This comes from a lovely friend and reader who would like to remain anonymous. And as I do with all fabulous pieces of writing that I read and concur with, I say, "Yes. What she said." I heart you, Anonymous!
Dear future daughter-in-law:
I am writing to you, taking full advantage of “cyber” archival technology, taking fully for granted that my son will marry (a girl) and hopeful that mine and my husband's child rearing ability will prove him capable of choosing a lovely, nurturing, emotionally and mentally capable mate, to impart some of my expectations for our future interactions.
This being the future, I can utilize my own mother-in-law’s mannerisms and behavior with me towards better fostering a loving respectful relationship with you, hopefully my future grand kid(s) and keep you from encouraging my son to prematurely put me into some purgatory elder care facility.
So here is a list of some habits I will promise either to do or at best, to avoid:
- I will try to remain flexible at all costs, especially when we go out to dinner, and will not torment the wait staff with extraordinary and impractical requests, i.e. keeping a char-grilled piece of meat from tasting as if it were put on a flaming grill (“char-grilled” as it were).
- Although I do occasionally enjoy being the center of attention, I will not steal your child’s thunder by comparing his school project to a ridiculous “first prize” that was awarded for bringing a candle collection to school (a million years ago). Or talk about my underwear choices, past and present.
- I will always cede to your authority in your kitchen, will not second guess your capability to stock your pantry and will not bring my own recipe ingredients unless you ask me too.
- On the previous thought: I will not overstay my welcome, and do my best to stay in hotels with swimming pools when visiting, unless you directly invite me and your future father-in-law into your home which has large enough guest accommodations (that make it seem like we aren’t even there) that hopefully my son has provided you with.
- I will babysit, change diapers, and let you have quality time with my son at every given opportunity, or keep your kid(s) and mine entertained so you may escape our family dynamic as necessary.
- I promise not to obsess over minutia...for hours...and flag down innocent UPS drivers who are just trying to do their job on a holiday weekend when driving on your street (true story).
- Even though I do have a natural competitive nature, I will not whine when I play Sorry with your kid, and I will be a good sport when I’m losing.
- I will try not to tell you about all of my health issues unless you ask, and not bring up death at the corner of every conversation.
- Have I mentioned that I will not steal your thunder, or your kid’s, or anybody else’s for that matter? And I will not dominate the conversation or steer any abstract topics of conversation to revolve around some aspect of my life (ie: how driving directions can somehow turn into how an elderly elementary school teacher refused to remember me at a 50 year reunion 50 years later).
- If I want to know what to get my son for Christmas or his birthday, I will ask him because he probably knows what he wants or needs is hopefully mature enough to realize the “magical surprise” of the holidays or birthdays should be reserved for children. And I won’t bring lame catalogs for your kid(s) to pick lame gifts from.
My dearest future daughter-in-law, may you be my son’s perfect mate, and may I always be on my best behavior.
Love, Your Future Mother-(not Monster)-in-Law
PS: Should you prove to be a harpy in the guise of a dove, know that I have a war chest stocked with experience and have learned from the best.