach my daughter to become a strong, independent woman who values herself and who can be true to her very core, never sacrificing who she is just to please others?

This is motherhood. Constantly struggling to do the best we can while realizing that we're only human and we will make mistakes.


I felt the same way when I read your post on Ask Moxie this AM. I am not having any more children and I have 2 sons, 2.5 and 10 months. The thought of not being included in on my grandchildrens births stuck with me all morning. I happen to have a horrible relationship with my parents but I desperately want to keep my children close as they grow. My last baby was "supposed: to be a girl. 6 ultrasounds said Girl....I had a healthy boy after a troubled pregnancy. I was elated but part of me still morns for the "Erin" I will never have.

I have no answers just a note to say you are far from alone.



I have thought about being the MIL. But I like my MIL a lot more than I like my mother, so that's comforting (in a really, really weird way). Since I don't like my mother and don't have much of a relationship with her I worry that Jamie won't like me when he grows up, but it's a little less scary because he's a boy, and deep inside, I really don't think I'll screw up as much as my mom did. I don't think I'm capable of it.

I was talking to a friend the other day. He's gay, single, and on a 5-year plan working toward adoption. We were talking about parenting, and I was telling him how, a lot of what we do now is based on the kind of man we want Jamie to be. And what an honor it is to have that role in another life, no matter the gender or how that life came into yours.

I'm so glad I have you as a friend inside my computer!


Hmmmm... This post made me sad, because I don't and never will have that kind of relationship with my emotionally-stunted and generally clueless mother. (She is not cruel, just emotionally absent and unable to connect on anything more than a very superficial level--probably scarred by her paernts.) I don't get her, but what hurts even more is that she doesn't get me. If your sons marry someone like me, you will get to the mother they never had but always wanted.

Sometimes when I date people I think not only about them, but about their parents, and if their parents will help fill the hole left in me by my parents.


I've never read a blog entry that made me want kids so much AND so terrified to have them! My mother was treated horribly by her in-laws so she's constantly on her best behavior with my SIL. My MIL only has sons and I'm acutely aware of this- good thing I love her! But I pray I have a daughter some day, so I can have the adult relationship with her that I now have with my mom. Sob. Must go call her now.


This is exactly why I want a daughter so desperately. My son is the perfect suprise that I never expected, because I always assumed I would have girls. But I know someday my mom will leave me, and I want that relationship with my own daughter so desperately. Sometimes I think it's better that I not have a girl, since I'm afraid that's an awful lot of pressure to put on her.


Another daughter-of-a-great-mom/mother-of-sons here, and while I joke about what a great MIL I'll be, just by doing the opposite of what my MIL does, it makes me sad not to get to have a mother-daughter relationship with one of my children.
Yes, I could get to be a substitute mom to a DIL, depending on the circumstances, but then my good fortune would arise from two other women being done out of the relationship they should have.
Thinking about my boys and seeing my boys together, it's not that I want things any other way, exactly. I just want everything I have, exactly the way it is, and other things too.
Maybe I need logic rather than a daughter.




Moxie, FWTW, my SIL in extremely close with my mom - moreso than with her own mom. My mom is and always has been very involved with my brother and SIL's lives. In the long run, I think it really all depends on your relationships with your sons - If you've got a good and real relationship with them, odds are you'll end up being close to the DIL. I say this with hope, as I am a mom of a boy and he's likely to be my only child. :)


You are so lucky to have the mother you do. I know you know that, but as the daughter of what Anon so aptly states "an emotionally stunted and generally clueless" mother, I have no idea of what it feels like to have that kind of relationship. I stood outside the delivery room when my sister was in labor, determined to keep my mother out of the room, knowing it would undermine my sister terribly if my mother appeared by her side.

So even though I have only sons, it's hard to mourn the loss of a relationship with a daughter. I have no idea what I'm missing, at least in a good sense.

My MIL, though not perfect, has filled many holes for me. No she wasn't there for either my deliveries (or her daughter's) but she never forgets my birthday and doesn't make me feel stupid. We are much more involved with my husband's family than with mine.

I honestly believe it's the person you are, and the relationships you forge, that will determine how close you are to your sons' future families. You may be the best thing that ever happened to their future partners, a mother they never had.

