Recently a friend of mine posed a question on social media, asking for advice on being a mother-in-law to her soon-to-be son-in-law. I really, really appreciated her humility in doing so because what it revealed to all who read it, was that she was thinking of the new couple instead of herself. She wants to be good to him, and to them as a new married couple. So she was seeking advice from those who’ve walked in the shoes she is getting read to slip on. I loved that!
A few years ago I sat outside having lunch with someone who often has wisdom worth not only remembering, but writing down. She shared with me that early in her marriage, she often spent a couple of days per week with her mother, and it just never occurred to her to invite her mother-in-law over to join them for lunch, coffee, or an afternoon enjoying their new grandson.
At some point, her mother-in-law began calling and asking if she could drop by with some sandwiches for them to share. It was a big help not having to make lunch, so she would welcome her visit. Soon, she had a day per week that she was actually getting to know her mother-in-law in a way she never had before. They became friends – close friends, in fact, and she often sought wisdom from her over the years ahead – about life, marriage, raising children, and other womanly things while she and her husband raised their three sons. The mothers-in-law, Betty and Edna, became close friends, and came to truly love each other as well. Today, this is one of the most loving, godly families I know. It’s been a year since Betty passed away, and Noelle still cherishes the wisdom she inherited from her mother-in-law.
If you do a Google search of the word “mother-in-law,” immediately after its definition the monster-in-law jokes begin, and the word “toxic” shows up in link after link. Also in the search inevitably one finds this saying, “A son is a son till he takes a wife, but a daughter is a daughter the rest of her life.”
So the advice I gave to my friend on social media, who was soon to have a son-in-law was this: Moms grieve the loss of their sons. Maybe not all Moms do, but I sure did. Maybe you’re reading this and you think I’m wrong. But tell me then, from where does the above saying come – because after all, everyone seems to know it by heart? When young couples marry, they have a tendency to cling to the bride’s family and the groom’s family becomes an afterthought. His mother often becomes forgotten and unacknowledged.
One of my sons moved to Chicago two weeks before my older son got married, so in a matter of two weeks I went from being the single mother of two in a home with young men in and out of it, leaving all sorts of piles and making all kinds of noise, to having a completely silent and empty home. Now, throw menopause in with that and you have the perfect recipe for feeling lonely, not needed, forgotten, and unimportant. And even while none of those feelings might be true – they are real.
Ladies, can we just be a little more sensitive with each other for crying out loud?
Dear Bride, your mother-in-law could likely be one of your life-long best friends. She raised her son, she poured her heart, soul, blood, sweat, and tears into him, and now she is giving all of him to you. She’s not asking for you to give him back. She’s just asking for you to remember her, to acknowledge her, and to include her. She’s your ally. She loves you. She’s your cheerleader. She wants what is best for you. Please remind your husband to call home, or to just stop by, open the fridge like old times, and ask if there’s anything to eat. Please be the one who finds NO TRUTH in the saying “a son is a son till he takes a wife, or even the one who PROVES it untrue!
If you’re an older, or more mature lady who is lucky enough to have influence on younger brides in your circle, please….. Be wise like my friend Noelle, who reminded me of the loving relationship between Ruth and Naomi in the Bible, and encouraged me to be intentional about a friendship with my daughter-in-law.
Some advice to Moms of sons – Sandwiches might just be the start of a lifelong sweet friendship.
Future mother-in-law holding the son she will give away some day.