Why You Should Have a Spanish Mother-in-Law

I have a Spanish (almost) mother-in-law. Her name is Josefa, but she goes by Pepita. She is great.

I am 5’11”. She is, perhaps, 5’1″. She was raised in small Spanish pueblo with her many brothers and sisters; she was the youngest. She learned French in school and thus does not know any English. It’s okay, though; I speak Spanish (surprise, surprise!).

I know you don’t happen upon a Spanish mother-in-law every day. I know! I am just saying … they are pretty amazing MILs! Why? Here’s why:

  • They worry way too much. This may not sound like a plus, but at least you know someone’s always thinking about you and hoping/praying you are okay.
  • They cook so damn well. I wish I could put into words how much I love her cooking – but I can’t. Let me just say: until you have tasted her tortilla de patata, you have not lived.
  • They love you like a member of their family. You cannot escape that, nor would you want to.
  • They may seem overzealous, but it’s only because they want to help

  • They try to help you dress well, even if this includes buying 30€ scarves at Massimo Dutti and then ironing them for you.
  • They help you improve your Spanish. They may not try to do so, but it is, after all, inevitable. Also, try learning how to cook any dish from them—this exercise will stretch your vocabulary, believe me.
  • Did I mention they know how to cook? Would you like to learn? Hey, so would I. Only problem? All her recipes are oral, not written, and i tend to get confused. If only, if only.
  • They know a lot of history—they’ve grown up here. Thus, if you venture out to the local parador, she will be able to explain the historical significance to you.

  • Spanish moms know how to appreciate good wine (hey, so does mine!).

So yeah, get yoself a Spanish MIL and maybe you’ll be as cool as me. Though I really doubt it. I think Pepita could kick your Spanish MIL right outta the water! No, but really -her food is better. It’s just a fact; you’ll have to accept it.

You’ll Catch a Cold (On Mothers and Love)

Growing up with a mother who’s a nurse, I’m well-versed in many common medical fallacies. (Fallacy: a misconception resulting from incorrect reasoning.) For instance, “sugar makes kids hyperactive.” In a study performed at Riley Hospital in Indianapolis, physicians could not note any differences in behavior between kids who had had sugar and kids who hadn’t. Interestingly, parents who were told their kids had eaten sugar noted that the child was more hyperactive. Seems like it’s in the parents’ minds, eh?

Here in Spain, I can never go a day without hearing “you’ll catch a cold.” Why? Not because I have been in contact with germs, not because I came into contact with a virus, no – because I went outside and it was cold.

How, in fact, does one catch a cold? Do you have to use a catcher’s mitt or will a pitcher’s suffice? How cold must it be – freezing? Is the cold slippery, hard to keep from slipping through my fingers?

Mario’s mother is imminently concerned with my clothes, footwear, and outerwear. If I go out in sandals, she asks, “But won’t you be cold/catch cold?” If it’s raining, she worries about the size of my umbrella and its inability to protect me from the rain that will inevitably penetrate my skin and inject the cold right into my bloodstream. She is not, from what I can tell, atypical. She is a mother, so she worries. (From my own mother, I’ve learned that it’s truly a mother’s preogative. Worrying is what they do.) While my mother worries more about me behind the wheel of the car, Mario’s thinks about whether we’ve eaten enough or have on the proper jackets.

Wise people often say that people are essentially the same. We all dream, hope, strive, fail, achieve. More mundanely, we all eat, sleep, and, ahem, go to the bathroom. To me, this truism is reflected perfectly by Mario’s mother. I may sigh in frustration when I cannot convince her that I’ll be fine with what I have on, but it’s no different from the sigh I emit when my own mother says for the zillionth time to “Drive careful.” (Never mind that it should be “Drive carefully.” Let’s leave grammatical hyperaccuracy out of this.) Mothers everywhere love and protect to the best of their abilities. And so I say thank you, Pepita, for loving me the best way you know how.