Celebrating Mother’s Day this year I’ve been thinking a lot about my mother-in-law, Karen. I’ve always just called her Mom since the first time we met, Thanksgiving 1994. At that point Michael had already purchased my engagement ring and it was clear that she was meeting her future daughter-in-law. At the end of our visit, Mom pulled Michael aside and said, “Don’t screw this up, I want her!” Apparently, she had decided right then and there that being a mother-in-law can be amazing. She was adding another daughter to her family.
What She Gave
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure she wanted to kill me when Michael and I moved over 2,000 miles away, but she didn’t say a word. When we started having children, I’m sure she wanted to scream: MOVE back here so I can kiss those babies! But she didn’t say a word. Instead, she visited and sent recordings of her singing to the kids, reading their favorite books, and just talking to them. She mailed special packages on holidays and made sure we felt like we were a part all the family events. And cooking, there isn’t enough space on this page to list all of the things she’s imparted to me. There isn’t a day that passes where I don’t use a recipe, a technique, a tool, or an ingredient she has taught me to use.
What I Learned
There are movies, jokes, and books about mothers-in-law, most of which point out the low points of this particular relationship. But now that my children are teens, I can’t help but to think of the fact that I too will one day be a mother-in-law. The very things that I’ve learned from my relationship with Michael’s mom is what I hope to pass onto to my kids’ spouses.
Love and accept them in each new phase of their lives.
Cheer them on when they try something new.
Find something you can share in common.
Pray for them.
Be a good listener.
Prioritize the relationship.
For My Mother-in-Law
Before my house was filled with family busyness this Mother’s Day, I had some quiet moments to think and reflect on how grateful I am to learn from a mother like Karen Michelle Howard. Over the past decades, she has faced unimaginable pain and heartache, but time and time again I will receive a call from her sharing her concern for another hurting soul. She finds a way to reach out, to love, to give, to care, and she does this without fanfare and without notice. I pray that I can be the kind of woman that she is, looking beyond myself to serve others.
I love you Mom. I am so glad to be your daughter-in-love.