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!
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.
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.
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?
I try to be happy and optimistic. But it’s been a challenging, snowy winter in New England. I’m feeling extra antsy today because we’ve had three, consecutive days of bleakness with non-stop rain. In fact, it’s snowing and sleeting as I write this. Unusual for March 31.
It could be worse though. In 1997, an April Fool’s Day Blizzard, from March 31 – April 1, dumped three feet of snow in our area. It was a mixture of snow, rain and sleet with gusts from 50 to 70 miles per hour. Public transportation stopped. Thousands of commuters and motorists were stranded. Hundreds of thousands lost power.
I checked the local weather report, and no blizzard is headed our way this April Fool’s Day. It’s predicted to be sunny and in the upper 40’s.
Hardy New Englanders braved that nasty blizzard 17 years ago. They inspired me — and I resisted the temptation to hide under my comfy blanket today! Instead, I grabbed my winter parka and summoned my trusty sidekick, Gus. Doesn’t he look excited?!
We sprinted outside for an icy adventure.
There’s a saying, “face what you fear most.” Well, I don’t fear snow and sleet. It’s more of a ‘dislike.’ However, my ‘dislike’ this morning turned to sheer joy for my buddy, Gus. Leaving the house makes him ecstatic! And seeing him so happy, in turn, warms my heart. The ice has melted, leaving puddles of fun behind.
Mothers-in-law need romance. When I met my husband many years ago, I thought he had a dash of the romantic in him — kinda’ like Mr. Darcy, from Pride & Prejudice. What was I thinking? (Go figure . . . I was a starry-eyed English major at the time.)
As I reflect back, my husband is more of a wannabe Larry Bird from Indiana rather than a Mr. Darcy from Derbyshire, England. Larry Bird, retired forward for the Boston Celtics, is my husband’s all-time favorite. He was a 12-time NBA All-Star, winner of three NBA championships and the league’s MVP three times.
Over the years, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I married a die-hard basketball and all-round sports fanatic whose fantasies used to involve me. Now, he’d probably prefer to meet Larry Bird! For the most part, my husband’s passion for basketball has blended into our perfectly seamless life together. (Big wink here.) I think it’s healthy that he still plays on a league twice weekly. And I don’t mind that basketball pops up unexpectedly in conversations — like a few weeks ago when I needed to run a quick errand to Springfield, Massachusetts. I asked a simple question which led to a visit to the Basketball Hall of Fame, located there.
Me: Would you like to come with me to Springfield?
He: Sure! While we’re at it, let’s stop by the Basketball Hall of Fame. I know you’d love it!
Me: Uh, okay.
We drove for 45 minutes. My errand took maybe five minutes. Our conversation continued.
Me: Let’s have lunch somewhere fun!
He: The Basketball Hall of Fame has nice restaurants.
Me: Uh, okay.
Minutes later, we pulled up to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, named after James Naismith who invented the sport in 1891. It’s an impressive, 80,000 square-foot facility that draws fans from every corner of the globe. It’s dedicated to honoring worldwide contributors to the sport of basketball, including coaches, players, referees, managers, executives – you name it.
My husband and I explored the exhibits, had lunch, and visited the Hall of Fame Store where he bought a t-shirt and a cap.
We paused a few minutes to watch young basketball hopefuls shoot hoops in an oversized basketball court. One boy wildly dribbled the ball, lost control and it accidentally hit his little brother. The younger boy let out a wail, and his big brother consoled him. Another wiry kid took a jump shot, but his aim was way off. His dad strolled over and proceeded to coach him on foot position. A blonde girl wearing a bright red, Just Do Itt-shirt made two baskets in a row. She grinned ear-to-ear. These kids were making history in their own right, and we enjoyed watching their antics. But, it was time to head home.
Before leaving the facility, I made a quick stop in the women’s restroom. Wow. Everyone should check out these powerful hand dryers! They’re designed to look like basketballs.
As my husband and I drove home, our conversation went something like this. (Keep in mind, we’ve been married a long time . . . )
Me: Did you see the hand dryers in the restrooms?
He: Didn’t notice.
Me: Wow. They’re total works of art.
He: What do you mean?
Me: They look like basketballs!
He: Cool. Didn’t notice.
Me: What stood out the most for you today, Honey?
He: The life-size statue of Larry Bird . . . now that’s a work of art! (Big smile.)
I wonder if other mothers-in-law (and women, in general) engage in similar, romantic conversations with their partners. Or, am I the only lucky one? (Let us know!)
Everyday images have the power to make us chuckle or reflect on life. They can happen so quickly that we barely notice or appreciate them. Sometimes, they pop up at unexpected places and times. Or they’re so familiar that we don’t even notice until we have an aha! moment. Scattered Reflections are everyday snapshots and snips of life! We hope they’ll make you smile, warm your heart and add a little sunshine to your day. Feel free to share your favorite, scattered moments at themothersinlaw.com.
This is my lovely garage, and it was a mess for months. Why? My 92-year old mother moved in, and we needed to move stuff around to make some space.
Welcome to our journey! The Mothers In Law are moving full-speed ahead to celebrate new experiences and insights.