My wife and I had only been dating a few months when she brought me around to her parents' house for the first time. It wasn't exactly what you'd call a low-pressure situation — the date was Christmas Day, the family was Italian, and there was a massive dinner to be prepared.
Rather than heading for the living room after exchanging pleasantries at the door, I dropped my bags and dove headfirst into the kitchen to help.
It was the beginning of a wonderful friendship.
Over the years that followed I'd learn that, much like my own mom, my mother-in-law is a grin-and-bear-it type, never giving up, always working harder. She has raised three kids (daughters, in her case, sons in my mom's), and they will always be her first priority. She's generous to a fault and is the glue that keeps her friends and family together, asking little in return. We have a love of fashion in common.
My mother-in-law's already done far more for me than I could ever wrap my head around, and certainly more than I could repay in the traditional son-in-law currency of "lifting heavy things" and "grabbing stuff from the top shelf."
I know I'm a lucky son of a gun to have such a wonderful woman in my life, and I'm aware that my experience doesn't speak for everyone. Just ask the many sons- and daughters-in-law who'd describe their in-law relationships as, well, "strained." But I refuse to believe I'm an outlier. Great mothers-in-law abound.
A mother-in-law can never replace your own mom, and you may never truly be her kid, but she's the closest thing you'll have to a parent you can choose yourself — and she'll love you all the same. And I'm thankful for that.
She's the one reminding you of the joy you bring to her child, and trusts that you'll do whatever it takes to support them.
She's the one who gives you a better sense of where your partner came from, helping you grow closer than ever.
She's the one who you go to for advice when you need an outside perspective, with the candidness of a family member.
She's the one reminding you how amazing your own parents are, because she likes them so much. (And when can she see them again?)
She's the one who buys you thoughtful gifts and cooks you your favourite meals, because you're the son (or daughter) she never had.
She's the one who drops by exactly when you start to miss her — because, face it, you do — but also makes sure to give you and your spouse space when you need it.
She's the one who makes sure you eat enough, because that's exactly what your own mom would do.
She's the reason you buy two Mother's Day cards every year.
And, yes, she's the one who makes sure you know that you, too, are a part of her family.
Let's hear it for the mothers-in-law who treat us like one of their own, because we can't thank them enough.
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