A few months ago, I wrote a tribute to my mom. I don’t exactly remember what prompted me to do so, but she deserved it. Plus, I totally made her cry, which made it worth it.
Today, I’d like to honor my other mom, my mother-in-law. Many of my friends don’t get along with their MIL’s. Let’s face it, mothers and daughter-in-laws are always going to be at odds. It’s like the law of physics or gravity or karma; I don’t know, one of those scientific-ish things. We’ve taken their little boys away from them.
Of course I don’t think I ever realized what a big deal that was until I had boys of my own. It’s just a different sort of bond. I can’t explain it, nor will I try, and I certainly don’t understand it. But let’s just put this on the table: Never say you’re not going to do something or act a certain way until you’ve been in that circumstance.
On that note, I have to tell you a little bit about my mother-in-law, Cathy. She’s a country girl, grew up on a farm in southeast Georgia. Really, we couldn’t be more polar opposite. She’s quiet and reserved, but downright opinionated when she needs to be. Her and Papa (my FIL) got married at a young age and had two boys. Can you imagine living your whole life in a house where toilet seat is always up? Thank you Lord for giving me Madison.
Cathy definitely possesses the gift of empathy and service. She thinks rarely for herself (annoyingly at times) and will do anything in her power to help another. She never asks for anything. (darn it, here come the tears). When I married her son, she never looked at me like a daughter-in-law. I was part of the family from day one.
It also helps that she happens to speak one of my love languages very well: Gifts. When we first moved to Maryland, pre-kids, she used to send me care packages filled with Starbucks coffee and Target gift cards, for no other reason than because she wanted to make me feel better. Now that there are grandkids, the packages come more for them, but it all comes from the same heart.
She’s the perfect Nana, the kind that would bake cookies and blow bubbles all day long if that’s what the kids wanted to do. She’s attentive and nurturing, protective and surprisingly energetic. In fact, I often fear they might like her more than me.
When she visits, she always has to be doing something helpful. Whether it’s my laundry or the dishes or sweeping up my back porch, she takes care of the whole family. Honestly, I used to be annoyed by these acts of kindness. For some strange reason, I took it to mean I wasn’t doing a good enough job on my own. I found myself getting territorial. In fact, it wasn’t that long ago that I decided to let go and let her do her thing, enjoy the break. She even takes out the stink bugs, a chore I’ve yet to embrace.
My mom and Cathy couldn’t be any more opposite, and I’m so thankful for that. What a blessing it is to have these women in my life. They both meet such different needs in my life and in my heart. Goodness knows I don’t express my gratitude enough. Believe it or not, I can come off a little bratty sometimes, even to these magnificent women who have given so much of themselves to mold both my husband and I into the parents we are today. They certainly don’t get the credit they deserve.
Cathy, you inspire me. Your attention to my children, to their well-being, floors me. You have such a capacity for love and I’m so grateful for how you raised your son, an amazing husband and father who loves God, lives life with integrity and honor, and happens to be one handsome devil. Thank you.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of the moms out there. Enjoy it and make sure you reach out to your moms, mother-in-laws, and even grandmothers. They deserve. After all, they put up with us all these years.