A gift from God—not how you would typically describe a mother-in-law. Trust me, I didn’t see it at first. In fact, I pushed her as far away as possible.

I was warmly welcomed into the family as soon as I started dating my husband. My husband, being the youngest child, naturally was her baby. I never realized a mother could do so much for a then, 32-year-old. By that, I mean meticulously keeping up with every appointment, move, breath. Every possible detail you could imagine. Now I really, truly, deep-down know she was a good person, but I was completely put off by this helicopter parenting. 

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Fast forward 10 years, past our marriage in 2009, to years and years of unexplained infertility, three miscarriages (long story for another time) to the birth of our first child. During pregnancy, I started getting a little (for lack of better wording) “freaked out.” She was going to get a car seat to take my baby places, sign him up for swim lessons. There were already bags of clothing she had bought to keep at her house for him.

I felt like the mother role I had worked so hard for was being taken from me. 

When he was born, I remember her holding my baby and then kissing his cheek. I felt a spark of jealousy at that moment. Eight weeks later, after a lot of phone calls, visits, and helicoptering, I went back to work. She kept him for me, and the first day she clipped his toenail and cut his toe. I was beyond furious. From then on, let’s just say I was not very pleasant. Time went on, I remained cold and distant. It was only prior to and around the birth of my second child I started to see things from a different perspective.

I did not come from a close family. I was a child of a messy divorce (another long story). My childhood was tainted with hate and anger. I learned how to become numb to my feelings at a very young age. I found a church that changed my life with a pastor whose weekly sermons helped me work through those feelings.

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How blessed am I to have a mother-in-law who is so invested in our lives? She has helped me more than anyone tackle life with my husband, two kids, dog, job, and house. Every appointment, every holiday, everyday life—she shows up.

The love she has shown my children has helped mold them into the most beautiful little souls. There is not enough money in the world or stars in the sky to ever repay her. 

As my relationship with God has gotten stronger, it has opened my eyes. My mother-in-law is a true image of God’s grace. She showed me grace while I was navigating life as a new mother. When I responded in anger, she continued to shower me with love. I now know the unconditional love of a mother. I have come to realize I was not jealous of my mother-in-law but rather not used to a love that deep. I am a better mom because of her example. There is no doubt God placed her in my life for this very reason.

I learned how to be a mom from my mother-in-law.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5).

Kristen Helms

A mom to a 5-year-old little genius with a heart of gold and a 2-year-old I often describe as "sunshine with a little hurricane." In addition to my kids and husband and dog, I am an Executive Assistant and Group Fitness Instructor.