Dear future daughter-in-law,
I don’t want to screw this up! I really, really don’t.
My oldest son came out to me as “straight” a few years ago, and he’s a real romantic who has mentioned on numerous occasions that he’d love to be married someday. This would eventually make me a mother-in-law to you, my daughter-in-law, and as we all know, that relationship has had a nasty reputation for centuries and centuries as being one of the most volatile ones known to mankind. I’d like to think that you and I could be the exception. Now, I realize that I might be setting my goals a bit high, but my hope is that you’ll never think of me as “the witch,” “the devil,” “a pain in the ass,” “judgmental vulture from hell,” or “monster-in-law.” And, yes, I am fully aware that that’s 99.9% up to me.
I’m going to be honest with you. My son getting married someday will inevitably be a bit of an adjustment for me. Just dropping him off at summer camp for a week gets me all chocked up. I’m pathetic that way. But I’m not needy. I’m not completely selfish. I’m only semi-immature. And I’m certainly not going to try to hold my boy back when the time comes to let him go… even if I don’t feel ready.
I have a few promises I’d like to make to you, and hopefully by the time you enter my life, these promises will be completely engrained in my mind, because I want us to be okay. I want us to be better than okay. I want us to be great from the very first “Nice to meet you.”
So, here we go…
I can sometimes be hyper and loud. And by “sometimes,” I mean always. The bad news is that I can’t completely change this about myself. (Trust me, everyone from my first grade teacher to my older sister have tried and failed.) The good news is that I’m aware of these traits and have some control over them, so if you’re more of the quiet type and my loudness gets to be too much for you, I promise to tone it down when you’re around so as not to annoy you. And if, on the other hand, you end up being someone with a similar outgoing, vivacious, occasionally obnoxious personality as mine, I promise to try to take a step back and let you have the spotlight. I’ll start practicing toning it down and taking the back seat now, so that I’m really good at it by the time you come along. Currently, I’m only mediocre at it, at best.
I will do my very best not to give you unsolicited advice. I hate to follow that with a “however,” but…. However, knowing how ridiculously excited I get when I have a creative solution to a problem, I may accidentally blurt out some advice without thinking. I apologize in advance. My suggestions won’t imply that you’re incompetent or wrong. You’re not. It’s just that I’ve had many more years of experience with balancing life, making the perfect chocolate soufflé, getting a child to stop taking her diaper off in public, dealing with adult acne and constipation, and buying everything from sofas to underwear on sale. Always on sale! Because you should rarely pay full price for anything! (See, there I go with the unsolicited advice. I have time. I’ll rein this in before our first meeting.)
If I do blurt out a suggestion, please know that I am not judging you. I’m just trying to be helpful. But still, I will do my best to constrain myself, keep my mouth shut, and wait for you to ask if and when you want to ask. (Please ask. Please. Just every once in a while would be great. It will make me absolutely giddy to think I’m able to make life a tiny bit easier for you with my advice. Solicited advice, of course.)
I promise you that I am doing all I can to raise a man who will respect you, cheer you on, pay attention to details that matter to you, know how to forgive and ask for forgiveness, keep asking you out on dates even well into your third decade of marriage, adore you to pieces, and leave no room for doubt about his commitment to you. My son is still young, but I’m working at making sure I don’t raise a “momma’s boy.” Instead, I’m trying to raise a man who loves and respects his mom but knows that once he gets married, his wife will come first. I will never try to compete with you. I hope and pray that you and I will never have the type of disagreements where my son feels stuck in the middle, but if we do, I hope I’m raising the kind of man who will always stand by you and take your side instead of mine. You will be his priority, and my pride will just have to suck it up and accept it.
My future daughter-in-law, I know I’m going to make mistakes along the way. Be patient with me and know that my intentions are good. My own mother-in-law has set a great example for me and has been more supportive and more accepting than I ever could have hoped for. Lucky for you, I am learning from the best. I have no good excuse to screw this up. I won’t screw this up. I promise you I will try my hardest not to.
My greatest hope is that you will always feel loved and accepted by me, just the way you are. You, my dear, will have such a special place in my heart because my son will have chosen you as his partner through life. You loving him will be the greatest gift you will ever give me, and there’s nothing more I’ll ever need from you. (Except maybe a few grandkids. But only if you want. Please want.)
Until we meet,
Kristina, your future mom-in-law