Dear Future Daughters-in-law and Son-in-law,
Even though right now you’re just kids and we haven’t even met, I think about you. Sometimes it happens when I notice how tall one of my sons has grown. Sometimes it happens when my daughter says something that makes her sound less like the 8-year-old that she is and more like a young lady. During those moments, I realize that – long before I’m ready – my babies will grow up, move out and start looking for you.
I wonder sometimes how you’ll find each other. Will you bump into each other in a college classroom? Will you meet in the company break room of the first real job after college graduation? Will it be a blind date, the way Tom and I met more than 16 years ago?
I’m looking forward to hearing those how-we-met stories. I worry sometimes about how many disappointments and broken hearts might happen before the timing is right for you and one of my kids to meet. Even though I know those heartaches are sometimes necessary to help us grow up and get smarter, it’s never easy for a mom to watch her kid get hurt – especially when there’s not much we can do about it.
What I can do is pray that you’re becoming the kind of person who is capable of deep love and loyalty. I pray you’re being raised by parents who can show you what real love looks like in the midst of real life – not the fake stuff you see in movies. I pray that, more than anything, you have a kind heart.
Because one day you will have the hearts of the three people who claimed mine the moment that each of them was born. You’ll either make them happy or make them miserable. And since a mother’s happiness is inextricably intertwined with that of her children, you’re an awfully big deal to me, too. I hope I’ll love you and trust you to take care of these people who mean so much to me.
One day when they start dating, I’ll tell the kids just how important it is to choose wisely. I’ll try to convince them that deciding who to spend your life with is a much bigger decision than where to go to college. Bigger than what they’ll choose to study. Bigger than a career choice or where to live or what hobbies to pursue.
I hope they’ll believe me, but I can’t blame them if they don’t. Because when I was in my early 20s, I definitely didn’t grasp how huge this choice would be. I nearly messed it up a million different ways. I shudder to think what might have happened if I had kept on stubbornly ignoring that still, small voice we hear when we’re with someone who’s not good for us – that insistent, nagging feeling that something just isn’t right.
Now that I’m 16 years and three kids down the road from my own decision, I can appreciate how that blind date and the relationship that followed has had a bigger impact on my happiness than anything else.
So, listen. You don’t have to pretend to like my dismal cooking when you come for visits. And you don’t have to raise your kids the same way we raised ours. But I ask you from the bottom of my heart to do these two things: Love God and love my kid – as deeply and honestly as possible. And until we meet, I’ll be doing my best to raise the kind of person who can do those same things for you.
Your Future Mother-in-Law
Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of nwaMotherlode.com. To read previously published installments of The Rockwood Files, click here. To check out Gwen’s book, “Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection,” click HERE.