I have an amazing daughter-in-law, Kelley, who means the world to me. And yet I have something I am ashamed to admit.
I envy her.
Is it because she is beautiful?
No. We knew his great personality was not going to be the only determinant of our son’s future mate. So we invested in his looks to ensure he would be appealing: braces, skin treatments, gym memberships, sports opportunities, name brand clothing. And these strategies proved their worth when he married a gorgeous woman who produced two adorable sons. You can only imagine how the influx of these good looks enhances a shallow family.
Is it because she is brilliant?
No. I am proud of her academic and professional accomplishments. She had her PhD in nursing by the time she was 29, and I love hearing about her current research, projects and teaching pursuits.
Is it because she is stylish and looks great in her clothes?
No. Raising a son didn’t give me the opportunity to buy girly things, so I relish the chance to buy her dresses, jewelry, and things that are pink.
Is it because she took our son away from us?
No. About the time he was getting prohibitively expensive to maintain, she absconded him into a new life of financial independence. We celebrated with a trip to Florida, and had enough cash left over to fully fund our Roth IRAs that year.
Is it because she is young?
No. I’m glad I’ve graduated from the early years of my career and child rearing. I am excited about her future, but I’m glad it isn’t mine.
Is it because she is super health conscious?
No. I am thrilled with her passion about wellness, which of course rubs off on the entire family. What mother/grandmother isn’t relieved knowing her son and his family is living a healthy lifestyle? That helps keep the worry factor down from a 10 to at least an 8.
Is it because she went to Australia with Oprah?
No. She taught me to dream, even dreams that seem like a preposterous fantasy. I still get a lump in my throat when I think about her dream of meeting Oprah, and James’s dream of going to Australia, both of which came true when she was chosen as one of Oprah’s Ultimate Fans.
Is it because she has naturally curly hair?
No. I’ve made peace with my fine, straight, statically electric hair, and I know that managing unruly curls presents its own unique challenges.
Is it because she is thoughtful and kind?
No. What kind of monster do you think I am?
The reason I envy my daughter-in-law is (drum roll): she is in possession of a fulltime househusband.
After a grueling day in academia, she stumbles home to clean laundry, a healthy dinner, gleeful children, and a husband huddled in the corner with peanut butter smeared on his face, mumbling incoherently.
Does this seem like an impossible dream? Do you dare to imagine that this could come true for you?
Note: I showed this essay to Kelley for input prior to publication, and she pointed out one area for improvement. She said she couldn’t remember the last time I bought her a dress, jewelry or something pink. To show what a good mother-in-law I am, I plan to overlook her tendency to be demanding.
©2016, Stevens. All rights reserved.