Ode to my Mother-in-law

There is something about people and their mother-in-law. The relationship seems universally doomed. Just before leaving Australia I saw a bumper sticker saying, “If mother-in-laws were flowers, I’d spray them with Round-up!” This afternoon we said goodbye to Tony’s mum Lesley after a month of having her live with us in Germany. As I write she’s somewhere over the Atlantic feeling uncomfortable, sleep deprived and bored. So I thought I’d take the opportunity to thank her for being such a rare flower.

Most people meet their MIL as an adult, ready to settle down. I met Lesley when I was immature, hormonal, and hopelessly in love with her teenage son. But from the very first day that Tony brought me home on the school bus, Lesley treated me like her own flesh and blood. Since she arrived a month ago, she has washed, folded, cooked, shopped, vacuumed and changed countless dirty nappies. She got up early with Rose every morning, and generously propped up our domestic economy. While I was feeling dazed and too frightened to venture out, she was finding out when and where the bottle recycling occurred, how to work the washing machine and which local doctors spoke English. On dark days when I could barely manage a grimace (let alone a smile) she made cups of tea, played patiently with Rose and tried gently to coax me out of the house for some fresh air.

Notwithstanding all these things, it’s her love of the Lord I admire the most. Everyone who knows her will know exactly what I mean. So Lesley, thankyou. I’ll never forget this special time, and I know Rose won’t either. I’ll treasure the days of running for the U-bahn, having coffee at the bäckerie, shopping at Lidl and dreaming up new ways with pork chops. If MILs were flowers, I’m sure we’d grow together like daffodils and roses.

NB An honourable mention must go to those who made it possible for Lesley to come, most especially my sisters-in-law Rebecca and Kate, who cooked meals, minded children, and filled in on church rosters. But the grand prize must go to Richard. From what I hear he’s found quite a rich and full life as a single man. Still, if he has tried to disguise how much he’s missed her, I can only say that he’s failed abysmally. A man needs his wife. Thankyou all very much.

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4 Responses to “Ode to my Mother-in-law”


  1. 1 Keren March 29, 2010 at 8:35 am

    Ally you almost had me in tears!

  2. 2 lesley March 30, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    What a treasure you are – but I think you have forgotten a few things- like how silly I am and computer illiterate as well!!! Lots of lof love to you my girl

  3. 3 peonypublishing March 30, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    Love the flower imagery you used here, and the flower motifs in your handmade items as well!

  4. 4 Elizabeth Lawson-Bennett April 21, 2011 at 11:53 am

    I don’t know you, but I wanted to let you know that this is a beautiful piece of writing. I’m jealous that I didn’t have this type of experience with my MIL, but so pleased that you have. Elizabeth, UK


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A girl with a camera, a toddler and a sewing machine. Making sense of Germany... and life in general.

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