Dear Mother-In-Law

Dear Mother-In-Law,

We talk every day – multiple times a day, depending on how the day is going – but I don’t think I’ve ever taken the time to tell you how I really feel. How much you really mean, how crazy you really drive me, and what a blessing you have been to my family. Usually Mother’s Day is about our own moms, the ones we grew up calling mama. But you’ve played such a big part in my story, and been so integral in my life, that it seemed only fitting to take today to tell you thank you for being a second mother to me.

Growing up, I saw my grandmother and great grandmother as the perfect mother and daughter in law pair. People often joked my grandmother had married my grandfather just to get his mother; she would always laugh, but never corrected them. In fact, the two women lived next door to each other from the day my grandmother joined the family, and were a constant presence in each other’s lives. They took care of each other.

I think I just grew up assuming this was how it was for everyone. But the older I got, the more I realized that’s not the case. As friends entered serious relationships and got married, I would hear stories of pushy, obnoxious, and rude older women who seemingly lived to terrorize their son’s new bride. I distinctly remember praying for my future husband, and praying that when I did find him, that his mother would not be bat crap crazy.

Enter my husband, and in turn, you. We spent the first year being overly formal, scared to offend or accidently upset. We walked on eggshells, and I’ll be honest, it was obnoxious. I like the meat of relationships, having a glass of wine and digging into the deep conversations. We weren’t that.

But when my daughter was born, man, did that change. I never would have survived that labor without you. When my own mother couldn’t be there, you stepped in and stayed by my side for the entire process. You cheered me on and kept me from murdering your son when he couldn’t hold my legs just right. It had been the fire we’d walked through together, and our relationship had fundamentally changed.

So much has happened in those three years. The gloves are off, and the real stuff is there. We are now at the stage where we can comfortably drive each other crazy. You can be pushy, particular to the point of insanity, and uncompromising. I am no less frustrating. I ask for advice that I know I’m probably not going to take, get irked when you don’t understand why I’m trying to plan my daughter’s next birthday eleven months in advance, and terrify you with the ever imminent threat of food poisoning from my kitchen (cooking has never been my forte).

What has been so incredible though is all the good stuff. The nights where I am able to call at 11 p.m. and you come running because my daughter has the stomach virus and I am in a panic. The conversations over Malbec on your back porch where we clink glasses and agree that we could solve all the world’s problems given enough time. The summer family vacations that we can’t imagine as complete without you and my father-in-law there.

You have never once forgotten what it was like to be a young wife and a mother. You teach me the things I should probably have learned by now, but haven’t yet, and you rarely say “I told you so”. You are my daughter’s very best friend, and to be honest, one of mine, too.

We may not be next door neighbors, but having you a few miles down the road has been the biggest blessing for all of us. I’m so glad God heard my prayers all those years ago and sent not only your amazing son, but a mother-in-law who was not in fact crazier than a road lizard. Happy Mother’s Day.

All my love,

Your Daughter-In-Law

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