They say when you marry someone, you marry the whole family. I couldn't agree more. In my case, my family was kind of like the Brady Bunch. Well...minus 2 of the kids, the stay-at-home mom part, the fact that ours was not a blended family...annnnnnnd the house-keeper. Yeah. Exactly like that! NOT.
I married into an episode of "Everybody Loves Raymond"...ALREADY IN PROGRESS. I was a young girl from a military family. I had traveled the world, but pretty much always lived in cities where life was busy, and people didn't get too attached to their homes, neighbors or surroundings...b/c in a matter of months, we'd be moving and the process would start all over again. My family was quiet and reserved. If we HAD dirty laundry, we sure didn't air it out to everyone. It was kept private. ASITSHOULDBE. My mother-in-law brought me into her family from DAY ONE. It was quite a culture shock. They lived in the country. Counnnnnnnntryyyyy. They were loud...yelling all the time. Not necessarily at each other, but just yelling. All the time. "PASS THE SALT!!!!" Stuff like that. And all those boys! Freaked me out at first, but now that I have my own family and my own 3 boys...all I can say when I look back is "bless her heart." I don't know how she did it. At least I have a daughter that I can be girly with. My mother-in-law...one husband, 3 boys. Bless her heart. The house was usually a mess--the boys were NO HELP at all--and people were constantly coming and going. The door was always open, food was always on the table and coffee was always brewing. It was where everyone wanted to be. It still is. I have the best mother-in-law...and I will fight anyone who disagrees with me. We are still very different, but, after over 30 years, I've learned to appreciate most of those differences. She taught me the importance of boundaries...and she started that from the day of our wedding. She didn't hound us with phone calls on our honeymoon, or in those early days and months as we established our own home and routine. She stepped down from her role as my husband's mommy, and let me be a wife. She had done her part, and now she was letting me do mine. She taught me the importance of a home; of making a home...no matter if the home was a "trailer house," apartment, or 3 story lake-house; of creating a place where my husband and children can come in and close the door and know that they are safe and loved; where my family and friends feel cozy. She never criticized my cooking skills or slipped me recipes of her son's favorite foods. She let me come to that all on my own, realizing that maybe her son would learn to eat new and different foods now that he was married, and that he was a big boy and probably wouldn't starve to death no matter what I fixed! And that I would eventually learn to cook those things he loved. She never criticized my housekeeping skills. In fact, she commiserated with me on how hard it was for her to keep a clean house, and fussed at Jim for not helping me more. She didn't try to arrange things in my home or decorate my house for me. She didn't try to name our children for us, suggesting names that have been in the family for 100 years. She didn't invite herself over, or stop by unannounced...but if we called for any reason, she would drop everything to come. She didn't pressure us to be with them on birthdays or holidays. We celebrated whenever we could...even if it wasn't on the exact day. She taught me how to be a mom...how to love unconditionally...and to look for and expect the best in other people. She taught me to overlook the flaws in others and to keep my head up in difficult circumstances. She taught me the importance of generosity. She drew me in by being real and letting me open up to her on my terms, not hers...not by trying to manufacture a relationship that SHE wanted. I am honored to be a part of her family. Altho she didn't agree with everything we did in our lives, she has always supported us and she has always taken my side. ALWAYS. TAKEN. MY. SIDE. If it sounds like she's perfect...well, she's not. She ran over and killed both of our dogs when she was watching them for us while we were on vacation. Thaaaaaaaaaaaaat's right. One week, two dogs, killed them both. You can't teach that. It's a gift. :) But I think her boys would say that she's been a great mom. Her grandchildren will say she is a wonderful role-model in their lives. Her friends would call her "priceless." Not too shabby of a legacy. "Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised." Proverbs 31:30