Mother-in-Law Lessons

Guest Post by Mariel Wangsgard, “Or so she says…”

To hear the title “Mother-in-Law” can invoke a wide range of feelings, ranging from complete disgust to absolute fondness.  Overall, society has given the title a negative connotation.  They paint a picture of a manipulative, obnoxious, competitive woman who is determined to ensure your failure as a spouse.  Is this an unfair portrait or did I just get lucky??  I adore my Mother-in-Law, Athena.  She has unknowingly inspired me in countless ways…I should probably thank her more often.

I tend to be a busy body, it runs in the family.  I feel respectable and responsible when I’m productive, and it feels good…or, so I thought.  I never considered that it was a problem and I might be taking it too far, until I got married.  Instead of my constant work and effort being appreciated, I was met with comments like, “all you ever do is clean,” “why can’t you just sit and watch a movie with us, without doing other things at the same time” and “stop ignoring me.”  I am so thankful for my family and for the wake-up call they have given me that THEY are the most important.  I always knew that, but knowing it and acting on it are two different things.  I am constantly having an inner-battle between what I feel needs to get done and the feeling of wanting to enjoy this life before me.  That’s where Athena’s example comes into play.  I have never met anyone who knows better how to just STOP and enjoy life, as it is.  I can easily see the peace and contentment she feels with each moment, and I want that.  I want to give that softness and peace to my family.

Athena loves my children and they sense her softness.  Having her come over to the house is just as exciting to them as any of their best friends coming over.  She will drop everything she has to do, get right down on the floor with them to play cars, blocks, read stories, and just talk…for as long as they want.  They have her full attention.  She’s not thinking of where she needs to be, how messy her house is, or that they are exhausting to listen to.  She just enjoys them, 100 percent.  My children deserve that and she is at the top of their list for it.

It never occurred to me, before I met Athena, that it really is okay to eat Easter dinner off of paper plates.  I never knew that I could still be a good mom while letting my kids have three popsicles in a row.  I never realized how wonderful it can be to read a fiction book with no value, except entertainment.  It’s okay to get a massage, to take a vacation from the family, to let dishes sit in the sink, and to sometimes say “no” to the endless invitations, requests, and projects I am approached with.  It’s okay because life is meant to be enjoyed.  I have learned that the way I perceive life is entirely my choice.  It is my choice to be relaxed, to be soft, loving, and happy.  And, everybody knows that “nobody’s happy if momma ain’t happy,” right?  I have a goal to be the BEST mother I can be, it’s something I think about all the time.  I am truly thankful for the insight given to me by Athena and for all the love she gives to my family.  She is a great example to me and I hope I can be half as wonderful (and relaxed) as her.  Happy Mother’s Day!

Mariel is the super proud mama to 4, almost 5 kids and wife to The Beard Man.  You can find her doing endless loads of laundry, dishes, filling sippy-cups and changing diapers (while dreaming of gardening, crafting, golfing, traveling, early retirement, and escaping to the country with her family.)  She was raised all over the country, but has finally planted her roots in lovely Utah.  She received her Sales Degree from Weber State University and is still kicking herself for not doing Horticulture.  She also co-author’s the women’s blog, “Or so she says…,” found at and @OrSoSheSays.  It’s a fun outlet to share her creative/kooky ideas, meet other women, and hear some of their fabulous ideas too.  All in all, she’s pretty darn happy with life.

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Comments (6)

  1. Pingback: Eating Disorders and Body Image - Or so she says...

  2. emy 05/12/2010 at 9:04 am

    It must have been a wonderful thing for those that has a wonderful mother-in-law. To be there and to help with the kids or just to be a second mother. In my case, I never had the chance to have that experience. My husband's parents both passed away before we found each other, and my parents live in the other side of the continent. We are on our own when I deal with raising my two girls. I wish I have a mother-in-law.

  3. fephers 05/07/2010 at 3:54 pm

    wow! from one busy body to another thank you for those thoughts and putting things in perspective.

  4. Camille 05/06/2010 at 9:47 pm

    Mariel, you are so beautiful inside and out! I feel very blessed to have a wonderful mother-in-law as well. I will take to heart your advice on just enjoying life, every minute of it. I think my personality is more like yours, I never seem to stop doing something – thank you for the wake up call, I know that every minute with a child is precious. Thanks for the great article and tribute to a wonderful woman.

  5. Deanne 05/06/2010 at 1:33 pm

    OH Mariel. I too love your mother-in-law. She is everything you have said and more. She is a wonderful example of enjoying life in the moment. My boys tend to think of her as their grandma too because she treats them as one of her own. What a beautiful post and tribute to a beautiful person.

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