Laying to rest the ghosts of all bad mothers-in-law, mine is one part knight-in-shining-armor, one part Betty Croker, and one part Mary Poppins. She makes housework fun and spoons sugar into all her interactions with us. Short, joyous, and faithful she arrives at the airport this afternoon and I, for one, couldn’t be more excited to see her.

My boys have been counting down the days. And since my husband has been out of town for a week I am thrilled that her visit coincides with his return so that we can hand our boys over and turn our attention to more important things, like sleep.

One of the main reasons I can actually enjoy the anticipation of her visits is because they don’t generate in me a list of to-dos. You know what I mean, “The MIL is coming, I have to do the dishes, the floors and the laundry.” To the contrary, I find myself making mental lists of all my “un-dones,” as in, “What can I ask mom to clean for me this time? It’s been ages since the fridge had an overhaul. But the shower curtain needs some serious attention – how to pick?”

I’m serious, people.

My mom (in-law) always brings us the gift of stresslessness when she comes. She arrives with energy and a desire to serve instead of a critical eye. Case in point: she has this amazing tradition of asking me what’s on my dream cleaning list before she arrives so that she can check it off for me by the time she leaves. When she was here back in July our windows got washed – both inside and out. Who does that kind of thing? (Ooo,  that reminds me that the glass sliding door really needs attention since the boys tried out the new “writes on cars and glass” markers on them last week – adding to mental list now.)

Seriously, I could gush annoyingly on and on. When we lived in Michigan she would regularly road trip the 8 hours by herself to come and visit. She stocks our freezer with home made meals and takes us grocery shopping. She calls anytime she drifts into the baby clothes section and has made one-of-a-kind quilts for each of my boys.

Want to punch me yet?

Any gift or loan or helping hand that comes from her or my father-in-law comes guilt free, no strings attached. They have taught us life long lessons in what it means to love on your kids, support them and somehow never make them feel beholden in the process.

We are taking mental notes, mom and dad, on what to do the day one of our boys comes to inform us he wants a plane ticket to some country far, far away for his graduation gift! Smile. Give. Weep behind closed doors?

So, mom, next time you’re wondering if you should snatch up that cheap plane ticket, the answer is, “yes, yes, always yes. Don’t hesitate, just come. The futon in the playroom has your name on it. The chocolate milk stains are a bonus compliments of the boys.”