Before 2017 comes to an end, two of my close friends will have earned the title of mother-in law.
I've been thinking a lot about in-laws (especially during the holidays) and how my mom handled her title.
Looking back, I think that my mom tried to be the mother-in-law she never had. Her experience was typical of the nightmares you hear about. My mom didn't want to be the one repeating that in the family cycle, so she took a different approach. She had a fantastic relationship with my husband, and they were very good friends from the start.
Her official role began when the ring went on my finger. And from that moment, she let us both know that this upcoming wedding was about "US". Only the two people saying the "I Do" should have the say-so and that was her stance leading up to our wedding day. She was a staunch supporter of "let the bride have her day." I appreciated that she never once forced her opinions or suggestions on us. Even when my then fiance' and I asked her about something, she would ask us what we wanted. Wedding planning was a joy with her, because she kept the focus on us. Any opposition, heartache and headache we had (and we had our fair share), did not come from her. She affirmed our choices and encouraged us to do things our way.
The only thing I know for sure that she didn't like about our wedding, was the stress we were caused by others who thought they had a right to express their opinions and requests. (but that's an entirely different blog)
After the wedding was over, my mom observed careful boundaries. She set these herself, we never had to establish any ground rules with her. She was always welcome in our home, but never dropped in. She would call first to make sure it was a good time and ASK if she could stop by. No matter how many times we told her she didn't have to do that, she simply honored our marriage and showed us respect. She had a key to our home and yet never just let herself in.
She never asked us about personal things like finances, income, our sex life or other off limit topics. She never got into our personal business or disagreements. My husband treated her as if she were his own mother, and she responded in kind. We both knew, she would never stand for either of us running home to her to "tattle" or talk bad about our spouse. She would not take sides. And if she knew we were going through something, she certainly never went and told anyone else about it. She did not share information about us or gossip.
She didn't tell us how to raise our son, or what we were doing wrong. She had years of knowledge in child rearing, and could have easily pointed out the many errors we made. Instead, she encouraged us and would give us breaks, as needed. When she watched our son for us, she would abide by our wishes. She didn't sneak him candy and pop in an attempt to undermine our parenting. Our rules were her rules and that was that.
Over the years, my mom built a solid, strong relationship with my husband. There was never any doubt in my mind that they loved each other. My husband and mom never had a cross word between them. He was with me the day that she passed away, at her side as he stood by my side. My mom knew she was leaving me in good hands.
At her funeral, he spoke about what a priceless treasure he had. He knew that not everyone had the same experience in life with their mother-in-law, and he talked about how grateful he was to have known her.
I wasn't the only one she left with precious memories.
You can start reading our story from the beginning here:
Precious Memories 1
You can read my last Precious Memories post here:
The Bridge That Love Built -Precious Memories 26