I don't at all want to trivialize your feelings of loss. I just want you to know that you'd be in the delivery room if you were my MIL.

All the best -


Wood's post reminds me very much of my own relationship with my mom. Eye-rolling and sarcasm followed by guilt. When reading "It's a Girl!" recently, I had this horrific moment of realization and burst into tears. I can't remember which essay it's in, but a mother talks about when she tries to run her fingers through her daughter's hair, and her daughter impatiently brushes her hand away, which is what I began to do by age 13 or so and still do when my mother tries to do that to me, even now. I can't imagine that one day my daughter, whose hair I run my fingers through all the time, will push me away. But she will. And like my mother, I may not be able to resist the urge to still try to touch her hair, for years, forever, even when she rebuffs me every single time.

That said, I remember reading a post of yours, Moxie, in which you described your mother's postpartum help as being ready each time you emerged from a breastfeeding session with a homemade cookie and a glass of water and a compliment about how you already looked thinner. Whereas, my mother's postpartum assistance to me consisted more of her being ready at every moment with a comment that began with any of the following:
That's not how you should...
No, no, do it like this...
No, don't do that...
Really, this is how you should...
Here, let me do it...

So, you can kind of see how I REALLY didn't want her around for labor, and only accepted her offer of postpartum assistance when it turned out I had to have a c-section, and even then regretted it after about half a day (and then felt guilty about how I treated her after I left).

If you're as cool with your DILs as your mother is with you (and I don't see why you wouldn't be since all of those things you just wrote about how your mother would be as a blogger could easily describe you as well, you seem to truly be your mother's daughter), then your DIL will probably love having you involved as a grandmother.


You touched on so much in this post. Mother/daughter relationships, raising kids, friends, the future.

I'm on the flip side of your coin with two girls. I worry a lot of what the future will bring them. I spent most of my teens and twenties being hurt by the wrong men, thinking I needed their love to be complete. I want DESPERATELY for my own girls to have more respect for themselves, to love themselves fiercely, and to seek out partners who are strong, kind, and true. I worry that I don't know how to teach that to them -- but I try every day, and hope that they'll look to their father as an example of what a good man is.

You are so open, kind and thoughtful, Moxie, and your future DIL's will be grateful for that.


And to your point about raising good men--you will. because you already, while they are so young, care about it. Because El G is a good man. Because you present to them a strong role model of womanhood. My first job as a reporter was in a very wealthy, small community and the parenting philosophy, especially that of parents of boys, seemed to be "Raise entitled little shits--they live here, are white and have money, so they are special." I don't see any signs of that sort of indulgent ninnyism in your posts at all; you seem to be raising the kind of boys I'd love to have my daughter marry.

As for mothers, daughters and mothers in law: I can drive myself crazy trying to figure this all out. My relationship with my mom isn't great, but there is a lot of love there. My relationship with my MIL is cordial, but after 8 years with their son it should be more than that and it's not. I want so much to do better for Maggie, but I have much more to work on than I thought.


wonderful post, moxie.


Two things struck me most strongly as I read your post. First, it may be that you develop the kind of relationship with your future daughter in laws that you envision having with a daughter, so I wouldn't rule that out. Being a MIL is not necessarily a bad thing, and in fact you could bring alot of positive energy and support into that young women's life.

Second, do you really feel that the relationship you are developing with your sons is so different than the one you would have with your daughter? I ask because my mom has two daughters (my sister and I) and two sons, and the one she is closest with is probably my youngest brother. The two of them talk every day, they go to movies together, etc.

I'm very close to my mother as well, and perhaps it's true that she can share some things with me that she might hold back from him, but I'm not so sure.

The other thing (I guess that's three) I'm thinking is how complicatedn mother-daughter relationships are. They certainly are not all rosey, and certain tensions seem to exist between mothers and daughters, specifically b/c they are both women, that don't appear to exist between mothers and their sons.

I don't mean to generalize, and I guess my overarching point is that each individual and relationship is different, and I wouldn't be surprised if you could create the kind of connection with your sons (and probably already have) that you imagine having with your grown-up daughter.

Just some thoughts. Btw, from everything that I have read, it strikes me what a wonderful mother you must be to your boys. I also really admire your committment to raising honorable boys.

