In-laws. This word can strike terror into the hearts and minds of loving couples everywhere. It’s the one thing most people dread when they get married. Lots of questions raised about in-laws: Will I like them? Will they like me? Will they put pressure on the marriage or will they know when to butt out?
We’ve all heard the horror stories, right? About in-laws who have keys made so they can drop in unannounced at any time. In-laws who prefer one grandchild over another. In-laws who insist that things go their way or else. They don’t like our cooking, our careers, the way we clean, they way we dress, the way we live. Yikes! It’s a wonder anyone ever gets married.
Let’s be honest; we’re really talking about mother-in-laws, aren’t we? I’ve rarely heard much said about father-in-laws, although I’m sure the stories exist. It seems like mother-in-laws are the ones who take the heat for just about everything. It doesn’t matter if you have a very close relationship with your own mother or a strained relationship; either can make the spouse nervous.
Early in our marriage, or maybe even before the actual wedding, I was sharing the legend of the bad mother-in-law with Hubby’s mom. My mother-in-law. She and I laughed at it, especially when I told her that now she would forever be known as my “Mean Ol’ Mother-In-Law”. Or MOMIL, as she started calling herself. She even signs emails and cards to me with this moniker.
MOMIL is actually quite an impressive lady. Either I’m lucky or she is, if I may be so bold, but we have a mutual respect and admiration for each other. She has more gumption than many people I know. My father-in-law retired just as we were getting married. At that time, MOMIL had spent her life raising kids and volunteering, and had a passion for the church. She decided it was time to go to graduate school to pursue a theology degree to become a minister. At the young age of fifty-six! For most of us beyond the age of thirty, the thought of immersing ourselves in a graduate program that included classes in Hebrew would be a torture that was too much to bear. But not MOMIL. She dove right in with students younger than her own children.
Two years later she graduated. And two years after that she became ordained. MOMIL had finally embarked on her career – in her sixties. Taking the reign of a church as the one and only minister is tough for anyone, much less someone who is a bit more advanced in years than the average college graduate. But MOMIL jumped in, fighting one challenge after another in pursuit of her dream career. I’m embarrassed to say that in this day and age she even fought gender discrimination. Seems like we should be past that.
MOMIL had guts. She was willing to fight for what she wanted, even when naysayers told her she was too old and, heaven forbid, too female. Nothing was going to stop her and she figured out a way to make this dream a reality.
I am hearing from many who are looking for work that it’s too difficult to find anything in this economy, that companies aren’t hiring, that companies only want younger workers. I’m appalled when I hear people in their forties and fifties say they’ve given up because they are too old. I’ve even had people tell me that they hate their jobs/careers, yet they say they are “too old” to do anything else. Are you kidding me? Once you hit your mid-thirties I think you should be able to try anything that you want. Just set your mind to it and go for it. Do you want me to send MOMIL over to knock some sense into you?
When I think about all that MOMIL has accomplished – at an age when most folks are considering retirement – it gives me hope. It gives me courage and strength to know that it’s never too late to try something new and go after your dreams.
Now in her seventies, MOMIL finally retired last weekend. Sort of. She gave her last sermon at her church; there was a luncheon for her afterwards; we took her to a family dinner. Then we waved goodbye as she drove off to a church conference meeting – in preparation for her new part-time ministerial job at a different church. Once again, she looked at the situation, decided what she wanted (to work part-time), went after the job and got it.
To anyone reading this: still think you’re too old to find a job or work that you love? Way to go, MOMIL!
Read more at my blog, www.talesoftheterminated.com
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