Surviving childhoods living in the war torn town of Grimsby during World War Two, making sure my trawler-brawler husband and his brother safely weathered thousands of childhood fracas and laughing through marriage for more than 50 years, my mother and father-in-law are the wonders of my British world. When the team at Work the World asked me who my unsung heroes are (and deserved to be sent a Fortnum & Mason hamper on our behalf), it had to be my British whanau.
|They would kill me if they knew I took this, but this is my favorite photo of them, walking hand-in-hand into the wind.|
As an expat, you have a slightly different relationship with your better-half’s family. Instead of the usual Mother/Daughter-in-law relationship, my Mother-in-law found herself adopting a quirky, foreign, extra daughter with an eye rolling whilst nagging her husband habit. Not a nice British girl who understands local flavour palates, sunny holidays to Spain and English etiquette (something I’ve still to grasp, but luckily they allow me a lot of slack), but a crazy Kiwi wanderluster whose idea of a wonderful trip is shivering in an Arctic Circle field watching the Northern Lights shimmer across the skies, cooks pumpkin and sweet potato like it’s going out of fashion and delights in Northern English bakeries like ‘The Bun Shop’ (the “u” has to be pronounced to rhyme with pull).
They let me steal their son to the other side of the world for extended holidays, travel to see us in London and make a fuss of our power-hungry moggy, chauffeur us to their favorite Lincolnshire tea-spots before taking in Fish and Chips, and send the best occasion cards (I actually cried when they sent a ‘congratulations on passing your driving test’ card, one of the most stressful things I’ve ever done).
My mother-in-law avidly watches the rugby news sending cheeky text messages about the All Blacks, always makes sure she has a stash of biscuits, hot tea and ham buns ready at the end of our car journeys, dances with me to Meghan Trainor’s All About The Bass and keeps us up-to-date with the best family gossip.
My father-in-law delights in donning his pub jacket (read: any) to take the boys out for a cheeky few, tells hilarious escapade stories, advises us on keeping a beautiful garden (despite the fact that we can only keep weeds and trees alive) and steps in when we’re in DIY tool chaos.
And they seem to love both of us despite our many, many faults.
|Climbing Waltham Windmill – another Grimsby hometown tourist guerilla act|
For all of these reasons and more they deserve as many careful hugs as we can give them, hampers full of deliciously naughty treats, soppy birthday cards and as much teasing as we can get into every single sentence. For teaching me the love of a local football team, for the twinkle in their eyes and for telling us off when we really do need it, they actually deserve much more.
Postscript: I actually didn’t mean to turn this into a sob-fest, but here I am, at my keyboard with tears welling up, as I realise just how much these two people mean to me and how kind they have been to adopt me into the family. And no, they’ll never read this – only you, me and the internet will know about this post!
Work the World kindly sponsored a hamper sent to my out-laws in order to keep my best-foreign-daughter-in-law crown firmly in place.