A letter to my in-laws:
Remember when a girl met a boy, fell in love, and then met his family? We hit it off from the start, enjoyed family time together even before I was officially part of your crew. You could tell your son loved me from the get-go, and because it was obvious we’d be together for the long haul you decided to embrace me with loving arms. We got married and the familial bliss continued. You were thrilled when we shared the news of your first grandchild and supported me throughout my pregnancy, but near her birth some opinions started to develop. It was apparent you didn’t like all the decisions I made toward the end of my pregnancy and had strong feelings about how your son and I should parent this unborn child.
You told us there were certain things you did as parents that you thought we should do as well. Certain old norms that have since gone away that we should rejuvenate as we entered into parenthood. In your opinion, our society has been doing it all wrong, so we should go back to how things used to be in the “good ol’ days.” Then, when our daughter arrived, your position as grandparents and self-deemed parenting authorities came out in full force. You did not agree with how we created schedules or woke her to feed, you disagreed with our choices to let her cry it out and how we introduced food. You thought we were too lenient with certain things and needed to be less critical of others. As she has grown, you’ve become even more opinionated about our parenting choices and hope we “know what (we’re) doing.” You think our child is too disobedient and needs to be spanked. You think we coddle too much but then also still think we’re too critical. You’ve inserted so many opinions but rarely stop to hear our reasoning, so please hear this:
I am doing my best. That grandchild of yours is the light of my life. She can brighten the saddest of days and flip the earth on its axis. She knows how to love fiercely but can also be vicious with her rhetoric. She knows a love of books, outdoors, and snuggling up to a good movie with a big bowl of popcorn. She knows no stranger and has one of the biggest hearts I know. She is selfless and kind (in that selfish toddler kind of way) and knows how to manipulate nearly any situation. She learned all that from me (and your son). Some traits aren’t perfect. Some moments I mess up and wish I hadn’t handled the situation a certain way. But other times, other moments, I am knocking it out of the park. I step in with a calm voice and completely diffuse the situation. I give the best hug and fix her anguish. I listen to her question and formulate the perfect response. I won’t lie and say I do it all right, but I am the perfect mom for your granddaughter.
You have to trust me (and your son) to make the best decisions for our child. I keep up with the parenting blogs, follow all the Instagram accounts, and attempt to read, or at least listen to, the highly-recommended parenting books. I do my best to stay educated on how to best raise children in our current world, but it will be different than the way you did it. This world is different. Your grandchild is different. We, as parents, are different, and you just have to let that be okay.
Remember back to when you first met me. Remember back to when your son took me home to meet you for the first time. Remember the sparkle in our eyes as we looked at one another and the foundation of love that we built this relationship upon. It isn’t as sparkly some years down the road, but the love and its foundation are even stronger. Your son and I love each other and we love your grandchild. We vow to do our best to love her and one another through thick and thin. We pray we can set a solid example for her as she enters into a world that is frequently changing. We know she will make mistakes and hope she knows she can come to us whenever those occur. We hope we can be her sounding board, home base, and a source of love and comfort.
I know my relationship with both of you has had ups and downs. I write this letter to get everything out in the open and show you that my heart is in a good place. I am grateful for your wisdom and insight, even if it’s not the way I choose to parent my child. Know that I love and respect you both and will often look to you as examples for how to raise my daughter. I promise to do my very best to raise her to be an honest, bold, hardworking, compassionate, empathetic, and justice-seeking woman, and I pray that will be enough for you.
Your loving daughter-in-law