Don’t hate me.
But the fact is I really love my mother-in-law.
I’m not sure how I got so lucky, given the plethora of mother-in-law horror shows apparently rampant in other families, but I thank my lucky stars I have such a warm, helpful person who lives only five minutes (yes, a real five minutes and I don’t even mind!) away.
Now that I have a son, I realize there’s a good chance I will be a mother-in-law myself one day. And this has led to a lot of thinking about how I will handle the inevitable day when some other woman waltzes into Graham’s heart and claims the top spot.
Will I know the interloper the moment I see her? I like to imagine that I will. I think about it a lot actually—enough that my husband thinks I’m decidedly weird when I try to explain to him exactly how I think it will be.
I imagine it will be a rather routine family dinner. Graham’s coming, his father will say. I think he’s bringing a new girlfriend. And she will walk in the door and she will be impossibly fresh and youthful. And she will do just enough appropriate flirting with my husband to produce a goofy smile and a seal of approval before turning her attention to me. We will make small talk. We will take each other’s measure and I will smile and nod and try not to notice that my son is looking at her with an expression I’ve never seen before.
And my heart will soar for him, but it will break a little bit at the same time because I know that later they will share kisses and cuddles and they will bond over jokes about how his father has always been obsessed with making the gravy just so and how his mother always turns into a bit of a ham after her second glass of wine—it’s just the way she is.
And just like that, my little boy will be someone else’s treasure. And all I will be able to do is stand back and be as gracious and accepting and loving as possible and hope that this woman appreciates how special my son is. That she loves him enough. That she understands that I don’t want to intrude—it’s just that the very cockles of my heart will always be deeply, inextricably tied to his well-being.
I hope that I will have the strength to be the kind of mother-in-law that any future partner of Graham’s deserves. I don’t think it will be that easy.
So I know that some of you out there do have crazy mother-in-laws and if that’s the case, you have my sympathy. But if you just have a mother-in-law who’s maybe a just little clingy or needy or intrusive, look at your darling son, imagine how you will feel that day when his future walks in your front door, and cut the woman some slack.
And if you are lucky enough to have a mother-in-law like mine, count your blessings.
Photo courtesy of Don Mills Diva