More thanks: I’m the luckiest daughter-in-law
The paradoxical thing about family is this: you don’t get to choose them, they just appear, and while you love them, you don’t always like them. In-laws can be even more complex familial relations, right? I mean, theoretically, you chose your partner because they have some qualities/values/characteristics that you deem important, therefore the family in which they were raised ought to be somewhat the same, right?
I’m pretty lucky. I’ve had my differences with my parents and my sister, but all in all, we are a small family and we generally get along pretty well. I adore my brother-in-law. My family adores my husband—so much so that my mom makes his favorite dishes on MY birthday. Generally speaking, we all agree with or at least respect each others values, and appreciate our respective quirks.
I got married, and I wasn’t sure about my in-laws. And by that I mean, I knew nothing about them. Brian and I met, moved in together and got married in the span of nine months. I didn’t have time to really get to know his family—and there are quite a few of them. The first year had a steep learning curve, for sure. I always want to do my best at everything, and trying to be the best daughter-in-law I could be on top of the best wife, daughter, student and employee was taxing. And confusing, mainly because I wasn’t too sure what I was being graded on. Brian was the last of his siblings to marry, and I knew the bar was set pretty high, but I had no idea where it was or what it looked like. It was probably the most difficult thing about our first year of marriage.
In August, we were 90% certain we were going to be moving to Seattle. Brian was interviewing for the job he was eventually offered at Utrecht, and I was interviewing for jobs as well. We decided to give up our cozy little bungalow in Columbia and move in with Brian’s dad and step-mother in preparation for this possible move across the country. And I was nervous about this. For many reasons, not the least of which was that we were suddenly going to add two adults, a dog and a cat to their nice, comfortable household, and I don’t like to impose.
I can honestly say, without a shadow of a doubt, it was the best decision we’ve ever made as a couple. Aside from the fact that it helped us make the move westward, we had SO. MUCH. FUN.
And I learned, very, very quickly, how lucky I was to have these wonderfully supportive people in my life. After the first week, all my anxiety about our living situation melted away, and from then on we just had a good time. We cooked together, we drank wine, we shopped, we watched movies, we talked about books…and I learned more about Gary and Carol than I knew before. Not just what great parents they are, but intricacies of their personalities. I learned how much Gary loves things in jars (olives, asparagus, pickles, salsa), and how passionate he is for the hobbies he’s chosen (photography, art, music, film). I mean, the man saw Midnight in Paris five, yes FIVE, times, each time taking a different family member to the theatre, just for the pleasure of sharing this film that he loved with someone else he loved too. I never knew how active in politics Carol was, and how carefully she watches each of her children and grandchildren to observe just what they like, what their style is, what little things they might enjoy (like the vintage-retro cordial glasses she found at a garage sale for me—they are perfectly my style, that late fifties early sixties era and I love them).
I would never have had the chance to get to know them the way I do now, to understand what makes them tick, to appreciate the way they love their family if we hadn’t spent two months under their roof. And when it was starting to look like the job and the move to Seattle might not happen, when everyone else was saying give up, they stayed the course and quietly supported us, and our adventure.
I am so, so lucky to have married into this family. I am so lucky to have had those eight weeks to get to know them before moving 1500 miles away. Thanks Gary and Carol—you’ve raised an amazing, kind, passionate, creative, hardworking son. I’m grateful for that and for the relationship I’ve been lucky enough to develop with you both. Aside from being great parents, you are great friends and I’m so thankful to have you in my life.