Happy Mother’s Day! Thank you for welcoming me into your family and into your heart when I became your daughter-in-law 14 years ago. I once read about the mother/daughter-in-law relationship that, “Over time, wise women will come to value and appreciate the role of each other in the life of the man they both love.” I hope we are on our way to that place. It hasn’t always been easy. I know that I am not always the easiest person to get to know. I can be quiet and withdrawn at times and withhold things that others might readily share. I already had a strong support system in my life when I met you and maybe I haven’t depended on you as much as other young women would have. I don’t know if up to this point we have had the kind of relationship that you hoped to have with a daughter-in-law or not. I do know that divorcing your son is not a desire or option in my life and never will be so, Lord-willing, we have many more years to figure all this out!
Thank you for raising your son, my husband. Thank you for your devotion to him over the years and your commitment to see him succeed and be happy. He is the love of my life. I am his wife, the one he has chosen to bring into this family, to spend the rest of our lives together. I know that our life will be a journey and that it hasn’t always been (and won’t always be) easy, but I want you to know how much I love your son and how “worth it” it is for me to work hard to make our relationship a blessing to each other and to those around us. You didn’t give up on him along the way, and I want you to know that I never will either. I will fulfill my vows and continue meaning everything I said to him on our wedding day, and then some.
Life in Christian ministry is exciting and challenging, rewarding and draining. I know that this may not be what you had in mind for him when you were raising him, but you have taken pride in his decision to follow after God and walk this path and that is a beautiful thing. It would give us no greater joy than to share more of this part of our lives with you, but we will never force that. If you ever want us (or me personally) to pray with you or for you, or have questions or thoughts about the Bible or Christian life that you want to share with us, please don’t hesitate. Why should we share this most deep and meaningful part of our lives with the world and not with our own family members?
Just in case I’ve never mentioned it, I want to say thanks for several ways that you have blessed me over the past 14 years:
1. You have made a point to get to know me. You read my blog and my Facebook status updates and you always respond to my emails and voice mails. You ask me questions and want to hear the answers. You have done a much better job of this with me than I have done with you. I have noticed. Thank you.
2. You are very generous. On Christmas at your house, I feel like the belle of the ball! Seriously spoiled. I don’t think you have ever visited our house that you haven’t called when you get close to town and ask if I need anything from the store. There are many examples I could give, but when you and Jim were some of the first to sign up to financially support us when we became missionaries, that spoke volumes. “Thank you” doesn’t say enough.
3. You do not harass me for my shortcomings or point them out unnecessarily. I am not the perfect daughter-in-law. No surprise there, I am sure. I forget birthdays and anniversaries. I sometimes hoard my family to myself and don’t share them with you as much as I could. I don’t always strike up the most exciting conversations. I know these things because I am self aware, but not because you point them out or make me feel guilty for them. Thank you for that.
4. You will drop everything to help us if we need you. I fondly remember the days we spent together taking care of Timmy and not one, not two, not three, not four, but FIVE foster children for a week while Jason was out of town!!! We were the dynamic duo! Just your presence there was what it took to make the week not just bearable but enjoyable. Sometimes I wonder if you wish I needed you more. I’m a pretty independent lady, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t treasure the knowledge that if/when I do need you, you would be there! Thank you.
5. You do not criticize the way I do things. I am not as good at keeping house as you are. My baseboards are often cruddy and window sills are frequently lined with dust. Yours aren’t. The bathrooms are rarely pristine and my kitchen cabinets are less than organized. Yours are. I do not always parent my son the way you would. I throw away things that you would keep. I misplace things or damage things that you have a system to keep track of and take care of. There are many things that I do differently than you would do, I am sure. I know this because I’ve gotten to know you and spent many hours in your home, but not because you make a big deal out of our differences. You don’t. Thank you for that.
I am publishing this letter to you on my blog rather than just printing it out and mailing it to you for two reasons: 1. To celebrate you publically, and 2. No one is perfect, but you have done a lot of things right in this whole mother/daughter-in-law relationship and I think other mothers-in-law would like to hear the things that have stood out to this daughter-in-law most over the past 14 years. There is no manual you get at your son’s wedding telling you how to go about loving his new wife well, so we have to help each other out along the way.
I love you and thought you should know (and so should the rest of the world). HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!
Carla Ritz. Proof positive that God uses cracked pots!