Last night I talked to my friend Deb whose son is getting married. Her daughter has been married for several years. I asked how it felt to be the mother-of-the-groom and she laughed, “It’s different. I guess I’ll learn how to be the mother-in-law one little bit at a time.”
We talked about how fast our kids had grown up, laughed about our earlier years as moms, and assured each other we were the youngest looking grandmothers ever. Then she very seriously asked like I should have the right answer, “Why is it so different when your son gets married?” Even though she is a mother-in-law already, Deb intuitively knows it’s somehow different with sons.
“I kind of figured this out a few years ago while chopping cilantro. I’ve often wondered if my theory would be different if I had been chopping onions or garlic. Anyway, I call it my Cilantro Theory. This is the way I understand it: When a baby is born the mom is the central woman in that child’s life. When little boys grow up and get married the central woman figure shifts from his Mom to his wife. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. When the shift doesn’t happen, trouble is just waiting. When a little girl grows up and gets married the mom is still the central woman in her life. Not much changes,” I said.
“I think you’re right,” Deb said. “That makes so much sense.”
“It did for me. Did you know the letters in mother-in-law rearranged spell Woman Hitler? There’s a reason for all the mother-in-law jokes and it normally involves the woman who refuses to relinquish her position as the central woman in her son’s life. There are even TV comedies written about this very thing. You’ll do a great job. Your son’s wife-to-be will be blessed to have you as her mother-in-law,” I tried to encourage her. “When things get a little confusing just refer to the Cilantro Theory.”
“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and become united to his wife…”