16 years ago, I started dating my now husband. I met him through work, so he already knew my parents (my dad hired him into the restaurant we worked at), but it took a few months of dating before I met his. Quite honestly, I wasn't sure if I wanted to. Jason was their only son and the baby of the family. I heard all kinds of horror stories about mothers of these kinds of kids, and I really wanted no part of it.
It was winter by the time I met them. I remember being a quiet girl, not really trying to engage them in too much direct conversation, but answered their questions as quickly and politely as I could. It wasn't the worst first meeting, but I was sure glad when it was over. We put on our coats, said our good byes, and made way for the car. Just as I was reaching for the car door handle... THWACK! Something smashed into the side of my head! I turned to realize Jason's mom hit me with a snowball. I was stunned!
"You're mad, aren't you?" Jason asked as he drove me home.
"No, I'm just surprised your mom just hit me with a snowball. She doesn’t even know me that well."
To this day he still thinks I was ticked, but honestly I wasn't. I was just shocked at what had just happened. I was brought up to mind your manners and always be polite. You don't hit someone with a snowball on your first meeting, and certainly not when they aren't expecting it because their back is turned. Who does that? Even now I don't know what she was thinking. Maybe she was hoping to run me off or maybe she was trying to break the ice and show her playful side. I may never know. She’s done some weird things over the years, and I stop questioning her motives a long time ago.
What I do know is over the past 16 years I have learned so much from my mother in law. Things like:
Kids are going to get dirty. The dirtier they are or the more ice cream they have on their face, the happier they are.
Expensive designer clothes for kids are ridiculous. If they don't stain or rip before they outgrow them, it's still a good bet they won't fit next season anyway.
Kids would rather you spend time with them doing the simple things over getting new toys. If your child asks you to play, do it! They won't want your company forever, so when they ask, use that time for all it's worth. Childhood doesn't last forever, so everything else can wait.
Every holiday is an excuse to have a party.
It’s important to take a few hours a week to spend just with your spouse. I think my mother in law is a strong part of my successful marriage. Ever since my kids were born she has taken them every single Sunday for 3 hours in the afternoon. We get so caught up in other things through the week, it’s nice to take those few hours to just go to lunch and reconnect.
Introduce your kids to new things. Some things I never thought my kids would enjoy (like going to train museums) are some of our most fond memories because she pushed us to go.
Life isn't a beauty pageant. Throw on those ugly snow pants and take your kids sledding! No one cares what you are wearing, but you'll care someday over the missed opportunity to have fun because you were worried more about making a fashion statement than playing with your kids.
Take every opportunity you can to create memories for the people you love.
Most importantly, it's good to know that you can whack someone with a snowball and they will come to love you anyway.
Bingo is always fun when played with Grandma!