The first time I met my mother-in-law was after my third date.
“Are you nervous about meeting my mother?” my not-yet-husband asked me shyly.
“Nah—who, me? Why would I be? Totally not.” I laughed nervously, trying to calm the butterflies in my stomach. I definitely was nervous, but I did my best to put on a brave face.
I looked over at my date as he drove and wondered, What would he think if he knew I was nervous about meeting his mother? His amazing, warm, special, geshikt mother! From the little bit I had learned over the course of our short time together, it sounded like his mother was quite the personality, with no shortage of opinions. I had also come to realize, with some dread, that her son was extremely attached to her.
Finally, his car turned slowly into the long, winding driveway that led to his parents’ house and pulled to a stop beside the white garage.
“This is it,” my husband said cheerfully. “Welcome to my house!” He spread his arms out as wide as they would go.
“It’s really nice,” I managed to say.
My date beamed and bounded up the front steps, two at a time, while I hurried after him, taking care not to get my heels stuck in the cracked pavement.
“Knock, knock, Ma!” he called out proudly. “We’re here!”
My heart leaped into my throat when my future mother-in-law appeared in the doorway. I was almost crushed in her bear hug, and I stifled the urge to cough from the overwhelming smell of her perfume.
“Dini,” she gushed, “I am so happy to meet you! I’ve heard so much about you! Only good things, don’t worry.” She winked at me and paused for a second to take a breath.
I fought the urge to scream, but my brain did it for me. Help! We’re not even engaged yet! This is only the fourth date! I tried to reassure myself that this was the “so warm” part of her personality and that it didn’t mean anything significant.
“So tell me all about everything!” she said as we all sat down on the couch. “Where are you going to go after this? I think you should go to the park on Stately Road. They have a beautiful path there and a lake in the middle. Yes, that’s definitely where you should go,” she beamed.
I glanced at my date, willing him silently to please defend our privacy and our right to choose our plans for the day.
I was relieved when he answered, “We’ll see, Ma. Don’t worry about us. We’ll pick something very nice, I promise!” Then he flashed her an endearing smile and said, “Ma, you’re the best!”
His mother looked satisfied with his answer, and we hurried out of the house—not a moment too soon for me.
Once inside the privacy of the car, my date turned to me. “See, it wasn’t so bad, right? I told you there was nothing to worry about!”
“Yes, she is really nice,” I said slowly, and then we sat in silence for several minutes. “Um…” I began cautiously. “Is she always like this? What I mean is, does she always get so involved in things?”
“Yup, that’s my mother for you.” He laughed. “Don’t worry about her, though. She’s usually pretty harmless, and she means well. Do you know what I mean?”
“Oh, for sure. Definitely. I totally get it.” I forced myself to smile while visions of his mother barging into our house in the middle of the night played in my mind. I firmly pushed the thoughts away.
From then on, I found myself needing to pepper him with questions about his mother. “Is she the type to call you every hour? Do you think she’ll check up on us to make sure we’ re going to the doctor for our well visits?”
At first he responded to my queries good-naturedly, but he eventually got annoyed with my endless barrage of frantic questions, so I learned to bite my tongue and stopped asking.
Just like everyone else’s, our engagement was both an overwhelming and an exciting time. I always looked forward to the time we spent together, but I also felt slightly put off by his mom’s incessant calling and texting.