We have family and we have friends and then we have in-laws.  In-laws are relatives we acquire by law by that definition.  The crazy in-laws, the beloved in-laws, the dreaded in-laws.  When you marry, you get a set of them, like it or not.  When your kids marry, you get some more.  Some people get the roll your eyes kind, some get the avoid as much as possible kind, and some get the love them like family kind.  Most people get a humorous mixture of all…just like our families.  In-laws are family with all the quirks and personal history and personalities of our biological families but we’re tied to them through another person rather than through DNA.

I got lucky.  I’ve had good in-laws all the way around.  Oh, my sweet mother-in-law was a case, but I handled her better than my husband did most of the time.  I reminded myself that she produced him and I was grateful for the things in him that I knew came from her.  And those were some of my favorite things about him.  Eye roll here.

Marriage is not the easiest thing in the world and don’t argue that point with me.  I’ve watched couples who were married for more than 50 years and it was never easy.  No matter how much they loved each other at the beginning and at the end, I could see the rolling road that marriage had taken them on.  Some had financial problems or job problems, some lost children, some had illness to deal with, some had affairs, some had to deal with problems with the kids or taking care of parents or families that caused problems, some just got bored along the line, and almost all had a combination of these things to varying degrees…but they stuck it out.  Some couples are there because they think they should be.  I think the ones who are the happiest are the ones who laughed together along the way, with laughed and together being the key elements.  You can love someone and not laugh together?  Maybe that works…I can’t imagine.

My kids did really well.  I love their spouses and I like their spouses’ families, which makes it easy since we share grandkids.  I have three sons-in-law and a daughter-in-law.  They are all terrific and get along with each other and I can’t imagine anyone else for my kids.  I can’t tell you how much I love them for what they have added to our lives.  But…a big but… they made me a mother-in-law.  Ugh!  That’s a term that bears a lot of responsibility.  Father-in-law doesn’t even begin to match the connotation of mother-in-law.  I try very hard to be a good mother-in-law, trying to learn from my own observations and experiences.  I don’t meddle in their marriages, I don’t tell them how to raise their kids, I don’t try to push myself into every family event, I don’t demand they be at my house rather than the other in-laws, and I keep my mouth shut at appropriate times.  At least I hope I do.

I laugh with my in-laws a lot.  I love and respect each of them tremendously.  Some days I like them better than I like my kids…that must be the ultimate compliment I can give.  And I never have to roll my eyes…hope they aren’t rolling their eyes about me.  That makes me laugh!