Back in June, Sleepy Joe tagged me in a bloggy game and in answer to one of her questions, I mentioned that I'd always kind of wished I was the type of person my mother-in-law seems to think I am. Her four-day visit this past week reminded me of just how true that is.
My mother-in-law is so unlike the stereotypical monster-in-law style mother-in-law that she barely merits the title. She was raised in a very small town in New Hampshire by parents who were old-fashioned even by the contemporary standards seventy years ago and she is very much a product of that time and place. She is so soft-spoken and unassuming and self-effacing that I become a better person in her presence: I don't swear or raise my voice, not even a little. I organize family outings and never leave behind essential items. I never go to bed with dirty dishes in the sink--shoot, I never even sit down on the couch after dinner with dirty dishes in the sink. I am patient and loving and treat her son with bemused kindness even when he's annoying the crap out of me.
I don't even say crap in her presence. True story: we were playing Upwords one night during her stay and Hubby played the word "dungs" and was casually mentioning that he didn't know how correct the word was, not knowing if "dung" would be appropriately pluralized with an "s." And I said, "I have no problem using it in an a sentence: 'Of all the animal dungs I've smelled, elephant's is the worst.'" At the word "dungs," my mother-in-law covered her mouth and her eyes got wide and she even giggled a little uncomfortably as though I had said something deliciously naughty. It was adorable.
While I have reason to believe that my mother-in-law's got a solid steel core, her outer appearance is of a delicate woman easily startled and shocked by the world around her. So, though I don't actively pretend to be someone I'm not when she's around, I do try to be the best possible version of myself.
And, you know, I really like that version of me and sometimes I wonder why I can't be that person all the time. Then, my mother-in-law comes for a visit and I remember.
Being the best possible version of myself takes an enormous amount of effort and energy. And so, she goes home, and after a day or two of struggling to maintain these self-improvements, I throw in the towel yet again.
I Failed My Students
19 hours ago