Reviews of His Mother! Women Write about Their Mothers-in-law with Humor, Frustration, and Love
A Must Read for Every Mother-in-law
It is with irony that the two weeks that I spent with my two sons and their families I happened to be reading His Mother! compiled and edited by Sandy F. Richardson. It was a stunning revelation for me to realize that one of my daughters-in-law compared me to the mother-in-law (MIL) character of Marie Barone played by Doris Roberts on the hit show Everyone Loves Raymond. I thought I was passing on pearls of wisdom. But instead I evidently fall into the camp of the mothers who can find no fault with their male off-spring and think the women who caught them should be forever grateful.
Sandy Richardson starts off her series of eighteen vignettes by an equal number of professional writers with a splendid introduction. She reminds us of the various names used to refer to a mother-in-law. “From birth to grave and beyond in France, no woman holds more power over a French son than his mother,” according to Barbara Pasquet James. Thus a mother-in-law is known to his wife as his belle mre. And yet the beautiful mother-in-law tongue plant (Monstera delicica of sansvieria) is poisonous and should never be touched.
One entry by Kirsten Guenther tells us of her MIL addicted to Disney themes with command performances expected by all family members. Kathryn Etters Lovatt remembers an ageless Montana homesteader “who could sit at the table with a piece of toast and a home canned peach and never need to utter a word.”
Susan Doherty Osteen writes a touching tribute to her Southern MIL who knows all the social rules of etiquette and never forgets a name or an interesting fact due to her extensive pocketbook of note cards. Other writers share similar memories of the culture of the South which emphasize manners, flowers on the dining room table, the three-day-rule, and no bottles or condiments anywhere but in the kitchen cabinets.
Accounts of the impractical gifts that could never be used—the warm hugs that were never for you—the compliments that were never paid—are also interspersed. I am reminded of a quote by Bernie Siegel who said that on the day his father and three brother and two sisters stood around their mother’s dying bed, she uttered her last words: “I feel so loved right now. We should have gotten together like this more often.” The book, His Mother is a tribute to both the mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law of the world and reminds all of us to do the same.
Brenda Bevan Remmes, author of The Quaker Café Series available on Amazon, Everything Happens at the Crossroads and her tribute to her own mother-in-law, Emma.