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Ten Things I Love about My Mother-in-Law

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Every May, I get to celebrate Mother’s Day and my wedding anniversary back to back. Which is really fitting, actually, because I think my mother-in-law deserves a great deal of credit for the fact that my marriage has lasted 15 years (and counting).

As far as MILs go, I totally hit the jackpot with Philomena Marinelli. I don’t mean to brag, but none of my friends have it as good as I do in the MIL department. And as everyone knows, a bad MIL can put a lot of unnecessary stress on a marriage. Why do you think mothers-in-law are the butt of so many jokes?

In honor of Mother’s Day, here are some of the qualities that make my MIL such a catch:

1. Geography. The best mothers-in-law are the ones that live as far away as possible. When I married my husband, we lived on the opposite side of the country from our parents, and it was perfect. Eventually though, we moved from California to Georgia, just moments away from my in-laws. This could have been a recipe for disaster, but it wasn’t, probably because of her…

2. Inability to Drive. If you must live near your MIL, one who doesn’t know how to drive and doesn’t trust the driving of anyone but her husband is definitely the way to go. Even though we only live seven minutes apart, I never have to worry about her stopping by unannounced. And seven minutes is plenty of time to stash the clutter and spit-shine the kids’ faces if my in-laws need a quick grandchild fix.

3. Old. My MIL is 82 years old. (God bless her!) She’s too busy taking all her medications and napping to be much of a Nebbie Debbie.

4. Italian. Her love language is feeding people. Not only does she cook like a 5-star chef, she has also generously shared all her best recipes with me so her son won’t starve to death. And she almost always tells me all the key ingredients and/or critical steps required to make each dish!

5. Devoted, But Not Obsessive. My MIL gave birth to 12 children over the course of 20 years. I repeat: TWELVE kids, TWENTY years. And as if that wasn’t enough, one of her kids brought home a stray friend who never left. “What’s one more?” she said. In other words, she’s got so many children and grandchildren that she can’t possibly obsess over any single one of them. If you’re married to an only child, you know exactly what I mean.

6. Experienced. My husband has six older siblings. By the time we got married, having a daughter-in-law was old hat to Philomena and she already knew how to pick her battles. When I asked her what I should call her, she said “Oh just call me Mom; everyone else does.”

7. Selfless. Being the mother of twelve means she’s used to caring for others…boat loads of others, really. So she’s always willing to listen or help however she can when anyone needs her. Also, with all those kids and grandkids, she’s an ace of a babysitter. Hello date night!

8. Plucky and Entertaining. We once gave her a Carbon Monoxide detector. She unplugged it because it was making an annoying noise.

9. Thoughtful. Her cookie jar is always full just in case the grandkids stop by, and she somehow manages to remember every single one of our birthdays, hobbies, and favorite foods. In fact, she frequently makes multiple versions of the same dish so everyone gets it exactly how they like it. Incredible.

10. Low Expectations. I really think she was just so relieved to have one more child married off and out of her hair that she’s never been too nit-picky about me… as far as I know (ahem).

I don’t tell her this often enough, but she really is the best mother-in-law a girl could ask for and it’s my honor and privilege to be a part of her wonderful family. I hope someday I can follow her example and be as thoughtful, accepting, and loving to my daughters-in-law as she has always been to me. And if not, then at least I can pass down semi-accurate versions of all our secret family recipes to those ungrateful trollops.

So this one’s for you, Philomena Marinelli! And Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers-in-law out there who just want the best for their kids. It can’t be easy sharing your beloved sons with snarky daughters-in-law like me, but I thank you and deeply respect you for all you have done to raise your boys into such outstanding men.

Leslie Marinelli is a writer, humorist, and blogger who lives in the suburbs of Atlanta with her husband, three kids, a cat, and a psychologically disturbed Labrador Retriever. She’s the creator of the award-winning blog The Bearded Iris. She can also be found on Twitter as @TheBeardedIris, Facebook, and as a weekly columnist for In The Powder Room.

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