By Kimberly Zapata
When I met my husband, in the fall of 1996, I had no idea what I was getting into. We were both 12 and we both liked reading. We both liked The Simpsons and Pokemon; video games and art. Not fine art or anything like that. We just both enjoyed drawing. We both enjoyed making cartoons.
So like any sound-minded seventh grader, I asked him out.
I mean, a few shared interests, a couple of 10-minute conversations, and one slow dance were the basis for a solid relationship, right? Well, yes and no. It was enough for two 12-year-olds — especially since our “relationship” was nothing more than hand holding in the halls and long walks through the park, or to and from school — but it wasn’t enough to be real. It wasn’t enough to be love.
Three months later, we split up. (Or as he puts it, I was “the first girl to break his heart.”)
But less than five years later, we were at it again; well, we were dating again. Before long, things turned serious: we were serious. By 19 we were living together, by 21 we were engaged, and by 24 we were married. And on that wet and unseasonably warm October day, that’s when “it” happened. That’s when I acquired in-laws and an extended family. That’s when I acquired the dreaded mother-in-law.
(Dun, dun, dun!)
But contrary to the stereotype — the myths and rumors and long-standing jokes — my mother-in-law is not “evil” or some dreaded presence in my life. She is not intrusive or overbearing, she is not difficult, and she is not a punchline. Instead, she is compassionate and funny. She is supportive and loving, and I turn to her as I would my own mother.
I love her as I love my own mother.