My mother-in-law and I haven’t always had a smooth relationship. She confuses me more often than not. And for many years I kept my distance. Then I got to know a new neighbor, and in serving her I found a new perspective and the key to a better relationship with my mother-in-law.
New Neighbor, new perspective
It all started when my new neighbor C.C. moved in. She is a really fun lady! She has such a big smile and an even bigger heart.
And to make a cool new friend even cooler, it turns out her granddaughter hung out with the previous owners of her house because she was best friends with their daughter. Since we were close, I knew her too. Small world!
Long story short, soon C.C. was one of the friends I talked to most. She had so many stories and it wasn’t long before we learned her daughter went to the same college I did, the same years- and even lived in the same apartment complex!
Not only that, but her husband had worked in the same area I had for years. And we had eaten lunch at the same place. HOW did we not know each other yet?
Connected in love
I felt like her moving next door was God’s final effort to get us to get to know each other. So, when she offered to teach me to knit, I said yes.
We have had many wonderful conversations, and she taught me a different perspective. We are from different generations, and I value her point of view.
To add to the blessing of her friendship, I found out she was a special ed teacher in her career. And when she learned my son has autism, she invited him over. The two of them were fast friends! It warmed my heart. C.C. had wonderful ideas to help me home school my son too. And the two of them adopted each other. My son now has a new grandma, and C.C. has another grandkid.
In case I haven’t mentioned it before, C. C. is a grandma and a widow. She just turned 75 and complained that old age had snuck up on her. She was just minding her business for 75 years, and not feeling or looking old.
But then the day after her 75th birthday it was like she was mugged and beaten with the old stick. Because when she looked in the mirror suddenly, she had wrinkles and grey hair. I laughed a long time with that image.
Similarities and perspective
I learned how much C.C. missed her family. She felt like her children and grandchildren were too busy to remember her. But she had no idea how to say she needed them. She gave me a new perspective. And little by little I began to see that C.C. and my mother-in-law were similar.
My mother-in-law didn’t know how to say that she needed us either. And in her inability to say what she needed, she confused me. Because I could see she needed something.
So, this Christmas, I tried listening to my mother-in-law with my C.C. ears on. And I started to understand her better. We ended up inviting her and my father-in-law over for Christmas dinner.
They had said they didn’t want to do anything. But I remembered how sometimes C. C. would say one thing and mean another. And with a few probing questions, I realized my mother-in-law was really saying she didn’t want to host. Not that she didn’t want to see us.
It turned into a wonderful Christmas experience. Even though I still don’t speak fluent mother-in-law, with my new perspective, I am getting better. And my husband loved having his parents around. We haven’t seen them much since the Pandemic started.
I’m so grateful that God kept trying, putting C.C. and me in proximity, so that C.C. and I could be friends. She has been such a blessing in my life. I never thought I needed to see my mother-in-law differently. But C.C. taught me that I did. And it led to some wonderful memories.