I am blessed to have four parents in my life. My birth parents and my in-laws. Neither my family nor my husbands are ‘Leave it to Beaver’ type families. We are very loud, quirky, sarcastic, nosy, and even a bit eccentric at times. Even so, every single one of my relatives on both sides are incredible people who are married to incredible people. And our offspring? Well, if I may say so myself, they are precious. Every single one, and there are quite a few, thank Gd.
I have many married friends and I am part of some ‘Mommy’ groups online as well. Forums where mothers vent, ask for support/questions about life as a wife and mother. The topics are cute and informative. It’s a nice way to reach out, to realize you aren’t alone and that we all have drama. There is one topic that comes up pretty frequently that I have a hard time with though. The in-laws.
So many women have this aversion to the idea that the families they married into are now in fact, their family as well.
My mother always told us that when we choose our spouse to make sure we love our partner’s family. She reiterated how much our relationships with ‘the other side’ will affect the rest of our lives. Thankfully, I imagine this is what may have kick started a good relationship with my mother in law. I was predisposed to expect my future mother in law would be not just an ‘in-law’ rather my second mother. Ian’s grandmothers Beverly and Pearl (whom I both adored), treated everyone as one of their own children.
I’m almost certain that my MIL was raised with that same idea because she treated her MIL with that same love. My MOTHERS and FATHERS both treated their parents in law as if they were their birth parents all along.
Mark (a.k.a Dad) and Cheryl (a.k.a Mom) have been there since I turned 20. They helped raise me as a daughter. Once we were married they coached us when we had hard times, just as much as my parents did. We leaned on them for advice and support. Now, we didn’t always take the advice but we were open to hearing it. They all came from very different heritages and from very different backgrounds, which made for interesting advice, always.
Since Ian and I have been together for quite a bit of time, you could say that we grew up together. I was 19, and Ian 22 when we started dating. I was living in New York at the time and aside from my brother Aaron who was in college in NYC, the rest of my family was in California. I was quickly treated like part of Ian’s family – they were loving and crazy just like my family. I felt right at home. Being all boys, and me being the ‘first girl’ had its interesting moments but it was and still is quite entertaining in the Hametz clan. Over the years, I was blessed with two amazing sisters in law, whom I love. We leveled the playing field pretty quickly. My mother in law spoiled me right from the start. My father in law is a gentleman, kind and patient. I’m very lucky to have them in my life.
Don’t get me wrong, it will never be perfect. They can get on my nerves sometimes, but who’s perfect?
My mother is strict and she demands respect. She is the 2nd oldest of 14 children. She is strong, worldly, artistic and smart. With a Jewish-Mexican mother we were well fed (best cook ever), she made sure we were neat, well kept, and had a meticulously clean house. She managed the medical billing for my father’s practice, has a wicked green thumb, and can turn a chair from a yard sale into a throne. More importantly, we always knew that she would take a bullet for her children faster than you could say “chile relleno!”. She breathes her children, she is our rock and our foundation.
My father is highly intelligent, artistic, provider extraordinaire, and always evolving. Psychiatrist, artist, woodworker, farmer, he is always surfing the currents. As a father of six children who’ve all left the nest, he has adopted some hairier members to the Freedman household. Horses, chickens, goats and turkeys fill my parents barn. He cares for them almost single handedly, it is an intense amount of work that nowadays most young men couldn’t tolerate. His “it’s going to be okay” attitude is contagious and has helped me many times to have faith in our universe and with Gd. He and my mother have supported my every endeavor through the years. They applauded my wins and comforted my failures.
Then, my mother in law. Cheryl, New Yorker to the fullest. Her heavy accent puts Fran Drescher to shame. She’s an educator, artistic, an all star level shopper, smart, savvy and loving. We have fun together, and I enjoy her company. At times she has a difficult time knowing her boundaries with us but it’s only out of love. She is a devoted mother and now she is a devoted grandmother. She has comforted me during very hard times, and truthfully I value our relationship. I trust her and am grateful for the son she raised.
Mark leads by example. My father in law is soft spoken, kind, a very hard worker, loyal and generous. His grandkids can do no wrong and they adore him. I was honored to give my only son his Hebrew name, Mordechai. If my son grows up to emulate his grandfather it will have meant that Ian and I did something right.
Both sides have played a pivotal role in who I have become now. From single to married, wife to mother, in sickness and in health, till death due us part.