I never REALLY get the mother-in-law jokes. I mean, I get that in some sort of Cinderella stepmotherish way, mothers-in-law are supposed to be (and stereotypically are) these women who are out to get their daughters- or sons-in law, foiling every desperate attempt of said victims to do their duties in the world.
But I don't REALLY get the jokes. I can't identify at all. My mother-in-law is nothing like this. She is more like the fairy godmother, bibbity-bobbity-booing her way through my house, making everything look, sound, smell, taste, and feel better than it did before. And she does all of this without making me feel inferior for not having things look, sound, smell, taste, and feel as good as she has.
She's beautiful. We once got into a Williamsburg exhibit for free because the tour "guard" couldn't stop flirting with her. She has beautiful Swedish blue eyes (which four of my children have inherited, thank you very much!) and an incredible smile that is so calming and comforting. She always smells wonderful... not chocolate-chip-cookie wonderful but indescribably wonderful. It's like a mix of hope and excitement. My kids love opening cards from her because they can't wait to sniff the envelopes (it's true!).
She has this knack for giving presents. I can pretty much guarantee that if you like what I have on, she gave it to me. If you like what my kids are playing with, she gave it to them. If you don't even know her but will be with us for Christmas when she is, she'll get you something you never knew existed but instantly love.
We don't get to see her very often . She lives in Alaska and we live...Outside. The times we are together are magical -- even for me. I wait for my husband to return from the airport with "Grandma" with as much breathless anticipation and jittery excitement as the kids. Even with our crowd of a family, she manages to make every one of us feel special and appreciated individually.
I cherish our times together. She has excellent wisdom, an experienced shoulder, and a great sense of humor. Once when I groaned in exasperation to my then-6 week old, "Miriam Marlys!" my mother-in-law said, "Oh, no! I'm a middle name!" Get her started on a story about driving to Anchorage with her late husband and their near-blind friends, and you will have her laughing in tears as she describes the officer's face at the visually impaired driver pretending to be drunk after being pulled over for less-than-perfect driving. Get her started on forgetting her children at the grocery store, and she and my husband will have tears literally leaping out of their eyes as they recall her singing, "Oh, where, oh, where can Jamie be? Oh, where, oh, where is Michelle?" when she thought they were just hiding in the back of the station wagon.
We love my mother-in-law. The only jokes we can honestly tell about her are ones she has told us. She has made my house more beautiful, my children happier, and me more blessed. And she made one doozy of a fine son.
Happy birthday, Mom!
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
"Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all."