Five Things We've Learned from Our Mothers-in-Law

My Generation

Day 22 of 30 Days: It's another list that tough to keep to five. Indeed, #6 today is in honor of a family and their special farmwife.

Published on: November 22, 2013

1. Help out. Christy Lee says her mother-in-law, Theta Lee taught her to get involved in the community. When Theta married and moved to their small town 40 years ago, she dove in and volunteered for good causes. So has Christy. Side benefit? If you're new to town, you get to know the people with whom you'll be working and living the rest of your life.

2. Be who you are. Amy Buhrow on Marjorie Buhrow: "My mother-in-law is the complete package: kind, selfless, giving, a model of faith. As much as I aspire to be like her, I will never live up to the amazing standard she's set and that's OK. We both have strengths that work for our family."

Image design by Erin Ehnle, of Keeping it Real: Through the Lens of a Farm Girl.
Image design by Erin Ehnle, of Keeping it Real: Through the Lens of a Farm Girl.

3.  Embrace proximity. Carol Ropp once told her daughter-in-law, Becky, what a privilege it is for children to grow up so close to their grandparents. Becky concurs: "Our daughter gets off the bus every day and spends time with Grandma Carol. They make cut out cookies all the time." Julie Blout agrees, saying of her mother-in-law, Jan: "Our house is only 60 steps from theirs and everyone warned me when we built not to do it so close. We have never regretted it."

4. Be flexible. Jane Adolph works from home, just as her mother-in-law, Nancy does, and Jane learned from her how to get a hot meal on the lunch table for a variable crowd with no internal clock, then clean it all up and get back to work. Fellow farmwife Kendra Smiley likes to say, "Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape." Indeed. At mealtime and beyond.

5. That you may be able to have it all, you just can't have it all at once. Though my mother-in-law, Sharon Spangler, has never actually said those words to me, it's the example she's lived. Pace yourself. Choose wisely. We have an entire lifetime to volunteer, to work, to achieve. We have a short time to mother little people. It's why I work part-time and have found sleep to be highly over-rated.

And a very special #6; this wonderful family lost their mother and mother-in-law, Karma Webel, to cancer this week. And I love what her daughter-in-law learned from her, and I have no doubt it's but the tip of the iceberg.

6.  Keep the basics moving. "What have I learned from my mother-in-law?" Emily Webel asks, of Karma Webel. "A hot meal solves all marital unrest during busy times, no laundry is too stinky to do and flexibility is key." Words to live by.


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