David stared at me in shock and amazement, then laughed, “Did you really just do that?”

“I sure did and I’ll do it again if I have to,” I grinned. “I’d do it to my own sons. You are marrying into this family so I took liberty to treat you like a son.”

David and Jill’s wedding was only a couple of months away so he was patiently meeting all the extended family. Jill, David, Jim and I had just finished a nice lunch. Walking up the sidewalk to my uncle and aunt’s lovely home, I noticed a toothpick sticking out of the corner of David’s mouth. I had walked right past him, grabbed the toothpick, threw it into the grass and rang the doorbell without missing a beat. I’m sure it was a bit surprising.

“How would it be for you to meet someone for the first time with a toothpick hanging out of your mouth like an unlit cigarette? You do realize you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression,” I added.

“I suppose I hadn’t given that much thought to a toothpick, but I guess I will now,” he said smiling.

“You know, buddy, if you rearrange all the letters in the word Mother-in-Law it spells woman Hitler. You’d better get ready,” I shot back trying to act serious and stern.

Now when David affectionately introduces me as his Woman Hitler, people stare in disbelief. What they don’t understand is we have an understanding. If he didn’t love and respect me, that would never fly. But he does, so it works. It works so well I sign my email WH.

The Mother-in-Law/Son-in-Law relationship can be a painful awkward one. It takes some shifting and establishing boundaries for everyone. In my case, I’m blessed. Right after she was born, I started praying for the man Jill would someday marry. God listened.

Here’s what I understand so far; it all teeters on mutual respect. David gets to call me Woman Hitler and I have the freedom to jerk a toothpick out of his mouth.

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