Dear future daughter-in-law,
My son loves you enough to want to spend the rest of his life with you. That’s a big deal. But I hope you and I can have a relationship too. While I think he’s pretty terrific, I want to know all about you and to have a relationship of our own. I know you are more than his significant other—our relationship may be because of him, but it can also be separate from him.
Stop trying so hard. Just be yourself, the woman my son fell in love with. I don’t want you to try to fit into a mold or feel you have anything to prove—to me or anyone else. To paraphrase Pokémon: He chose you. That makes you family and means this momma bear will defend you with the same ferocity normally reserved for the cubs she birthed.
Though we both love the same man, we aren’t in competition.
I am no longer the most important woman in his life, but this fact does not diminish his love for me. And I expect that his love for you will increase each year, as you continue to learn more about each other and grow, both as a couple and as individuals. The human heart has the amazing ability to expand. Love is not finite—it multiplies as more loveable people enter your life. One thing I have learned is that even when you think it’s impossible to love someone more, there are times you almost feel your heart grow larger–love has no upper limits.
I will always be on his side. But that doesn’t mean I’ll always agree with him. Being on his side may look like pointing out how he shares the blame in disagreements. It may be reminding him that being in love doesn’t mean you will agree on everything but instead will always agree to work together to resolve conflicts. When he’s wrong, I’ll tell him (it will be in his best interest to realize this). When I disagree with you, I will try to do so in a respectful manner.
I want you to stay married. I know not all relationships last forever but believe that forever is the goal of marriage. Even though I may be incapable of keeping my opinions to myself, know that they are just that, my opinions. My hope is that you will always be able to resolve your differences (and yes, there will be plenty of differences) and that you will always remember what brought you together.
It’s okay to tell me to butt out.
I probably won’t like it, and it might hurt my feelings, but some things really are none of my business. As a mom, I hurt when my kids hurt and I’ve spent decades trying to help make things better—it will take some time to unlearn that habit.
While you may call me mom, and I hope you will grow to love me, I have no expectation of being equal in status to your mom. That being said, I look forward to spending time with you, doing some things that mothers and daughters do together, those girly things my son has no interest in. I want you to feel that I am someone you can turn to when you need support, someone you can trust who has your best interests at heart.
I hope you will let me help you. Not because you need it but because I want to make things easier for you. Life can be hard. No, life IS hard. I know that asking for help is one of the most difficult things a strong woman will do.
And I’ll share a secret it took me far too long to learn: accepting help is also a gift to the giver.
If you are blessed with babies, I will be a doting grandma (as my mother and hers before me were), but I will respect the fact that you will have your own ways of doing things. I realize you will have some hard and fast rules but hope you will accept that a certain level of rule-bending will not compromise your authority.
I’m looking forward to the day it all becomes official. Though some use the term with derision, I’m making the title mine and wearing it with honor.
Your future mother-in-law