Final word, which will probably undermine everything I just said above, I dream of having two little girls with long hair that I can braid that follow me around in skirts with bows in their hair. My girls will also kick ass despite the skirts, of course.


I think the commenters above have already said all I could possibly say, but when I read your lament that, "I'll be just the MIL, not the mother, to my grandchildren's mother," my only reaction was, so what? Your relationship with them will still be "Grandma." And just because you`re the mother of the mother doesn`t mean you get to be in the delivery room -- my own mother was the LAST person on earth I would have wanted in there with me!


Whenever my MIL is making me particularly crazy, my mom points out to me that she raised two boys, who are both good men, so she must have been doing something right. It blows my mind that my husband, whom I love so much, was raised by this woman, who is completely unfathomable to me. Mostly, I think her heart is in the right place...she doesn't wish me ill or anything. She is just so is exhausting. Just say what you mean and do what you say!

Alas, I have only boys, and I've thought about this quite a bit. It has made me understand a bit of her behavior (so that was why so wanted to be in the delivery room so bad...I'm really her only chance...) I think there are many things I am going to miss about having a daughter (although I am hoping that when my sister has kids she will have a girl so I can be a really cool aunt). In the end, I figured at least I have a model of how NOT to be as a MIL.


To me you are "-the one people all check first thing in the morning, before they even go to Gawker or Go Fug Yourself-".

All of this after have an evening with my Mom- Dream Dinners then out to dinner... I don't know if Mom and I have ever been out to dinner just the two of us. My Mom (Dad to as they are still married) had been wonderful and given us the best she could with time and money limits. That said it was not always rosy. We had a huge fight when I was home on winter break from college my second year. I could not wait to get back to school and out of the house. Four weeks into the semester and my roommate accidentally started a fire in our dorm and I lost everything. I was never so happy to see my parents that day despite the harsh words and not talking to my mom since I had left. That said, I am having some difficult child care issues and I'm a little hurt my Mom won't (she says can't) take a sick day to help me out. A few weeks ago Mom and I were talking about E's report from preschool. She said something along the lines of you have done a good job with her. It meant a lot- just about as much when she said she was so happy with my husband before we were married. My mother has not been there for the birth of my children, the first by my choice the second because of time. When I have a third I want her there to do the catching.
I love love the relationship I have with my three-year-old E. I do want a third child and hope it to be a girl so she has that great sister relationship I have my sisters but worry just a little how that will impact our mother/daughter relationship. I feel so strongly that my third will be a girl but I'm also preparing myself to morn the girl I feel I already know if the third is a boy (jumping the gun here since not at all ready to get pregnant again). I wonder if the problems I had with my 1-year-old son J (birth early by surprise and reflux issues) makes the relationship with her all that better or if it has just been time and I can interact with her more now.
As far as the inside track goes with grandmothers... My husband is a great guy despite something of the things I see in his parents now. I have to remember he is the way he is because of them. My MIL had been a great help with childcare for my kids but at the same time I wish she were more of an enforcer of our rules rather than Grammy. Her own daughter is due soon with her first and I am making it a point to make sure SIL gets the benefit of Grandma as I have (there is a travel distance) so as to respect their mother/daughter relationship.
I read someplace a long time ago (it might have been a Chicken Soup book) about a mother praying from the very beginning for her children's spouse when they we still in diapers. When the time came for one of her sons to marry she felt as if she knew the girl already and attributed the prays to that connection. I try to remember that once a day.
J's mention of running her fingers through her daughter hair hit me hard. I might just crawl in bed with E tonight to snuggle. My husband and I talk often about what we want her to become. She is a tall girl and by all accounts will have to deal with that all her life. We talk about how her athletic build could make teenage years difficult. Buttercupsis said it best "My girls will also kick ass despite the skirts, of course."

One of these days I need to start my own blog so I stop taking up space on everyone else’s.


