Mother-in-laws are quite often the brunt of jokes. The premise being that a mother-in-law typically considers her child to be unsuitable for his new love, so they are usually depicted as overbearing or obnoxious.
Now, let me put this out there, I generally have a pretty good relationship with my mother-in-law. She’s a nurturing grandmother who actively engages with my kids. She’s proud of her son’s accomplishments and supportive of my goals and ambition, too.
However, now that I am a mom, I’ve tried to see myself in her place, and there are some things that I’ve come to realize.
1. I am not good enough for her son,
but I will be as good as I can be.
As a mother, I get that no one will be good enough for either of my little boys. No one will make him his favorite foods the way I can. No one will protect him and fight for him like I do. No one will comfort him and love him as long as I have because I loved him before he was even born. Just like she did for her son.
She was his first love, but I aim to be his last. I will tell him and show him daily that I love him even though some days are easier than others. I will fight for him, I will celebrate him, and I will comfort him. I will do my best, which should be good enough.
2. I will disappoint him,
but I also will make him proud.
As a mother, I’m only human and I make the wrong choices, say the wrong things out of anger or frustration, and I don’t always do things the way someone else would want. I have learned, however, about unconditional—truly unconditional and everlasting—love. When my kids reject my advice, disobey my rules or push their boundaries, I choose to love them anyway.
My MIL has been there before. She knows that you don’t always have to like someone in the moment to love them indefinitely. I may not always agree with her son, but I will love him nonetheless. With a little bit of faith, he and I can find peace on the other side of frustration, anger and anxiety. I also aim to do him proud. I will shoot for the moon, but even if I fall short, I can always fall back on him. I know that as the mother of his children, he will support me and celebrate my accomplishments no matter how little or big.
3. I can’t give him everything he needs,
but I will give him my everything.
As a mother, I know that what children “want” and what they “need” can be two different things. I also know that it truly takes a village to raise a child. Although every last ounce of my energy goes into nurturing and protecting our family, they need more than just me. They need my husband, too. They need their extended family. They also need our friends who fill in as family when we live hundreds of miles apart.
My mother-in-law surely knows that children need more than a mother. They need their dad, their extended family and close friends to have a truly well-rounded and balanced life. My husband needs this, too. He needs more than just me; he needs time with his family and his friends. That said, I will do my best to give him and our family every part of me that I can: a level-head for reasoning, my hands for cooking and cleaning, my legs for getting everyone where they need to be, my heart for loving, and my arms for hugging.
4. He is not good enough for me,
but he’s the best for me.
As a mother, my daughters have taught me that no man will ever be good enough for them. No man will love them as much or longer than their daddy. No one, including themselves, will want more for them: a warm and loving home with the world at their feet and the moon and stars to light up the night sky.
My parents have only ever wanted what was best for me. I’m sure my MIL’s parents thought the same when she got married; and she when her son got married. For better or worse, we are all in this together choosing love over hate, forgiveness over flaws, and cooperation over anything else. Although her son is not perfect, he’s perfect for me.
5. He will disappoint me,
but he will also make me unbelievably proud.
As a mother, I know that from the second you hold your child, he or she is the most perfect thing you’ve ever created. And then you have another child, and somehow that child is different but equally perfect. You think they could never do any wrong. I also know, as a mother, that is simply not true. Children sometimes fail to live up to our incredibly high expectations, but we continue to love unconditionally.
My mother-in-law is almost as proud of her son as I am. However, he is human, and humans are not without faults. That said, we change, we evolve, we learn, we get better, smarter and more understanding with each passing day. He may be grown, but he is continually learning what it is to be a husband, a father and an airman. And I am so grateful for that. One day he will learn what it means to be a grandfather. Grandfathers become softer and embrace more tender moments. When that day comes, I will be equally proud.
6. He can’t give me everything I need,
but he does give me everything he can.
As a mother, I know I can’t give my children everything they want. I can’t be the perfect mom who always says “Yes” to the candy store and “no, you don’t have to eat your peas.” Children need the freedom to be themselves, but they also need boundaries to keep them safe and healthy.
I also need freedom to be me. I am passionate about my own goals and hope to find my own version of success. While my husband may not be able to give me that, I don’t expect him to, either. He does; however, give me the freedom to find my own way and guidance for when I struggle to find direction. If all he has to give is love and support, that’s more than I could ever want or need.