There is a woman who I’ve competed with for well over a decade. She had my husband’s love before I did, knows him in an absolutely intimate and familiar way that I never will, and he thinks she’s perfect in every way.
Thankfully, I’m not talking about a woman my husband’s age.
I’m talking about my mother-in-law, who embodies the picture of perfection in her son’s eyes.
The very nature of her relationship with my husband, the way she has familiarized herself with his temperament, the way she has seen him – and loved him – through every stage of life… It’s all something I will never be able to compete with. I will never receive the same level of adoration that he has in his heart for her. Their bond is unique, untainted by time or distance, and unbreakable by the presence of new women in his life: like me (his wife), or even his young daughter.
From the moment all of our husbands were born, there was an unmistakable bond between mother and son. I don’t think I truly understood this bond until I had a son of my own. And naturally, jealousy occurs, comparisons are made, and feelings are even hurt, but truly, no matter how close we are (or aren’t) to our mothers-in-law, we should always be thankful for the following three things.
To my mother-in-law:
#1: Thank you for raising the man I love.
Raising kids is hard. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and sometimes when I’m at my wit’s end, I picture you, decades earlier, going through the tough times and doing the hard job of parenting. I recall your stories of sleepless nights, caused by anxiety and worry and sickness. I think of you handing out consequences that tore you up inside so that your children would learn a lesson. I remember how you went without so that your children could have a better life, how you sacrificed so much of yourself to ensure they had things that you didn’t have.
And because you did all of that, I ended up with the amazing man I did.
Did you make mistakes? Undoubtedly. I know I have. I know I will. But even the fact that you made mistakes soothes my soul, because I know that even though you worried about your mistakes (as I worry about mine), your boy ended up being an incredible man. It shows me that I can give myself grace, that I can love my children and do my best and that they will be amazing.
#2: Thank you for spoiling my husband from time to time.
Okay, all of the time.
And admittedly, I hated this at first.
The first time I met your son, I heard stories about you, and I thought they were legends. Who could prepare such meals? Who could keep such a house? Who could adhere to the needs of all of her children and make them each feel incredibly special?
And then the inevitable follow-up question would come:
How will I ever be able to compare?
The truth is, and always will be:
I won’t ever compare to you.
I won’t ever be able to stand next to you on the highest pedestal, the one my husband placed you on so very long ago.
And that’s okay. Because I was not made to be that person. God’s intention for our relationship is completely different than the intention he had for yours.
But because you honored my husband the way you did, I am reminded that I should honor him, too. And although I may not do it as often or even to the degree that you did, I am thankful for the reminder that I should love and respect him – and yes, even spoil him – every chance I get.
#3 Thank you for raising a provider, a protector, and a partner.
Thank you for teaching your son that women deserve to be loved and respected, and that he should be a warrior for that battle until the end of time.
Nothing pains my husband like the thought of someone hurting the women he loves. He will go to the ends of the earth to make sure that I’m safe, that my daughter is protected, and that you live your life unharmed.
And the tender love he shows us – the endless and bountiful protection his arms provide – all started because of his love for you. From the moment he was laid in your arms as an infant, he adored you above all others. He wanted to give you his best (remember those dandelions he’d pick for you from the yard?), stand up for you, and learn from you as well.
That intense love has spilled over to the life we share together, and I reap the benefits of it daily.
You have done so much for me, mother-in-law. You have given me advice and recipes and home remedies. You have encouraged me in my own pursuits and have trusted me to raise your grandchildren safely, with sacrificial love and endless understanding. But the biggest thing you ever did for me, and for everyone who knows him, is raise an incredible man who I’m honored to call my husband.
And that is something that I will always – ALWAYS – thank you for, no matter the circumstances.
“Rivalry” aside, I will always be thankful that you are the “Other Woman”.
Source: Amanda Deich