I know you wondered about me, and the kind of person I might be. You probably feared that I was some interesting piece of work; a newly divorced, mystery woman that you’d have to grin and bear for the sake of your son. I’ll admit I was afraid myself. I was afraid that I wouldn’t measure up, and that you’d think I wasn’t good enough for your son. Through a year of dating I heard about you, but hearing and knowing is never the same thing. You cannot imagine the relief that washed over me after that first lunch together, after realizing you were kind, not intimidating at all. From that day forward I felt lucky in regards to our relationship, and that feeling has never stopped.

There comes a moment when one realizes just how blessed they are. I am blessed in love, health, friendship, and especially family. I don’t take my family for granted, and when it comes to my family by marriage, I’m just plain grateful. I’m grateful that my brother-in-law, who’s been a friend since high school, had nothing but good things to say about me when I started dating his brother. I’m grateful I was welcomed by a new family as though I’d always been a member. But most importantly, I’m grateful for you, one of the kindest, most loving, and supportive individuals I’ve been lucky enough to call “my people.” It isn’t often one feels completely confident about the relationship with their mother-in-law, and I’m proud to be one of those fortunate individuals with two moms who love me unconditionally, flaws and all.

Everyone’s heard it. The horror stories about the tumultuous relationships between a mother-in-law and her daughter in law. The stories are always something along the lines of mom not approving of her son’s intended as no girl is ever good enough, or Mom can’t seem to help barging in to the house, the relationship, and virtually every issue possible, constantly rocking the boat. Poor mom is horrified at how disrespectful and rude her daughter-in-law is, and hates how she’s never allowed to be involved in her son’s life, or the lives of her grandchildren. It’s a story one hears quite often, and it’s a woeful one. Family is so important. While it’s heartbreaking so many can’t work out their differences, failing to find the good in one another in order to come together as a loving family unit, I’m not placing blame. Sometimes it’s just really difficult to get along with other people, as people have different personalities, viewpoints, values, judgments ETC. I’m not alien to this unhappy dynamic. I’m sure most women have experienced it at one point, which is why I’m so extremely grateful for you, my other mother, my mother-in-law.

I want to thank you for listening to me, and offering guidance whenever I need it. You laugh at the things I tell you, and don’t judge me harshly for saying something others may think inappropriate. I can be honest with you about concerns, and complaints, because I never worry that you don’t think I’m doing my best. I can make a snarky comment about something silly my husband has done, and you will laugh about it with me instead of getting defensive, because you know him best, know neither of us is an angel, and know I say it with love! In short, you let me be me. It means the world watching my daughter’s eyes light up when she sees her Nana, and the fact that she will always have you nearby, in her life through every stage. You never tell me I’m doing something wrong, or push your opinions about childrearing, or barge into our home like a scene from Everybody Loves Raymond (though sometimes we wouldn’t mind some barging!). You know our family is happy, and you encourage this happiness without ever picking apart the little details others seem so keen to attack, or attempting to fix things that really aren’t broken.

I look forward to spending all the future holidays with you, standing with you as my daughter performs in dance recitals, celebrates birthdays, graduates from high school, and with any luck, marries into a family equally as welcoming as yours, ours is. I know in this life it’s important never to take things for granted, and this is my way of saying you are appreciated, and very loved. For every time you’ve responded to a frantic SOS, been present through family highlights, told me your son is lucky to have me, and for being everything you are as a friend, confidant, mother, mother-in-law, and grandmother, I thank you. From a daughter-in-law who is fortunate enough to be a part of your mom tribe, thank you for being YOU.

Marisa Svalstedt

Marisa Svalstedt is a stay-at-home mom living in her hometown of Bethel, Connecticut, with her husband, and their daughter. She received her MA in English from Western Connecticut State. In addition to writing Marisa enjoys photography, modeling, and crochet.