How often have I heard my mother-in-law utter these words. And each time I chuckle, thinking that it could be true, but not quite understanding the depth of it from her point of view.
The first time I met my mother-in-law, she was crouched on the floor with her butt in the air, ‘releasing gas’ as she later explained. She was not aware that I was coming to visit. But as the years have passed, I realise that that would not have made any difference. She needed to ‘release gas’ and that was the best way she knew how. She would have crouched on the floor even if I were there, for the first time.
You hear many stories of ‘in-laws’ and I have made it my life-long commitment not to be the nightmare mother-in-law, as described by so many. But quite frankly how could I be when my personal experience has been filled with great examples from both sides. Little or no interference, always there to support when needed. Everything has always been just easy.
Actually it’s also been quite entertaining when we consider the character that is my mother-in-law. Strong-willed (although not always so as a teenager), frank (and you better be able to take it), loud (a trait the entire family has inherited), kind (always thinking of others – she would feed the world if she could), generous (to a fault), grateful (more and more so as she gets older).
I was once asked about my ‘parents in-law’ – you know to give my experience. And I found it very difficult to find something wrong. I could think of not one moment when I felt unaccepted, frustrated or even annoyed. Today, 32 years later, I have the privilege of sharing a few days with my mother-in-law, and I am beginning to understand why life could be a ‘*itch’, from her point of view.
Imagine a busy life filled with its ups and downs. Imagine being able to manoeuvre this life with strength which comes from within, the support of family and friends that makes it all worthwhile, the love of a spouse which is beyond description. Imagine bringing up 5 children – the physical and mental agility that is needed to stay one step ahead of them, so that you can ensure that in turn they will be capable of taking care of themselves in the future, and, secretly, you as well. Imagine achieving your goals, in one way or another. Imagine that stage of your life when you feel accomplished, that it was all worth it.
Then it all starts to crumble, slowly at first, then with increasing speed. You become slower, less agile. The aches and pains of your deteriorating body. The loss of your companion of over 40 years. The feeling that you have become a bother to your family as opposed to the guiding force. You loose your independence and now need to rely on those you took such care of years ago.
You become tired, you become confused at the slightest change in your daily routine, your memory fails you and what you remember most and long for most are those days when you were at your peak. Or do you? What do you really long for at this stage of life?
And I guess, that’s when you realise that life can be a *itch, and then you die…