What My Mother-In-Law Has Taught Me
This Mother’s Day, we pay tribute to the most maligned mothers in society: mothers-in-law.
How many mother-in-law jokes have you heard or made? Chances are, a lot! Movies like the upcoming Crazy Rich Asians portray mothers-in-law (or to-be ones) as domineering, judgmental and sometimes, downright nasty.
However, the Bible presents a totally different picture of how daughters-in-law and mothers-in-law are supposed to co-exist. Ruth and Naomi from the Book of Ruth are these shining examples. When we read this book, we usually applaud Ruth for her loyalty towards her husband’s mother. But Naomi must have been an exceptional woman to have inspired Ruth, a Moabite, to uproot herself and follow her mother-in-law back to Bethlehem. Indeed, Naomi put her daughter-in-law’s interest and future ahead of her own when she taught Ruth how to win the heart of Boaz and marry him, the kinsman redeemer—a position that rightly belonged to Naomi.
Modern-day Naomis may not teach their daughters-in-law to dress up and lie down at a man’s feet, but they too have many valuable lessons to pass on. We celebrate this Mother’s Day with a tribute to all the wonderful moms-in-law.
Lim Jer Blinn, 38: “Not Only Did She Take Care Of Me, She Also Took Care Of My Siblings”
My dad died in 1998 when I was 18. My mom passed away in 2000. I was 20, and the eldest of four children. I looked after my siblings—they were good children.
I met my husband Jared when we were both 26. We had gone to the same secondary school and the same junior college, but we only got to know each other in church when we were in the same cell group. We got married in 2008.
My mother-in-law, Mdm Wee Loke Wah, is now in her 60s—she is a very motherly person. When Jared and I were together, she knew of my background. Not only did she take care of me, she also took care of my siblings. Every time we had dinner, she would say, “Bring your brother and sisters!” and she would cook for everybody. Even these days, when we have family dinner, she’ll still ask me to invite my siblings!
We have family holidays with my mom-in-law and all my siblings too. She’s there at every birthday party! My brother got married last weekend, and she was there with us.
When I became a wife and mother, I had no mom to turn to. My mother-in-law taught me everything. She taught me how to look after the household, how to cook, how to look after the babies.
She had been helping us to look after our three boys—we lived just a block away from her place in Bedok. But a month ago, we shifted to Tampines, so I didn’t expect her to continue helping us with the kids. But she still comes every day with food, and she would bring the kids out and bring them home.
There’s something that we do together, just the two of us. I introduced her to the AIA Vitality program and we clock steps together as a team. We encourage each other to hit our targets. When I go to her place sometimes, I do home workouts by watching videos on my phone. She would say “Use my phone to watch, and then you exercise holding your phone. Then you can clock steps!” She’d also update me regularly, like she would tell me, “I was free this morning so I walked around the stadium twice to clock more steps!”
My mother-in-law is a very capable woman. I don’t know if I could be so hands-on when I become a mother-in-law! I hope to be as knowledgeable as her. She can remember so many things when it comes to handling babies, even I can’t remember! I really look up to her. She’s someone I will always go to for advice.
Klessis Lee, 40: “She Believes In Instilling Important Spiritual Values In Her Kids And Praying For Them”
I’ve known my mother-in-law, Grace Lye, since I was 13 years old. We were in the same church. Growing up, I watched how she served God and people fervently. Despite that, she always had time for her two sons.
She believed in instilling important spiritual values in her kids and praying for them since they were young. She made sure that they were in church every weekend and served wherever there was a need. That is certainly something I learned from her. Now that I have my own kids, I would always remind myself to be the best example to my kids, to guide them to become people who love God and enjoy serving in the House of God. While I spend a lot of time doing ministry, I always made sure that I don’t neglect my family. I try to set aside time to be with them or even involve them as and when I can. For example, if I’m having meals with my members, I will bring them along. In the same way my mother-in-law was able to strike a good balance between ministry and family, I believe I can do the same.
I’ve been blessed to have my mother-in-law live with us all these years. She has been a great help when it comes to taking care of my kids and being a spiritual role model to them. I remember when my firstborn was 3, she could recite the whole Psalm 23 in Mandarin! My mother-in-law had been teaching her to memorize the psalm verse by verse every night at bedtime, which was how she could recite the whole chapter so fluently! We were so amazed, we got her to recite it over and over again. That also reminded us the importance of memorizing Bible verses.
