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Saturday, April 9, 2011

Finding the perfect card

Twice a year, I face a huge dilemma- finding a card for mother-in-law for her birthday and for Mother's day.  They don't make them.

Well, they SORTA do... there is usually 1 generic, "I'm married to your son and I tolerate you barely" card. 

The dilemma...

I like my mother-in-law.  A lot.

I have the best one ever.

My life as I  know it would not be possible without her.

No joke.

She and my husband are very close.  As a single woman this concerned me when I started dating her son, but now I get it.  She's really fun and cool.  As I like to say, if we were in high school, we'd be BFF's.  Who am I kidding- she'd be too cool for me!

In our wedding card, she gave us a condom with holes punched into it.  The story of how she managed to even buy a condom is even funnier.

When I found out I was pregnant, she immediately decided to retire.  Coincidence? I think not.

At her retirement party, I got more dirty looks than you could have imagined.  Who gives dirty looks to a pregnant woman?  She was that good, they didn't want her to leave.  They blamed me.

During our first year of marriage, she and I became close.  We used to go for walks and grocery shop together.  Once I started crapping out kids, we became closer-- although I do joke that she dumped me once she had a baby to hold.  I joke that I was simply a vessel for her grandchildren!  At least I think that's a joke...

When I was pregnant she carted me around to doctor's appointments.  She is a crier, I am not, so it was always fun to tease her when she sobbed when she saw the ultrasound.  She also laughed when we found out the sex of our son-- I brought doughnut sticks to her office.  Had he been a girl, it would have been a traditional round doughnut.  She thought that was hysterical.

After I had my son via an emergency c-section, she nursed me back to health.  She cleaned our house, did the laundry-- all allowing me to recover from the surgery and focus on being a new mom.

She has watched my children for FREE for the past 8 1/2 years while we worked. We tried to be very conscientious of her time- I worked a few days from home for a number of years- but I know we  took advantage.  We picked up the kids late more than a few times, assumed she'd be available when she probably had better things to do- oh, but she's not shy.  She usually let us know!  But in the end, she always has been there when we've needed her- and I mean always.  The kids would not have had the quality of life they've had and I don't know that my career would have been able to survive.

She is a phenomenal grandmother.  She lets the kids play in the mud, draw all day, take over her garage to build models- she has more toys at her house than we have at ours.  My children's creativity comes directly from my mother-in-law's free spirit.  Yes, I was a little concerned when I realized my 2 year old knew how to use a saw.... sigh.  But at least he did do it safely.  And on more than one occasion, I've thought the kids were telling me a tall tale about something they did with grandma, only to find out that yes, they did buy caterpillars/try to dig to China/send letters to various family members.

She once commented that she appreciated that I never told her what to do.  I told her it was because I actually didn't have a clue what to do and the kids seemed to be doing fine.  It's really because I trust her implicitly.  Her love for my children is beyond measure.  She lights up when she sees them. 

And did I mention that she's fun?  She has an infectious laugh, a great sense of humor and can laugh at herself. 

And she treats me like an equal.  Rather than tell me how things are, she always asks my opinion.  Well, most of the time.  She IS a red head, after all.  Plus, to be honest, it's not like you have to ASK me for an opinion...  But she always asks me questions about cooking, or politics, or sewing or all these other things that most women "of her age" assume they do better or know everything about.  And she never makes me feel like an idiot when I ask her a question. 

We have so many funny stories together that I could never have enough time to write them all down.  They often start with her terrible sense of direction.  But she has stories with everyone.  She's just that cool. 

On a serious note, this last year she helped her late husband's ex-wife, her stepson's mother, battle terminal cancer.  She drove her to doctor and chemo appointments.  She talked with her when she needed a friend.  How many second wives do that?  No one that I know.  But she did it.  Her reason: "It's the right thing to do."  Wow.

I can never find a card that sums it up.  I usually just get her some sarcastic, perverted card.  This year's is a classic, if I don't say so myself...

She recently had a big change in her life that I won't blog about.  It's pretty terrific and I'm very happy for her.  She deserves it.

So, Mrs. Bean, happy birthday!  If I haven't had a chance to say it, I love you very much.  I appreciate everything you have done for us.  I'm happy to call you not just my mother-in-law, but my very best friend.

In other words, to answer the question you always ask, yes, I will definitely wipe your ass when you're old. 


slacebo said...

You are very blessed Lori, and so is Carol!

Ed said...

May I just tell you that the phrase "crapping out kids" is wonderful. I haven't heard that one in quite a while. And nice job picking out the right mother-in-law. Oh, and husband, I guess you kind of have to include him too!

Rita said...

:-) Lucky!