In-laws. For some, that may be a really dirty word. It’s not always easy to mesh with your extended family. It’s kind of a strange set up, isn’t it? You marry someone, and in the blink of an eye you have two sets of family. It can be hard to figure out where you role is, how you should interact, and how to form those familial bonds with this new, ready-made family.
When my husband and I were dating and we knew things were getting serious, we decided it was time to “meet the family”. The first time I met John’s parents was when we drove to their new home to help them finish moving in. They were kind, but they were different. I found myself in a completely new situation, and I found their family dynamic hard to understand for the first couple of months.
This family was pretty different than my family. They lived in a gated community. John’s mom wore suits to work. Their house was unfathomably clean (all the time). Those all seem like petty differences, but I grew up on the family farm. My mom wears tee shirts to work, and our house was always cluttered.
When you meet the family of the person you love, there’s always some anxiety that comes with it. Will they like me? Will I like them? Oh God, I hope I don’t do/say anything stupid.
And what do you know? One of the first times I stayed at John’s parents’ home, I completely forgot to pack underwear. I tried to be nonchalant about asking to go to the store, but John just have seen right through me. Why? He asked, in front of his mother. Well, I forgot to pack underwear.
Mortified, I felt like minutes were passing while waiting for a reply. John’s mom chimed in, “you can borrow some of mine,” with a joking grin. It took a second to dawn on me that she wasn’t serious.
“Let’s go to Target,” she said.
I guess that kind of explains why she sends me pairs of panties on a near monthly-basis, even now.
Those first few months getting to know his family made me feel like I was dating all over again, but as the months past, we all started to become more comfortable with our roles in each others’ lives. I consider myself extremely lucky to have the in-laws that I have. My father-in-law cares deeply and is dutifully concerned with my personal safety. My mother-in-law is hilarious and the most generous person I’ve ever met.
When I think back to those first few months of knowing them, it seems foreign to think that I felt uncomfortable in any way. Our relationship has grown leaps and bounds. I feel like my place in the family is set, and I’m continually learning how to flourish in my new role as daughter-in-law.
So, that’s the funny thing about about in-laws. Once you find your place, you find it nearly impossible to think about a life without them in it.
Tell me a story about your in-laws in the comments below.