Sixteen years ago I walked into this little house in Toronto’s Beaches neighbourhood after meeting my mother-in-law to-be for the first time. She frightened me to be completely honest, because she was confident, outspoken, and the mother of the man I loved. I was quiet, shy, and had an ego about as squash-able as a baby bumble bee. I had to make a good impression on this gregarious woman who’d birthed that beautiful man in my life because we all know how much mamas love their little boys.
I tread gently and cautiously through those first days, as I did through most aspects of life, trying hard to be likeable, doing everything in my power to avoid burning their house down, which actually almost happened when I tried to make a cake! I tripped over my words constantly, stared like a deer in headlights in response to long dialogues about British history around the dinner table, and fidgeted as I waited for my love to finally arrive. Two days alone with his family for the first time ever was about as comfortable as wearing Spanx when you’re constipated. I longed to hide out behind him as I got to know his family.
My relationship with the woman who became my mother-in-law and subsequently, my ex-mother-in-law several years later might be one of the most precious in my life, partially for its unconventionality, partly because she became one of my best friends over many years. We separated from our men about the same time, about four years ago, mine by choice and gross human error, hers by death. She never judged me for separating from her son. She also didn’t stick her nose into the very private business that is a dismantling marriage. She accepted the situation for what it was and loved us just the same.
Now here I am many years later, staying with her on my third annual visit home since the separation. We room together like college kids. Last night we blasted broken-heart tunes whilst I swigged back whiskeys and she augmented everything from Taio Cruz to the Red Hot Chilli Peppers with her drum set, which sits impressively in place of a kitchen table, like it should in any respectable home. We sew, cook, share books, TALK, and tap, tap, tap away on our respective keyboards, little squirrels cracking open nuts of thoughts and spewing them onto virtual paper. We’re kindred writers, inspiring and motivating each other’s work and wisdom.
And through all of this I wonder if the the universe delivered to me my now ex-husband partly because he came with an additional offering of solid, wholesome support in the form of this incredible woman I would need for when we would decide to take separate life paths. It’s a weird, wonderful, and inarguably nontraditional relationship. Thankfully she’s inspiring me to comprise a “Fuck It” list so that anyone who judges our friendship on the very basis it came to be can go down to the corner street-dog stand and eat rancid sausage on a furry bun (because why would I curse anybody by wishing them to masturbate or kiss my precious ass?!).
So cheers to and thank heavens for my most trusted MP (Mom-Pat). She inspires me to let go, heal, live like I’m moving to the music, and pursue everything that makes me exactly who I want to be. Who needs a man for that? We decidedly agree! Every woman needs a mother-in-law like this, even if it takes a divorce to find it!
Great article, Colleen.
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I love this one… great article
Awesome read! Loved it. 👏👏👏
Lovely Colleen. Mom had read too and she was impressed with your writing. She liked it! Nice tribute to my sister. Xo
Nicely said! I hope you both share many more years just enjoying each other.
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Thank you Janine 🙂