The first time my then boyfriend (now husband), Philip, took me to Florida to meet his parents, Lou and Judy, I told him on the flight there that sometime during the week, I’d like to have a frank conversation with his mom. I was planning on waiting to talk to her until the end of the week, after we had a few days to get to know each other. Philip agreed waiting a few days was a good idea.
But apparently, I’m not good at waiting (especially when it comes to waiting to talk). So the same day we arrived, only a few hours after meeting Philip’s parents, we were out at dinner and I turned to Judy and said, “I want to talk to you about something.”
Philip gave me the surprised “Really? Already?” look.
My husband is much more patient and rational than I am. He usually tries to get past the introductory small talk before delving into anything deep and serious. But thankfully he loves me despite (and sometime because of) my over-enthusiasm and impulsiveness.
I continued, “Judy, I want to talk to you mom to mom, and I want to be completely blunt and honest with you. If my son comes to me one day and tells me that he met a girl he’s in love with, that she’s divorced, that she’s a single mom of two very young kids, that she’s barely making it financially and has dealt with a lot of depression and stress in the past few years, I would have some major, major concerns, to say the least. And to be honest, that kind of girl would probably not be my ideal dream for my son, not exactly what I would hope for him. So if you have any concerns about me, about your son dating me, I completely understand. I get it! And if you have any questions for me, I want to be as open with you as possible, so please know that there is absolutely nothing you can ask me or say to me that would be out of line.”
Philip’s mom looked at me and, with the same passion I had just spoken with, she responded, “And I want you to know that I have never seen my son this happy. I have had many honest conversations with him since the two of you started dating, and I have no concerns. And I also want you to know that if someday you marry my son, and I hope you do, those kids of yours will be my grandchildren, and I will treat them as such and love them just as much as I love my own blood.”
My sweet mother-in-law has lived up to that promise. Now that Philip and I have our own baby, she treats all three of my kids with equal love and care. And she treats me like I am her ideal dream for her son, exactly what she hoped for him.
And she is most certainly my ideal dream for a mother-in-law, more than I hoped for and exactly what I hope to be someday when it’s my turn to fill that role.
Judy’s advice to all mothers-in-law: