It’s long been fashionable to bitch about the MIL. And it’s sad, really, that women should have such a contentious relationship because they’re connected by a man they both (ostensibly) love. I had no reason to believe that I’d be exempt from falling into that hostile connection. At times, I am potty-mouthed and opinionated. And in my early twenties, when I met my future husband, I was even worse. I was narrow-minded, offensive, and not great at holding my liquor. I had (and have) good qualities, but still, I was rough around the edges and likely not what most women would hope for in a daughter-in-law.
Fast-forward fifteen years. My mother-in-law is, no doubt, one of my best friends. Here are ten reasons why:
10. She’s Dynamic. My MIL is a generous, positive, inspiring force, and a shameless flirt. Her energy is contagious. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s true: she makes the world a better place.
9. She’s Flawed. She’s scattered, disorganized, and rushes when she’d be better served to slow down, which she doesn’t know how to do. One must be watchful when she’s using an oven, and it’s best not to leave important documents in her care. I’m grateful for these flaws, because perfection is annoying.
8. She’s Badass. At the age of 64 she kayaked the Colorado River for twenty-two days with twelve thirty-year-olds. She parties in short dresses and go-go boots, and won’t say no if you offer her a shot of something.
7. She Cares. About everything and everyone. She cares deeply and sincerely and she acts upon her compassion. She cares enough to put the needs and wants of others before her own. Sure, it can be awkward when she starts massaging the shoulders of someone she just met, but she means well.
6. She’s Ripped. She’s a retired physical education teacher. At her current age of 68, my MIL rocks a bikini and teaches Zumba. And what’s even cooler than that is that she doesn’t try to make me like Zumba.
5. She Entertains. She misuses supposably and thinks dwelve is a word. She tries to tell my kids about the story of “Johnny and the Beanstalk.” She begins or ends every sentence with “at this juncture.” Example: At this juncture there’s supposably an event we could go to, or we can dwelve into that later.
4. She Laughs at Herself. When we dwelve into important topics, like whether we have enough wine on hand at this juncture, and I begin laughing at her malapropisms, she laughs right along with me. And then we stock up on wine.
3. She’s Always Game. She’s happily accompanied me to luncheons of no interest to her and which could only have bored her to tears. She’ll join me in taking the kids to float the river or see a movie she’s had to sit through many times before. We once went to a drag show. She’s game for anything. And that’s just how we roll.
2. She Has Endless Energy. In the past five years, my daughters have asked her to play hide-and-seek, blow bubbles, read a story, play Candy Land, watch them stand on one foot, and take them to the potty. They have asked her each of these things approximately 80 billion times. She accommodates them with enthusiasm. Every. Single. Time.
1. She’s Tolerant. I’ve mellowed somewhat in the past fifteen years, but my inner bitch still rages on occasion. My mother-in-law doesn’t bristle or take offense or cluck her tongue in disapproval. She looks for ways to help and relieve stress, even when I don’t deserve it.
I’m sure there are plenty of MILs out there who fit the stereotype. And I feel for the DILs who grit their teeth and self-medicate their way through every family gathering (I would, too). But I’m one of the lucky ones. Our family gatherings are a blast. Instead of resenting my mother-in-law, I happily raise my glass to her, in cheers and thanks.