When I wrote this post I was just kidding about being a bad mother-in-law. It was a joke.
However, some of the comments I got made me stop and think about why I would even write such a thing in the first place.
First of all, my children are only eight years old. They are nowhere near being ready to date anyone, much less entertain thoughts of marriage (however, for some reason, the boy seems to think about his future wife a lot). I do think, however, that they are old enough to recognize marriage and what is a good and/or bad marriage. I also think they are old enough to recognize what a family is and what will, for us, constitute a family.
Before the two of them were born I would lay in bed at night and think. I thought a lot about my future and about how I would have to raise them on my own for at least a while and just how scary that was for me. At the time I had never done anything on my own, not really. I went to college, but it was a local school. I had gotten a job on my own, but it wasn't a good job. I had bought a house but the house was in both my name and my ex-husband's name. I'd never done anything really important on my own.
I also thought about the fact that I would meet someone else. That someone else would fall in love with me. And that I would eventually get remarried. My first husband's claims that I was unlovable did not ring true. I knew that someone would love me again.
To that extent, I dreamed about the family that I would marry into. I dreamed about them loving me and loving my children and I dreamed about finally having the family I always wanted. I wanted my children to have grandparents. They have my parents, of course, and my parents adore them, but I wanted them to have more. I wanted more for me too. I wanted a family. A big, loving family to surround me. To be interested in me and want to know more about me.
Of course I married a man who's mother never accepted me, much less loved me. Who honestly believes that her son married me because he feels sorry for me. Who thought of my precious children as "baggage" and treated them like second class citizens. Things didn't even remotely work out the way I dreamed of. Since my husband is more than I dreamed of I consider it a fair trade. But still.
I have tried, many times over the past seven years, to attempt to understand her point of view. True, her son is a wonderful person. True, I am not Christy Turlington. There are other women who have loved her son and other women that I'm certain she feels would have made a better wife to him. Probably those women have working ovaries and don't have periods that last more than sixty days at a time and can give her grandchildren that don't need glasses.
Still, we love each other and have a really good life together. A life she knows nothing about because she is not a part of it.
Not very long ago my son, who is a thoughtful little fellow, said to me (out of the blue):
"Mom, when I get married, my wife will be a part of our family, right?"
I assured him that yes, of course, his wife would be part of our family.
He then said,
"And when I have children, you will be their grandma. And you will love them and they will part of our family. Right?"
I assured him that of course, I would adore his children and they would be shining stars in our family.
"So why doesn't dad's mom treat us like we're part of their family?"
I explained to him, as best I could, that sometimes people don't understand the way we want them too and that unfortunately she doesn't understand what our family is. She doesn't understand that we are a good family and that we love one another and that dad is their dad, even if he's not their biological father. That just because mom doesn't conform to what she thought was the right thing for her son, that it's not up to her to decide what's best for him. That she raised daddy to be a strong, capable, independent person and he made a decision which has turned out to be a very good decision for him and unfortunately she can't see it.
I went on to explain that I would love his wife, because I trust him. Because I really do my best to raise him right and when he grows up and finds someone that he loves enough to marry, I will trust him. Even if she's been divorced four times and has twelve children, I will trust him. Because I trust myself to raise him right.
He seemed very pleased with this news and he then told me that he couldn't wait until my sister had her twins this summer. Because that means that we have a bigger family and, "The best thing is a family."
That is why it's hard for me. Because he's so good. He's so kind. He's such a really amazing kid. It IS difficult for me to see that someday he'll fall in love with a woman and she will be his wife.
But I'm raising him so that I will trust him.
And I trust myself, to be a good momma to him and to raise him to make the best choices. Even if they aren't ones that look shiny and perfect to me.