There are days I make plans to reserve evenings in order to write because in my quiet time, writing is one of my favorite things to do. But while I can certainly block out time on my calendar, the best of blogs have never been born on a schedule. In fact, at least three evenings last week I sat down in the quietness of my empty nest, placed my fingers on the keyboard, and wondered, “what shall I write?” knowing full well – it just doesn’t work like that. My fingers never typed a word. Eventually, I shut down my laptop.
So, how DOES it work (for me, anyways)?
Most often my favorite and easiest-to-write blogs just land on my heart and stay there for many days until I shut off all communication with the rest of the world, and hunker down in my favorite chair and let the words start flowing from my heart to my fingertips.
Usually, I get that urge to write it down once I get chin deep in a Dr. Teal’s Lavendar Bubble Bath and start to relax. If you haven’t tried Dr. Teals’s, you should! The plan is – a one hour bubblebath. But, five minutes in and… Vwa! La! All four chambers of my heart and every blood vessel surrounding it wants to shout out what’s been on it for the past couple of weeks. And it wants me to do it NOW!!!!
I really needed a bubblebath tonight. But as usual, about five minutes in, I had to start writing, so I gave myself another 10 minutes, and then climbed out. (Yes, I’m climbing these days, and it’s not very graceful at all).
NOW! Now, I’m in my comfy chair in my flannel granny PJ’s. And here goes….
Ladies, I am really, really beginning to enjoy this season of life. Many of my friends know what a difficult time I had empty nesting after both of my sons left at the same time and my home went from noisy to practically dead. It’s been a little over six years, probably longer than it takes the average Mom to adjust, but the only thing I’ve ever been fast at is memorizing Irish dance steps. That’s it. Nothing else.
So, I wanna tell you about Holly. Holly is my daughter-in-law. I’ve known her for so long that, she once in a while still accidentally calls me “Miss Rita,” and quite frankly, it makes me smile inside. You see, Holly grew up with both of my sons. She was always at my house, or my sons were always at her house. I knew her parents, and they knew me. When Ian had his appendix out emergently, Holly’s parents even offered to let Rory stay at their house so he would not be home alone. We were like family. Her Mom and Dad and I knew Rory and Holly would get married long before Rory and Holly knew they would get married.
When I was growing up, my father was one of 16 children (that is not a typo), and all of his family lived in Nova Scotia or California. My mom was a local gal, so all of our holidays were unquestionably spent with her family. Summers were for long vacations to Nova Scotia. There was ZERO drama, and ZERO trying to figure out whose family we would spend holidays or birthdays, etc., with. There was no question.
Fast forward to my divorce. (I’m going somewhere with this, I promise).
I came home with a 2-year-old son, and was about to give birth to Ian. We moved home to Michigan, and again, only my family was local. Birthdays and holidays were a no-brainer because we had only one family. My sons’ other grandfather had died, their other grandmother lived in Rhode Island and never kept in touch, so… there were no holiday or birthday decisions to make. Like, never, ever. Nor did my mother and father have to share their grandchildren with another set of grandparents.
Holly has a huge family. They like to PARTY! Her mother and father are amazing cooks, and I often suggest that they open a catering business. Every single holiday is a big, big deal, and they like to throw parties and decorate their homes and lawns. Everyone is welcome whether they are related or not. There’s always enough food. And games. And laughs. And, and, and…
Meanwhile, the MacDonald in me is like, “Wait. I don’t know what to do. This is not how I’ve done the past 57 holidays, or birthdays, or … name it.” Then I spend the six weeks prior to every major holiday worrying about who I’m going to disappoint if I decide I’m going here, and not there, or there and not here, or….. You know, when your sons grow up and find girlfriends or get married, your family grows, and you have to make room for everybody. It takes a lot of grace, and grace, is something Holly is really, really good at giving. She’s a planner, and I have begun to see how she thinks ahead, trying to include and accommodate everyone.
Parenthetical thought (okay, maybe another squirrel)… I’m wondering why nobody ever eats at my house. Am I not a good cook? Are you all tired of lasagna or meatballs? Is there something you need to tell me?? LOL
Anyhoooo, that six-week pre-Thanksgiving stress began a little bit ago when my mother told me that Thanksgiving was at her house, and she expected me to be there again this year. Not knowing what to do – I reached out to my son. He has a plan. How can you have a plan, and I’m so confused what to do? I spent it there last year, I’m not sure what to do this year. I want to be with my Mom, but I want to be with my sons and my grandchildren. And Ian is coming home.
Then, it dawns on me… Lucky me. I have a generation of people I love ahead of me, and two generations of people I love behind me – my parents and my children, AND my grandchildren! Throw in my siblings, and that’s four generations of people I love! Wow! In a year full of YUCK, what a reason to celebrate this Thanksgiving!
Back to Holly. Holly softens things. In the past six years, I’ve watched her mature in ways that far surpass people I know twice her age with much more life experience. But she’s got this gift of being able to take two or three steps back, look through a wider and deeper lens, and think before she speaks. And when she speaks, it’s thoughtful. She’s so good for my son. She’s so good for my grandchildren. And she is so good for me.
I never thought about how good a daughter-in-law could be for a mother-in-law. Did you? And don’t bother to google it. Every search will send you nothing but monster-in-law garbage. Instead, look to the Book of Ruth in the Bible. Everything you know about being a mother-in-law or a daughter-in-law is RIGHT THERE! – pinky promise!
Holly might be my son’s soul mate, but I’m convinced she was very specially hand picked by God for my entire family. I’ve been thinking this for a couple of weeks, and never scheduled or planned on writing this into a blog. But you know, sometimes, those are just the best ones. Holly, we’re getting better and better at this whole “in-law” thing. I love you, and I’m glad you’re a MacDonald 😉 xoxoxo
PS) I love you too, Rory. Thanks for letting me and Shari and Bob arrange all of this 😉
Do you have a daughter-in-law? A son-in-law? How have they enriched and gifted your family? How will you be thankful for yours this coming Thanksgiving?