Years ago, after my wife and I had been dating for a while, I decided it was time for me to introduce myself to her family. So I bought a bouquet of flowers and went to her house. I rang the doorbell, and when her mother answered I made a Korean-style bow, prostrating myself on my hands and knees with my forehead almost touching the floor, and introduced myself as Haisoon’s boyfriend. I found out later that after I left, my future mother-in-law turned to her daughter and said, “How about you? I like him!” It was love at first sight between future son and mother-in-law.
When my daughter, Christine, was born, my mother-in-law came from Korea to live with us and practically raised her. A while ago, I asked Danny and Christine if I had ever hurt them emotionally. I had read that many parents unknowingly hurt their children and leave deep emotional scars and I wanted to apologize to them if I had done so. They considered the question for a moment and answered that they couldn’t think of anything. Christine added that she had a really happy childhood. I was pleased and inwardly congratulated myself for having been a good father. When I had a chance to preach at an NLF worship service, I mentioned Christine’s remark. She was serving in the nursery at the time and didn’t hear it first hand, but a friend relayed my comments to her. The next time I saw her, she said to me with a smile, “Don’t be too proud of yourself. I had a happy childhood because of Grandma!”
When my wife and I argued, my mother-in-law always sided with me, not with her daughter. This made me like her more.
My mother-in-law is full of curiosity. When on vacation, she rarely wanted to be left behind with other elderly people, but went wherever the young people went. She enjoyed nice scenery and expressed her appreciation with so many ohs and ahs that we felt it worthwhile that we brought her. She recently learned to make paper swans and got so into it that sometimes she worked on them through the night. As a result, all her family members and close friends have paper swans on their bookshelves.
She has a pure, childlike personality. I never saw a child afraid of her or get shy with her. They must recognize that she is a kindred spirit.
Even though she turns 80 years old this year, she looks like she’s in her sixties. I lost my mother when I was young, and I grew up never using the word “mother”. So unlike many Korean sons-in-law, who call their mother-in-law “mother”, I’ve never called her that because it felt awkward to me. I still address her with a more formal “mother-in-law” even after 30 years of living together. But she has helped me experience the motherly love I missed so much when I was a child.
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