"I can only remember one thing my mother-in-law has said over the years that I wish she wouldn't have," he told me over coffee.
Are you kidding me?
How in the world...
Very often it's a single comment or idea that sticks with me from the interviews I have with parents or adult children. The conversation I had with the man who shared above about his (obviously amazing) mother-in-law was like that. The interview took place several years ago, long before either of my children was married or even engaged.
He told me the story. In detail. Why do we seem to remember the negative in detail?
He had been married more than 20 years when we talked.
How in the world did she manage only one unfortunate comment in all those years?
Honestly, I was a bit stunned. I hope my mouth didn't fall open as my insides flip-flopped at the thought of someone accomplishing such a feat.
Now that I am a mother-in-law, this interview often invades my thoughts. I have prayed about being a "good" mother-in-law for years. A woman the spouses of my children enjoy being around. A woman they consider a good friend and more. A woman they know supports them, believes in them and admires them.
I've not been in the game for even two years, and my guess is I've already said several things I shouldn't.
Maybe his memory has deteriorated over the years...
Or maybe the overall relationship they have built has been so infused with support and love and grace and mercy that he's been able to overlook and forget all but one comment.
I think I'll go with that. That will be my goal.
To respect the way my son-in-law leads his family and tell him often how amazing he is and how thankful I am for the obvious love he showers on my daughter.
To cherish the friendship of my daughter-in-law and praise her often, letting her know I admire her and love that she's the woman my son has chosen to be his partner in life.
To sit back and simply enjoy watching the interesting ways they discover to mesh two lives into one, remembering that every relationship has its own unique dynamics. No judgment. No comparison. No unasked-for interference.
There are a couple of proverbs I will use as my guide in this direction...
"Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones."
Yes, gracious words are always a wise choice.
But, honestly, I think God had me in mind when he wrote this other one down...
"The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered."
Uses words with restraint.
That just might work.