Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: IN-LAWS( 07/11/19)
| TITLE: The Crowning |
By Francy Judge
| ~ 1st Place |
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“She didn’t say…?”
“No, I think she said, ‘I’m petting fairies.’ Nothing a good psych doc couldn’t fix.”
“Woosh! That’s a relief.”
This time, Harry’s phone rang. We stared at our daughter’s name, Ashley, blinking in red letters. “You should answer your phone. Especially since it’s our daughter.”
Harry pressed the green and cleared his throat. "Hi, honey. How’s college life going? Oh, wait…someone’s at the door. Your mom will talk.”
He shoved his phone in my hands. All I could do was give him a stabbing look and press speaker. “Hi, darling. Did you say something before? We couldn’t hear you.”
Loud and clear, she sang: “I’m getting married! I’m getting married! Can you believe it? God brought the best guy into my life, and we’re setting the date as soon as possible…probably next spring.”
I opened the window to get some air. Pink petals rained from the cherry tree blossoms. A vision of her jumping rope and chanting “Strawberry shortcake cream on top…tell me the name of your sweetheart,” hung before my eyes.
“Did you hear me?” asked my daughter in pigtails with missing front baby teeth.
Not wanting to hear her say it again, I answered, “Yes, that’s wonderful. Your father and I are so happy for you. You’ll make a beautiful bride. And Ethan seems nice…although we only met him once.”
“Evan, not Ethan. You will love him when you get to know him. And he said he’s looking forward to hanging out with his in-laws.”
I swallowed water down the wrong pipe and broke into an embarrassing coughing fit when I realized she meant us. Her parents. His in-laws. Mother-in-law. Father-in-law. In addition to our baby getting married and leaving us an empty nest, we were crowned this new title, whether we liked it or not. The In-laws.
The only title I ever had was Mommy, a happy, loving, snuggly title. Mother-in-law was too heavy, too matriarchy, too much like Queen, ruler to protect my daughter’s happiness from any injustice. Meant to be annoying, nosy and full of advice for the young couple, and hated just because of the title.
This was not us. We were not King and Queen material. Both shy, Harry and I were mouse types who hated controversy, didn’t like to give unwanted advice. We were not ready to become tyrants whose mission was to protect their daughter from any spec of disappointment. Would we morph into the stereotype the first time we observed our son-in-law disagree with our daughter or get her upset? At the thought of her tears, my adrenaline began rising into mama bear levels. Maybe.
Ashley, the five-year-old, jumping up and down hearing the circus tune jingling from the ice-cream truck, rolled out her plans for a small, beachfront wedding in a simple, yet elegant ivory dress with pink roses and lilacs in her bouquet. I thought I smelled the lilies of funerals drift through the phone.
From a gale of swirling thoughts to a whispered breeze of prayer, my mind turned. “Lord, remind me to be the parent you are to me: patient, loving, kind, slow to anger and abounding in love.”
After hanging up with kisses and congratulations sent forth, I wiped my eyes and hugged Harry. “I am happy for her. Just wasn’t expecting all this until she graduated college.”
“She’ll be fine. We raised her to seek God first.”
“I know that; but what if we become the dreadful in-laws Ethan, I mean Evan doesn’t want to see every weekend?”
“We would never be that kind of in-laws. And to be sure, just keep baking those amazing double chocolate chip brownies—only enough to last a week—and they’ll be back to visit.”
“Thank God we have a year to get used to our new title.”
“And at least a year and a half before we get another title. Grandma and Grandpa.”
My face turned into a frozen popsicle.
“Honey? Are you breathing?”
I nodded. “Mother-in-law doesn’t sound so bad now.”
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