Mother-in-Law: Not Always a Nemesis

Rachel Johnson-Pink balloonsJudgmental, hyper-critical, perpetually displeased, these are all words that many might use to describe their mother-in-law. I, luckily, get to use much nicer and complimentary adjectives to describe mine.

The first time I had a real conversation with Pam I knew she was not your typical in-law. In a very nonchalant manner she asked me if I was on birth control while standing in the check-out line at TJ Maxx.

I’ll admit, our first encounter left me slightly surprised and a little worried. But, as time went on, I saw that she was simply one of those people that says what needs to be said and handles situations that need handling. While my husband and I dated, she would go out of her way to ensure that I felt comfortable and welcome. My husband and I still joke about our first Christmas as a serious couple when the most memorable gift exchange hysterically demonstrated his parents affection for me. As we simultaneously opened presents, we found that mine was a leather jacket and his was a jar of peanut butter and some toilet paper.

Soon after we married, his parents were regular visitors to our tiny duplex and would often take us out for dinner where we would enjoy each other’s company not just as parent and sibling, but as friends. When I became pregnant and we started planning for the birth, our decision to have an at-home water birth was definitely a shocker for his not so hippy parents. Pam may have had her opinions and thought we were crazy, but she never spoke to me in a way that made me upset or felt judgmental. She demonstrated great grace and support with both her actions and words.

Once we had our first child, Pam became indispensable.

The fact that she works as our pediatrician’s nurse has definitely been helpful. I know I take the ability to call Pam for a quick visit or to get the doctor’s take on my sick kids for granted.

Even though she lives in a town thirty minutes away, she is always eager to help. Now that we have two children I feel like we sometimes abuse her willingness to help. My husband often makes plans knowing that Pam will be happy to watch the kids even if it means re-arranging her own.

A few years ago she was diagnosed with leukemia. But you would never know based on her behavior. If anything, she is even more eager to be a daily part of our lives and is still more than helpful. She doesn’t talk about her condition very much and if she does it is very casually, not wanting to cause anyone to become upset. Even during a time of great grief and turmoil in her life, she is more focused on helping us and the patients at the clinic than receiving any aid herself.

She has not only inspired me to follow her lead when I eventually become a mother-in-law in regards to her ability to be open, patient and present. But, she has demonstrated how to be truly selfless and has actually become one of my very good friends. She is even an ally when it comes to small and mostly silly disagreements between my husband and I.

She inspires me to be a better and more selfless person and I can only hope that I am able to inspire the same in my future daughter-in-law.

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Rachel is a mother of two, high school Spanish teacher and part-time blogger who loves crafting, creating fun and engaging activities for her children and students and hanging with her friends and family. She blogs about what she’s doing and her interests at any given time which vary. She’s a little OCD and always looking for her next project. Her husband calls it, “focusing her crazy,” but she just calls it fun. You can find her at Paint Covered Kids and on social media on Facebook, PinterestInstagram, and Twitter.


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