My Mother-In-Law

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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.

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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?

15 thoughts on “My Mother-In-Law

    • Thank you Kristi. I am happy with where we are at. I am so glad we have come to understand each other. Life is too short…

      I hope you have a happy weekend!

      Jenni

  1. Ha! I too am terrified of yeast!! So happy your relationship with your MIL is better! My husband & I have dated since we were 19 & got married @ age 28 & are now almost 40, so she’s been in my life a long time! She has 10 children & even though she was a little Italian Catholic lady, she & I got along pretty well from the beginning. She has been known to say that if my husband & I ever split up, the family would keep me instead. She’s 77 now & lives in Florida so we only get to see her maybe once a year. The kids love their Nonie (she has 19 grandkids). I lucked out. Have a great weekend!

    • Thank you Lyn! That is a beautiful story. Nineteen grandkids! But ten kids is even more amazing! Sometimes I wish I had had a bigger family. I am jealous of my friends who have bigger families and their kids are older and starting to rely on each other. It is so neat.

      You really have known your mother-in-law a long time. I love that she loved you so much. You are so lucky!

      Thank you for sharing! Have a wonderful weekend!

      Jenni

  2. I unfortunately really struggle in this area. I find my MIL way too needy. She needs to hear from my husband often, thinks he’s God’s gift to man. I love my husband, but I think she is too much. But she is kind to me..I just can’t stand the neediness, maybe because I’ve always been pretty independent. But as you alluded to, I have a son as well – and I’m so afraid I will end up like her. Life has a funny way of letting you do the things that you couldn’t stand others doing. And I am ashamed of myself sometimes of how much I get annoyed…

    • Thanks for sharing and being so real Maggie. It is a hard dynamic. That is how I used to feel, too. I probably would find it much harder if we lived closer. But my mother-in-law is incredibly independent. I am definitely going to be the needy one. I just hope whomever my son chooses will just love him and love me, too. I think the older my son has gotten, the more my heart has softened. Because soon, he will be on his own. That breaks my heart. I hope things get better for you. It is such a tough place to be in. I have definitely been there.

      I hope your weekend is restful and fun!

      Jenni

  3. This post actually brought tears to my eyes, Jenni. Incredible. I don’t think I had/have a strained relationship with my MIL. We are not alike either but we have always had a pretty good relationship. There were many times she could have thrown in the towel on me and she never did. Joel and I were married at 18. Engaged a month after we met and married a month later and pregnant three months after the wedding. (I always forget what I have already told you). Where I really learned to appreciate her though, interestingly enough, was through my daughter in laws. Both of them make sure when we visit, to let me have alone time with my sons. It is something that never occurred to me to do for my own MIL. I apologized to her about it. She said it never crossed her mind. She’s kind like that. It’s hard when you have sons because you know, even though they will always love you and have a special place in their hearts for you, you can no longer be the number one girl in their life when they find that special some one. I may have already told you the story of how when our oldest got married, my youngest (brilliantly observant of human interactions) noticed I purposely took a step back in the relationship so my DIL could be #1. Our youngest told me, “Oh mom…that will never happen with you and me.” I told him it had to happen as whomever he picked needed to be number one. It’s hard. It’s hard. It’s hard. I hope and pray your end up with a DIL who makes sure that your son always has private time for you. Thank you for a lovely blog post.

    • Thank you Brynne. This comment really touched me. And there were so many brilliant points to it. My mother-in-law does get alone time with my son when she comes, but often with her husband as he goes along. She is very laid back. I usually don’t go, not because I am being nice, but rather it is something I do not want to do, such as a car show. But I think that is a wonderful idea to make sure you are purposely giving them alone time together. Your daughter-in-laws sound so great. I hope I can be as gracious and kind as you have been. I will admit to tears when you wrote what your son youngest son said to you. Your own mother-in-law also sounds wonderful. Our stories are very similar as far as how quickly we moved once we met. We were married and pregnant four months after we met. I believe in fast decisions! Although, those early years were gut wrenchingly tough.

      Thank you for sharing. It was so insightful.

      Have a super weekend!

      Jenni

  4. I left you a really long comment w/ my google log in, then it wouldn’t post & I couldn’t retrieve it! So I’m not going to do it again bc it kiddos’ bedtime! :). Great post today & I LUV your loose braids in your vest post the other day!
    Have a great weekend!
    🙂 rebecca

    • Thank you Rebecca! I am so sorry about the comment. I hate when that happens. It is so frustrating! Thank you for still leaving one. I appreciate it.

      And thank you for the compliment! I have now taken to wearing just one braid. I like to change things up every few weeks. : )

      Have a terrific weekend!

      Jenni

  5. I don’t see my in laws very often (once every year or so) but they are genuinely awesome people and they have treated me very well.

    What a lovely gift from your mother-in-law. So thoughtful.

    • Thank you Liana! You are so lucky with your in-laws. That is nice to hear.

      It was a really nice gift. Just very thoughtful and sweet. And my mother sent me the most beautiful flowers today. So, it was a nice reflecting on good mother’s day.

      Have a fabulous weekend!

      Jenni

  6. What a sweet relationship. So happy to hear this. What a journey with a wonderful ending. What I am happy about is that my husband has a great relationship with my Dad. They’re actually friends now. I love it. He’s the only guy I ever dated that my Dad even liked. I probably should have listened to my Dad when I was younger. But then, when you are a young adult – you know everything and Dad’s are just annoying with their opinions. LOL

    • Thank you Cynthia. You know until you mentioned that, I had forgotten all about husband’s and father-in-law relationships. That is important, too. I love Freddy and your dad’s ease. That is so nice! My dad and husband get along well. Although, it is almost impossible to not get along with either of them. They are both jolly!

      Thank you for sharing! Have a sweet Sunday!

      Jenni

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