Nobody has in-laws like me. I have never been able to describe them to people who don’t know them. But I’ll try anyway.
Being a part of their family gets you invited to a lot of weddings. They are a big family, Mark is one of eight, but they also have a large extended family of every friend they have ever welcomed into their circle. Last night, we attended a wedding of a family friend that I have known since we were kids. Immediately after the mother-son dance, he invited several of his friends and their mothers to the dance floor. One by one, the groom cut in to dance with his “other mothers,” two of which were my sisters-in-law. I was thankful I had a three minute warning that this was about to occur and I was able to grab a napkin from a nearby table because the tears, they were a-flowing.
I am not surprised that he considered them to be moms to him. That is exactly how that family is. They have zero friends. The first time you are welcomed into one of their family parties, you are greeted as family with hugs and kisses on the lips (except me, I have perfected the head turn make a kissy sound next to their cheek move) and then you are family for life. If you come early, you can usually find a spot at the table or on one of the couches, but soon the party becomes standing room only. Everyone’s arrival is pretty staggered, but these are not parties that you just come in, stay for a few, and leave. If you party with my in-laws, you are going to be there late. There is no need to RSVP and it doesn’t matter how long it has been since they have seen you, you are always welcome. The conversation always starts out at a reasonable level, but after an hour or two, people are talking louder and louder. And there is always something that happens or is said that makes you laugh so hard that you cry. It is impossible to be with this family and NOT feel good.
They were family to me long before Mark and I ever thought about dating. We moved into the house on Garfield in June, when I was eight years old, and met Mark’s sister first; she lived across the street. I am pretty sure we were family by that Thanksgiving. And every holiday after that, we were welcomed into their family parties with hugs and kisses on the lips. When my family’s party broke up, we would always end up over at my in-laws. We ended up over there on a lot of random Friday nights, too. And sometimes Wednesday nights. I grew up calling my mother-in-law “abuelita,” and I still do. So do my mom and dad. In my teens, I babysat for the young adults that are now my nieces and nephews.
I wonder, sometimes, if my kids will ever understand how unique their situation is. That not everyone can stop on one street and see their grandparents on their mom’s side and their abuelita and aunts and uncles on their dad’s side. That not everyone’s grandma on their mom’s side is BFFs with the aunts on their dad’s side. And, truly, I wonder if they even know the difference between my family and Mark’s family, because the lines are so blurred, even I cannot tell anymore.