The Family You Choose

Breaking the mother-in-law stereotypes

The Family You Choose
Yvette Baker

So I really did think a long time about this. My mother is a woman who broke the mold on single mothers. Raising her children and then some, after the seperations from our fathers. Who wouldn’t want look to a role model like her, that worked the 80hr weeks for baseball fees, and pointe shoes. Or my grandmother who fought through custodial rights (which was unheard of at that time) and the kidnapping of her only child or her battles with end stage cancer (she’s doing well currently). I’ve had more than my share of strong, empowered female role models. But in the end, I was left with one person. I met Yvette Baker about 4 years ago, and we could say that I was very nervous at first. I was the new girlfriend. A stranger from another state and not always every mother’s dream girl for their son. So there I was in an outfit that was obviously picked out to make an impression. I turned on the southern charm most people joke about and before I knew it we had kicked up a kinship that was more like a lifetime instead of a few years. The lead up to this meeting was proceeded by one of the worst years of my life. I had walked away from the home I had always known for good. Said goodbye to my nephew, who I had helped raise from birth. He was my rainbow after a long period of infertility. My mother who had become my best friend and confidant. I left for a place that at the time left everyone scratching their heads (Iowa). I was suffocating in that town and had finally got those wide open spaces all the songs promise. But do you know what keeps people from moving back home? Healthy roots? Like when you transfer a plant from one pot to another. You have to make sure the ability for new roots to grow is a possibility. And I was primed by the love of my own family. But it’s not always so easy, but people like Yvette make it seem as easy as watering a Peace Lilly. It’s like having another mother without all the relived memories of how much of an asshole you were at 16. When my grandmother was first diagnosed with the cancer. I couldn’t find it in myself to cry to my mother. She had so much on her plate and who was I to ask for a shoulder when she needed one way more. Yvette had been through this with her sister. So I thought if anyone could understand how I felt she would. And I was right, she did know how I feel and listened to every fear, helped me work out when was the right time to come home. In the end when I left we hugged and it was a hug that lifted the rain clouds. Made it easier to think more clearly. She lol helped me search flights. Loaned me a suit case, and made sure to feed the boyfriend while I was gone. She has made every holiday feel as inviting as home. I will find myself coming early to lend a hand to cook, or wrap a present, or bake cookies like I use to with my own mother. Did I mention ethe grandmother she became to my son from a previous relationship? Picking him up from an evening with Grandma Baker is always followed with regalings of how they watched Godzilla, and popcorn or pizza. Yvette is the type of Grandma that really listens to what you say you want for your birthday. She is a well of fashion advice. I’ve come to believe that before I met Yvette, that I never felt fully put together and had told her on multiple occasions how silly I always felt dressed up cause it just always seemed off. It’s gotten to the point where I’ve thought to just give her money and let her pick out my clothes cause I always look fly as hell when she’s selecting. Like the stunning dress she picked for my brother in laws wedding. When in Ulta together we sometimes make eye contact and know we aren’t leaving without dropping an easy $50. She’s never slighted me once for moaning about Thad not taking the trash out. It’s always met with understanding and the compassion of someone who has been there. I joke with Thad, that he doesn’t have to worry about me leaving cause I love his mom too much, and he makes jokes about how I’m the favorite child. There’s never a rush to leave, when I pop in for a chat or to love the puppies. How could you not nominate a woman like Yvette Baker? A woman who redefined what it is to be a mother-in-law. No longer are we stuck in the past of dreading a call from the in-laws. Now I look into a future where my family has grown, and will continue to, with the births of nephews, the weddings of brothers, and maybe a few puppies being adopted. Who could have ever known how much admiration would have been born on the day Yvette Baker got to meet her youngest son’s new girlfriend. I love you, Yvette, for all the years of love and support. I only hope one day I can return the favor.

extended family
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Sarah Peterson
See all posts by Sarah Peterson