As a mother of sons I have learnt the meaning of unconditional love, what it is to be willing to die for someone else without a second thought. No doubt it's the same for mums of daughters, but as I have four sons, and that's more than enough children for me, the emotions felt for a girl child remain a closed book to me. My boys have plucked at my heartstrings in a way I never knew was possible, they can melt me faster than a snowman in a heatwave and woe betide anyone who would dare to hurt a hair on their perfect heads.
Of course all of this unbridled emotion is setting me up to become the mother-in-law from hell. Every wife knows how deeply frustrating it is when your other half's mum can't see a single thing wrong with him, and whenever a dispute arises you are immediately cast in the role of villain. No mother can ever lay an iota of blame at the feet of her idolised boy and, by God, that's annoying from a wife or girlfriend's point of view.
Even if your husband is a oaf beyond belief, whose idea of helping with the housework is lifting his feet while you hoover under them, his mother will still think you get him to do too much around the house. My own mother-in-law used to badger me about letting my husband have more free time for himself at the weekend, to which I wanted to howl 'He's gets to commute all alone in a quiet car twice a day. Indeed he gets to leave the house every day. What more does he want?!'
She has since given up trying to argue my husband's case, probably realising that with four children in the house the concept of me time for either parent is a dim and distant fantasy. But I suspect that deep down she will always think that I am not good enough for him. I don't take that as an insult because I don't think that any woman ever could be, and I understand that completely.
Although my boys are well below marriageable age, I still know that whoever they choose won't be quite up to scratch. How could she be when my sons are nothing short of perfect? And how could she ever hope to love them as much as their mummy does? However, I hope that I will be able to hide my entirely unreasonable point of view from my future daughters-in-law, for the sake of family harmony if nothing else.
It's funny how much I dwell on what will be for my baby boys. My husband thinks it is one of the many things that contribute to my near certifiable state (in his opinion at least), but I can't help but rehearse how I will react when a new woman enters their lives. I obsessively store up all the things that I would wish for from the perfect mother-in-law and promise myself that she will be me. But no doubt when the time comes I will ignore all my own good advice. After all I've never achieved perfection in any other sphere of my life, so I don't hold out much hope that I will achieve this goal in one of the most vexed relationships of all time.
Perhaps it's fair enough though as there has to be a flip side to the rose-scented adoration heaped upon us by our boys, and that is that us mums of sons know that our eventual fate is to become a mother-in-law, which is a role that no one covets.