A funny thing happened Saturday night. The Husband and I had the fortune to be able to spend an evening having dinner with his parents and beloved aunt at a real restaurant, for grownups. It was lovely. We laughed. We joked. We ate and drank our faces off.
Somewhere in the beginning of the evening, as we were deciding on appetizers, I got it.
Fifteen years into it and I finally got it.
I am one of those incredibly fortunate women who not only gets along with her in-laws, but actually enjoys spending time with them. I have even been known to call my MIL on the phone for advice, or ideas or just to chat. I know. Weird, right? It wasn’t always picture perfect. It was always close, but not perfect. In the beginning, I had my moments.
You see, The Husband is the oldest kid and his mother’s only boy. I am sure you can imagine what turmoil I brought into the home when I showed up and focused his attentions elsewhere. He was the first to stray for Christmas. He was the first to speak of moving out… for good. I was the first to break through the protective seal the parents had carefully formed over their family unit.
They all actually handled it all beautifully. But he is the oldest and I am the youngest, by a shot. Therefore my life has always been full of people not being there. That is not meant to sound tragic (it did right?) but to explain that I didn’t really get why it was a big deal for The Husband to miss family functions. In my house someone was always on an off year or there were extra someones at our events because my mom took in all sorts. Family meant an ever evolving cast of characters to me. We did not have a protective family shield. They did. So, when I wasn’t always invited or when it was hard for him to break away and come, I got hurt. I thought it was personal. I didn’t get it.
My mom even told me to cut my (then future) MIL some slack. “They’re new at this.” She said.
“You have to help break them in.” She told me.
“He’s her only boy and she knows he’s met the one who’s gonna take him away. You be nice.” She warned.
“It’s not personal.” She was firm on that one.
My mom knew a thing or two about letting go of kids and handing over only boys.
Last night at dinner, I sat next to my MIL. We chatted. We conspired. We even giggled a time or two. (I told you I was a lucky soul.) Then I said something TO HER about The Husband not liking mushrooms. I don’t even think she heard me. She’ll probably get a good laugh out of this entire revelation. But for me, as soon as the words left my mouth it was like being hit by lightening.
I got it.
I am certain she knows her one and only boy doesn’t like mushrooms. He has never liked them. Ever. But for some reason my initial reaction was to tell her this information; like she didn’t know him.
That’s when I got it. My husband is Her boy. He will always be her boy. Like my boys will always be mine. She knows more about him than almost everyone else in the world. She loves him like no one else could. And long ago, I came and took him away.
I get it.
She NEVER acts that way. She has taken me in and loved me like I am her own. She never jockeys for position with her son. (I know some MILS who do.) She sometimes even takes my side. She knows him and sometimes that knowledge means she understands when he might be hard to live with. We are friends, my mother-in-law and I. But that doesn’t mean that long ago I didn’t break her heart- just a little.
And I get it now, because as the mother of the world’s two handsomest boys, I know someday someone who loves them will come along, and mine will break just a little too.
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