Many people marry into a life-long struggle with their in-laws. I got lucky.
In-laws seem to take up a lot of airtime with many of my friends and I feel their pain. I am aware of how awful it would be to have to take Xanax to prepare for the impending in-law visit. Fortunately for me, my husbands parents, Frank and Barbara, are an exception to the norm. They are so helpful, accepting and loving, I would not be surprised if they sprouted wings before my eyes. In fact, with a mother like Barbara, I am surprised that Baddy married a girl like me. I lack all of the talents that his mother bestowed upon him when he was growing up.
Barbara would have fared well as a pioneer when the West was being settled. She has quartered a large elk without any assistance and cooked a snake for dinner that, in any other situation, would have been left for road kill. She nurtures her plants all winter long in her greenhouse and lovingly transplants them into her luscious garden in the summer. If she would show off her sewing skills she would win many accolades for the wedding dresses that she hand-sewed for my sister-in-law and niece.
Barbara is as close to a Saint that I will ever come. Taking care of all of those around her she never complains and is always there to listen. The family flocks to her home over the holidays ready to feast on the cornucopia of food prepared with love. The kitchen and house is immaculate, that is until we arrive with the boys.
She has become my mentor and my guide. I call her in a panic requesting her to assist me on all of my electronic purchases. She became my official researcher for all of our appliances in our house. As sweet as she is she will not accept mediocrity and in her tough and charming manner she always gets results from the vendors.
When Barbara has advice everybody listens. Being clairvoyant and intuitive she wont offer her opinion up unless prodded. I was upset with Baddy once when we were visiting the cabin together in Breckenridge. He had absent-mindedly gone on a bike ride without me and I was fuming. Barbara came up to me and demanded, Don’t get mad, get goin! She says it like it is.
When Grandma Barbara and Grandpa Frank come to visit they are never idle. Barbara gets out the sewing machine and mends all of our tattered clothes. Frank chops wood, gets on his hands and knees to scrub the floors and draws plans for bookshelves and ladders that he will later slave over and make in his workshop at home. When he is not working he is on all fours impersonating a jungle gym as the three growing boys crawl all over him.
At dinnertime we sit around the dining table and laugh at Grandpas raucous jokes. The boys love that they are listening to highly inappropriate subject matter and Grandma smiles and shakes her head waiting for the impending punch line, she has heard it all before. They tell stories of Baddy of which I am sworn to secrecy and they praise me for being a great mother to their three grandchildren.
Before they leave, I make them promise to set a date for their next visit. We wave goodbye and go back into the house, which feels empty and somehow colder without them in it. I wish I could do more for them than just cook them good meals but know that they don’t expect anything in return.
I hope that the tradition will continue with my daughter-in-laws and that Baddy and I will be a big part of our grandchildren’s lives. I figure that I have about twenty more years to develop some skills and grow my wings. I will call Barbara to get her advice on how to proceed.