I know that as cliches go, I should probably hate my mother-in-law. I should dread her visits as she makes cutting little remarks about my household and my parenting skills. I should roll my eyes every time she insinuates that I must be the cause of all our problems because her precious son could do no wrong. I should cringe as she insists on rearranging my furniture or feeding my son candy for breakfast.
But I don’t.
I don’t do any of that because she doesn’t do any of that.
I actually like my in-laws. And here’s why:
1. My mother-in-law is a GSD kind of person.
If you don’t know the code, GSD stands for get sh*t done. And she does. When we visit, my husband will often offer to help fix things around the house: replace a faucet, hook up the ice dispenser, rewire the faulty wiring his brother did 20 years ago. Doesn’t sound like much fun but we set aside time to just get it done. I like the sense of accomplishment and then the relaxation that comes afterward. And I’ve also learned to sweat pipes along the way.
2. My sister-in-law always hosts a lovely dinner.
We’re heading up to New York for the Easter weekend and my brother’s sister has invited us all over for Easter dinner. She’s an extremely successful business woman who works full time while raising four beautiful children. That would be plenty of work for me. But her house is always beautifully decorated, her food tastes gourmet, and her wines are the finest. I’m pretty sure Martha Stewart would be scared if she went into the omnimedia business.
3. I can catch up on my favorite reading.
If you think I’m talking about finally settling down to read War & Peace, you’d be wrong. If you think I’m talking about catching up on the latest book club selection on my Kindle, you’d still be wrong. I’m talking about catching up on the trash rags. My mother-in-law always seems to have all the back issues of the Enquirer, Star, and sometimes, even as trashy as the Globe. And I devour every single issue as we sit around the kitchen table discussing. My husband is there too but he usually looks like a deer in headlights.
4. So. Much. Quaintness.
It’s only about an hour outside of New York City but it’s a quaint area founded primarily by the Dutch (which is why everything ends in the word -kill). Some of the buildings date back to the 1700s and you can always find a pocket of history close by. We visited FDR’s home in Hyde Park, NY. We’ve seen the Vanderbilt Mansion, also in Hyde Park. We toured Locust Grove, Samuel Morse’s house in Poughkeepsie, NY. In fact, we even bought peonies from his original horticulture line. Sadly, they were left at our house in Raleigh, NC. (Still thinking of digging them up in the middle of the night sometime.)
5. Plenty o’ wine.
The area where my in-laws live is actually pretty prominent wine country. It’s no Napa Valley or Sonoma, but we love to tour the wineries and “sample.” I put sample in quotes because by the time we’re finished sampling, I feel like we’re really for the club. Or bed. My favorite is the Millbrook Winery. I actually bought all of the wine for my wedding in the Hudson River Valley.
6. Full maid service.
Before you think I use my mother-in-law as a doormat, you need to know that as a GSD kind of person, she likes to keep her house neat and tidy. And she’s in charge of that. That means she scolds me if I try to do the dishes. It also means that if I drop one dirty sock on the floor, it’s washed, dried, and folded neatly on the bed before I even take the other one off. Shortly before we got married, my husband took me home to meet his mother. While we were there, we joked that we should skip the honeymoon and just stay there because all we were missing was turndown service!
(Don’t you worry. We took that honeymoon… to Sonoma. See #5.)
7. I get to hear cute stories about my husband.
Not only do I care about other people’s histories, I love to look at old photos. Once, at my suggestion, we even bought a slide projector off of eBay and brought it with us so we could look at the family’s buried carousels of slides. And I loved every second of it.
8. It’s not my family.
Now, don’t get me wrong on this one. I love my family. We’re as dysfunctional as they come but I love my family. In fact, I think everyone has a little bit of dysfunction in their family, my husband’s being no exception. But being an outsider to someone else’s dysfunctional family is just different and somehow I feel normal around somebody else’s family. Maybe because I’m an outsider or maybe because it’s refreshing to deal with somebody else’s issues.
9. My son gets to see his cousins.
I knew his cousins long before he did. My husband and I were the “fun but childless” aunt and uncle. While my sister-in-law would be making our gourmet dinner, we’d be working up a sweat playing inside and out with all four of her kids. Now that we’ve got one of our own, we all get in on the fun. He’ll get to see his eight cousins and I don’t expect to have a single quiet moment. And for my only child, I’m thrilled about that.
10. It can’t possibly be any worse than this.
The last time we went up to New York for a visit was two years ago. It’s two years too long for a kid to see his grandma but after our last visit, I wasn’t sure we’d ever be welcome back. I’m pretty sure we’re all over that though because I hear my mother-in-law already has the pork chops and cabbage rolls cooking for us.
I’m sure some of you must be cringing at this list but surely you can find something to appreciate about your in-laws, right? Let me know your favorite (or least favorite if that’s too challenging) part of visiting your in-laws. I promise they won’t find your comments here.