I’m a new mother-in-law. Woot! Woot!
Now, what do I do?!
When I’m faced with anything new, my reaction is not to plug it in, fiddle with it, start pushing buttons. Here’s what I say: Where’s the manual for this thing? Where are the instructions? I want to know how to operate this new piece of equipment, this new electronic gadget, this tool, this … whatever it is that’s new to me. Show me. Tell me. Illustrate it. I want to know how it’s supposed to be done. I don’t want to figure it out on my own. I want someone who designed it to instruct me in how to use it or do it successfully. Cut out all the guesswork and get right to the most effective way of engaging it. That’s me – Ginny Liz! Is anyone else out there like me?
I felt this way when Michael asked me to marry him. I had had other marriage proposals before, but each time I knew instinctively that it wasn’t the right combo. I told him I needed to think about it as this would be one of the most important decisions of my life. Then, I went to talk with married people I knew and respected and I asked them “How does one make this decision?” “What does one look at, consider and factor into saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in this situation?” I checked out books on marriage – how did people go from having fun together to promising “for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer”? When my mother met Michael, she said to me (very uncharacteristically) “Don’t let this one get away!”.
When we brought home our first child from the hospital, I thought “What in the world does one do with this thing, this baby?!” I was scared, nervous and terribly inexperienced. “Where’s the manual for this thing?” I asked my husband. “Where are the instructions on what to do with a crying baby?” I questioned my mother-in-law. “Give me the book so that I know what to do when he skins his knee and falls off his bicycle or breaks a bone or won’t share his toys or doesn’t make the team or can’t score a goal or gets dumped by a girl or isn’t accepted into the college of his choice or, God forbid, develops a serious illness.” How do I do this “mother” thing? Where’s the job description? (Does it include benefits??)
Well, we’re past most of that and our sons have navigated through the years into adulthood (Thank God!) And now I’ve been promoted! I’m a MIL! (Mother-In-Law, to the uninitiated) I actually thought I had thought up that acronym until I googled it. Guess others have gotten there before me.
So, of course, you now know me well enough to realize that I’m looking for the mother-in-law manual that informs, instructs, illustrates and otherwise trains me to be the very best mother-in-law on the face of the earth! or, at least, the very best mother-in-law to my daughter-in-law, Juliana. Show me the way! Sign me up for the course! Don’t I need some sort of certification? Isn’t there training for this position?! Help! I don’t want to fail. This is too important. I want to have the best relationship with my daughter-in-law (DIL) that we can possibly have. We have become family. But, I want more – I want us to be friends and allies as well.
So, I’ve begun a journey of exploration and discovery. How do we do this “in-law thing” and do it well? There may not be a road map, but I do hope to find signs along the road pointing the way. Interested in joining me? Let’s do this thing together, shall we?