Someone asked me a question yesterday that gave me pause: “What did you do when your children brought home a love in their life and you didn’t approve? I had to stop and think.
One time our youngest daughter brought a young man from college who we didn’t think seemed a great choice for her. It turned out that she hadn’t been considering him as a life partner.
When I think of the wonderful people who have become our own, I don’t remember a moment when we had a doubt. All of our kids had friends and dates. We loved their final decisions. When our children “brought home” the man or woman of their life it was a momentous time of love and rejoicing. And so, this becomes an ode to those we love.
In my heart you are my daughter. You were the first to join our family. Your beauty and grace shone immediately, and we soon felt your openness to life and love and a new family. You have welcomed me to the birth of your children and to the life in your home. You have not taught me all you know of style and social graces, but you have been a mentor and loving teacher. My ingrained image is of entering the room to you and your children. “Look, there’s Grammy,” you would say with your arms wide as the children rushed to mine.
Then we welcomed another lovely woman. We laugh together now about how frightened you were when you came to our boisterous family which expected anyone who entered our house to make their own home in it. We learned to know you well when our son went north to college and you stayed with us. I didn’t know then that a smile is your shield and armor against both physical and emotional pain. But I knew then that you are a child of my heart. Your strength and endurance is an inspiration. I aspire to your view of the world. Your child-like delight is captivating and your dismay is easily read. I love it when you come “home” to me with your loving support and companionship. Our family circle wouldn’t be complete without you.
And then came a new son. We could not ask for more. No one can know the relationship of a man and woman, but I know you as a man and admire you as a husband. We have happily watched you create a life with our daughter that nourishes each of you. Your joy in your children is a lesson I would love to have learned when I was a young parent. Rarely, I see your Irish eyes flash and your jaw tighten in anger and know you are human and not superhuman. You are there when I need you with a willing spirit and a loving nature. Your passion for all that you do is contagious. Effortlessly, we have enfolded you as a treasured member our family.
Our most recent addition is you, dear daughter-in-law. We may not have the many years of history together, but every moment of our history is enriching. I love your bright mind and snappy commentary on life. Your smiles provide panoply of your thoughts and feelings: wry, wide with pleasure, grim with determination and tremulous when you are uncertain. I share your joy in holidays and your am stimulated and challenged by your clear thinking and curiosity. I treasure your support and quiet sustenance when you came for my father’s funeral. You were there for me in a way that I hope I can repay.
My relationship with each of you is meaningful for me. You see me without the filter of having been my child. Your frank treatment of me is sometimes a surprise but always a benefit. I see myself as a person in your eyes and know that we can meet on the solid ground of who we are and how we share each moment together. Some of you have needed me more than others. I am here for you. I am now your Mother in all of the loving and sustaining ways you may need. Whatever difficulties you may have with my child are not an issue between us. I will not love any of my children less, nor will I love you less. Thank you for bringing your own history to expand the depth and breadth of love in our family.