Taking the Practicality Out of Relationships

Ask any of my girlfriends and they’ll tell you I have the best mother-in-law in the world. God totally blessed my socks off with her, and I’m forever grateful that we have a good relationship. The original Mama Ho is a sweet, spunky lady who once caught a fish with her bare hands when she was a little girl. She LOVES pizza, possibly more than my cheese-lovin’ son does, but moreover, she loves her family through her words and deeds. When the munchkins were small, she stayed with us for extended periods and helped us out by cooking and cleaning. There were times when I found her on her hands and knees cleaning our bathrooms, and boy, did I feel terrible (not to mention, embarrassed about the state of the toilets)! Even when I insisted she didn’t need to do that, she would always say, “You’re busy with the kids; I have nothing to do” and continue to bless me. She also prays for us with the sincerity and earnestness of a mother’s and grandmother’s heart.

These days, she and my father-in-law have their own place about twenty minutes away and just so happen to live about ten minutes away from hubby’s workplace. And because my mother-in-law is always thinking about how to help us, she’s been cooking for us for the past few years. Twice a week, hubby will stop by her place after work and pick up a hot, home-cooked, yummy meal, and bring it home. Let me tell you, it’s amazing to have dinner just show up on the dining table. (If you can’t tell by now, cooking is not one of my favorite pastimes!) And my mother-in-law takes her “job” so seriously that she hardly ever misses a day and she’ll even be disappointed when she can’t cook for us.

Which is why when hubby changed jobs a couple of years ago to work in the city, he still made a weekly trip to my mother-in-law’s. Back then, his commute home consisted of a one hour ride on BART (the Bay Area’s public rail service) where he usually had to stand the whole time due to a lack of seats. Then when he picked up his car in our home city, he would drive another 60-90 minutes (roundtrip) to get dinner. By the time he reached home, he was pooped. 🙁

It wasn’t long before I began thinking that it wasn’t worth it for my mother-in-law to continue cooking for us. I really didn’t mind making dinner if it meant hubby could come home earlier and not have to sit in bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic. So I relayed my thoughts to hubby, but was shocked to hear his perspective.

“But my mom loves to cook. I don’t mind picking up dinner. Sometimes letting other people help us, helps them.”

WHAT?! All the practical, no-nonsense alarms went off in my head and I wanted to spew off a list of reasons of why it didn’t make sense. It was not efficient, economical or a good use of time. Right? But then, hm…. I thought about his statement and began to understand what he was saying.

As a square gal, I often get caught up in the logistics of things. I want to make sure I use my time well and get the best deals. I aim for practicality and efficiency. I want things done my way (which is of course, the best way, haha). But if there’s one thing I’ve come to realize since becoming a mom, it’s that not everything can be planned, organized or controlled. When people are involved, the intangibles outweigh the details. Personalities and preferences come into play. Feelings, motivations, and needs must be considered.

Because sometimes it’s not about you. Okay, most of the time, it’s not about you. When you have a relationship with someone—a friend, spouse, child, or other family member—you can’t always be practical. But you can always choose to love. And sometimes, loving means doing things that don’t follow your plan. It means seeing the bigger picture. It can mean letting others help us even though it’s not the most efficient thing to do. Because most all of the time, loving someone means treasuring the person’s heart. And that makes the most sense of all.

Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong/freedigitalphotos.net

Take a listen to this beautiful song, “For Good”, sung by Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel (from the musical, “Wicked”) that sums up how our relationships touch us. I love the lyrics: “Because I knew you, I have been changed for good”.

Who in your life has taught you the value of relationships?