She seemed different. Something about the look on her face as she came out to the back porch to greet us. My husband is her middle child, some would describe him as her favorite. I am not her favorite. She understands that for whatever the reason her son, and I seem to fit. I have been told that she is comforted by my ability to slow her son down from his larger than life way of living his life. I am not convinced that his choice to slow down his wilder side has in any way been because of me, but I am happy that she can find something about me to like.
I have great respect for her as a mother. She has after all raised the person who I have loved more than life itself for the past 33 years. It’s always been a little complicated between she, and I. She just like her son, has a very strong personality completely “alpha” in every way. This is something we all three have in common. Something I’m sure had a great deal to do with the years of underlying tension between us. I can not honestly tell you how she felt about me because she is one of the few people I have never been able to figure out. I will also admit to you that in addition to her, I find the majority of her family to be a complete enigma minus a few rare exceptions. What I can tell you is that our personal interactions over the last 33 years have always been difficult for me. A constant source of discomfort.
My Mother-in-law is an extremely complicated woman, but we have one thing in common. We both love my husband immensely. So for the last 33 years we have managed to be a family who swallows our differences for the greater good of maintaining a strong family bond for the grandchildren. A sort of treaty that also makes life acceptable for my husband who loves us both. I am grateful that even though my husband loves his mother with all of his heart he has always been the kind of man who puts his wife, and children first. I think that his ability to do this has always made it easier for me to deal with situations in a more diplomatic way than I am most naturally inclined to deal with in a much harsher way.
His family from my perspective is more inclined to deal with things in a more passive aggressive manner. I come from a family where our aggressive tendencies are blatantly up-front leaving no mystery as to what has caused our anger/discomfort. My family addresses issues head on, and once the grievance has been aired it is quickly forgotten. His family with holds the grievance (only from the offender 😉 ), and can carry a grudge to the grave. This has always been my main difficulty in dealing within the dynamics of this family. I had always imagined my great happiness when the day would come where my Mother-in-law would be much less “alpha,” and more soft, and vulnerable in her demeanor. I would daydream about the glorious rapture of this day would bring into my life. The problem was that this day did come, and it did not bring with it the glorious rapture I had always envisioned in my daydreams.
When she walked out onto her porch to greet us she was no longer this strong “alpha” persona that had at one time kept me in a constant state of self-defense mode. Instead I saw a much older woman, softer, extremely vulnerable, almost unrecognizable. Changed by time. It was the first time in 33 years that I knew she was happy to see me, not just her son. I was overcome by my sadness, overwhelmed by my emotions of my love for her. Time changes everything. It had changed both of us in a way that I’m sure neither of us could have ever envisioned. 😉