Monster-in-Law . . . or Saving Grace?


She’s No Jane Fonda

I LOVE the movie Monster-in-Law with Jane Fonda and Jennifer Lopez. This 2005 rom-com is hysterical on so many levels. My favorite scene is when she drugs Jane Fonda and her face falls into the plate of pasta. Classic! Plus, who doesn’t love a Jane Fonda/J-Lo duo?! Am I right? 

When I got married in 2004, I had only met my future mother-in-law a handful of times. Like, maybe three! Sitting here now typing that out, it seems even more crazy than it did then. So I honestly didn’t have any idea of who she really was, where I stood in her eyes, or if she really even liked me. I knew she loved her son and she trusted his decision that I was the one for him. Let’s be real, though. If my son comes to me one day with some fancy idea that he has met “the one” and I only meet her three times before they are married, I will probably act a lot like Jane Fonda. 

Third Wheel 

Before our wedding, my mother-in-law took my husband shopping to pick out a new shirt and tie for the after-rehearsal dinner event. I’m sure she anticipated and imagined this one last one-on-one moment with her son all alone. Telling him about her wedding. Laughing together and imparting wonderful words of wisdom to him. Just a moment in time where they could bond together and create a lasting memory.

Well, that did not turn out to be the scene. Of course, he wanted his future bride’s opinion on everything. If she said it looked nice, he would ask me what I thought. If he said he wasn’t sure about a particular tie color, he turned to me and asked my opinion. As the night continued on, I could see her shine start to fade. At this moment in time, I was a 22-year-old, head-over-heels-in-love, girl who couldn’t see what was happening. This moment in time has stuck with me for over 16 years. I was honestly irritated that she wanted to monopolize his time with her opinions. It’s my turn, Lady. He’s mine now. Looking back now, I only see how selfish and childish that was and regret that I was even present in that moment. 

At the time, way back in 2004, I honestly didn’t know how a daughter-in-law/mother-in-law relationship should be or what it should even look like. I had a mother and a grandmother and a sister. I had plenty of women that I loved and had close relationships with. Why did I need another one? Reflecting on that time, I realize how selfish and naive I was. It wouldn’t be until later that I finally realized what a treasure I had right in front of me. 

She’s a Keeper

Fast forward my life six years to when I was a young mother of three little girls, all under the age of two years old. I was literally drowning in laundry, poop, and a whole bunch of demanding tiny humans. This lady whom I had not really made an effort to “get to know” came to my rescue. She would come over multiple times a week to help out around the house, buy and bring groceries, and keep the girls while I went to teach aerobics and take a little time for myself. She provided wisdom and guidance when I was frustrated with her son. She always had my back. 

Monster-in-law? No way!
Mama Linda and me in London, 2006

Over the past 16 years, I have grown closer and closer to my mother-in-law. She no longer holds just that formal title, but she is our Mama Linda, our Nawa, and a lot of times, our saving grace. When we call, she comes. When we drop by her house, the door is always open, kitchen stocked with snacks. She makes time for each of my kids individually and makes each of them feel like they are the MOST important kid in the world. Her generosity is unlike any I have seen. Just this morning, my son called her and asked for a particular treat from her. We are all stuck here with Covid and can’t make it to her. So she immediately hopped in her car, drove across town, and dropped off a handful of treats on the porch. 

Linda and her sons

My mother-in-law’s heart is big and always open. She and I have grown to have a relationship that I can only describe as wonderful. I love the talks we have and the silly birthday cards she gives me each year that make us laugh until we cry. I appreciate her generosity and her wisdom. She always has my back, even when the decision I make isn’t exactly the one she would. My hope and prayer is that one day, when it is time to hand my babies over to someone else, their spouses look at me the way I look at her. That they WANT to be with me and not DREAD being with me. I can’t wait to grow up and be just like my mother-in-law. She’s the best one around!

Monster-in-law . . . only on Halloween!
Nawa and her girls, Halloween 2017


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Kristen is an Alabama native, sort of. As the daughter of a military man, she was born in England and spent the first 5 years of her life there, but Alabama has always been her "true" home. She was raised from then on in Wetumpka, Alabama, which is famous for the movie "Big Fish" and most recently the town was chosen to have a remodel by Ben and Erin Napier, who are stars of the HGTV show "Hometown". Kristen graduated in 2004 from Auburn University where she met her husband Jeff; they've been married 15 years. They have four children together, ages 12, 10, 10, and 3 and reside in Homewood. Kristen has had a versatile career which extends from owning a local fabric/sewing shop in Homewood, AL to recently working as a Team Lead for the popular babysitting app.