How to Be a Mother-in-Law

I’ve been thinking about how to write this post for a while. Contemplating, observing and trying to note the details of how to do it. It can’t be easy. It can’t be natural. To give your son, your cuddle-bug, your little man, your precious boy -up to the care and love of another woman.  Yet, it was God’s plan all along- that a boy “leaves and cleaves.” When I imagine this day for my own little boy, I pray that God meets all his needs, desires, and even shortcomings in the form of a lovely girl. But… is that even possible, for that woman to exist? One who is better at loving him than me??

I met my mother-in-law when I was in the 8th grade. She was a teacher at our school. All I heard about her was wonderful. She was an amazing teacher; she cooked delicious meals; she loved her kids. The first time I went to dinner at the Juarez house, I was shocked to see 3 different kinds of meats and 5 sides. Then, we even had home-made cookies and brownies for dessert. It would have basically been Thanksgiving dinner in my home. “Mrs. Juarez” was pretty intimidating to me at this time, and as I got to know her more and more I realized that she was a pro at everything “wife” and “mom” related. She made protein-filled breakfasts, lunches for all everyone (Josh always had 2 sandwiches and sometimes even homemade bread). She toted Josh to soccer games across the country, showed up at church every Sunday, taught school, and even fit in play-dates for her youngest. She had the wife and mom fields mastered.

Josh’s mom says that she was walking behind Josh and I at school one day, our junior year of high-school, and felt God nudge her that I would be Josh’s wife someday. I didn’t know. Josh didn’t know. I think of my life at that age and my heart races to think of what she must have thought. I was a silly teenager- concerned about momentary pleasures and as self-absorbed as the next. Yet, she kept God’s promises locked away. She let our relationship develop at God’s pace and didn’t tell us until we were about to walk down the aisle.

When we sat in per-marital counseling, we talked about our families. I remember telling Josh that I loved his mom and appreciated her kindness to me so much. BUT, I wanted to make sure he knew that I was not her, I never could be her. I didn’t enjoy cooking- I didn’t even know how to grill a chicken breast. I knew how to do basic laundry, but there would be times I would ruin his clothes. I would love him endlessly, but I could never show him love in the way his mom did. He held my hand and promised I would never be held to the “standards” of his mom. I worried that his mom would… cause isn’t that what mother-in-laws are supposed to do?

My mother-in-law didn’t. She’s awesome.

I remember standing in Wal-mart, looking for  “chicken bouillon,” after Josh’s mom sent me her recipe for Tortilla Soup (per my request.) I called Josh and asked him to call his mom and ask where the heck I would find chicken bouillon in Wal-mart. I had looked everywhere- or so it seemed. I was too embarrassed to call and ask myself.  She wouldn’t have cared, but I thought she would. I have learned over time that her love for me does not fail, she loves to help and she loves to be a part of our lives. Now- I ask her (and my own mom) about everything- getting stains out, cleaning my new wood floors, glass cleaners, etc. She always has an answer- she’s basically super-mom.

My mom-in-law loves me, my kids, and my husband. She never makes me feel inferior. She trusts my judgement with my family and always readily includes me in family life, even when Josh is busy. She is patient and kind. She reminds me that there are seasons in life and to treasure the moments.  She is the definition of everything a mom-in-law is meant to be.

She comes into our home and asks how she can help. She’s held crying babies during countless family dinners, just so I could eat for a minute. She moves her schedule around to help me with ours. She models patience and love. She has held my babies during fevers, vomiting and even potty-training. She never complains. She loves her family.

Josh will always be her little boy. She will always cry when he hurts, she will always loose sleep on his behalf, and she will never stop praying for him. She will always see greatness in him and she will never stop being his Mommy. She loved him first and she loves him in ways that I cannot.

I treasure this. I am so thankful to know she loves her son the same way that I love mine.

My mother-in-law, without question, has mastered the mom-in-law field.

As time goes on, I watch and observe- remembering the details that make her a godsend to me and my family. I may struggle when my son loves another woman more than he loves me, but I celebrate the day that God makes his dreams a reality. I will love his love, I will support her and I will respect her- because she will be his. His precious gift!

Yesterday was my mother-in-law’s birthday and she really deserves the biggest hug and loudest shout. We LOVE you! We are beyond thankful for you! Happy Birthday Mimi!

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