Posted on December 21, 2018
by Steve Janowick

Hello, Mrs. Jones.  I’m here to take your daughter away.

Mother-in-laws need to get together and hire a new PR firm.  Since the beginning of time they have been on the receiving end of many an insult and joke from disgruntled husbands.  And sometimes justly so. I remember as a kid watching Fred Flintstone go full-on nuclear war with Wilma’s mom. She was constantly berating and belittling Fred while questioning Wilma for choosing him as a husband.  And ole Fred wasn’t such a bad guy. Little grumpy now and again, sure, but also a faithful man and great provider as well.

And that’s when the seed was planted in my head that most mother-in-laws were probably not so great.  They were very vindictive, conniving and resentful, and I wasn’t looking forward to the day of meeting my future one.

This woman would be the guardian and protector of her little girl.  She birthed her, nurtured her and raised her, and be damned the punk who thinks he’s just going to waltz right in and take her away. There’s a screening process young man.  An audition. You must meet up to my standards if you’re going to court my baby girl. Her father is over there cleaning his shotgun, but I’m the one you better be afraid of.  You scorn me-and there’ll be hell to pay.

But those fears and stereotypes were obliterated one winter day in 1989 when I first met my future wife’s mother.  I had recently just lost my own mother to cancer and was still deeply scarred and very guarded. I was a lost soul.  And I certainly wasn’t the ideal suitor for her daughter. I was a mess. But she took me in anyway. She opened up her home and her heart and let me in.  She was kind and generous and very forgiving. Her benevolence was grand. I never thought I would ever feel a maternal love again after my mom’s passing, but as the years went by, she became my surrogate mother.  It was a very special relationship and I was crushed when she herself passed several years ago.

Sadly, my wife and I divorced, and I was certain I’d never love again.  And I was sure I’d never have another mother to love again. I got lucky once and that was probably it, I thought.

But I’ll be damned if God didn’t bless me one more time.  He brought another beautiful woman (who would be my second wife) into my life.

Second marriages are even more challenging.  All parties involved are set in their ways. There are pasts. There are wounds and complex familial situations.  But we were in love, so we threw caution to the wind and gave it a go anyway. I was positive that I’d be the outsider looking in regarding her family-I was prepared for it.  But, again, I was pleasantly surprised. My new mother-in-law accepted me right away. A revered matriarch of the family, I was honored that she befriended me. She helped us so much in the beginning and still does to this day.  She’s my wife’s rock and she’s my understanding friend. She’s always there for both of us to impart some advice and wisdom or offer a shoulder to cry on. She’s just an amazing lady.

I came into my two wives lives to love them but also to take them from their homes to start a new life with me.  And believe me when I say, I was no perfect catch. And still am far from it. But, regardless, both their mothers accepted me as a part of their families.  They took me in and made me feel welcome. And I am a better, more fulfilled, man because of it.

So, to all the Fred Flintstones out there who loath their mother-in-laws; who perpetuate the clichés. Give it a rest.  No one will ever love your sorry ass like the woman who birthed you, but if you’re lucky like me, and treat her daughter right, your mother-in-law could also be a wonderful substitute.

Thank you, June and Mary.  I love you both.

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