On Being Thankful

Thanksgiving is a wonderful opportunity to stop and take stock of life — ahead of the spontaneous combustion of the holidays and the forced reflection of the new year.  I probably don’t just sit back and think — really think — nearly as often as I should.

One person I am hugely grateful for in my life, and this is shocking because she is a heathen when it comes to fiber arts doesn’t knit, is my mother-in-law.  For years I have teased my husband that I only married him because I like his mom.  She is unerringly good company, lots of fun, and knows how to speak her mind.

But the reason I want to do this today (and I know I’m safe because her internet connection is out so she can’t read this and catch me saying nice things about her) is because she personifies all of the  qualities a good mother-in-law, really, a good friend, should have.  I hope I can be the same way she is when my children are grown and married.

The thing about Mom is this:  She is unfailing supportive.  It doesn’t matter if she agrees with you or disagrees with you.  It doesn’t matter is she doesn’t get why it matters to you in the first place.  She let’s you know, explicitly, but also with little things that she does, that she cares and she thinks you’re wonderful and that she is there for you — 100% there for you.

This may sound to good to be true and I don’t mean to make her sound like a pollyanna.  If you were doing something dumb, like spending your money on crack instead of cashmere yarn, she would not sit passively by and watch.  But when it comes to issues like working moms versus nonworking moms, extended breastfeeding, goofy daughter-in-laws who express mail organic produce to make baby food, etc., she simply notes how wonderful you are, without regard to whether your choices are the same choices she would have made.  It would be a much better world if more people were like her.

The context my appreciation of her is especially large in has to do with our son Teddy, who many of you know was born with a congenital heart defect as part of a genetic disorder called the DiGeorge Anomaly (and also here).  DiGeorge kids struggle with many physical illnesses, including heart and immune system problems.  Teddy has done well medically speaking, but it is a lot of heartache.  He was diagnosed with  Nonverbal Learning Disorder in fourth grade.  I have a bit of a background in special education, enough to have caught the problem before it was formally diagnosed and also enough to know that this is a learning disorder that is different enough that it is not amenable to treatment in the typical fashion used for dyslexia, adhd, and the more commonly encountered learning issues.  Frankly, we have struggled as parents with taking the right steps for Teddy.  Often, we have realized only too late what needs to be done.  But throughout that struggle, Mom has been my cheerleader and support system, adoring Teddy no matter what the latest report cards shows, believing there is a place for him in life, and, even when we are resolving issues that seem to have no answer, making sure I know that I have her support 100% and she believes we will find the right answer.

This is my Thanksgiving meme for anyone else what wants to answer (and has read through this long and uncharacteristically photo-less entry).  On a deep level — who in your life has had a strong impact on you, and what charactertisic of theirs would you like to be able to develop in yourself?

5 thoughts on “On Being Thankful

  1. this is such a sweet post on gratitude. we don’t celebrate thanksgiving, but growing up with americans i understand what it means to you. life can be challenging! i grew up with a handicapped sister, she got meningitis when she was 1 1/2 yrs old. not easy, but she lived much longer than expected because of the love and care my parents had given her. teddy is someone very special.

  2. Joyce, Your blog entry really moved me. What a great tribute to your MIL. I hope someone prints it and secretly gives it to her.
    I, too, was lucky to have a special relationship with my mother-in-law. I was 18 when I met her and 20 when I married her son. Looking back I was just a child, and she had a tremendous impact on my life. So many times when I’m cooking I remember things that she taught me. It amazes me that now I’m older than she was when I met her, and I thought she was old! LOL! There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t remember her in some way. Heres to women that love their sons’ wives.

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