Tag Archiv: mother-in-law

An Open Letter to My Mother-in-Law

Self portrait in a straw hat, by Elisabeth Vigee-LeBrun, 1782.

Self portrait in a straw hat, by Elisabeth Vigee-LeBrun, 1782.

My in-laws had us over for American Thanksgiving. They cooked the turkey, mashed the potatoes, made the dessert and set the table. We ate enthusiastically. Somehow the conversation turned to refrigerators and freezers. My mother-in-law and I do not share views about how to keep them, a point I felt compelled to share (in the spirit of Thanksgiving?). On the drive home a letter began writing itself in my head.

Dear Mother of my husband (who has loved me full and well these seventeen years and then some),

Having shared so generously my thoughts about your freezers, it seems a fuller picture is in order. After lo these many years, perhaps the time has come to clarify.

Over all the years, almost without a moment of exception, I have found you a warm, generous, and open person. To a fault I find you hard working, dedicated and faithful. Do I find you a practical person?  Not particularly, but practicality is overrated for the artistic temperament. I think it hinders mine and I envy your approach to all things art. I love your art. I love that all the arts are you, from poetry to paint to music.

There are moments when we are so different on a small thing that I can’t quite wrap my head around it. (Possibly this happens to you as well when the germ paranoia’s invade my psyche.) There are also moments when I think you understand my own attempts at art better than anyone I know. That in the places mostly without words we share a common core, our insides inhabited by unruly but not unpleasant muses.

You can keep buying freezers, and I’ll keep panicking about controlling contagious disease. Regardless, the years past of being family with you have been nothing but a privilege for me. I look forward to enjoying your company, conversation, insights, ideas, and inspirations for many years to come. Thanks for a wonderful Thanksgiving, take 2.

With love much more than I say,

Michelle