Look, this is the internet. It’s a blog. It’s about time I told you about the little part of my crazy life that involves my mother in law. Go ahead and settle in. This is a good one.
People, I have known this woman for 8 years. In that time and in my presence she has endured trials so epic that they have family names like “The Tenaha Breakdown”, “The Great Hurl-fest of 2007”, “The 15 people Christmas”, etc. This Sunday we will be driving across the nation, so stay tuned. We will probably be stuck at a truck stop with a broken down bus-load of Elvis impersonators or something that y’all say “only happens to me”. Those who think that are oh, so very wrong. Well, this woman was finally able to RETIRE this year from a school district in Houston. Happy day! We celebrated by promptly invading her home with the grandchildren she longed to see.
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR.
Within 48 hours her house was a sea of humanity all asking questions like, “Where will everyone sleep?” “Can I eat a fourth thingy of yogurt?” “What is that smell?” etc. There was a lot of love…noisy, fun, family love.
One sister in law and family of 6 just completed a move to Texas. Their AC and washing machine were not working. In the middle of that they came to visit, trying to tackle Mount Saint Laundry with a gaggle of kids running about.
Around this time the dishwasher broke. It is still broken, two weeks later.
As long as things were going to be loud and exciting, we decided to do something that would only be possible about once a decade; to take a full family picture of all 19 of us.
ALL 19. 11 children ranging from 20 months to 21 years old at 6 pm on a Sunday, when the temperature actually drops to 9 degrees cooler than the surface of Mercury. The amazing photographer assured me that photo-shopping my children’s faces into a group shot would be possible. Bless her.
This was two hours afterward.
This was surely an amazing undertaking. The Lord seemed to agree, because the lights started to flicker.
When the house finally emptied of all the guests a few days later the home let out a mighty sigh and gave in. After over two decades of lighting up their lives, the downstairs breaker died. Lots of people blow a fuse when family comes to visit, but this breaker took the phrase literally. Of course, this happened in the middle of the night so that my in-laws woke up to a non-working breathing machine, no electricity and NO AIR CONDITIONING in July in Houston Texas.
Sequestered to the upstairs of their house, my mother in law finally tried out the phenomenon of not going to work in a house that was dark and around 85 degrees at all times. Without electricity, fixing the dishwasher wasn’t an option. Let’s get intense for a second.
Where to find solace? With the grandkids, of course! She then drove to north Houston to watch 5 grandkids for 3 days to allow for a couple’s trip and some mission-work fundraising. While this sounds fun, after three days it is exhausting for anyone, even with Nonna-magic.
She was released from this duty Saturday afternoon only for me to arrive back in her home with the kids in tow. After doing a load of laundry and packing a bag, she sat on a cool tile floor with me as I nursed the baby through a fever and consoled him on his 4, yes FOUR new molars.
This woman is stupendous. I’d like to note that my father in law made a run for M&Ms and Whataburger at this point. God bless that man.
Surely, SURELY a day of rest was deserved and in her future, right? No. I packed this woman up, trapped her in a car with two boys under age 4 and took her on a road trip across the country that lasted for two days. This meant sleeping with two kids in a hotel. For those without young children, hotels are the 6th circle of Dante’s Inferno. The hotel key cards should read, “Abandon All Hope”. For the record, this was the same Mississippi hotel where we saw the Hell’s Angels and Dog the Bounty Hunter.
We drove through two days of rain and crying to reach my home late on Monday. I trust she slept well that night. I think she said something about a glorious dream of being back to work…
So how do you reward such a woman for not only raising and letting your beloved husband live, but for doing all these things? You celebrate her birthday with her. You buy that woman a massage at the spa. You give her a date night with her son at a great restaurant where she receives dirty looks from a woman who incorrectly assumes she is a ‘cougar’. (Where’s Freud when you need him?)
Here’s to you, retired folks. Perhaps the hardest job really is the one you aren’t being paid to do.