Smother-in-Law

I am not one of those people who usually cries at weddings. In fact, I am not one of those people who usually cries at all, unless I happen to be watching Beaches or an old episode of Little House on the Prairie. But while attending two weddings in the last two months, I started unexpectedly tearing up at the exact same moment in both ceremonies - when the groom walked down the aisle with his parents and then bid them a loving goodbye. As the mother of three boys I could only imagine one of our own sons in that role and that's when it hit me. Not the fear of losing a son one day, but the reality that one day I would become a mother-in-law.

            Everyone knows that while the mother of a daughter is affectionately referred to as the woman's mom, the mother of a son is forever called the mother-in-law. Apparently we even have to wear beige at the wedding to denote our lower stature. So I want to make sure that when our boys find their princesses, they don't forget their queen in the process.

            Our sons are only 14, 12 and 11, so I realize it's a bit early to start thinking about this right now. Nevertheless, the older they get the more often I find myself trying to picture and predict their future lives and future wives.

            We sometimes play that "What if?" game at the dinner table. You know, "What if you were stranded on a desert island and could only have five foods?" or "What if you could have dinner with any three people dead or alive?" Of course I always add in a trick question, like, "What if you started dating someone who didn't like your mother?" just to gauge their reactions.

            And the answer to your question is a resounding yes - it's not enough to hope that our sons marry people who adore them, I also expect them to wed people who adore me. Is that really too much to ask? And while I'm asking, I also would prefer they marry people with awesome parents, too. In our family, we refer to these as "machetunim," a Yiddish word that denotes members of one's extended family. It's not just a cultural phrase, it also sounds a lot better than using the term in-laws. In fact, if you Google the term you get examples such as, "I am delighted to have the machetunim joining us for dinner tonight." When you Google "in-laws" you get advice from Dr Phil on how to manage your mother-in-law.

            Whenever I picture one of our sons getting married I think about my friend, Wilson Green. He is an only child and when we were in high school I remember his mother once saying, "We just pray that Wilson will marry an orphan one day so we don't have to share him with another family." I laughed until I realized she was being serious. I now understand.

            There have already been many conversations with some of my best friends who have daughters centered around how great it would be if our children got hitched one day. It's not that I am in favor of arranged marriages as much as having final approval and ultimate veto power when it comes to our sons' future spouses. Again, too much to ask?

            When I first started dating my husband, Alan, my mother made sure I knew that she had known and been friends with his mother for years. She bugged me for three straight weeks asking when I was planning to see him and would always add, "You know that I know his mother and i just adore her." The third time this happened I finally retorted, "What do you want me to do, marry this guy just because you happen to like his mom?" She responded, "Yes that would be wonderful." That was the story she ended up telling at our rehearsal dinner.

            So now I watch episodes of Say Yes to the Dress, just so I can count how many brides actually invite their future mother-in laws to shop with them. I constantly ask the boys what kind of girl they hope to marry to see if they include, "Someone who likes our mother" on the list. And I imagine every "What if?" scenario that includes our boys finding their soul mates and realize as long as they're in love, I will love being a mother-in-law.

            Just don't make me wear beige.