February 03, 2014

Mother-In-Law....Monster in the Shadows!

It's true. I have laughed at mother-in-law jokes for most of my life. I can also admit that there are some M.I.L.'s that are scary, pretty darn scary from some of the stories I've heard. I never thought I would be one of those kind!

I've had two mothers-in-law myself, yeah, that's right, I am divorced and remarried. My first mother-in-law was kind of scary before I married her son. She wasn't evil or mean, she just wanted to protect her son and me from making mistakes. We were very young.  Turns out her son had a little bit of a history and she meant well.

I saw the light in her eyes when we announced our engagement and after her son and I were married she was pretty awesome. If there was any problem with her at all, it was the day she almost rubbed the skin off my arm when I was in labor with my youngest. My contractions were about every three minutes and I was refusing to go to the hospital until birth was imminent. My mom-in-law held my hand with one of her hands and worried a long red streak down my arm with her other hand.  We left her house to salvage what we could of my skin.

When a surprise shower was planned by extended family, mom-in-law called me on the sly, to warn me, so that I could take care of Mt. Fold-More, the huge pile of laundry on the couch, pick-up the 2, 165 toys off the living room floor and maybe wash the four million sticky fingerprints off the coffee table and front window.

Mom-in-law-One was my ally. Even after the divorce, I took the kids to see her whenever we were in Santa Cruz.  We always enjoyed our visit. She visited the kids and me several times, too. Sadly, she has passed and I miss her.

Mom-in-law Two. Now, we started off a little rocky. I was divorced with 3 kids and she is big-time Catholic! Not good. She also had asked her son to tune up her van about 3 months prior to our meeting. The new spark plugs were even sitting on her shelf...waiting.  Her son tuned my car on our second date! The points stacked up regularly that she and I were not going to be close!

This coming May she will have been my Mom-in-law-Two for 30 years and a good friend. She is outspoken, but so am I. She has her convictions and so do I. She is a cup-half-empty kind of person and I am a cup-runneth-over kind of gal. She gets me and I get her. Most important of all, she loves her son and she (mostly) thinks I am good for him. Honestly, she probably wishes I would cook his breakfast every morning and have dinner ready when he gets home but she knows and I know that he's a big boy. If he is hungry in the morning, he knows the eggs are in the fridge and the oatmeal is in the pantry! She prays for her kids every night and do you know what? I'm one of the kids! I love her very much and I know that she cares for me. She also thinks I'm funny and I like that!

Now, I am a mom-in-law, have been for 24 years. Somehow, I feel as if I went from being a nice lady to being a monster.  I love my kids, two sons and a daughter. I want them to be happy. They have married three pretty remarkable people and it sure does appear that they are happy with their choices.

I am not in competition with the kids-in-law for my kids love or attention. I know my kids love me. I know if I needed them, they would be there. I have no intention or desire to cull the stock or to try to make someone look bad. I try everyday to make people feel good about themselves. Honestly, I just want our family to be together and love one another.

I am not the perfect mother-in-law nor the perfect mom, though I'm pretty close to the perfect wife, except for the breakfast thing! I've made some pretty big mistakes, honest mistakes, I swear my intention is never, ever, ever to try to cause pain. I'm just a woman trying my hardest to get it right.

No one has to prove themselves to me, if my sons love you or my daughter loves you then you are part of this family. I trust my kids, they are intelligent, loving, giving people. If they bring you in to the fold then you are in the fold. You belong, you are a part of the whole, you are on the freak-show poster with the rest of us!

Part of being a family, however, is a big responsibility, especially in how we treat each other. I would never tolerate my grandchildren raising their voices to each other or to me. We don't say things like stupid or dummy in this house and we don't treat each other like idiots.

So when ever I say something, whatever it is, I expect the same respect that I give. Constant one-upping is unacceptable and intensely hurtful. It is a terrible example to set for the younger kids and they notice it. They comment about it and a couple of times they have even apologized to me for someone else's blatant disrespect.

My husband has a beautiful glass Galileo Thermometer. It is glorious, especially when it's been dusted. The bulbs are all relatively the same size, unlike the people in our family.  Depending on the temperature, the colorful bulbs float at different levels, but not because one is more important than the other. Our family is much like the Galileo Thermometer, glorious, colorful, sometimes dusty, sometimes shiny but always, always beautiful. From time to time one or more of the colorful (though not relatively the same size) bulbs will rise to the top. It may be life successes or music, dancing, cooking, running, kung fu or just telling a joke that causes the bulbs to be at the top but they don't get to the top by standing on someone's head or pushing someone down. When we rise, I expect the others to hold them up not pull them down.

I am a Mother-In-Law. Let me love you!

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