With Mother’s day just around the corner in France, I’ve found myself reflecting on how lucky I am to have not one but TWO wonderful Mamans in my life.
The first, of course, is my own Mother. The bubbly and beautiful Michele Martin who raised me to be the confident, positive and determined young woman I am today. The Mother who taught me how to love, laugh and most importantly, live my life to the fullest.
The second is someone who came into my life just over four years ago – thanks to the man in my life – my belle-mère. Funnily enough, I was actually terrified of meeting my boyfriend’s parents and was totally convinced that they would hate me for being English.
It didn’t help, of course, that my friends who were with French men enjoyed sharing stories about their awful French mother-in-laws whenever we went to happy hour:
“She likes to comment on what I’m eating to not so subtly remind me that I’m eating carbs.”
“Last night she passed me the salad and moved the bread basket away from my plate.”
“She purses her lips together whenever I speak, as if my American accent is physically causing her pain.”
Can you blame me for being afraid when my friends were telling horror stories like these? Was the ancient rivalry between the French and the British stronger than ever? Honestly, I didn’t think I stood a chance. However, to my utmost surprise, I discovered that this mother-in-law was unlike any of the others.
My belle-mère opened up both her home and her heart to me and welcomed me with open arms into her family.
- My belle-mère is kind, thoughtful, considerate and giving.
- She is a constant support who is always there to listen and advise.
- She does things expressly to make sure I feel included.
- She goes above and beyond in everything she does for me and her own children.
- She shows me love as if I was her own daughter.
- She is one of a kind.
I really am extremely lucky, something I don’t think I fully appreciated until last year. Not because I’m ungrateful, but because I hadn’t realized what a toll living abroad had taken on me. I miss my family all the time and being away from them is a hard choice to live with. Last Christmas, when for the first time I couldn’t spend Christmas with them, I was heartbroken. I didn’t know how I’d even get through the Christmas period without crying!
But do you know what? I did, thanks to my wonderful family-in-law who made me laugh, who included me in everything and who filled my plate with delicious French food! It was at that moment, when I was sitting at the table with the 13 members of my new extended family that I realized that I was incredibly lucky to have the love of not one, but two families in my life.