Dear Future Daughter-in-Law,
As I write this letter your future husband is all sprawled out on the couch watching his older sister torment the dogs. It is so strange to refer to him as “your husband” considering he is so small and still so innocent. But he is yours and you are his. Right now God knows exactly where you are. Maybe you are being held by your mother as she tries to soothe you to sleep. Perhaps you too are laying on the couch watching an older sibling torment your dogs. Or maybe my son will like older women and you are five years old and enjoying a Saturday afternoon at the park. I can’t picture you. I have no idea what type of girl you are or will be, but God has that planned out. As your future father-in-law frequently tells me, “That’s above my paygrade.” I don’t try to figure out the Divine … you know … that whole human, limited understanding factor really fudges things up.
I am sure you will hear this from me many times, but your husband and I didn’t have the easiest start. Five hours of insanely quick and painful labor started us off. Followed by roughly two months of him screaming bloody murder. Everyone had suggestions to fix him. Try this or try that they would say. Yet none of them felt the terrible, awful feeling of defeat that one night I laid him on his father’s chest and then went into our bathroom and sobbed on the floor for 30 minutes. I cried, and cried, and cried harder. The only thing I knew to do was to pray and ask God to show me what to do. Or to give me some form of strength that I didn’t have within me. Time would pass and I would stick to my gut and belief that he would “grow out of it” and he did. He is currently a very fat, very happy 3 month old. A 3 month old, mind you, who sleeps 9 hours straight. No more middle of the night crying fests in the bathroom for me.
The night I had Eli I sat in my delivery room waiting on my body to figure itself out so I could be transported to recovery. I decided it was a perfect time to write in my prayer journal. He nursed, his dad slept, and I sat there and wrote about my day. In that moment I started to pray a prayer that I would find myself praying each day for my son. “Lord, make him a man among men. A leader among leaders. Make him strong, resilient, brave, loving, and humble. Make him a good man in a storm.” Each night after his bath I hold him and we get a few minutes after his sister goes to bed and before his father comes home. I pace with him and make him smile, and then I pray … Lord make him a man among men …
You see, over the past few years there have been a few blogposts I have read written by women who have sons. (Do you even know what those are? Or are they like the 8-tracks of 2038?) They contain lists and “warnings” for future wives or girlfriends of their sons. These lists or letters make my heart hurt in a very, very deep way. They rip open a still healing wound. They bring a flood of pain. You see, I’ve been where you are. I’ve sat in your position wondering how you can make your new family like you a little better, or wondering if they will ever like you at all. I’ve felt the rush of nerves as you prepare to meet your new in laws. I’ve felt every moment you are experiencing. By writing this I want to help calm your nerves. I want you to know that I’m on your side because you are an important piece to the puzzle.
I spent 9 months growing your husband. Waddling around the remaining few weeks of it. People asking me how long I have to go and then making a pity face when they found out I was only 37 weeks. Another few months getting to know him and work through our “issues.” I’ll spend the next 18 years going through the ups and downs. The hills and valleys. I will drive him to practice after practice. I will have to explain to him why he can’t pee anywhere but in a toilet or our backyard. I’ll have to teach him how to actually bathe himself to ensure he is clean and not his version of clean. I will have to punish him when he tortures his sister or does something stupid. I will most likely sit through a million and a half (rough estimate) innings of baseball and quarters of football. When he is ready to talk to me about the girl in high school who hurt his heart I will have to lovingly listen and explain that sometimes we ladies don’t know how hurtful we can be. I will share the story of how I hurt his father a few times in high school, but he was forgiving and stayed my best friend through thick and thin. I will prepare him for you – as best as possible.
I am not disillusioned on what my responsibility as a mother holds. I’m responsible for raising a son to hear of the Gospel in the hopes that he will turn around and teach it to nations. I am responsible for raising a son to not only wipe his own butt, but to do it well! I am responsible for teaching my son to love others and serve others as best as possible. I am responsible for teaching him to respect those around him. I am responsible for raising a son who will grow into a man who will love one woman and raise children to carry on his legacy. I am responsible for laying the foundation. I will hold his past, and with you comes his future.
When you meet me you will clutch to his hand like it is your life support. You will worry and stress about what you wear and how your hair will look. You’ll be afraid to speak up and you will want to crawl in a hole and die before you “meet the in laws.” Can I share a little secret for you?
I’m looking forward to meeting you. And I pray for you even today.
Do you know how important you are to my son? How vital you are to his trajectory in life? I don’t look at you and see a uterus with a head attached and your whole purpose in life is to give me grandbabies. I look at you as the missing piece to the puzzle. You see, I’m going to admit something to you, moms don’t have it all figured out. And we don’t raise complete children. Other people come into our children’s lives and maybe they rough up some edges, or maybe they soften them. Experiences and people change who our children grow to be. Am I afraid you could hurt him? Absolutely. But I am no more afraid than I am of a man coming into my daughter’s life and hurting her. I’ve been on both sides of that coin – as one to hurt and one to be hurt. I can’t buffer them though. I can’t follow them around and protect them from the pain they will experience. Will it kill me to see them suffer? Without a doubt. But I can’t stop it. I can’t intervene where God intends to work.
I pray that you are a woman among women. I pray that you are classy and humble. I pray that you have a servant’s heart. I pray that you know the Lord deeply and profoundly. I pray that you are a good woman in a storm. I pray that you love yourself and are confident in who you are so that you have a happy, wonderful, and beautiful marriage with my son.
You are a piece in the puzzle. A very important piece.
You will make him a better man.
You will make him stronger.
You will make him feel things he’s never felt before.
You will heighten the urge to protect within him.
You will show him a softer side of Jesus.
You will show him mercy.
You will teach him grace.
You will love him at his worst.
You will love him at his best.
You will give him the gift of children.
You will show him how to be a great father by being a great mother.
You will look after him.
You will move mountains for him.
You will be an immovable rock in a constantly shifting world.
You will be his best friend.
You will hold him.
You will stand behind him.
You will stand beside him.
You will challenge him.
You will push him.
You will pull him.
You will teach him intimacy.
You will love him; unconditionally.
And one day my son will stand next to me as I wait for the Lord to call me home. As I feel the pull and I begin to slip, he will feel pain. He will stand over my hollow shell and know that I am with the Lord, but he will suffer. I am his mother. I am the woman who gave birth to him and taught him how to throw a perfect spiral while his dad was deployed to a war zone. I am the woman who kissed the booboos and made the perfect chocolate chip cookies. (Don’t worry … it’s on the back of the Tollhouse bag.) I showed him how to respect girls and how to tie his shoes. I taught him his ABCs and how to count to 100. I hold everything about his past.
But, my dear girl, you hold his future.
You will experience life together. You will be his partner through it all. You will be his best friend.
Do not fear me. Do not think that I do not cherish you. I love you. I love what you mean to my son. I love that God brought you into our lives to make him a better man. To do the things I never could as a mother.
So today as your husband looks up at me and smiles and coos, I will think of you. I will pray for you. And I will do my best by you to raise a man among men. A leader among leaders. And to help him be strong, resilient, brave, loving, and humble. A good man in a storm.
Your Future Mother-in-Law
Credit: The Domestic Four