Tuesday, February 1, 2011
I married into my husband's family when I was just four months shy of my 21st birthday. To be that young and to suddenly have a whole new family available to me was a little daunting. However, I knew my father-in-law very well as he'd been my high school music and theater director. We spent many hours talking about various things when I was a teen as he'd been a true mentor of mine. I'd been in band and jazz band with my husband's sister but regrettably I did not get to know her much at all. We were both quite shy. She was a year behind me and she was quiet when I was around; that's all that I really knew. In fact the whole family, with the exception of my father-in-law, was quiet around me. I wondered for quite some time if they liked me. I wasn't sure. But I liked them all from the start. My in-laws were quite different from my family, or so it seemed, and as much as I loved my own family, I enjoyed the differences.
When we had children, my husband's family was incredibly proud of each child. This is when I found our relationships evolving. My in-laws were no longer quiet around me for they were openly playing and enjoying the kids. We began swapping stories and sharing laughs more easily. I loosened up. I was growing up. Aunt Lisa and Uncle Joel were incredibly well loved by my children. And Grampy and Meme were too. I realized I was indeed accepted and loved by my in-laws for I was the mother of Eric's children. I was also the woman who made their Eric happy.
Although the affection and the laughter shared at family gatherings will always be what I most treasure and remember about my in-laws, it's the overwhelming feeling of unconditional love and understanding that has given me greater strength as a wife and a mom. Over the years my in-laws have taken time to express their feelings towards my husband and I or towards our children. They've given voice to more serious matters showing that underneath the playfulness, there's an amazing core of love, respect, and pride. I saw those qualities in Eric's grandparents too. But that's a story for another day. Let it suffice to say that the roots of my in-laws' family tree are hardy.
I continue to hear all the jokes made about in-laws. I can pretend to understand all the punchlines and maybe I'll snicker at a few of them. I've always loved a good joke but thankfully, I'm not able to add to that type of comedic material. My in-laws make me laugh but only in their own originality and in the most beautiful and loving of ways.