Mother-in-Law: No Excuses, Just Commitment


baroneI love Marie Barone in the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond.

Sure she’s a bit meddlesome.

Admittedly she’s even a tad overbearing.

Maybe she’s even off-putting to some.

But her motivation is pure.

She’s committed to her family. She really never puts herself first—even if we are led to believe that she does. If we are really paying attention, her scheming is done to ensure that her family is safe and sound and well-fed.

No matter what, it is always important that they eat. As a mother of three sons, I get how my own feeling of peace is tied to the care and feeding of my boys—and so I instinctively understand why Marie is forever handing food to whomever walks through the door. “Are you hungry, dear?” she asks while handing over a plate—without any regard to the answer.

Now, as my own sons grow older and the prospects of one day becoming a mother-in-law myself become a real possibility, I take note of mothers-in-law in a new way. And Marie Barone is at the top of my list.

I’ve got to admit, I think she’s great.

But she does give me pause. It is a daunting thought to recognize that my own quirks and traits and defects will be borne by future daughters-in-law who enter the family. These young women won’t be required to love or honor me through sheer genetic material.

And that worries me a bit. After all, I see how often Marie is misunderstood.

She makes me wonder if my future daughters-in-law may expect me to be a more perfect version of their own mother. My head starts swirling when I think of mother-in-law-hood.

If being a mother is a difficult task, how much more so being a mother-in-law?

My own mother-in-law has been a real blessing to me. She has loved and welcomed me but has also respected my own boundaries and decisions as a mother. I’m sure she was very worried in the first decade or so. She didn’t always hide her concern if I was taking good care of her precious son—which may well have boiled down to if I was feeding him; but all in all, I think she’s pleased with the job I’ve done almost three decades later.

Throughout the years, she has often told me how fortunate I am to have married her son. I’m not sure I always agreed (hey, he was lucky, too!) but now that my own sons are young men, I totally get that sentiment. I see my sons growing into wonderful young men who take their work seriously, have goals and ambition, are kind and respectful to everyone—and I know that their future wives will be blessed, indeed.

I realize that I may even have to voice that fact now and again. I’m entitled, right?

Regardless of what the future holds in my life as a mother-in-law, I am grateful to Marie Barone. No excuses, just commitment. Take it or leave it.

Whatever you do, though, please make sure to eat.

Copyright 2013 Cheryl Dickow


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    • Pray for her then don’t judge her she is a child of God and as such God will use her even if she isn’t aware of it all the time!

  1. As a mom to three boys I am often mindful that I am raising future husbands. When working with pre cana couples, I often remind young ladies who often have concerns about their mother in laws to remember that she is the woman who gave you a beautiful gift, your spouse.

  2. Sheri wohlfert on

    Thanks for a great post! I guess I had never considered how many “perspectives” there were to mother-in-lawing! I appreciate the light you cast on a vocation of sorts that I hadn’t considered yet. It’s coming…now I guess I’ve got something new to pray about! Blessings on your day Cheryl.

  3. Sheri,

    Thanks for using one of my favorite words: vocation. Being a mother-in-law will be a new vocation to which many of us are called and I pray we enter into it gracefully and with an open heart–and a great sense of humor!

  4. Will everyone’s works be tested as through fire? Or is that just quaint figurative language modernists can safely ignore because it has too much judginess.

    If a carefully cast actor creates a popular TV persona property, that’s one thing. If the writers and directors pose and puppet that persona to simulate virtues because of how high it scores in focus group testing, and how well market research proves that high ticket advertisers will pay to be associated with those virtues in prime-time network sitcom America, that’s another.

    But it remains difficult to impress God with our accomplishments. All of that would have to be some accomplishment.

    But if someone picks up a coat hanger and waves it over head, say like Whoopi Goldberg, to agitate for more murders of the unborn, more protection for abortionists, more widely, at a faster rate, and all paid for with “health care” tax money, that will come into God’s consideration too, won’t it?

    Th.5:21 “but test everything; hold fast what is good, 22 abstain from every form of evil.”

    So when I do precisely that, some worshipful Doris Roberts fan chastises me for being an evildoer with the old “don’t ever judge anything or anyone ever or else” ignorance of scripture canard. Next to “Money is the root of all evil,” that has to be the most abused and most DIS-quoted agitprop ever ripped from the sacred scriptures.

    The first command of God is to love him with your whole heart, mind and strength. It doesn’t mention any activist TV actors.

    So the message here is “rely only on our Hollywood-brand Soma for moral guidance.” Got it.

    Hollywood manufactures and exports artifice in case you have never experienced it from the inside before. Artifice means fake.

    Snow White’s stepmother has made the poisoned apple very beautiful indeed.

    Beware worshipping the creation instead of the Creator

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