This may weigh against conventional consensus but… wait for it… wait for it: I liked my mother-n-law.
It could have been tricky as I married her only son, but then again, HE made sure SHE understood their new reality:
“Why don’t you visit anymore?” (Not true btw)
“Mom, I travel. When I’m not traveling I’m going to spend my time with Cheryl. If I have anything left you can have it.”
“It won’t be enough.”
Gotta love my man.
Of course she remembered the conversation like this:
“I haven’t seen you in a while.”
“I’ve been traveling.”
“Maybe dinner on Sunday then?”
“Cheryl’s cooking, so I’m eating at home.”
“I raised you right.”
“Where’s Cheryl? I thought you were all coming over.”
“She’s exhausted. I’ve brought the kids with me to give her a break.”
“I never needed a ‘break’ and I had five.”
Which, upon retelling went like this:
“She needed a break.”
“Good for her. We all do.”
And, of course, the classic:
“Cheryl, you look lovely. The kid’s are interesting though… “
“I had to pick my battle, so I let them dress any damn way they wanted to.”
“I have ‘people’ coming over. Maybe we can find something in the closet…”
Which went down in family history as:
“Cheryl you look lovely. The kid’s are so cute!”
“I picked my battle. They won.”
“We’ll just say they are ‘creative’ when our guests arrive, after all, the apples don’t fall far from their grandmother’s tree!”
And I just kept on living my life and joining her for Friday night Manhattans (I also laughed at her jokes, scolded her son when he was inattentive to her, encouraged her to bring her friends to my house to ‘show-off’, and always bought her the latest fashion item for Christmas. One year it was a daffodil yellow Diane Von Furstenberg wrap raincoat that she wore with her head held high for years).
When Ben was dismissive of me, or the kids, she told him to fly right.
When my father-n-law got lazy I encouraged him to pick-up the pace and maybe sit with her while she was gardening.
We gossiped and encouraged each other and shared secrets.
I asked for advice even when I didn’t need it, and she told me I was wonderful even though I already knew it.
In short: I let her love me.
Among one of the most lasting things she did for me, however, was my wedding shower.
We were married in January, so the party date was set in December, but Ben and I already had just about ever kind of item a young couple could need or want; small appliances, china, sheet sets, a fully stocked liqueur cabinet, so she asked her friends to surprise me with Christmas ornaments- the one thing we didn’t have.
I received new, old, handmade, and heirloom, each one with a story and a heartfelt wish for a successful marriage.
To say I was beside myself, would be an understatement. It was perfect.
Five years later, when our first child was born, she bought him an ornament and I had an epiphany: I would collect for my children! And I have, 29 years of collecting, each selection with some kind of memory or ‘just because’.
Anywho, I have been waiting for MY daughter-n-law to appear; to give her the same surprise.
As it turns out that woman is now in our future with a wedding to our son in March and a Christmas tree that needs decorating in their apartment now.
So, Virginia, let’s pour ourselves a Manhattan and congratulate each other. Let it be a two woman love fest, with a lot of gratuitous accolades and the certainty that we deserve them, because…
We’re both pretty awesome,
and our timing was perfect .