(In the space of two short weeks, we’ve celebrated my husband’s birthday, our 12th anniversary, and Mother’s Day. This felt right today, to honor my mother-in-law the way she honors us. Don’t worry, I love my mom too – you’ll learn more about her tomorrow.)
Thirty-nine years you’ve had this boy (man), and for the last twelve, you’ve ever so graciously relinquished him to me. You embraced me into your family with all the attending chaos – the feet on the furniture, the handprints on the walls, the sheer level of noise, the chickens, the pets, the blue hair and mohawks, the far-flung duty stations, and all the hippy oils a body could want for.
For those thirty-nine years, and especially for the last twelve, I’d like to publicly say thank you.
Thank you for raising a kind, servant-hearted, giving man. Thank you for teaching him to care for all women, to treat them with gentleness and respect, and to acknowledge their strength and grace.
Thank you for raising a man with a steady, strong work ethic, a man who is dedicated to the soldiers he commands, the patients he rescues, the country he serves, and the family he loves.
Thank you for raising a man who values the work of motherhood, and cherishes still the steady hands who dusted off his scrapes, wiped his tears, and let him go.
Thank you for teaching him to do the same for our wee babes, to model faithfulness, discipline, and determination.
I married a man who will choose right when right is unpopular and hard, a man who will step carefully the narrow path towards sacrifice, anonymity, and humility.
You – you did this. Your constancy in the extraordinary and mundane moments of motherhood gave us him, our center of gravity, our quiet rock in a swirling maelstrom of big personalities and oversized emotions.
And what’s more, you are faithful to me, the daughter you don’t get to choose, who comes with tattoos, helicopters, noise, and a less than solid commitment to children wearing shoes.
You are a sounding board, a listening ear, and a reality check, sometimes all at once. You mostly hold your tongue when you disagree with my harebrained schemes. You cheer me on smack in the midst of them. And just when I need it most, I am all gratefulness to hear you speak the truth in love.
And thank you, thank you, for serving us while he serves. For hosting Christmases with the husband a half a world away and welcoming New, uncertain Years with me. For trekking to Alaska, across Kansas and Tennessee, to DC, and even to the Wheelers. For picking out refrigerators, emergency babysitting, and pulling an all-nighter to welcome him home.
You earned your blue star.
Your sacrifice and service, it bears us up.
And I know it’s all intertwined with a lifesaving thread of grace and mercy from a Savior who carries us while we carry our babes, but still, your ship lies steady in the water, formidable and strong against the storms we encounter on this broken, painful rock.
For this, and for so much more, thank you.
The gossamer threads of your motherhood bind us together, a cord that cannot be broken. Happy birthday to my love, happy anniversary to us, and happy Mother’s Day to you, the best mother-in-law a girl could ever ask for.
All my love.