While in-law drama is common, I’m grateful that mine is non-existent. My mother-in-law (MIL) and father-in-law (FIL) died to cancer years before Mr. Lipstick & Lollipops and I met. I admire their success in raising four kind, hard working and loving children.
MIL and her sister moved from Iowa sixty+ years ago to work for the telephone company in Wisconsin. FIL (who looked like Robert De Niro) worked at the convent where MIL (picture Vivien Leigh) stayed in Milwaukee. FIL was shy, but finally asked out my chatty MIL.
The black and white photo of MIL’s 11 brothers and sisters holding hand written pieces of paper to spell “JUST MARRIED” circa 1955 is classic. Most of MIL’s siblings are now deceased, but her sister Connie (91 years of age) is my pen pal. She shares details about how MIL’s chop suey was FIL’s favorite. She sends hilarious copies of old photos with their kids in classic 1960’s and 1970’s clothing.
MIL and FIL took their kids to church every Sunday. FIL’s Italian-American sisters share stories about how they threw the ball, swam, sang, played the piano, laughed and cried. Although MIL and FIL did not go to college, they worked hard and saved to send their kids to Marquette.
My brother-in-law (BIL) is now the strong patriarch of their family. He and all of my in-laws (including my sister’s husband) not only support and love us, but they also accommodate my afternoon naps, need to drink coffee and eat often. The first time they visited our new home when I was pregnant, they brought my husband’s fire trucks and GI Joe’s that they stored in their garage.
It is a joy to laugh with my in-laws as the cousins play (five months to sixteen). They thoughtfully stock their homes with diapers, wipes and sippy cups for anything we forget even though their kids are long past them. Speaking of forgetfulness, BIL recently drove my cell phone through horrendous traffic to Chicago when I was pregnant. They’ve passed down all of their other kid stuff – crib, breast pump, clothes and more. My sister-in-law’s (SIL) husband drove a lot of that to our place on extra trips. I shutter to remember the clueless things I’ve said to them, but they continue to be patient!
I can not imagine the loss my SIL felt on her wedding day just months after their parents’ passed away. I am told it was still a beautiful and happy day, but their absence was dearly felt. She especially misses them now that’s she’s a parent. I can’t imagine navigating my new role as a wife and parent without my own Mom’s wise perspective. Somehow, my in-laws make it look easy.
My husband pulls out his parents’ prayer cards every Sunday at church. I tell our oldest how he and his brother have my mother-in-law’s beautiful, big blue eyes. I wish I had my own memories to share.
From my archive: Baby gender disappointment: two boys?
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