I heart my mom-in-law tonight, my MIL. Mother-in-law just sounds a bit dowdy and old fashioned and you-play-by-my-rules-or-else-you-can't-marry-my-son-a la-Edith-Wharton-era-esque to me. So I shall call her my mom-in-law, at least here.
Her real name is Jane. Jane Cox. Nothing fancy, nothing flashy. Pretty much a plain Jane in appearance but not so much in personality. No one is quite like Jane, and if you know her, you would likely agree.
I've had and continue to have my (large) share of frustrations with her. Mostly this comes from me being really super duper resistant to being parented by anyone other than my own lovely mum and dad. (No, I don't call Linda Eager "mum"...she would not so much appreciate that. There was one day in my life when I decided to mimic Nellie Olson on "Little House on the Prairie" and call her "mother." That one didn't last long in no uncertain terms.) It has taken me and continues to take me time to figure out how to be an adult and still parented in a special way by John and Linda. Heaven help Dave and Jane for all of the times that they have most likely unconsciously tried to gently parent me, via the extension of my spouse in particular. That's a unique challenge for a parent. You don't just stop being a parent to your child, but their spouse is by definition so attached to and a part of your child that you kinda have to parent them by default. Poor Dave and Jane. Did they know what they were getting into? Did they???
Jane loves people. People intimidate me. Jane loves to talk with people. I pretend like I don't see people whom I know in public so that I don't have to strike up an awkward conversation. Jane likes to share all sorts of details about her life, which means her children's lives as well, with everyone whom she is acquainted with. I have difficulty bumping into someone whom I vaguely know or recognize via Jane/Dave/Ben and having them know so many details about me. I'm a pretty private person, and I'll let you know what I want you to know about me. To have that filter removed because someone else shares details that I would not necessarily share is super uber uncomfortable for me. Ben and I struggle a bit with this. I try to be less anal about it. Ben tries to be more sensitive. But Jane, bless her young at heart mommy heart, just wants to share in the joys of her children. And she has just accepted me from day one. The first time that Ben took me out to dinner at East of Chicago Pizza to meet the judge and the mom (no kidding...try meeting your boyfriend's parents for the first time and his dad is a judge. I dated rarely before Ben, so this was a challenge anyway!), Jane has been as warm and gracious and accepting of me that she is today. That's saying a lot! I have some weird idiosyncrasies that my mom knows about and doesn't question, but seriously, I get them from her... It's a lot to ask another, sane (ish) individual to accept my quirks and love me anyway!
At this point, I realize that I sound really me me me...accept me and I'm not going to try to change. Oh not so. I have tried and tried and tried some more. I have changed. I have adapted. I have attempted to become more normal and less anal about many an issue. I have succeeded and I have failed. I still try, though. Honestly. But I also stink at it a lot. Yeah, I have 2 older brothers, but seriously...I'm pretty good at not sharing too well.
Jane frustrates me to no end sometimes, but without a doubt, 100% of the time, if I just have the chance to talk with her, I always feel better about "x" issue; it may not be perfectly resolved, but we really communicate pretty well. And you know what, I enjoy just hanging out with her. She drives me crazy sometimes, but she also teaches me much and dare I say, parents me time and time again. Really, it's not such a bad deal.
"There is...nothing to suggest that mother cannot be shared by several people." H. R. Schaffer
(Am I going to share this with her...?)