The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, May 7, 2010


Mother’s Day: going where no man has gone before

Being a mother has cast me into various unwanted roles over the years: Mom as 3 a.m. floor walker, Mom as disciplinarian, Mom as seventh-grade-play producer. I have striven to perform these roles with aplomb, with some degree of success, but my son has me completely flummoxed with the latest incarnation being thrust upon me. Let me put it this way: he proposed; she accepted; I am about to become a punchline.

That’s right – a mother-in-law. I am about to be cast as that character who evokes groans from husbands, eye rolls from wives and sniggers from unmarried friends, that harridan who is the staple of almost every situation comedy. Check the word “mother-in-law” on the Internet and you will find pages and pages of joke sites, interspersed with self-help “how-to-deal-with-that-pesky-mother-in-law” sites and ones with names like Jokes abound, like “How much should the perfect mother-in-law weigh? 2.3 pounds, including the urn” or “Why bury a mother-in-law deeper than anyone else? Because, deep down, she’s a very nice person.” (This last one was the kindest joke I could find.) Freddy Krueger gets better press than this. You get the picture, and it’s not a pretty one.

There really is only one silver lining in this whole thunderstorm, and that is my future daughter-in-law. (By the way, look up “daughter-in-law” on the web and there’s nary a joke to be found, only sites listing daughter-in-law poems and daughter-in-law gifts. There is one news story about how Bernie Madoff’s daughter-in-law is seeking to change her name but that’s a different problem altogether.) But I digress. Over the past decade, my son would bring his latest flames to various family events and on various family vacations, so we have several family portraits with these stand-outs, always very blonde, whose names I can no longer keep straight. I would get to know them, come to like them and then, when the relationship ended, I would miss them. Finally, I made a pronouncement: no more girlfriends were to be introduced to the family until he was very serious.

That is why it took us so long to finally meet Jess. By the time she came to meet us at our place on the Cape, however, she had already won my heart. The previous Christmas, a photo arrived in the mail. It showed my father in his twenties, standing beside a very old car. I had never seen this treasure before, but Jess had taken the time during a visit to her alma mater, the University of North Carolina, to scour the library archives for a picture of my dad during his football coaching tenure there. We’re talking circa 1927.

Oh, I had to meet this girl, and when I did, it only confirmed my suspicions that she was a keeper; she was sweet, smart, had a wacky sense of humor and, best of all, the ability to make my son very, very happy. She had me at “hello.”

So, for the pleasure of adding Jess to our family, I willingly accept my fate. Bring on the jokes, the sitcoms, the websites, I will face them all and “boldly go where no man has gone before.” Watch out, world, here comes another mother-in-law. ∆

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