I remember the first time I met my mother in law. I was sixteen and we had moved to a new church. She was playing the keyboard and singing, and I thought she was just so pretty and had the most beautiful voice. (This is not ‘suck up’ talk, it’s a fact! The lady is lovely and can sing!) Not too long after that first church visit, I started dating my now husband. I don’t think I realized it then but you really can get a good idea about a woman’s personality by looking at her home. The first time I went to their house I came home and told my mama, “I love their house! They have a leopard print rug in the living room.” I guess I should’ve known then… my future mother in law had that mama bear animal instinct!
Like all teenagers, I was quite flippant about love and boyfriends and whatnot. So, at some point, something about my boyfriend annoyed me, and we broke up. The next Sunday, I walked in church and sat with some girls. The music started and I had that ‘somebody’s watching me’ feeling. I looked at the stage and saw my ex-boyfriend’s mama giving me, what I thought was, a big time mama bear glare. I am sure I just imagined it, because as soon as we made eye contact she quickly smiled, turned back to the keyboard, and belted out a beautiful worship song.
Cut to 11 years later. Me lying in a hospital bed, sweating, hurting, and
extremely slightly emotional after having Bubba. My inner mama bear was threatening to come out. (Don’t talk to my mama or my husband. They will tell you some silly story about a cray cray woman screaming at people and flashing everyone. It’s just not true.) My mother in law walked in and I began to shed a few small tears. (Again, do not get your info. from anyone else! I was not irrationally shouting at my loved ones.) I calmly explained that I was having a difficult time breastfeeding and everybody wanted me to just give Bubba a bottle, but nobody understood how much I wanted to nurse him…Everybody was against me…Nobody loved me…. Why didn’t they understand…. Wahhhhh… (Ok, I’ll admit it. The mama bear may have actually shown herself, and she may have needed a little help dealing with her post partum emotions.) My sweet mother in law looked at me as though I were totally sane, which I wasn’t, and kindly told me it was hard for everyone and babies survive, and he would be ok. I took a deep breath and thought, I can do this. Somebody is on my side.
Since the day I married her baby boy, my mother in law has always given me that kind of peaceful feeling. When things were sad, or hard; when I thought my situation was hopeless, I would talk to her and walk away thinking, Ok, I can do this…. I can handle this miscarriage. I can make it through my Granny’s funeral. I can survive the adoption process. I know it’s strange to say about a mother in law, but I love this woman so much! She is so many things to me; an example of a strong woman of God, an amazing mama to my husband, such a loving Nina, as she is called by my babies, and…she is my friend.
Just the other day, I was talking to my friend, AKA Nina, and we were discussing that mama bear instinct. She said, “You know, I would do anything for my children. And now, with my grandchildren, I feel the same way… I would do anything for them.” I knew exactly what she meant, because my inner mama bear has shown herself many times over the past five years. I try to smile and be that mama who is calm and nonchalant, but often my mama bear is inside screaming, “If you harm one hair on my child’s head I will claw your eyes out.”
We can’t help it. It is an instinct we mothers must fight against to allow our children to do basic things. They have to go to school, make friends, fight with friends, play sports, and eventually date…. Oh my goodness…. My children will want to date!
One day a girl will like Bubba. She will sit by him in church. She will hold his hand. (If you could see my keyboard now… There are literally tears dripping down on it.) He will think he loves this little hussy. He will ask me to buy her flowers and take them to the movies. Then, out of nowhere, over the silly whims of a teenage girl, she will break up with him! She will break up with MY baby! She will find a flaw in my perfect, beautiful, little man!
Now look who is sitting at a keyboard glaring…..