When you hear the word “requiem”, you always think death. But in death, there is new life. As the last chords of the requiem for the Mother of the Bride plays, a new life is indeed born. Welcome, Mother-in-Law.
Admittedly, I was never comfortable with my own Mother-in-Law. She was kind on one hand, but with each kindness, there were strings or clauses. She spent much of the first 24 years of my marriage making me feel guilty whenever I would spend time with my own parents, even in my mother’s final days. I hung in so long trying to be a “good” daughter-in-law, because I thought that anything I did to alienate her would cause my children to lose their grandmother’s affection. It turns out that that affection had its own variety of strings.
As a Mother of the Bride, everything is planning and parties and fun. You get to pick out flowers and help choose gowns. You taste food, eat cake, and drink champagne.
As a Mother-in-Law, it’s all stress and worry about not interfering but not coming off as uncaring. It’s about not trying to impose our family’s traditions (and baggage) on someone else’s child. It’s about making someone else’s child feel all the feels your own kids feel – without making them feel like they betray their own parents to do so.
When the mother of the bride gig is over, the real work kicks in. Gone is the woman whose biggest stress was losing 40 pounds or finding Spanx built to make it look like she did. She has been replaced by the woman who wants her new son to know we don’t as much need him to “fit in” as much as we need to be accepted.
I will miss the Mother of the Bride. She served her purpose for 18 months, saw her aspirations fulfilled, and left a legacy of merriment that will be long remembered.
I am intimidated by this Mother-in-Law, and I pray I don’t screw up the role too terribly.
I ask so little of my children. And when you consider what I’ve done for them – months of pregnancy related illnesses; days of of my life spent trying to get spit up stains out of Every. Single. Favorite. Shirt.; not throwing up when they showed me wiggly teeth until after they were out of the room; countless hours sitting at teachers’ desks for conferences – I really, truly haven’t asked for much in return.
Except that one thing.
Most moms whisper lullabies to their babies as they rock their tiny newborns to sleep. I sang to the beat of my own insecure drummer. On any given day, you could see me happily gliding in my glider, singing “Fat Bottomed Girls” to my babies. Other moms were playing Laurie Berkner on the cassette player while they drove their children to preschool. My girls listened to Sir Mix-A-Lot and the virtues of a big butt. Granuaile was serenaded by Mika singing “Big Girl You are Beautiful” as we dropped her sisters off at school and skipped a walk around the lake in favor of going for ice cream.
I felt I had primed them for that one thing I was going to ask. I laid the ground work for the appreciation of plus sized people. They should have seen it coming.
“Don’t marry anyone with a mom thinner than me.”
Simple request, no? Remember, this was in exchange for countless changed diapers, nights sitting up with ear infections and broken hearts, and too numerous to count school plays, concerts, and talent shows. Yes, I did. I sat through talent shows. Even when my kids’ grade performed last. I know – why have I not been canonized?
But do they listen to me? No. My daughter’s future mother-in-law is down right svelte. Spindly and sylphlike. Clearly, this kid did not get the memo. Or the subtle reminders. Or being verbally beaten over the head with my pleas of a plump parent.
So I am back at the game I have lost so often. Dieting. Exercise. Torturing myself in the name of not being triple chinned in a photo.
Wish me luck. Say a prayer. Send me rice cakes. And if you don’t see this fat bottomed girl at the gym, give me grief. Just dip it in chocolate first.