79: So Much More than a Mother-in-Law

79: So Much More than a Mother-in-Law

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Best Mom Ever!

So Much More than a Mother-in-Law

Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs.

~Author Unknown

The dictionary defines mother-in-law as the mother of one’s husband or wife. Mother-in-law, however, often has a negative connotation. I’ve heard women refer to their mothers-in-law as monster-in-law and other even worse names.

But that’s not my mother-in-law. I met Barbara when I was just seventeen. I was fortunate to meet her under casual circumstances, as I felt no pressure to impress her. Her son and I were just friends and not dating. In fact, the first time I went to her home, I leaned against the kitchen counter and broke a piece of the counter tile. Barbara and I shared our first good laugh together.

For two years, Barbara and I saw each other on a regular basis, as I was at her home quite often. We would sit and chat, share recipes, and look through photo albums of my husband as a baby. We would just, well, hang out. Like friends.

In addition to being just my friend though, she was (excuse me for saying this, Barbara) my “elder.” I had great respect for her. I looked to her for advice and wisdom and was appreciative of what she had to offer. I learned a lot from her by the example she set.

Two years later, her son and I began officially dating. Luckily, it wasn’t weird. It was a natural transition.

After her son and I got engaged, Barbara and I hung out even more. We talked (a lot), cooked together, and even went shopping and out to lunch. She then brought out her wedding photo albums and we pored over them for hours, smiling, giggling, and swapping stories: her experience versus my hopes.

Twenty-seven years later, Barbara and I are closer than ever. We’ve had many experiences most mothers- and daughters-in-law will never be fortunate enough to share. We’ve been on vacations together, we’ve shared beauty tips, we’ve driven sports cars over 100 miles per hour. We’ve been on paddleboat rides and train trips. We’ve gone together to weddings, funerals, and everything in between.

Five years ago, I had a son. Pregnancy, childbirth, new motherhood and now school have proven to be a learning curve for me (and my husband). My own mother, having passed away several years ago, is not around to teach me about parenting or to offer words of wisdom and encouragement. Luckily for me, I have Barbara. With the birth of my son, we became bonded forever! Barbara is the one I call for advice. She’s the one person who can get my son to eat anything. She’s also the person I ask to talk to my son when he’s being so incorrigible I can’t handle him.

Barbara reminds me I’m doing a great job and is great at gently offering a suggestion every now and then. I remind her that she is doing a great job, too, and I occasionally offer her a suggestion as well.

We both talk. We both listen. We both respect. We both love. And that’s why Barbara isn’t just my mother-in-law; she’s my friend and adviser and the mom I can rely on for everything.

~Crescent LoMonaco

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