Want to Give Christmas Thanks for Mothers-in-Law?

Image from the movie Monster-in-Law

Peeps, we’re having a few challenges at chez O’Hara, not the least of which is my mother-in-law fell and broke her tailbone. She’s fundamentally fine, thanks, but I’m sure you understand we’re concerned about her. If not handled properly, events such as these can mean huge and permanent life changes for an elderly person.

While I strive not to fret about her or a Christmas which feels more frazzled than its typical state of frazzlement, I’m going to a place of gratitude. Would you like to join me?

In some respects, my mother-in-law and I couldn’t be more opposite from one another. Nevertheless, and going against the grain of  all MIL stories there are out there, she:

1. Bore and shares with me her son, who is the kind of man who works ridiculous hours, yet when the phone rings on his first day off in weeks, hies off to the hospital without breakfast or a shave and doesn’t leave until he knows she’s settled.

2. Knows the birthdates, school names, grades and as much of their intimate lives as all the offspring of her seven children will grant her.

3. Taught me how to cope with a laugh and only ten seconds of panic if the dinner party multiplied by two. With five minutes’ notice.

4. Understood and validated the need for a creative life in her spouse, children, grandchildren, and me. That is to say she:

  • sewed capes for my father-in-law when he got into vampires over twenty years ago, before they were cool.
  • attended Sherlock Holmes clubs with him, even when she would probably rather have pulled his Deerstalker hat over his eyes and pummelled him with his magnifying glass.
  • framed my father-in-law’s paintings and cross-stitchery.
  • tolerated hours of music practice, punctuated with chord crashes and epithets.
  • knows and cares about my writing, even though she’s not a reader.

5. Babysat, cooked and cheered as required to help me when I worked and our childcare arrangements fell through. Was proud of my career, carefully concerned when I left it, but never made me feel like I didn’t work or was “less than” because I was at home.

In these five ways and many more, my mother-in-law guided my own ideas of grandparenthood, parenthood, and perhaps someday, how I’ll welcome my kids’ spouses to the family.

How about your own mother-in-law? What has she taught you about life that has made you a better person?

And peeps, I won’t post again until Monday next, so until then, please have a merry Christmas or wonderful holiday celebration, according to the customs of your culture! And thank you for being here and indulging me in another sentimental (but heartfelt) post.

10 thoughts on “Want to Give Christmas Thanks for Mothers-in-Law?

  1. May your MIL rest easy over the holidays and may her healing process go smoothly. She sounds very much like my MIL … kind, thoughtful, supportive. A woman to be cherished. :o)

    Happy holidays to you and your family, Jan!

    1. “…fundamentally”? Pun probably not intended; I apologize for an inappropriate snicker and wish your MIL a fast, full recovery.

      Focusing on gratitude is a wonderful way to relieve the frazzles. Thanks for the push! My MIL is great at making friends of all ages, has an amazing eye for color and form, and sets high standards as a gracious, loving hostess. Although I never pull myself or my home together the way she would, she has never criticized me or interfered. (Well, once she told me I needed a haircut. Since I pretty much always need hair help, this indicates amazing restraint on her part; she’s a former beautician.) She goes out of her way to connect with our kids and, of course, raised my wonderful DH. I feel lucky to have her in my life.

      Merry Christmas to you, too, Jan!

  2. Thank you all! You are so sweet. I’m just back from the hospital where she looked pretty bright-eyed and cheerful, even if her mobility will be an issue for some time to come.

    How wonderful to hear your own MsIL have not lived up to the antagonist role they are often given in fiction.

    Jennifer and Kelly, so sorry for your loss. And what it is with people having the audacity to be ill or die during the holidays?

    MJ, hee, when I say “fundamentally” I meant that her heart and head are still fine. I lost my grandmother to a heart attack during surgery to repair a hip fracture. Since MIL struck her head in the fall, I’m aware how much worse this might have been. But I’ll forgive you as we certainly share a ghoulish sense of humor. 😉

  3. I am so thankful to read a thoughtful, appreciative view of mother-in-laws! My own mother-in-law has taught me to appreciate hand-knit clothing, cilantro, and Bollywood movies. I am hoping that your own has a speedy recovery and that she realizes what a wonderful daughter-in-law she has!

  4. Dilara, thank you! My MIL is improving every day, so we’re very grateful, even if she does not care for cilantro in the least. 🙂 She is a knitter, however, and we benefit from her generosity there, too.

    It’s interesting how movies and books tend to demonize so many MsIL when so many of us have good experiences. Glad you enjoy yours.

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