To the woman who loved him first:
an open letter to my mother-in-law on my anniversary
You loved him first, of course. I think you loved him better, too. Now that I am a mother, I know this. There is a way a mother loves better than anyone else ever can.
Because you loved him before, before he was anything but yours. You loved him when the only thing you knew about him was that he was a gift from God, and that was enough.
You loved him knowing you wouldn’t be able to keep him. Knowing he would never love you as much as you loved him. Knowing that one day, you wouldn’t even be the most important woman in his life anymore.
You loved him for me.
Long before I came along, you were there, growing that boy of yours into the man who would be mine. You shaped his character with godly virtues and hard corrections, discovered his gifts, delighted in his talents, and ceaselessly encouraged his calling.
Not that it was easy. I am a mother too, now, and I know this. There were scary nights and temper tantrums and habits that had to be broken. There were times you looked at that boy and wondered if you’d ever see the man.
You had to love him enough to discipline him, to make him do the things he didn’t want to do, and let him learn the hard lessons. You had to sit up with him night after night after night, helping him do his homework so one day, I could sit by his side at his graduation. All of them.
You loved him when it was hard.
And that has made loving him all the easier for me.
By your example, you taught that little boy what love is, how it is sacrifice and time and commitment. How it is sincere and good and kind. How it has to be given away.
He did give it away—to someone else. On our wedding day, fifteen years ago, he promised me the same kind of unconditional love you had shown to him.
He could make that promise to me because you had loved him well.
You didn’t do it perfectly. I am a mother now, and I know that too.
But somehow, in loving him first, you loved me best.
All these years, your son has poured out on me the love you poured into him. On this, the anniversary of your boy becoming my man, I am grateful. I can think of no other woman I would rather share my husband with. Thank you for being the woman who loved him first.
It has made all the difference.
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