Adventures of a pretend mother-in-law

Sleepy Sara

If you’d like to hear, rather than read this post, click the audio recording… right above!

It was past midnight, and let’s just say, if a cop had pulled me over and looked in my trunk, things might have become… I’ll say complicated. Uh… possibly, weird.

You see, I was driving around with a 25 year-old, shirtless man in the trunk of my car, and he was eating McDonald’s fries, while blasting tunes on his iPad. He happened to be my son, but not the one that currently lives with me. That  would be Warren.

The whole thing was all Sara’s doing.

Sara lives in Halifax and attends NSCAD. She’s also Warren’s girlfriend, and supposedly, they don’t live together. But seriously, they don’t fool me. Based on what I’ve seen thus far, they spend their nights at one or the other’s place, together, with infrequent nights apart, which means, technically, I live with Sara sometimes too.

Luckily, I like having a pretend daughter-in-law around.

When they’re at my place, it gets rather noisy. Warren is constantly bellowing her name, loudly.


Usually, he’s either teasing her or warning her that he’s—uh—about to let something go. Yes, I mean exactly what you’re thinking. And hello, we all do it. It’s natural, and boys are preprogrammed to believe the activity is hilarious.

Sara and I both insist on warnings, so we can leave the room. The strategy worked well when I lived in a big house in Waterloo. But in my mini-apartment, leaving the room means we have to go outside until the danger passes because my apartment is, really, only one room.

Anyway, Warren’s bellow is followed by Sara’s bellow.

“Warren! Not again! You never listen to me! Stop bugging me!”

And on and on it goes… pretty much all evening, unless Warren turns on the TV, because for Sara TV is a sleeping pill, especially after she eats, which is pretty much all the time.

Actually, I count on Sara’s appetite. I still have days that I forget I’m not feeding a hoard of ravenous boys, and I come home with Costco-sized everything and then cook a pail of something or other. When it’s done, I suddenly remember… hey, there’s only two of us living here, with normal appetites. And that’s when Sara really comes in handy. All of 100 pounds, she’s an effective and reliable fridge-content and leftovers vacuum.

Hmmmm… she and I do text a lot about food. The other week, I texted her a photo of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, while she was working. It was a special brand of pretend mother-in-law torture.

C is for cookie

I also text when I want to go to Cows for ice cream, so I have a partner in crime.


We did go to Cows the night of that text. Sara only got one scoop.

When the two of them are living at my place, Sara doesn’t do dishes, but she’ll sit at the table and yak while we watch Warren do them. She also advises me on clothes because I’m having terrible trouble adjusting to all the things I CANNOT show anymore, like say, my knees, my upper arms, my… never mind. And recently, she very patiently explained, in small words, that I must not call my black, army boots by the politically incorrect name I had for them, and never mind what that was.

Warren always tells Sara that when I’m old, I can live in his basement. Sara says if he’s married to her, that’s fine, as long as the lock to let me out is on her side of the door. I’m down with that.

Another thing about Sara is that she takes present buying very seriously. And this year, she was determined to get Warren the most incredible birthday present ever, which leads me back to the story of the son in my trunk.

This year, Sara wanted to get Warren what it is he loves more than anything else in the world, which would be his brothers.

The only hitch was that his brothers were all back in Ontario, all three of them. (Oh yah… I always talk about my three sons, but there is fourth Jones brother. He’s my sons’ other-brother-from-another-mother. His name is Tyler, and he might make it into my blog at some point.)

Anyway, Sara figured Ontario was nothing a plane ride couldn’t fix. Bish bam boom… she booked and paid for a flight for the  birthday-present-brother that could come for a surprise weekend in Halifax, Graham.

And it was present reveal time.

Sara and I came up with an elaborate plan to keep Warren busy while we drove to the airport to pick up Graham, which somehow, we’d pulled off. This plan included a McDonald’s stop because for some reason Graham and Sara thought it would be hilarious for Graham to be shirtless while eating McDonald’s fries when Warren opened the trunk. Whatever… I can’t say I always get their humour.

It was almost 1am by the time we had Graham, the burgers and pulled into my driveway. Sara and I went in to get Warren. We told him Sara had a surprise in the truck that was too heavy for us to carry. Good boy that he is, Warren followed us out to the car to bring in the mysterious package.

I could hear the music on Graham’s iPad and there was McDonald’s in the air, but Warren didn’t even blink. We live in the supposedly sketchy “North” end of Halifax… french fry smell and phantom music is nothing unusual.

Warren got to the trunk and popped it open. It took him a good minute to figure out the half-naked man in the trunk was his brother. And when he did, he started shrieking in disbelief and joy…

“What? What? You’re here? Graham? You’re here?”

Graham crawled out of the trunk and casually said, “What up baby bro?”

Warren launched himself at Graham like a torpedo, and those boys were tied at the hip the entire weekend. Suffice to say Warren got the best birthday present ever, and Sara was pretty happy the gift was a such hit. At least, she was happy until she realized the height of the bar she had set for herself. And then… more shrieking…

“Oh no! I’m gonna have to top this next year! I’ll never be able to do that!”

With three sons, there’s been a lot of girlfriend comings and goings through the years. Seems the ones that stick around the longest make my sons very happy and bring out the best in them. And Sara? Check on both counts.

When I moved to Halifax, I had no idea what kind of life would unfold. Getting a chance to be a pretend mother-in-law, a bit ahead of the game, came as a complete surprise. But I confess, it’s pretty awesome.

PS Thank you Heidi and Dan Panchaud for making and raising an amazing woman. I’m sure glad I get to borrow her for a while I’m out here.

PPS Sara said yesterday that maybe I could live in your house when I’m old, instead of  her and Warren’s basement. You okay with that?

Recordings used in audio version: Adventure by  Disasterpiece, Ebonics by Big L, Prelude from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho by Bernard Hermann

PPS If you like what you read, please follow me. There are two boxes… Click the “follow” box at the bottom of the screen, and  NOT the one that has a little ‘w.’ Pop in your email, and you will be sent a confirmation email. Open it, okay it and bish, bam boom… you will get an email with telling you I’ve posted… which is once a week, whether you need to hear from me or not. Hmmm… kinda the same schedule as my showers…

6 thoughts on “Adventures of a pretend mother-in-law

  1. Sara is pretty great. Thanks for taking care of her for us while she is away from home. Oh yeah and The Panchauds think Warren is pretty great too.


  2. I remember this visit last fall–Graham was so stoked to surprise Warren. I’m going to miss these weekly posts but I fully understand your need to focus on your book. Having spent last year making a sketch-a-day, there is a relief that comes with not having to produce on a daily basis. It is short-lived, as you know, as another project demands your attention. I’m looking forward to your completed memoir. Thanks Karalee.


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