Four grandchildren, three sons, and three daughters-in-law converged on our house several times over an 8-day visit. At times it was chaos. At other times it was pure bliss. My grandmother used to say, “I love when the whole family gets together.” I now understand what she meant and echo her sentiment.
I have three pretty amazing sons, and as a result, I have three pretty amazing daughters-in-law. I often tell people that it is easier to raise sons and accumulate daughters later, after someone else has gone to the trouble of raising them. I am so blessed with the daughters I have accumulated. They are all gems who treat me like the queen of the family, which I am.
They are not only great daughters, but great mothers, too. One is still a mother-to-be, but I can tell she’ll do a great job, especially when her two sisters-in-law are just a text away. Every time I’m with them, I think they are better moms than I was. They are so patient and calm. They have routines and boundaries, and they stick to them. We did a lot more flying-by-the-seat-of-our-pants parenting. I love grandparenting. It is so much better than parenting. It’s like parenting without the pressure. I can love on them, sugar them up, and send them home. Grandparenting is great! But what about mother-in-lawing?
We’ve all heard in-law jokes, especially the beleaguered mother-in-law jokes. But I have found mother-in-lawing to be an unexpected blessing. I love these girls like they are my own. They aren’t just daughters, but friends. Heaven help my boys if they ever hurt one of them. So, how am I making mother-in-lawing a breeze? Here’s what I’ve come up with:
- I truly love them. I don’t just tolerate them because they are married to my sons. I sincerely love them, which means I seek their good, I pray for them, I consider them just as much my family as my sons.
- I understand and accept that they are my sons’ most important people. One of the hardest things for a mom to do is to give her child to someone else. But it is necessary in order to have a good and right relationship with both her son and daughter-in-law. This is where many moms fail. They want the #1 position with their son. But that position is meant for his wife. She really can love him more than I can.
- I should be an encourager, listener, and cheerleader for my daughters-in-law. It’s important not to take sides when I hear of my kids having disputes. If they ask my advice, that advice needs to be objective. Since I know my children (after all, they are a lot like me), I can provide insights to my daughters-in-law they might not see from their husbands’ point of view. Mostly, I can remind them regularly that they are wonderful wives, moms, and people. They can count on me for whatever they need.
- They don’t need to worry about hurting my feelings. I understand the stress of spending time with all their family members. They never have to worry that they didn’t call or spend time with me on a special occasion when they needed to be with other family. I will never make them feel guilty. They will always go to their own mom first with a need or to share something. That is not only OK with me, it is right. I get it. I had a mom and a mother-in-law too.
Mother-in-lawing done right is an act of worship, involving love and sacrifice, that pleases God. There is more I could say, but I’ll save that for another blog. For now, I am looking forward to grandchild #5, our fourth girl, in October. I also look forward to providing whatever my daughter-in-law needs as a new mom, taking a backseat to her own mom. I know my place. I’m the mother-in-law, and I love it!
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Epesians 5:1-2