Have some fun today, mothers-in-law!

Women, ages 50 and beyond (aka “mothers-in-law age), get so much unsolicited advice about maintaining health and happiness. It’s all about weight control, wrinkle prevention, healthy eating, exercising and pursuing hobbies. All of that is well and good. But honestly, the to-do list can be overwhelming, depressing and time-consuming. Instead of promoting good health, the list can create stress.

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Argh.

Sometimes, we just need to have an impromptu good time — as in Yippee! The more good times we have, the younger, happier and healthier we feel. By embracing new experiences, we become better women and more interesting, independent mothers-in-law . Surprisingly, many good times can happen on the cheap or better yet, for free.

So, erase that specter of to-dos from your mind — and replace it with one simple question, “Are you having any fun today?” My answer recently was, “No! I am not having fun today!”  Working, grocery shopping, walking the dog, running errands, weekend gardening – all culminating with “Madame Secretary” on Sunday night TV — is not enough happiness for me. I need to mix it up!

Therefore, I decided to Google the phrase, “cheap and fun things to do,” nearby. Site after site welcomed me to a world of diversions and day trips! I settled on the Montreal Jazz Festival, better known as the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal. http://www.montrealjazzfest.com/default-en.aspx

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A jazz-filled weekend!

Montreal is only a five-hour drive from our home. My husband and I immediately packed our bags and took off on an adventure. We enjoyed a weekend of non-stop music – in a gorgeous, international city. And, it was free — no admission fee.

Fantastic entertainment!
Fantastic entertainment!

Not having fun today? Go find some! We can’t expect our spouses, significant others, daughters, daughters-in-law, sons, sons-in-law or grandchildren to be responsible for making us happy. But here’s what we can do. Cherish family above all else — and still cultivate new friendships, experiences and interests!

What about a trip to the Montreal Jazz Festival next summer? It’s happening from June 29 – July 8, 2017.

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Or why not consider a spirit-lifting activity in your local community this weekend? Let the good times roll! And have some fun today!

 

It’s July 4! Be a Patriot!

 

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It’s been a picture perfect 4th of July — a day filled with family, friends, barbecues and fireworks.  As I was preparing my traditional 7-layer salad, I started thinking.  Is there so much Independence Day hype that we overlook the historical significance?

Oops!  I’m definitely a guilty mother-in-law here!  I quickly looked up the well-known quote from the Declaration of Independence. “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.” You’d think I’d know those 13 words by heart, but I still had to look up the exact phrase.

On a historical day like Independence Day, maybe each of us should break from the hoopla and reflect on those important words — for they declare inclusion for all people.  Historically, mothers-in-law have experienced exclusion. We’ve been the subject of unkind jokes and unfair criticism. Stereotypes.

As women, in general, we’ve all experienced inequities. Maybe we’ve earned lower pay compared to a male counterpart doing the same job.  Maybe we’ve been the victims of sexual harassment.  Maybe we’re expected to do the womanly thing, like preparing all the food for the family 4th of July picnic! The point is we know how it feels to be treated less than — or to be pigeonholed.

It doesn’t take a Susan B. Anthony, Maya Angelou or Amelia Earhart, as wonderful as they were, to make a real difference.  We are all called to be better people, to be better mothers-in-law — to be patriots in our own unique ways.  Now, go munch another hot dog — and have a wonderful 4th of July!

 

Let’s be awesome mothers-in-law and grandmothers!

Have you ever considered . . . that being an awesome mother-in-law is key to being a loving (and well-loved) grandmother?  I was just reflecting on this today as I hugged my 4-year-old grandson and 11-month-old granddaughter.  I would never damage my relationship with them by being rigid, intolerant — or any of the nasty labels applied to mothers-in-law.  I make my fair share of motherly blunders, that’s for sure — but I keep trying to be a better person.

When a mother-in-law grandmother respects her daughter-in-law or son-in-law, it makes for happier grandchildren.  Strong relationships are enduring sources of emotional well being.  Children are perceptive creatures.

A perceptive creature!
A perceptive creature!

My brother and I recall being the least favorite grandchildren — or at least we felt that way,  growing up.  My mother and her mother-in-law (my grandmother) had a strained relationship, and the angst definitely filtered down to us.  Looking back, we now understand the dynamics, but it was tough to understand as children who received little affection from our grandmother.  Our mother was actually the source of friction, and her negativity continued years later when she became a difficult mother-in-law and sadly, a disconnected grandmother.

This morning,  my grandson ran down the stairs to welcome me.  His little face beamed. “I knew you were here Grammy! I saw your shoes hiding in the living room!”  If a 4-year-old can spot his Grammy’s sandals tucked away in an obscure corner, he is capable of observing much more — like how his grandmother and his mother interact.

Discovered in a hidden corner . . .
Uh oh! Little children observe a lot! Wow, are my feet getting bigger?!!

Fortunately, I have a solid relationship with my understanding daughter-in-law. It’s a work in progress based on mutual respect and communication.

For those of us with dual roles as mothers-in-law and grandmothers, it’s important to consider how transparent we are to our perceptive, little ones.  By valuing our daughters-in-law and sons-in-law, we also are cherishing our grandchildren.  Don’t they deserve the very best from all of us?