We haven’t met yet, you and me.
Many years will pass before I’ll learn who you are, before I’ll meet the woman God chose to be my son’s wife. Right now, he’s still little, primarily concerned with what color sippy cup he should use today. Considerably less so with who he’ll give his heart to.
But before we know it, our lives will be inextricably linked together.
Yours and mine.
For better or for worse.
I will be a part of your life, and you mine, until God calls us home.
So I think there are a few things you should know. A few promises I’d like to make to you.
An “in-law’s covenant,” if you will.
I promise to let your wedding day be exactly that—your day. I won’t impose my own guest list on you, or try to guilt you into letting me make a toast. Instead, I will do everything in my power to make sure that you shine brighter than everyone else in the room. If that means allowing you to pick out the world’s ugliest outfit for me, I will wear it proudly. If it means “accidentally” spilling red wine on the dress of anyone who dares to upstage you, I’ll quietly handle that business and swear you had nothing to do with it. I will give my son to you with grace—he’s yours now, and your wedding day is your celebration. Not mine.
I promise to give you space during those newlywed years. The two of you deserve an opportunity to stand on your own two feet as a new family unit. This is your chance to create new traditions and routines that will fit you well, and that can’t happen with an overbearing mother-in-law hovering around. So I won’t drop by, I won’t call daily, I won’t expect your presence at weekly family dinners (though you’re always welcome in our home). I will give you the privacy and space you deserve as you adjust to marriage.
I promise to never ask you about your plans to make me a grandmother. Not even once. Not ever. Never. You don’t know this yet, but I struggled with infertility in the early years of my marriage, and those questions got more and more painful every time. So I won’t ask. And if you end up childfree for life (whether by choice or by chance), I will respect that decision unwaveringly. I will never make you feel like you have failed in some way.
If, by the grace of God, you do become a mother, I promise to sit back while you raise your children the way you see fit. To be sure, I will continue to pray unceasingly for them, for their father, and for you. But when it comes to making parenting decisions (to breastfeed or to formula feed; to co-sleep or to buy a crib; to homeschool or to choose public school), you and your husband have the final—AND ONLY—say. The two of you alone are fit to determine what choices are best for your family. The way I raised my kids will not be the way you raise yours, and that’s a good thing. I will have no expectations of what you should or shouldn’t do for them. I will respect your method of motherhood, whatever that looks like. I will champion your decisions and cheer you on.
I promise to be flexible and accommodating for you at all times. I will never “require” your or your husband’s presence at family gatherings or holiday celebrations. I will not ask you to give up your own traditions, or hold off on creating new ones for your own children, in favor of mine. I refuse to pressure you into choosing between spending time with my family or with your own. Instead, I will rejoice in the moments you choose to spend with me and be grateful for them, whether few or many. We can celebrate Christmas with you and your husband on any day of the year. (May 12th would be perfect for a Christmas dinner, don’t you think?)
I promise to respect the sanctity of your marriage. I won’t pry into the private aspects of your relationship with your husband. I’ll never try to manipulate him into sharing details about your marriage that aren’t meant for me to hear. It is certain that the two of you will go through seasons that are more difficult than others—you will undoubtedly experience conflict and discontentment at times—but I will never encourage him to speak against you during those seasons. I won’t engage in conversations with him (or with you!) that could lead to the spilling of private matters or the betrayal of trust.
I promise to pray without ceasing for you, for your husband, and for your children, every day of my life. I will pray that the two of you will love each other well and be a living example of a godly marriage for those around you. That you will be equipped with wisdom and discernment as you navigate life together. That you will know joy and hope and contentment, and dreams-come-true and answered prayers. That you will embrace the plan that God has for your life and will live it with purpose. That you will always know that you are eternally loved by your Creator.
Most importantly, I promise to love you as my own daughter, every day, for as long as I live. I will stand up for you, defend you, fight for you, encourage you, respect you, pray for you, and love you every bit as much as I love your husband. You are my child now. Not biologically, no, but adopted into my heart and my family, just as we are adopted by God when we accept his gift of salvation. And as my child, you will receive my unconditional love and support in all things. I will never forget how I felt when my own mother-in-law told me that she loved me like her own daughter. I was touched beyond words, and overwhelmingly grateful to have married into a family that truly wanted me in it. Likewise, you can be sure that I want you in my family. If my son—your husband—loves you so deeply that he desires to permanently tie his life to yours, that’s all I need to know to love you as well. I promise to see you for what you are—a wonderful, beautiful, cherished blessing—and I will treat you as such from day one.
I can’t wait to meet you, sweet daughter-in-law. I can’t wait to watch my son fall head-over-heels for you. I can’t wait to see the look on his face when he sees you walking down the aisle, sure that you are God’s gift to him. I can’t wait to watch you grow old together and become everything that God created you both to be. I can’t wait to know you and love you as my own.
With all the love in the world,
Your future mother-in-law.