Last week started out as a disappointment. My kids were supposed to spend the week with Realm’s parents while I went south and spent some time with my aunt and grandma. Due to sickness, we had to stay home. The kids and I stared at each other glumly until sunshine beamed down upon us in the form of a phone call from Realm’s mom, asking, “What if I come visit you for the week instead?”
I texted Realm the good news, and he responded, “She’s the best mother-in-law, isn’t she?”
Oh, she is!
Sometimes I think I live in a fairytale world when I consider the fact that my mom-in-law is my best friend. It’s true!
When Realm and I were in college, he made plans to go to a football game with his dad. His mom wanted to visit with him, too, but didn’t care to go to the game. Realm asked me if I would hang out with her, and that’s when I met Mom O (that’s what I call her). I would not have had such an excellent opportunity to know what a jewel my future mom-in-law would be if she’d been an avid football fan. It was fate that brought us together! Or the fact that neither of us gets a thrill out of a pigskin tossing. We spent the whole afternoon talking. I thought she was the nicest person. Where I was opinionated and rash, she was conscientious and thoughtful…and she was funny. On the way back to school, I told Realm, “I’d marry you just for your mom.” Looking back, my statement was pretty telling because I was dating someone else at the time. Realm and I had broken up.
Mom O and I share our joy of reading. I grew up in a house with bookshelves filled with books. She has bookshelves all around her house, too. So I feel right at home. Anything she reads and thinks I’ll enjoy she sends my way. She’s opened new worlds up to me, especially in fantasy.
And she supports my craft. This isn’t an easy one because, as a writer, I’m always half-finished. Mom O will still read the first chapters with no ending and tell me what she thinks. She’s beta-ed many, many, many stories for me. She’s been my Cassandra, and I love her for the hours she’s spent on me and my scribbles.
She’s taught me a lot about cooking. I’ve watched over her shoulder many a time, asking all types of questions, trying to figure out what her secrets are for the best, fall-apart baked ham, the best cheese cookies, and the moistest pound cake. She says her secret is experience. She knows what she’s doing, and she’s good at it.
In the first years of our marriage, I was not shy about confrontation with Realm or with his family. There are many moms-in-law who feel it’s their duty to set an opinionated daughter-in-law straight from the beginning. There have been a ton of times that I’ve been set straight by my mom-in-law, but not by any harsh word of hers. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that her middle name means “peace.” Every word of advice she’s ever given me has been with wisdom and with love. Her reproaches have come in the form of her own patience and gentleness with me. It’s humbling, and I look up to her more each time I realize how often she’s been proven right without saying a thing.
I get so much from her example. Her principles are formed by God’s word. And when she sees how her grandchildren are being raised, how Realm and I are trying to bring them up with God’s precepts, she lets me know she’s proud of both of us. It’s a God-given blessing we enjoy every day of our lives as a generational family.
This is why the kids and I spent last week sniffling, sneezing, but smiling. We had Mom O to cheer us up.