Sometimes I wonder if I'm doing this right. "This" being the whole parenting thing. I sometimes wonder if I have the right answers and enough patience. I know in my heart that I have enough love. I once doubted that. When I was pregnant with Jack, I couldn't imagine loving another child as much as I loved Megan. I worried that I wouldn't love Jack as much- or worse, that I would start to love Megan less. I expressed this once to my mother-in-law and she explained it to me like this... "A new child is like another candle. The love you feel is like the flame and both candles will have a flame that burns just as bright." And she was right. She is right about a lot of things and I look to her for motherly advice when I feel like I just can't seem to get it right.
She has this uncanny ability to know what to say, when to say it and more importantly- when not to say it. I hear horror stories from others about their meddling MILs and I feel blessed that I've never once felt that way. From the beginning, she's accepted me- flaws and all. Actually, accepted isn't the right word. She's embraced me. When my mother died she was there- loving me, supporting me, helping me but never once trying to take the place of my mother and in doing that, over the years she's become a mother to me, not just a mother-in-law.
The whole Halloween fiasco had me reeling and questioning myself. Then, I opened my email and saw that my mother-in-law sent me this:
"It is difficult riding that line between being a nurturing caring mother who wants to guide and protect your little daughter through all trials and tribulations of life, to keep her safe from all hurts; yet free her to blossom into a beautiful young woman confident, wise, and able to meet the world in her full glory. You want her to be beautiful inside and out, you want her to be confident in herself yet empathetic to others, you want her to be independent yet socially accepted. You want so much for her and you understand all that is out their to challenge and hurt her and it matters so much to you what happens to her. You want to rush out and explain to anyone who doesn't understand that the reason why she did thus and such was because she was feeling sad, or overtired, or misunderstood. Really, you want everyone to think she is as special as you do and the fact that anyone might have the wrong impression of her cuts you to the quick....for she is your daughter, your creation, your piece of your heart.
You have so many hopes and dreams for her, you want her road paved with rose blossoms and honey dew, you want her prince charming to come riding in on a white horse and sweep her off her feet, you want all her friends to be perfect and all she does to be good and wise. You want the world to know that she is here and worthy and talented and yours.
And the harsh reality of life is that she is all these things, but she will meet the world on her own terms, influenced by you, but somehow sensing that this strong bond needs to be tested, pulled, twisted, and turned. She will challenge you, test you. She can give you a withering look or a sharp retort that tears you to shreds, she can hurt you as no one else can for she is your daughter, your magnum opus. You care what she does, what she thinks, and who she is. You care, you care, you care. You remember any and all mistakes and errors you made, and you want to spare her the bad, the sad, the ugly side of life.
But to become the person you know she is, she must go through all these things, and when she does, she will turn to you and you will hopefully be there for her. You won't be able to make it all better every time, but she will know that at least you will try. You will cry with her, and worry over her, and yell at her when she needs it for her own good because you don't want her to get hurt in any way. And she will mess up and you will still be there and you will love her and care, and care, and care.
And someday, this wonderful, lovely woman will enter a room and you will wonder when and how that metamorphosis slipped quietly by you. You will look at her and thank God that he gave you the opportunity to walk this way with her. You will see the beautiful person that she has become inside and out and your heart will swell with pride. You will hope that you have played some important role in her formation. And you will care and she will know you care.
It happened with my mother and I, it happened with my daughter and I, it probably happened with your mother and you, and so it goes. It is a process; sometimes painful, sometimes poignant, sometimes perfect.
Look in the mirror, you are all strong, confident, beautiful women. Your daughters and nieces will be the same. Enjoy the journey."
Thanks M. Love you.