I had always dreamed that my future mother-in-law would be like the one Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City had for a while when she dated fiction writer Vaughn Wysel. They adored one another. This is what I wanted: a woman who'd only had sons and who would drop the 'in-law' and see me simply as a daughter. Who'd take me under her wing and love me and be super excited her son was with a girl like me. Who would tell him how lucky he was; who would be proud of my achievements. Who'd tell me I look gorgeous when I'm all done up and ready to go out.
Instead, I got my mother-in-law. A traditional woman born in a small village in 1950s Spain, who grew up in a time of poverty and persecution, has a tendency toward negativity, who doesn't put up Christmas decorations. She once asked me if I was going to get braces as we sat down to lunch, and another day, she gave me advice on shaving in the shower.
I am a Londoner who looks for a celebration in every small accomplishment and loves to travel, eat out, and glug wine. For a long time, I couldn't get past our differences. Nor could I forgive her for not openly adoring and loving me, and for clearly loving her son more. She thought he was the best ever, that I was the one who was so lucky to be with him.
When we first met, we had little in common apart from her son. But years, a marriage and a daughter later, we share two of the people we love most dearly in the world. We share moments and make memories together.
It's taken becoming a mother for me to understand why she adores her sons more than she could ever dote on a daughter-in-law. As a stay-at-home mother, they are the fruits of her life's work. They are the products of her hours - years - of hard work, dedication, and love. And of course, they are hers her darlings.