Sunflowers for Kim, Quilt #268, 62″ square
It takes a lot of steps to make a dance, a lot of pages to make a book and a lot of pieces to make a quilt.
Relationships are similarly intricate, especially the relationship between a mother-in-law (MIL) and her daughter-in-law. In my first marriage, I tried to develop a relationship with my new mother-in-law, but she and I were just too different to make it. When the son of this woman and I divorced, we made a deal: I’ll take the children to see my parents, and you you take the children to see yours. Within eighteen months time, we’d split the property, I’d met my Real Husband, and he and I married and moved to Southern California.
A few months later, I tasked the children with cleaning out their closets, and one of the kids handed me an unopened envelope from the former MIL. I opened it gingerly, and in it she took me to task for moving her grandchildren away from her, and for generally ruining most everything. I don’t know what happened to that letter, but now, thirty-plus years later, I recognize how right she was. I did move away, I did take the children some distance. But I also recognized her sorrow and from then on sent her school pictures, short notes, had the children write letters, trying to keep up a connection that her son was unwilling to do. I never saw her again in person, but mourned her when she died.
When my sons married, it was my turn. I have found in moving through the world, you either love your mother-in-law or she drives you crazy. There doesn’t seem to be too many in the middle. Sometimes we love our MILs because they raised our husbands, and we give them the respect owed to them for bringing us this wonderful human. Other times we wondered what in heavens’ name they were thinking to raise someone who _________ (fill in the blank). Sometimes we form a close enough bond that we move in sync, and there is no competition. However, mostly as a MIL, you bite your tongue. Eat your words, if needed. If the occasion calls for it, follow Emily Dickinson’s advice: “Tell all the truth, but tell it slant.”
As far as the MIL game goes, I’ve had two, one mentioned above, as well as a near-saint who was supportive and yes, raised the Best Quilt-Holding Husband in the trade (one among many of his fine talents and qualities). Between handing over my sons to their wives, as well as watching my mother and her MIL, my sisters, my friends and their MIL relationships, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve made all kinds of mistakes, but hope for forgiveness. and try to practice that as often as I can. Whatever your relationship is with your mother-in-law/daughter-in-law, there are a lot of pieces that have to come together to make it work.
I have made quilts for all three of my daughters-in-law (besides the wedding quilts); one carted both quilts off in their divorce; I’m waiting for the new love in my son’s life to let me know what she would like. I don’t know if they like their quilts, but I like thinking about these women: strong ones, smart ones, women who like to laugh, women who are partners to my sons. Women who raise interesting children, and sometimes include me in their lives, for in this new century of no social rules, I am the “away grandma” as my son reminds me and contact can be sporadic. Yes. It’s my turn.
This quilt is for Kim, a daughter-in-law who loves to laugh, doesn’t hold grudges, is a great mother, a fine partner and wife for my son, and doesn’t let him get away with too many shenanigans, while escaping when she can for hers. She always has a game ready for us to play, welcomes us to her home, and is easy to talk to. She loves sunflowers, those being the flowers she carried at her wedding, some twenty years ago. Happy Anniversary, Kim, for making me your mother-in-law, then redeeming me from that awful fate.
And many thanks to my Quilt-Holding Husband, who found us this wonderful mural backdrop, and to Jen, for her fine quilting using an E2E of Baptist Heart Clams.
This updated pattern is found in my PayHip Pattern Shop. If you have already purchased this PatternLite Pattern, thank you. The newest version can be downloaded using the email you received when you bought it.