M - Great, thoughtful post. So now I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes thinking about mothers and daughters and mothers and sons.
Like you, I had a great relationship with my mom. Unfortunately, I lost her way too early (I was 24 when she died). I still miss her.
Having been the only daughter with 4 brothers, I always thought of myself as a "boy mom" and so quickly adopted WS's expressed preferences of a son when we started the adoption process. But now, as we contemplate #2, I find that I want a daughter. Not for, as you pointed out, the pink dresses and the Princesses (oh, please, spare me the Princesses) - but for the adult daughter.
I also worry about being the MIL to my son's wife. My MIL is a perfectly fine person, a devoted mother and grandmother. She has a very close relationship with her own daughter and I know she'd love to have a closer relationship with me. I'm the problem. No matter how hard she tries, she is just NOT my mother and I'm still, all these years later, mourning my own mother too much to let anyone else in.
It is such an awesome responsibility and complicated undertaking, this raising of children, isn't it?


Oh Moxie, this entry makes me so sad. I hope you don't mind if I babble.

I love my MIL, but we're very different. She's polite, for example, and terrified of insulting or offending anyone. I try to be nice, but I'm much more outspoken. However, as my mom is currently dying, she is going to be the closest thing to a mom I've got and the only grandma my kids will remember. I don't know how to make our relationship closer because our differences always spring up. It makes me feel lost and already mother-less.

On a lighter note, I think we can solve YOUR problem right now. You have 2 sons, I have 2 daughters. What say you?

Num Num

Oh for heaven's sake. As long as you remember that everyone has only one mother (I mean the mother who raises you), and even if you have a tortured relationship with your mother, no one else will ever be your mother, and you will not be anyone else's mother, then you can have totally fulfilling relationships with your dils and with the younger women you decide to nurture, and you will do that. And it won't be full of anguish. I am helping an aunt right now recover from a stroke. I've known her and she helped raise me from the day I was born. She's been a wonderful influence in my life and a total pain from time to time. She's not my mother, but I know things about her and her preferences in daily life that her sons don't know. So I'm part of the world who loves her, needs her and can recognize the wealth of the relationship and the boundaries of it.

I am very lucky to have a wonderful dil, and we love each other so much and the man we have in common and the baby we have in common that we work at being good to each other all the time. That's really the secret. And of course, Moxie, you and Teresa and everyone else do that as well.


I know exactly what you mean. Mom of two boys, and planning a third. People ask if we're going to "try for a girl" which makes me want to pluck their eyeballs out, because, NO, we want a healthy baby, period. And what's wrong with another boy, when things are going so well now?

There is such obvious inbalance between my mom (both parents actually) and their interaction with our kids and my husband's parents. They live the same distance away and we try to force it to be equal all the time - dinner with BOTH families every weekend. But it always comes back unbalanced, with my parents winning. We just trust them more with the kids than his parents, and the kids like them a little more.

My one hope is the fact that everyone is different. My MIL is a cold, selfish mom much of the time, even to her two girls. Her personality in general keeps her distant from us. However, my cousin's MIL had two boys, no girls and is like a second mother to her. They are so close, and she has the grandchildren all the time. I see them and think, maybe it's possible after all.


Oh, this post echoed in my heart! I have two sons, and will not be having more children myself, though we are considering international adoption. Like you, I adore my boys. And like you, I am struggling with what it means not to have a daughter.

I always wanted daughters. I always assumed I'd have girls. I was actually very sad after my ultrasound showed a second boy (while being grateful for good health, etc--I am aware of how blessed I am!). And now I ache to think I will never sit in my grown-up daughter's house and drink tea and talk about her kids. I will never move through her kitchen knowing where everything is because we set up our houses the same way (something which cracks my mother and me up every time we notice it about ourselves). I will always be the MIL. I confess it's kind of a facer. There's a funny ache when I think of it.

And like you, I think of my teenage boys. My husband and I were out on a rare date recently, and a bunch of kids came in before a prom, and I found myself staring at the BOYS. I found myself hoping that our boys will be the kind ones, the ones who are strong and manly enough to be truly gentle, the ones who come home and maybe even tell their mothers about the dance the next day. Oh, how I pray I will be able to do my part to help them become the men they're meant to be, free of shame and scandal.

Sorry this is so long. You touched such a nerve, and wrote such a wonderful post!


I get along better with my MIL than my mum, and my MIL stayed 3 weeks with us after the birth and my mum hasn't yet changed a diaper on her own! So. :) It is a wonderful post.

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