I get to become a mother-in-law for the second time in December 2016. The first time was in June 2015. For as long as jokes have existed there have been jokes about mother’s- in laws- from the son’s-in-law and the daughter’s-in law perspective. I don’t want the be the butt of any joke unless I am making fun of my very own self. I am a very self deprecating person so I do make lots of jokes about stupid stuff that I do. I am always the first to laugh at myself.
But not on the subject of being a mother-in-law. When I became the mother of three boys (with a baby girl on the end), I immediately began planning for being a mother-in law. When my boys were toddlers, I began way back then to pray for my future Daughters-in law-to-be. I prayed that they had parents who loved them unconditionally. I prayed for them to have a high sense of self worth. I prayed that their parents were introducing them to God. I prayed that they were living the kind of life that every little girl deserves.
Two of my three boys have found The One. I knew it the moment that they brought them home for the first time. It was a mixture of mostly excitement but a little bit of loss. I could tell that they looked at these young women with the same adoration that had been reserved for me when they were little. I, of course, was basing this on memory because those teenager years completely render mom clueless in the eyes of their boys. But I could see in the way that they spoke to these girls with soft voices. I could see the way that they made sure they were comfortable in our home. I could see it in the way that my boys might ask them to remove a splinter from their finger. A little bitty flutter of sorrow would bounce around in my heart remembering that I used to be the one who fixed the boo-boos.
But I could tell these young ladies were worthy of the position that used to be mine. I could tell by the way that they looked at my boys when they told a story as if it were the most interesting story they had ever heard. I could tell by the tenderness that they looked at the splinter. I could Just Tell.
I won’t try to pretend that there wasn’t a hint of jealousy because I gave birth to these boys. I have been pooped on, vomited on, rocked colicky babies until I was numb. I worried about their education, made sure they learned about God, took them to sports practices, waited semi-patiently while they chose just the right sneakers from Foot Locker. Being a mother is the hardest work that I have ever done. It is also the most rewarding.
Here’s the thing. I met my husband when we were both 21. I knew the moment I laid eyes on him that he was The One. We dated and were engaged over five years before we got married. My life did not start until the day I walked out of that church into the bright sunlight with my new husband. My parents had provided me with lots of experiences, vacations, memories, etc. but my life did not start until I started it with my husband. Why would I want to deny that exact same happiness to the boys that I loved more than myself? Why would I want their wives to feel that they were second best? How would that make my son and his wife want to respect me?
Last year before becoming a mother-in-law for the first time I researched via Google “How to be a good Mother-in Law”, “Signs of being a Controlling Mother-in-Law”, etc. I wanted to do this new role with the same intention that I pursue everything in my life. I read lots and lots of articles that seemed bland and very generic. Finally, I read the piece of advice that seemed right for me to start. “Treat your son and his new wife like the Cute Couple at church”.
This wise woman explained what she meant. Pretend that there is this cute, young couple at church. They seem sweet and you would like to invite them to your home. You would offer an invitation, probably call the wife, not the husband. You would probably say to the wife something along the lines of,” My husband and I really enjoy your company. We are having Sunday lunch around 2:00 this Sunday and we would love to have you join us. Would that be good for you? If not, we would love to pick another date.” Wouldn’t you as a young couple be so flattered to receive this invitation? The dinner date would arrive, everyone would hug, pleasant conversation would ensue around the table. After an appropriate amount of visiting agreeable to both couples, the young couple would leave after being told how much you had enjoyed their visit and that they were welcome in your home anytime.
Now imagine the opposite experience. You call the cute husband and say something like. Y’all never come to see us. We are having dinner on Sunday at 2:00 and we want you to be there. Then the visit starts out with a meal at which every health ailment that you or your husband have had is talked about over dinner. The passive aggressive tone implies if you were around more you would know this. Dinner would be over and then the hosts would say to the cute husband. I need for you to get out the ladder and clean out the gutters. Or I have some shrubs that I need for you to plant. There would be little visiting. The time would come to leave and a remark would be made about not waiting so long before coming again. Whew…are you tired of this visit already? Can you even imagine when you might have time to come do another day of labor when your own gutters need cleaning and your own flower beds could be spruced up with new shrubs?
I have been a mother in law for 1 year plus a month. How am I doing? I don’t know exactly. If I find out my current daughter-in-law has a blog I will link you to it and we can both read my stats. In the meantime, I am trying to treat them like the Cute Couple at church. I hope that my daughter gets a mother-in-law who loves her and wants to build a relationship with her like I desire to build relationships with my new daughters-in-law.
Ta Ta for now. Kiss kiss
She writes about life, death, grief, and recovery.
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