I May Be In Left Field But I Am Still In The Game!
Lenore Wolke of Wayne, New Jersey says when a mother is raising her children, "it is like she is a softball coach. She runs the game and makes sure they get to all the bases they have to and they get there safely." Then their sons get married and the mother gets positioned in the outfield. "The son is at bat, his wife is on first base, his job is at second base and his wife's family is on third base... Mothers of sons are out in "left field" waiting for the ball to come their way."
Grace Thatcher of Yorba Linda, California follows the five good mother-in-law rules:
1. Let go. Don't interfere in the couple's decisions.
2. Be independent. Have interests that don't include your children.
3. Be flexible. There is more than one way to make potato salad.
4. Cultivate a cordial relationship with the other parents.
5. Claim your boundaries. Avoid family conflicts unrelated to you. Don't give money you don't have and don't babysit when you don't want to.
Can a mother-in-law be positively involved and initiating without being intrusive? I have been pondering my "left field" role now for quite a while. Although it does seem to be extremely tricky and sometimes my best option is to simply remain quiet at a distance, I do believe there are a few things I can do that are appreciated.
1. Take a gentle pulse on every family member when we are together for the purpose of prayer and encouragement.
2. Give gifts of affirmation of character. I keep a list of character qualities close by to remind me what to be watching for:
Love: meeting the needs of others sacrificially
Joy: exuberance that overflows when we are at peace with God
Peace: tranquility that comes from confidence in God
Patience: willingness to allow time to grow
Kindness: outworking of love
Goodness: holiness that is unconsciously at work
Faithfulness: loyal commitment
Gentleness: showing tender consideration for the feelings of another
Self-Control: ability to direct energies wisely
Calmness: inner peace allowing a quiet response to a stressful situation without fear
Courage: strength to resist opposition, danger or hardship without giving up hope
Gratefulness: sincere appreciation for anything received from others
Persistence: tenacity to persist in a course or goal until it is finished or achieved
3. Support endeavors with presence and resources - enthusiastically.
4. Respect the need to "process" and don't rush in with counsel without being asked, but be prepared with something wise just in case an opportunity arises.
5. Creatively offer "fun" opportunities without conditions or expectations.
So even though I've been assigned a place in the outfield where I sometimes feel out of the action, I can still play my position with grace and once in a while, God willing, a ball may still come my way!