I have been married to my mother-in-law’s son for eight years now. In this time, I have come to know this woman like I know no other and have since been in complete awe of her. She defines unconditional love by simply being herself and sprinkles magic in our everyday lives.

From afar, you would see a woman or as some people would call her, just a woman. But I have been lucky enough to look closely and see how extraordinary she really is. She carries herself with such grace and confidence that many young girls can take inspiration from. She might have lived a very ordinary life and is a staunch follower of old and traditional customs, but I have rarely met anyone so progressive in her thoughts and so receptive to new ideas.

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To many, she would appear to be just a grandma taking care of her grandkids and showering them with love. But my kids’ fascination (read obsession) with her is a testament to the special role she plays in their lives. She can heal their wounds with such ease and compassion as they melt in her arms. At times, when I would be too busy taking care of other aspects of their lives, she’d drop everything and provide all the attention in the world they need at that time. I even fear they would be spoiled with such tenderness, but the beautiful image I see of them being comforted and her being so joyful takes away all my fears.

Her special ingredient of love is added not only in her recipes but in all the moments spent with them, making memories that will last them a lifetime.

She’s just a wife, you’d think, taking care of the day-to-day chores for her husband and family. But she commands a respect and an honor earned over several years of selflessness and dedication. As she caters to all the needs of her family, she stands as an unyielding pillar sharing joy and grief and being the very foundation of all a marriage demands. It’s a pure joy to often find my in-laws giggling and sharing a private joke that none of the members from the other generations will ever understand.

Some say, she’s just a mom.

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Is that even a phrase? I ask now that I know what all comes along with becoming a mother. Yes, just like any other mom she would do anything for my husband and his brother and would often worry over the slightest of things. But to be able to give them the space to fall, explore, and even push them to struggle at times is something she does most naturally. She can foresee the light at the end of the dark tunnel and gather the courage to see her own kids fail temporarily only to see the worth later. This quality of a mom, to segregate her feelings and not hope for constant sunshine over her kids is one I truly admire and aspire to have.

Some would call her just a mother-in-law, but they are clearly not aware of the complexities that come with this relationship.

An intricate bond made so smooth for me that I tread on this journey with ease. I often forget she is not my birth mom as she rejoices in my accomplishments and literally cries over my sorrows. I often forget she’s not a friend as we share anecdotes in the kitchen corner or over tea. I often forget she’s not a sister as we talk of (mock) our own husbands and feel like the Gilmore Girls in making.

However, I never forget I am the daughter-in-law in awe of this wonderful lady who would always be more to me than just my husband’s mom.

Chandni Bansal

She is a mum of 2 little angels (ages 1 and 5) and lives with her husband and kids. She loves to write about love, life, and family, and share her experiences of being a mom and wife with all her readers. You can follow her on her personal blog, Little Voice of love.