Monday, December 3, 2012

Momma's & Mother-In-Laws & Life Lessons

I went to eat with Chris's momma and some of her church gals today at Captain D's. What fun those ladies were!!!! I'm very thankful she has such good friends and it’s no wonder sometimes she shafts the family after church for Sunday dinner to eat with her friends. Today they asked me how I liked my mother-in-law, these close confidants of hers. One asked this with a smile and I had a feeling it was just a run of the mill, "how are you doing today" kind of question. I told them I loved her to death and blessed to have her. You see Chris and I had only been dating for five months when my momma died in 1990. Although she barely knew me, Chris's mother took me right under her wing. I think her buddies may have been surprised at the frankness of love I expressed and I had a feeling, suddenly, that perhaps the relationship they had with their daughter-in-laws was not quite the same, or the relationship with their own mother-in-law. Maybe they thought I’d just give a “pat” answer, but I fooled them. Fooled them with a truth. (I received a really warm, genuine smile from the ladies after.)

No one loves you like your mother. No one. And a daughter's love is one of the most prized possessions a mother can have. I loved my mother dearly. In fact I often say there was none like her and I mean it. I was very attached to her. My momma can never, ever, ever be replaced and I would give about anything to have her back, including my big toe. However, God had other plans for her life and mine, a life that has been tough at times. Being without your mother at important milestones in your life such as graduating college, that first job, your wedding, and a real hum-dinger you never see coming, the "Big C", can be almost unbearable.  

Momma and me 1985ish
The "Big C". A time of fear where you really, really want your mom. Like when you're little and have the flu (which luckily I never had). But at the same time you're really, really glad your mom is not there. To have seen Momma worry and fret would have been a bigger wound to bear than the "Big C" was for after she lost my brother, her first born and dear son, life would have been unfair for Momma to have bore watching my sickness as well.  

Reality is life is never fair. I think a reality show: "Reality is Life is Never Fair" would be great. Seems a lot of folks need to learn to cope with that concept.  The Anthony (Momma) and Maynard (Daddy) families are made from strong stuff. Momma would have bore both hardships with an iron will.  The iron will that my fortune cookie said I had last night. That Chris said was my stubbornness. (And I would have to agree.) There is a stubbornness my parents put into me through their example, their life. A different, selfless stubbornness. Not the selfish kind.

My parents lived through tough times. Tough times of poverty, of depression of a country, of WW II that took Daddy away from family and the communities of Soak/Corntassel/Hopewell for a while. The iron will they contained within their souls was to take your punches, put your nose to the grindstone and live through hard times, for you have to live. Really live even when you see life and the unfairness that is of it.  You bear it and you go on with no worries or fear of future unfairness that may roll your way. You go on because there are little eyes watching you. Learning to bear times that will break most. Learning to have an iron will to make it through the loss of losing parents, the pain of the "Big C". Learning to live life with a quiet grace.

Back to my mom-in-law….She is a special one she is. In many ways Chris’s mom reminds me of Momma. The two being similar may have helped bear the load of losing Momma so young. But they are not totally alike. Too alike and I may have felt reluctance to have gotten to emotionally close to Emma. Felt like I was betraying Momma and her memory as I was too young to have much experience to process a situation like that.

Things in life are pretty amazing to gaze back upon. God works all things out for His good. Momma could not have lived forever, would not have. The short time line between Chris and I beginning dating to losing Momma was of course Divine Will. Who knows what our relationship would have been like if the time frame of those two events had been longer? Shorter? As it played out according to His plan the timing was perfect. I didn’t know Chris’s mom very well. I don’t even remember how many times Emma and I had met before Momma died. Perhaps if we had known each other longer there may have been some sort of animosity that occasionly grows between mother and daughter-in law. But that was worked out for Someone upstairs knew I would need a "helper mom".  Not a replacement, not a fill in, not a pretend, but a helpmate kinda mom. 

I’m sad for some of my friends who do not have the relationship with their mother-in-laws as I do with Emma. With some people and circumstances I understand those situations are tough. But I hope all women will at least be aware of what a mother-in-law has meant to their husband. The man they love. That those daughter-in-laws will remember the love they have for their own mother, like that they see between husband and his mom, and want that love to not only exist between two who are married but instead a close bond between all three.

Life is tough. I’ve been blessed to not only have one mother, but two. The very beloved mother of youth who instilled how to live, believe, love, and the mother of womanhood, who instills the faith that I can love both. It took a number of years to see those two mothers, one of youth, one of womanhood, without feeling as if I was betraying Momma, having guilt for loving Emma. But with His help I’ve realized that it’s not betrayal. Momma was going to die when I was 18, no matter of my love for Emma. And someday, when Emma passes, the pain will be like losing a second mother. But the pain of losing each will be unique.  Just as the love and life I experienced with each is unique.

I’m not sure if anything of this note makes sense. But it’s just a reminder to myself of the love of two.  And that sure feels good….I'm one heck of a lucky girl....

Emma Lee & I 2014 

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