My mother-in-law is also a prayer warrior. Every day in the early morning, we hear her praying and interceding for different ones. These little things she does daily encourage me to stay grounded as a Christian and not to neglect the boring basics. I want to leave behind the same kind of spiritual legacy for my own children.
Ee Zhen Ying, 33: “She Taught Me That It Is Possible To Go Through The Toughest Of Times With A Sweet Attitude”
I count myself very blessed to have a wonderful mother-in-law! Before I got married, I had watched plenty of television dramas that give mothers-in-law a bad reputation, and I’m so thankful that mine is a dream come true. She is really one of the nicest people around.
My mom-in-law, Laura Teo, exemplifies the Proverbs 31 woman. I hear stories from my husband about how they went through tough times as a family when they were younger, but my mom-in-law trusted God with unwavering faith. She worked hard to provide for the family, believed in and cheered her husband on, and took care of the entire household.
When her children were younger, she gave piano lessons from 7.30am to 11pm almost seven days a week to make ends meet. She never complained. Instead, she chose to make a difference in the lives of the people who crossed paths with her. More than a piano teacher, she was a great counselor to many of her students. They would share with her their adolescent problems, family matters, and even relationship issues. She was a source of Godly counsel, love, and encouragement.
Her stories taught me that it is possible to go through the toughest of times with a sweet attitude. Rather than focus on and lament over her problems, she continued to love people unreservedly.
When I first got married, I would find my mom-in-law still awake late at night, sitting at our dining room table with a cup of hot Milo in hand. She was reading the Bible! I felt so inspired and touched. She is truly living out what it means to love God even till her hairs turn grey. I pray that I too would be ever hungry for His word.
Her attitude towards learning is another thing I love. The smartphone can be such a challenge to the older generation but she took it all in her stride. Last year, I taught her how to use the Grab app so that she could make use of the promo codes whenever she needs to take a cab. I must proudly announce that she is now a Gold reward user.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! Thank you for being the best mother-in-law in the world, or as your grand-daughter says, the best in the whole universe and even the solar system! We love you very much and you are truly a Godsend in our lives.
Theresa Tan, 50: “I Only Hope I Can Be A Fraction As Generous, Kind And God-Loving As She Is”
I have known my mother-in-law, Rosa Ng, since I started dating her son when he and I were both 19. She was a senior set designer at then-Singapore Broadcasting Corporation (now MediaCorp) and I thought she was so cool and incredibly creative.
Over the years, before we were married, my mom-in-law made time to get to know me as a friend. She wasn’t all that motherly—she treated me more like a peer, which was unusual.
When we finally got married, which was eight long years after we first got together, my mother-in-law had special orchids grown for my wedding bouquet, which she created. She has the best taste in anything artistic, and I have been heavily influenced by her (though I am nowhere as gifted as she is).
Giving birth to my firstborn was the turning point for us. My mother-in-law never really spoke of God to me before, though she is a woman of faith who is completely sold out to Jesus. But that first morning I went home and I was holding my baby in my arms, she came and put her arms around us and prayed, and I felt the Holy Spirit descend upon us and I cried and cried. It was the first time I had felt such love from her and from the Lord. I know that it was in part because of her steadfast love and constant prayer (for decades!) that I finally received salvation in 2003.
My mother-in-law was gentle and patient where my own mother was bossy and impatient. My mother and I would get into incredible fights over my attempts to breastfeed my baby, and it was my mom-in-law who smoothed things over and calmed my mother down. I can’t imagine anyone else doing that!
Over the years I have learned more from my mother-in-law than I can put down on paper. She is a creative Peranakan cook, and her ayam buah keluak is incomparably good. It’s probably one of the few things I have not learned from her yet but it’s on my list. From her, I’ve learned how to make great soups, I’ve learned how to appreciate the details that go into making a curry great, I’ve learned that every great dish must be sweet, salty, sour and spicy.
Most of all I have learned from my mother-in-law that there is no greater love than for a woman to lay down her life for her friends. I have not met a more sacrificial person than my mother-in-law. It’s not just her husband, her children, her grandchildren that she is generous towards, it’s to her friends, neighbors, new friends, even my friends! She is the one her friends would call when they need someone to do something urgently.
My mother-in-law is now 79. Even as she is battling the early stages of dementia, she is still determined to live as fully and love as lavishly as she always has. I’m blessed beyond words to be her daughter-in-law, and to live under the same roof as her, enjoying her company daily. I only hope I can be a fraction as generous, kind and God-loving as she is.
by Dawn Seow