Thursday, August 30, 2007

Mothers-in-law: a love story

Don’t hate me.

But the fact is I really love my mother-in-law.

I’m not sure how I got so lucky, given the plethora of mother-in-law horror shows apparently rampant in other families, but I thank my lucky stars I have such a warm, helpful person who lives only five minutes (yes a real five minutes and I don’t even mind!) away.

Now that I have a son I realize there’s a good chance I will be a mother-in-law myself one day. And this has led to a lot of thinking about how I will handle the inevitable day when some other woman waltzes into Graham’s heart and claims the top spot.

Will I know the interloper the moment I see her? I like to imagine that I will. I think about it a lot actually – enough that my husband thinks I’m decidedly weird when I try to explain to him exactly how I think it will be.

I imagine it will be a rather routine family dinner. Graham’s coming, his father will say, I think he’s bringing a new girlfriend. And she will walk in the door and she will be impossibly fresh and youthful. And she will do just enough appropriate flirting with my husband to produce a goofy smile and a seal of approval before turning her attention to me. We will make small talk. We will take each other’s measure and I will smile and nod and try not to notice that my son is looking at her with an expression I’ve never seen before.

And heart will soar for him, but it will break a little bit at the same time because I know that later they will share kisses and cuddles and they will bond over jokes about how his father has always been obsessed with making the gravy just so and how his mother always turns into a bit of a ham after her second glass of wine – it’s just the way she is.

And just like that my little boy will be someone else’s treasure. And all I will be able to do is stand back and be as gracious and accepting and loving as possible and hope that this woman appreciates how special my son is. That she loves him enough. That she understands that I don’t want to intrude – it’s just that the very cockles of my heart will always be deeply, inextricably tied to his well being.

I hope that I will have the strength to be the kind of mother-in-law that any future partner of Graham’s deserves. I don’t think it will be that easy.

So I know that some of you out there do have bat-shit-crazy mother-in-laws and if that’s the case you have my sympathy. But if you just have a mother-in-law who's maybe a just little clingy or needy or intrusive, look at your darling son, imagine how you will feel that day when his future walks in your front door and cut the woman some slack.

And if you are lucky enough to have a mother-in-law like mine, count your blessings.

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Llama Momma said...

What a beautiful tribute!! I am also blessed to have a wonderful mother-in-law, who also lives five minutes away.

And I always make a point of mentioning it to my boys when my husband calls his mother and invites her to lunch. "See? Isn't that nice? Daddy is taking his mother out for lunch tomorrow." :-)

Mighty Morphin' Mama said...

As a mom of 3 boys I think of this often. My mil is something else. We had a very bumpy road, but I soon reached a place where I said to myself, "THis is who she is. She is a bit unbalanced and whatever else, but it really has nothing to do with me or who I am. I choose to accept her and love her because she is his mother." I work very hard to maintain a loving and peaceful relationship between her and our family. My husband has to work at it to, because she can be extremely difficult, but she loves us and we love her.
I often remind my dh that the way he treats her is the way our boys will treat me someday, so let's get it right.
I think it may be just as much work to create a wonderful relationship with my future daughter in laws, but so worth it!
I just pray that they love my sons with their whole hearts and will treat them with love and respect. Then it will be so much easier for me:)

Sass said...

Bat-shit crazy.

He he.

Gretchen said...

You wrote a beautiful post here.

My MIL is also a gem and I would happily live next door to her. But, when I married my husband, he carefully and lovingly told me, "I will always love you, but my love for my mom will never change. There will be times when you might not understand the bond between us, but it's very very tight." He is indeed very close to his mom, and I've given him space for that. (don't worry - it's not weird or anything!) And I think it's very nice, because doesn't the saying go, you can tell what kind of a husband a man will be by watching how he treats his mother? I'm sure you'll have the same bond with Graham.

Good luck on your MIL's health improving.

Blog said...

That is a HUGE blessing. Cherish it. :)

Weird in edgewise said...

Dear Diva,

The very best thing about discovering a great new blog is the reading!

I have a great mother-in-law too. Aren't we lucky?