I love Marie Barone in the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond.
Sure she’s a bit meddlesome.
Admittedly she’s a bit overbearing.
Maybe she’s even off-putting.
But her motivation is pure.
She’s committed to her family. She really never puts herself first—even if we are led to believe that she does. If we are really paying attention, her scheming is done to ensure that her family is safe and sound and well-fed.
As my own sons grow older and the prospects of one day becoming a mother-in-law myself become a real possibility, I take note of mothers-in-law in a new way.
Quite frankly, it is a daunting thought to recognize that my own quirks and traits and defects will be borne by future daughters-in-law who enter the family. They won’t be required to love or honor me through sheer genetic material. They may expect me to be a more perfect version of their own mother.
If being a mother is a difficult task, how much more so being a mother-in-law?
This is yet another reason I have such an affinity for women in Scripture: I can reflect on such women as Rebekah and see the way she guided her son Jacob towards his destiny that included fathering the 12 tribes of Israel with Rachel and Leah. While Scripture isn’t always clear on the family relationships, much insight can be gained from extraneous readings such as Talmud or from the teachings of Jewish scholars and mystics. I believe it is important for us to reach into the Jewish roots of the faith for the depth of understanding it gives to our own faith; it is also important on a personal level for me to contemplate how God will draw me into the future lives of my sons and their families.
My husband and I begin our day entreating God to cover our prospective daughters-in-law in grace and mercy and loving-kindness. We pray for our future grandchildren and great-grandchildren. We trust in God’s promises and look forward to what the future holds.
Seeking to know the women in my faith history—including the matriarchs that I write about in Wrapped Up—gives me a sense of connectedness, direction, and purpose should God be calling me to the great vocation of mother-in-law.
And Marie Barone gives the whole prospect a perfect twist!
(Pictured: Cheryl and her sons. Photo courtesy of the author.)
Cheryl Dickow is the author of several books, including the bestselling All Things Girl series coauthored with Teresa Tomeo. Together, Cheryl and Teresa hosted the EWTN All Things Girl series. Cheryl’s columns have appeared in the National Catholic Register and on Catholic Exchange.
Meet Cheryl! Watch her and Teresa discuss Wrapped Up: