I was just thinking the other day just how very different NM is from my stepmother or my MIL. Take her recent trip out of town. My IL's and/or my SM and dad would have called before leaving to let me know they were going to be out of town. Then they'd have called the day before or the day of to let me know they were leaving or would call when they got in to let me know they'd arrived safely. Then, depending on how long they were out of town, they'd have called to check in and, finally, they'd have called to say when they'd be coming back and then once they were safely back at home.
My NM has been out of town for a week. I only found out she was going out of town because I happened to call to ask her a question and she mentioned that she was nearly done packing. Of course that prompted me to ask her where she was going at which point she told me.
She didn't call before she left. She didn't call to let me know she'd gotten there safely. She hasn't called the entire time she's been gone. She didn't call to let me know when they'd be coming back. And, now that I'm pretty sure they're back home now, I haven't heard from her to let me know she got back home safely.
Moving on, if my MIL calls and wants to know if I want to do something or go someplace with her and I say I'm not feeling well or I don't feel like it or I have other things I need to get done, she simply responds with a cheery, "Okay. Maybe next time then!" No so NM. Heaven forbid I say I need to get some housework done or that I just don't feel like going anywhere that day. Suddenly it's, "Well thanks a lot! Now I guess I'll have to stay home! I really wanted to go to xyz!" It doesn't occur to her that she can still go by herself. No, the fact that I didn't want to go has ruined her entire day!
My MIL and FIL, SIL and BIL, my SM and dad, they all adore those tacky gifts that say stuff like "#1 Grandpa!" or "Grandma's Little Sweetheart". They love the handmade stuff from dh. His little paintings and drawings, etc. All of their refrigerators and walls are covered with page after page of my son's artwork. NM, she has but ONE pic on her fridge - at least as of the last time I was there months ago - and THAT is only because she was jealous upon finding out my IL's had some on their fridge.
Of course, this is the same woman (NM) who gave me back all of MY school and wedding day mementos - which she referred to as "junk". Apparently she was cleaning out her closets and decided to "give me back my junk". Nice, huh? Which brings me to another difference - my own NM sees my wedding photos as "junk" to clutter up her precious house whereas my MIL got an entire duplicate made of our wedding album because she couldn't choose which pictures she wanted!
My NM, when she finds time in her "busy" schedule to grace my ds and I with her presence, spends the majority of her time talking to me (and expecting me to focus solely on HER) and tells ds to go play by himself and let grandma talk to mommy. Not so my MIL who spends SIX our of every seven days, on average, here spending time with ds, playing with him and whatnot.
I think the biggest difference though is how my IL's, my SM and my dad all accept and love me just as I am. Sure, there are likely tiny "quirks" or whatever about me that they disagree with or would change ideally but they love and accept me as I am and don't try to change me by criticizing me or telling me what I "ought to" or "should" do. Obviously NM doesn't love and accept me AT ALL for who I am but rather for what she THINKS I should be. Actually, I don't think NM loves me at all as I don't think she knows what real love is beyond her N "self-love".
I wonder what sort of person I might have been if my SM or MIL were my mother instead of NM...? Would I be different or would I be me only better? Would I be confident and self-assured instead of shy and anxious and fearful? Would I be thinner or healthier instead of slightly overweight and sickly? Would I be successful in a job somewhere or would I still be a stay at home mom? Would I be as kind and caring and giving or would I be less or more so? I guess I can never know for sure, but I like to think that I'd still be all the wonderful things that make me "ME" only better. Meaning that I wouldn't be so anxious and afraid all the time. I'd be confident and have good self-esteem. I'd have friends and not sit home alone all the time.
Then again, growing up with an NM has helped shape me into the person I am today and that's not such a bad thing. :o)