Today is my sixteenth wedding anniversary and it has me reflecting on the past. I am seeing things with a different perspective than before and I have learned over the years that it is easy to take things as well as people for granted. The funny thing about life is that although at times it feels like it is dragging, life is actually passing us by so fast and before we even know it, everything is a memory. Reflection is key in gaining perspective on things and that is why they say with old age comes wisdom and remembering where you come from will keep you grounded.
Just a few days shy of my eighteenth birthday, I moved out of my parent’s house to start a life halfway across the country with someone that I had met less than a year ago. The idea of moving away from my family didn’t really scare me that much and the fact that I hadn’t known Mike that long didn’t worry me either. I knew even then that I was making the right decision for my life even though everyone else doubted me like they often did. I was nervous about one thing though, meeting my mother in law. I kept thinking about the possibility that we wouldn’t hit it off and that she would hate me. I was worried that she would be like those monster mother in laws that you see in the movies and would convince my husband that I just wasn’t good enough for him.
One thing that set my mind at ease was that I knew right away my mother in law was a very giving person because she was opening her home to not only my husband and me but also our dog, Sparky. Since we were relocating to Illinois from Florida, we needed a place to stay for a little while, while we found jobs and were able to save enough to get our own place. Mikes mom and dad opened their home to us, and even let me bring my dog. This sweet set up also came with some home cooked meals and lots of fun times together.
That Summer Robin and Ray, my in-laws, were remodeling their home, so I got the chance to help out with jobs like removing nails from the hardwood floor they were working to refinish, with a pry bar. I had never used a pry bar before and I was really enjoying pulling each unwanted nail out of the old wood, one by one while listening to rock from Ozzy, The Rolling Stones, AC/DC and Pink Floyd. It was like hanging out with friends, it made me feel right at home. I actually felt accepted into the family pretty early on although I was painfully shy and looking back I wish I had come out of my shell earlier.
Perspective is everything. Now that I have a thirteen-year-old daughter, I see things differently. I can relate to the bond a mother has with her children, the need to protect them, and the desire to see them do great things with their lives. These same things at the time scared me because I always felt like I wasn’t good enough and that she would be able to see right through me. While I was very much in love with my husband I felt that I had little to offer, being so young and starting my new life with very little in my pocket. Once we got jobs and were able to get our own place, I felt a little bit more like I belonged.
Even though we were on our own and able to pay our bills, we were in that place in life where you can afford what you need but you better show some restraint when it comes to the things you just want. This made me especially grateful when my mother in law gave us gifts for the house. She picked up a bathroom set in a celestial design, knowing I loved that kind of stuff and didn’t have much to decorate my first home with.
She truly wanted me to experience the joy of my own place, giving me the ability to decorate it the way I wanted to. I had a hard time accepting all of the gifts she would give us in those days because I had never experienced anything like that before in my life. Looking back now I know that a lot of the biggest events in my life were special because she was my mother in law. After all, she raised my husband and in a lot of ways taught him how to be the man I fell so much in love with.
When preparing for my wedding, I didn’t have family there to do all of the traditional things a family does with a new bride. My mother in law took me shopping for a dress, shopping for my dog’s tuxedo (yeah my dog was totally in the wedding), and even took me to get my hair done before the wedding.
She made it possible for me to experience the feeling of being the most beautiful woman in the room on my wedding day and even rented a limousine to take me there. My wedding day would have just been like any other day if it weren’t for her and her families help. Her mother, my husbands’ grandmother made my bouquet and decorated the greenhouse we were married in as well as the home of where our reception was being held. They even threw me a bridal shower and invited a bunch of extended family members as well as some close friends of theirs because I didn’t know anyone in the area. I was like Peter Klaven in I Love You, Man but with women and no funny nicknames.
A few years later, when I went into labor with my daughter, she was there, pacing the waiting room. She made runs for food like popsicles and lemon ice as well as took my husband home to pick up some things he had forgot during the mad dash to the hospital. When I was sick and in the hospital a few years back she offered to put her life on hold and come help us out until I got better. Her mother ended up being the one we took up on that offer to help, it just seemed to make the most sense for everyone. It turns out that the apple does not fall as far from the tree as we like to think it does, her mother is an amazing woman too. She was always there for us, for me, and she didn’t have to be.
These days we live hundreds of miles away from each other and that doesn’t give much of an opportunity for me to thank her but I often think of those days, now that my daughter is growing up, asking questions about my past. That and cleaning out my closet coming across some old pictures has led me to share some of the joy she has brought us. I hope that my daughter inherits the giving nature that obviously runs in that side of the family and when the day comes, I hope that she has a mother in law like mine.
What is your mother in law like? Tell me in the comments below.