Your future mother-in-law may be observing you because she wants to get a better sense of your demeanor and mannerisms.
Oftentimes, she watches for similarities that you both may have.
She may watch for how you go about doing chores about the house or how you go about communicating with her son and other family members.
She may be trying to see herself in you.
Understand that you are about to be her son’s wife.
She has been the number one woman in her son’s life for a while.
You are now about to take that mantle.
Hence, she may simply be trying to see if you are indeed worthy of it by how you act.
The phrase, “mother knows best” is for a reason.
As she observes you, she is picking out quirks and mannerisms that she may or may not agree with.
In her mind, she knows what is best for her son.
After all, she raised him and knows what he tends to respond to.
If she notices that you go about performing a particular task in a different way than she does, she may take note of that.
Hence, as she observes you from time to time, she may be making a mental check list of what she approves and disapproves of.
In other words, she truly may feel like she is in competition with you.
There may be a part of her that is truly anxious about seemingly losing the primary attention of her son to you.
This may be causing her to measure herself up with you.
She may be doing this in a positive way, a negative way or a combination of both.
She may see something that you do or a particular way you went about saying something to her son and think that this is the way she would have handled it.
Hence, there is a mental “Check” of approval in her mind.
This is also not just approval but also a sense of reassurance.
When she notices these similarities, she may feel a sense of comfort.
She may start feeling a sense of security that you will take care of her son the way she has been doing all his life.
On the flip side, if she were to observe something that she knows she would never have done or said to her son, she may put a mental “X” of disapproval in her mind.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that the way in which you went about doing or saying what you did to her son was wrong, it simply means that it wasn’t done the way she would have done it.
Hence, she may feel both a sense of disapproval in you for it but also a sense of pride in herself.
Pride in the sense that she feels like she knows her son.
She knows what her son would have preferred you doing or saying in that particular situation.
Hence, she feels a sense of uniqueness in that she can still be better than you to an extent.
She can still prepare that meal just the way her son likes it because she has done so his whole life.
She can do his laundry just the right way because she has done so his whole life.
She can compliment him just the right way because she has done so his whole life.
You on the other hand literally may be floundering in your methods.
Her son may tolerate the way you are going about doing things differently from what he was used to growing up because he loves you, but she knows that deep inside he disapproves.
This may give her a sense of pride and a feeling that perhaps she may still have an important place in her son’s life.
Hence, what you may be dealing with here is a combination of a mother wanting you to meet her son’s needs in a way she would and also a mother who may feel a sense of pride in knowing that when you do things the wrong way, she can in some meaningful way maintain her level of importance in her son’s life.
It’s a way for her to feel that she has some influence over her son’s life and that she remains relevant in any current or future decisions he may make.
This sense of relevance in her son’s life may be really important to her because it is something that she is used to.
Letting go of that kind of relevance after all this time of being her son’s mother would be difficult.