Monthly Archives: May 2015

Dear future daughter-in-law

Here’s a few things you need to know if…or so begins a current overplayed pop song. I’ve substituted daughter-in-law for husband, because this is dedicated to Madeleine, aka Maddy, my very soon to be DIL and to my gracious and loving mother-in-law, a role that I will add to my repertoire in just a few weeks.

For about half of my mothering life, I was mom to only boys. Three sons made for a lively and boisterous life. I vaguely remember the first time I heard the following ditty: a son is a son until he takes a wife; a daughter is a daughter all of her life. I did not much like the sentiment, but it gave me a reason to think about what kind of MIL I would one day be. It seemed likely that the role would be a part of my future and now here we are on the threshold of this reality. In recent days, I have pondered more deeply the symbolic shift that has taken place and will be officially sealed and celebrated in mid-June. So, to Maddy and any other daughters-in-law that may enter our family, I write this letter:

Dear future daughter-in-law,

I have been blessed with a gracious and non-interfering mother-in-law. Though I know she has deep convictions and opinions, she has only given advice when asked. I am grateful that she is a person whose perspective I respect and is approachable when I want to hear from her. The goal and desire in our new MIL/DIL relationship is to pass on this same gift that she gave to me.

From the moment his conception was made known to me, I dedicated this son to God. It has been a delight and joy to watch him grow up into a man. Part of that process has at times been painful, but it is deeply satisfying to see him becoming the man that he was meant to be. It gives me great pleasure to know that he has chosen to partner with you in this journey of life.

Though for many years I was the most important woman in his life, it is most appropriate and healthy that you now occupy that space. There is a power shift that has been in motion since the day that you entered his life. It brings me great joy to see the love that you have one for another.

During this season, I have paid particular attention to those around me who have walked this road before me. I see and hear stories of mothers of sons who struggle to let go and of those who travel this road beautifully. My intention is to emulate the latter. When I stray from this intent, I invite you to gently remind me of this letter and my commitment to you.

I hope that we can enjoy common interests together and in the context of our larger family. It is my desire to be one among your many encouragers and friends. I wish for you and your husband to laugh each day, to enjoy life separately and with each other and to grow up together. It is not smooth sailing that I dream of for you, but that through the joys and sorrows of life you will experience and know deeply traveling mercies and the gentle hand of God.

As your soon to be sister-in-law learned several years back as she wrestled with sharing her brothers’ love with other females, love does not have to be divided as a family grows, but it can multiply. We already love you and look forward to the multiplication of love as we share life together as family.

With deep gratitude and love,

Your future mother-in-law

A lot of moving parts

It has been a bit of a crazy time in the life of the Wilson family and thus very little time for me to write. The thoughts and ideas keep crashing up on the shores of my mind and heart, but there is little time to sit and process. A flat tire and time hanging out in a repair shop has provided a brief oasis for sitting and writing this morning.

In the past year, every member of the original Wilson family 7 has changed address at least one time. Our youngest son reminded me recently that he has moved seven times over the past 12 months. This thought exhausts me.

The recent move of the remaining Wilson clan 4 has been well chronicled and documented in earlier blogs. Our eldest boy changed neighborhoods in Chicago because his long time roommate married and became a daddy. In addition, he is in the process of moving into new education opportunities that, from his mother’s perspective, seem to fit him well. Our minimalist middle guy will within days trek from Chicago to Boston. I admire the fact that all of his worldly possessions will fit into his small Toyota Corolla. He is set lightly on this earth.

Our youngest son will within weeks make vows before God, family and friends and begin life in his new nuclear family. A few weeks ago, we helped him tromp some of his “stuff” up to the 3rd floor apartment of a lovely historic home in a place just over 30 minutes from us. This will become their first home together. Walking this path and going up and down those steps with him triggered a well of feelings. Nostalgia, tinged with a bit of jealousy, as well as reminiscing and pondering of days gone by in my own marriage. Vows made, first apartment, new beginnings and figuring it all out. In some ways it seems like just yesterday and in other ways it was so very long ago. If I had only known then what I know now…but it doesn’t work that way. Much life has been lived since our own wedding day.

Part of the trek up to the new home.

Part of the trek up to the new home.

In the midst of all of these shifts, my parents have moved and are in the process of settling in a community about 40 minutes away. They are making decisions about where to be, what to keep and how to live out the latter years of their lives. It is easier for me to part with material possessions than it is for my mom. I imagine that her description of this sometimes tension would better represent her perspective. Respecting her process and trying to walk alongside and provide genuine help and encouragement has been my goal. During a recent day of unpacking, I blurted out, “Mom, really???”. It was when I came across this packed in a box:

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She said, “oh, I meant to throw that away before you got here because I knew you would give me a hard time.” I see no need to save old Easter basket grass. At one point, she gave me a few of my old baby blankets. As a mom myself, I understand how difficult it can be to part with things that represent our children’s baby days. I assured her that I would “take care of it”. She let me know that she read between the lines of my coded message.

Some of the treasures we sorted through

Some of the treasures we sorted through

There was one other move that my husband and I were a part of this month. Our friend Harold showed up at our Sunday school class a little over a year ago. As the weeks passed and he leaked out more and more of his story, all in our class lived life beside and bore witness to a man who slid into homelessness and then creeped back out. Just as I referred to in my last blog, there were many moments of holy discomfort as we lived such a materially rich life alongside this brother who was working hard to keep his head above water.  After a great deal of work, scattered with setbacks, our friend moved into his own private space this past weekend. This was my favorite move of the year.

Sometimes I tell myself that “after________, (could be filled in with a myriad of events, activities, crises), life will settle down.” I am currently in the process of realizing that with an active family, aging parents and the desire to live with an open heart, this is real living and things will not settle. My goal and challenge is to take good care of myself so that I will have the energy and desire to engage in all the various moving parts around me. For me, taking walks, cooking healthy food, practicing yoga, making time for good books, saying no to many things and listening to my body and taking action when it tells me something is off kilter are included in self care. I would love to hear how you take care of yourself to participate in all of the moving parts in your own life.