To my wonderful mother-in-law,

I’ve told you before and I’ll tell you again: I seriously lucked out scoring you as my mother-in-law. I count myself extremely fortunate that I happened to fall for a guy who also happened to come from a loving, welcoming family—one that I’m now blessed to call my own.

I’m thankful each day for that, and for the continual support you give our family.

I’m thankful for your talent of picking out toddler clothes that make our son look like a cool little threenager.

I’m thankful for the heart-to-heart talks we inevitably launch into when you and Pop Pop visit and the guys all fall asleep before us. (The gender sleep gap is real, and knows no bounds of age!).

But there is one other massive thing I have to thank you for, as it’s changed the very course of my life: I have to thank you for the way you raised your son.

By the time our lives collided, he was already an independent, (mostly) responsible young man—and I fell for him fast. I think the old maxim often holds true: you can tell the measure of a man by how he regards his mother; and I’ve always known your son to hold you in the highest regard.

Related: I’m not just raising little boys, I’m raising great men

I know from the home VHS tapes, the childhood photos, and by his own telling, that you and he have always had a special bond. And I believe that groundwork helped mold him into the wholehearted man he is today.

Thank you for loving him, believing in him and for laying a foundation he could build himself upon.

Thank you for raising a son who thinks, lives and loves with an open heart. His easy acceptance of who I am has helped me grow into a deeper understanding of and respect for myself.

Thank you for raising a son who is independent, responsible and organized. He’s taught me a thing or two about productivity and focus in our years together. I’ll never forget the first time I saw his “bachelor pad” apartment; I was amazed at how neat and clean it was, the way he respected his space spoke volumes about how he was raised.

Thank you for raising a son who reacted to the news of a surprise(!) pregnancy with strength and grace. The kind of man who held me as I cried, stunned as I was by the sudden, convincing appearance of two pink lines. The kind of man who told me, without a moment’s hesitation—that this was the greatest thing that could ever happen to us. The kind of man who has shown me his unshakeable strength in the moments when I have needed it most.

Related: Thank you for being the best daddy ever

Thank you for raising a son who dove headfirst into pregnancy and parenting with me, and never looked back.

A man who watched childbirth documentaries and interviewed doulas with me.

A man who tolerated me as I nerded out over passages from my Ina May books and took childbirth classes as seriously as I did.

Thank you for raising a man who stood by me in labor, made space for me, and helped me bring our son into the world.

Thank you for raising the kind of man who wasn’t afraid to help physically catch his newborn son, to hand him to me when he joined us, as our family (and world) expanded.

Thank you for raising a son whose vocation is clearly fatherhood. He is truly an equal parent. I can’t imagine parenting without him—without having him to share the wild highs and challenges of this journey.

Related: Non-negotiable: My husband is an equal partner

I’m grateful your son is the kind of man who can put pride aside and really talk to me about things. He can actually enjoy our “post-game” talks, where we recount how we played a situation, and how we can improve on it next time. His ability to communicate with me on a deep level like this improves our parenting skills with each conversation we have. Thank you for raising a son who sends me an empowering text on the morning when work and life are piling up for me and I can’t see the light. The kind of man who knows when his words and arms are needed most.

The boy you raised grew into a strong, loving man. A supportive, equal partner. And a next-level dad. I’ll always be grateful for the excellent start you gave him in life, for the way your love shaped his DNA, for the backstory that lead him to become the man he is today. The man I love.

With gratitude, I promise to always do my part—to take care of your little boy. To support him the way he supports me. To believe in him the way he believes in me. To be the best mother that I can be to his little boy.

And to give him my whole heart, forever.


Your extremely grateful daughter-in-law

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This story was originally published on August 11, 2020. It has been updated.