Dearest future mother-in-law,
In just five months, I will walk down the aisle with one of the most amazing humans that I have ever known: your beautiful son.
I don’t need to tell you how special he is, because you already know, probably more so than anyone else. What I will share with you, is that he lights my life in a way no one else has. He demonstrates a peaceful power, without conforming to society’s expectation of a strong alpha male, and I am left in awe, both of him, and of you. I know it takes an extraordinary woman to raise a man so unapologetically himself. For this, and for so many other things, you have my eternal love and respect.
As you know, I come from a family of women. My dad was outnumbered by my mum and three daughters. He complained about it, but we all knew he secretly loved the way we fussed over him and each other. Boys were a mystery to me. I had no brothers, and most of my similar-aged cousins were also girls. My first two romantic relationships introduced me to the world of men, and though they didn’t last, they taught me what I wanted and didn’t want in a life partner.
Then I met your son.
You showed him that emotions were something to embrace.
He had the air of someone who was not afraid to be himself, a very attractive trait. I noticed his gorgeous sunny smile first, and his easy-flowing tears second. I remember being alarmed though. Tears in my household meant something was terribly wrong, and were hidden away. A stiff upper lip was the norm; a pattern I carried forward into my adult life.
I discovered later the true depth of his sensitivity. He is not scared to let his tears flow freely, nor is he ashamed. You never told him society’s biggest lie, that “boys don’t cry,” and you were comfortable in the face of his emotion. I realized his tears are a beautiful gift. He is connected with his heart and proud to show it. His willingness to be soft, and to let the world in brings a new dimension of openness to our relationship.
You taught him the difference between strength and aggression.
He isn’t a stereotypical macho man, and yet he remains deliciously masculine. At 6 feet 4 inches he towers over me, and yet, his physical attributes never intimidate me. His temper is slow to build, and when it blows, he is firm, with a composure that pacifies my quick and fiery temperament. You have taught him that a message communicated calmly with assertiveness, is much more powerful than knee-jerk aggression, and it is this peaceful warrior stance that commands the respect of all who know him.
You established the value of family.
He adores his family, which says a lot about you, and stirs something deep in me. You give him space to be his own person, but always make your time, wisdom, and your home available when he needs the strength of your love. I admire that. A man who values his mother, and yet remains independent of her, is a keeper in my eyes.
I have seen you live your own truth, that family are the people we choose to keep close, regardless of blood ties, and that appeals to me, because I hold similar beliefs. The way he focuses on fostering and maintaining a connection with you tells me that he will strive for the same when building our family, and that, I cherish.
You banished gender roles.
He tells me about his childhood with fondness. He remembers that once a week you insisted he, alternating with his twin sister and older brother, cook a meal for the family. You guided him and taught him the skills that he then, much later, taught me. When I cook for him today, he is grateful, because he doesn’t take for granted that the woman keeps house. This is a lesson that we want to take forward and instil in our own children, regardless of their gender.
You showed him how to respect and love strong women.
I am his equal in all the ways that matter, socially, intellectually, economically. My voice carries equal weight and he listens to what I have to say before we make decisions. I know that I am lucky to be with such a modern thinking man and also, that his respect for women was inspired by you.
I love the way that he appreciates my strength, and is not threatened by my successes. You have been a solid female role model throughout his life. He has watched you overcome your own difficulties to have a career, raise three beautiful children, and develop a loving relationship with his beloved stepdad. You have shown him that women can have it all, and now he wants the same for his partner. He tells me that I can do anything, and with him at my side, I believe it.
You let him go with grace.
You will forever be his first love, a precious bond that I always aim to protect. As we move into a future where we share your boy, I thank you for raising such an emotionally intelligent, loving man, who has already made this world a better place just by being in it.
All my love,
Originally published on The Good Men Project here.
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