This can be one of the most wonderful bed of roses relationships,
OR one strewn with thorns and barbs,
OR one that is abandoned and completely ignored.
Part 1 in the series of Mother-In-Law
This post is part of a series, and for now I will touch the surface of this very significant relationship with some tips of making it a two-way working connection. Such as:
- Is it important?
- What do you call her?
- Find something in common.
- Do you know her?
- Do you know her likes, her hobbies, her favorite foods?
- Do you find ways to enjoy her?
Below is a picture of my husband Stan with my mom Connie. He was trying to figure out my ‘Selfie Stick’ and she was photo bombing. They tease and laugh with each other quite a bit. Because they both have a terrific sense of humor, it has made a huge difference in how things have been handled over the years. They share a healthy relationship which is very open; meaning they both can speak freely, yet with consideration for the other person. Of course there have been some bumpy spots over the years; yet the desire from both for a strong family bond has prevailed through the trials. Learning and growing is a natural growing pain -and joy – comes from joining families. They are great friends as well as in-laws.
My mom is a fundamental part of my blog, and I am so grateful for her support. She has been incredibly generous to help with posts and other details when needed.This is Stan and his mom Meredith, my mother-in-law. I have focused quite a bit on my mom while blogging and since this post is on mothers-in-law, Meredith is my topic. It IS important
Stan and I have been married for over thirty years now, so there is plenty of ‘water under the bridge’ as they say. I look back and am amazed at the progress and change in myself, actually, in all the relationships I have developed over my life time; with association with my mother-in-law as a vital and very important one. You see, the relationship I have with my mother-in-law affects my marriage as well as the bond with my own children too; so it is definitely worth working at keeping alive and well fed the best I can. That’s your best for your situation and circumstances. I am grateful that she has overlooked my follies, insecurities and stupidities of youth, allowing me to evolve to become closer as friends and family. We all come into a family from different backgrounds and with dissimilar outlooks on life. It is best when both will allow the other to stumble, forgive, and help the along so they can become a better more mature person. That is an asset to the family. That’s what friends do.
We must show our children what we hope they will do in similar circumstances when they are later in our situation. If it is not dangerous or destructive to the family, it is so much better to be open-hearted and believe the other person isn’t trying to harm or be of ill-will. Keep communication open, with kindness always at the forefront. Have as the central thought, that someday you will be the mother-in-law or father-in-law, and will hope that you will be allowed the same lea-way and kindness; with the outcome of open relationships and bonds with your adult children and grand-children.
What do you call her?
I do call call Meredith ‘Mom’. Stan calls my mom ‘Mom’. We discussed this when we first married and decided that for us it was right and showed respect. I was joining Stan’s family. Meredith was a good mother, a fine woman, and willing to allow me to marry her son. Out of respect and because I felt she deserved the title and distinction from me, I call her mom, or mother. Stan feels the same towards my mom. As the kids came along, they saw that we honored and esteemed them as ‘Mom’. It helped to solidify family relations also, in good as well as difficult times.
Of course this does not mean YOU need to call your mother-in-law ‘Mom’, but ALWAYS keep your language respectful, particularly in front of your children. It sets the tone for how you will be treated in not that many years to come, when it is your turn to be the mother-in-law or father-in-law.
Find something you like to do together
Stan and I would love to travel with either of our moms, or take them really nice places and do exciting things, but it is just not in our resources at this time. So, instead of bemoaning what we can’t do, we figured out what we can do. Meredith likes to watch movies. She is also a foodie like me, and she is quite an excellent cook by the way. So when we can get together, we go to her house and watch a movie. As often as I am able, I make a dinner and dessert for us to eat together before the movie, giving us a chance to chat and catch up on what’s new. Sometimes we do grab a pizza or salad when I’m in a time crunch; she is always a great sport about it either way, but I love how she compliments whatever I cook – that is the best! (Remember I said she is a fabulous cook, and she’s just plain nice.) For a treat she likes good black licorice, popcorn, wonderful bread, a fabulous dessert, special flavored ice cream and fruit. She is a tremendously good sport and never gets offended when we watch a movie that Stan hates, which he is usually vocal about; such as ‘Life of Pi’. He couldn’t stand it, and she just laughs when he brings it up. She has set a marvelous example of letting those trivial matters slide off her back, and getting on to the next thing – or movie.
She also enjoys games and recently we had a game night. We were played a few games, including ‘Reverse Charades’. The picture is fuzzy, but I wanted to share how she gets in and participates making memories for everyone. One of her very best qualities, if I had to choose, which is difficult to single them out, would be that she can laugh at herself; which is a tremendous talent.Get to know her
You can’t appreciate someone you don’t know
Meredith, Mom to me, is quite amazingly skilled in so many areas. She grew up in a very small town, yet never let that be an excuse for not attaining a higher education, nor making her children speak correctly aka use the English language properly, and strive to be their best. She married George, a wonderful man and they together they had four children. Very unexpectedly dad, George, died almost 25 years ago. She has never remarried. Though she misses him very much, she keeps herself very busy. She worked until retirement. Afterwards she has taken yoga and other exercise classes to keep up her health. She is a naturally shy person, but strives to go out and keep in touch with family and friends, attending plays, concerts, luncheons and other social events. I greatly admire that since I know what a struggle it is for her to reach out when she is naturally an introvert.
She absolutely loves jigsaw puzzles and is fabulous at them; mainly because she is incredibly smart. Really, I mean seriously, she can remember things I can barely recall the basic facts about, and she recounts meticulous details!!! Anyway, she has a puzzle going most all the time.Her craft room is set up with fabric galore, puzzles waiting and other projects to keep her mind occupied, her spirits lifted and her hands busy. I want to be just like her this way the older I get.
Reading is another one of her passions, which she is amazingly fast at, going through countless books on her Kindle.
She learned crafts as a girl and is willing to pass them on. I asked her to teach my girls, which she was happy to do. She taught my girls to cross stitch when they were young and in 4-H.
She also taught them to crochet, and tried to teach me, but I can only crochet one thing which is not her fault. In fact, I applaud her patience for hanging in there with me until I finally conquered my one project. She probably needed a bottle of Excedrin by the end of it, but didn’t even complain once.
Sewing for her kids and family was another accomplished skill, but quilting is her love.She has made a quilt for all of her kids (that includes in-laws), grand kids, a special quilt is gifted when they are married, and she hopes to be able to complete one for each of the great-grandchildren. They are absolutely stunning and each a unique masterpiece of art. Through the quilts, we have our own tangible, embraceable piece of Meredith – mom – grandma.
These are the quilts Mom made for Stan and me! They are so beautiful and I am very blessed to have the relationship I do with my Mom (mother-in-law), my Mom (birth mom) and that Stan does also. It truly makes our family a bit of heaven on earth. I realize the Mother-In-Law relationship can be a precarious one in some situations, but it can also be sweet. It is one that does more often than not, require effort, time, determination, love, understanding, an open-heart and wanting what is best for the family, not just for the moment.
I will dig deeper into this sometimes complicated relationship as this series continues and hopefully give some helps to bring healing, peace and joy to the mother-in-law and daughter relationship in future installments of this series. For now, find the good, prayer for guidance if necessary and appreciate her.
Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2015
Recognize a Blessing and Be a Blessing Today