I think for years I let the stereotypes sit in my head. Define me. The bad relationship you are supposed to have with your in-laws. Or maybe I was holding on to the grudge that our wedding was not attended by most of his family (we did only give a month’s notice). Or it could be immaturity. Simple selfish childishness. I did get married at twenty-one, afterall. I had a lot of growing up to do.
But these are just excuses.
And excuses are as worth as much as you are willing to pay for them. Which is usually nothing at all.
So for many years our relationship was stupidly strained.
Of course, it wasn’t my fault. And do you know what I did to remedy our situation? Nothing. Zip. Zero. Zilch.
I think I felt threatened that my husband could love another woman who was a complete opposite of myself. And, yes, this deserves an eye roll.
For the last three years, though, my Mother-in-law has really tried. I mean she has been just incredibly kind.
And something happened.
I realized that she is a woman. Like me. (I’m quick.) With a son. Like me.
And she was probably heart broken to lose her son to another person. Like I will be.
She lives in another state and only visits for one week a year.
But when she is here, I really enjoy it.
I fought it for so many years.
And, yes, that fills me with self-loathing. And, yes, I have many regrets.
We are nothing alike. She loves camping. I loathe it. She loves the outdoors. I try to pretend I live in a biosphere. She hates shopping. I am an addict. She gardens. I buy flowers at the grocery store. She is adventurous. I am a scaredy cat. She is capable. I am reliant. She is tough. I am soft. She can make bread like nobody’s business. I am terrified of yeast. She keeps her hair super short so she can “go” in life. I hate the word, “go.”
The kids love it when she comes. She’s the grandma that buys water guns and has wars with them. She’ll play catch. And what I realize is that she brings and offers something to my children that I do not. She enriches their lives. In being opposite of me, they are learning from her different skills in this world. And what a beautiful, beautiful thing.
And you know what?
I really, really like her. As a person. Not just as someone I “have” to like.
I can see what my husband sees in her. Wink.
This last Christmas she did something for me that I would not even do for myself. Or maybe another person. I told you she’s a doer. She stood in line for five hours to buy me the new Pioneer Woman’s Cookbook and get it autographed to me.
I love the book.
I love the gesture more.
I love her.
Do you get along with your in-laws? How often do you see them?