Last night I was cooking up a storm for oldest son's stag party today. In less than a month he will marry and I will officially become a mother-in-law. I do hope to not be one of those horror story mother-in-laws. Without recovery I am quite sure I could be.
My own mother-in-law has set me a terrific example. I've often told her that I look up to her in that regard. She has loved me through some rather difficult to love me times. Dearest one's family was my first experience with Christian people and back then I was an atheist and a sarcastic one to boot. I spent a goodly amount of time baiting them and combine that with huge cultural differences, well, let's just say they gave me a first hand lesson of grace in action.
Twenty six years have passed since then and now my mother-in-law and I enjoy a good relationship. She is one of my favourite people to visit with. She is honest about her struggle as a human being and if you ask her a question she'll give an honest answer no matter what it makes her look like. She has a great sense of humour, too. We also share a love of reading. One of the things I love the most about her is her huge capacity for accepting children as children and not as minature adults. She's more likely to laugh at their behaviour than anything. Nothing much fizzes her in that department and I'm grateful.
She's never made me feel wretched for being a terrible housekeeper. I remember her once being in my home when it was a mess and I was worrying out loud about it. She looked around and told me that it was nothing that 15 minutes wouldn't fix and that there was a huge difference between messy and dirty. She knew I'd rather be reading than cleaning and while her culture wouldn't allow the room for her to do that freely, she didn't hold it against me when I simply read instead of cleaned.
She read to her (11!) children every night before bed and because of that tradition I did the same for mine. Even some of the same books. I expect that tradition will be one that will be passed down to the next generation, too. It's such a wonderful tradition.
Last month we worked together in my garden, visiting side by side as we pulled weeds. She kicked off her shoes and walked barefoot as she wielded the hoe, fully enjoying the dirt between her toes. She is nearing 80 now and has leukemia. I've made a point of telling her what I need to....told her how grateful I am for the example she set for me. She tries to protest a bit only because of the inner struggle she had to love and accept me when doing so meant saying farewell to the chance that her son would ever be a member of their ultra conservative church. A church that espouses membership as the only guarantee one will see heaven. So, she let go of a lot in order to have relationship.
The years have mellowed us both.