The Wilder Life: February 2016
02/02/2016 10:47AM ● Published by Aimee Cormier
An Open Letter To My Daughter In Law
By Amanda Jean Harris
I began praying for you the day I found out I was pregnant. I began praying for who you would be and that you would be protected, loved, raised in a Christian home.
While I’m only a little over four years into motherhood, there are much more pressing matters to attend, it would seem, than who my son will marry. There are allergy shots and Paw Patrol Band-Aids on my mind. There are dinosaur-strewn floors and Nutella smears on my coffee table. I’m not thinking about much more than surviving the early years on some days. And then I’ll see a young man, a teenager. I’ll sit behind one in church who just last year looked like a boy and now looks like a full-grown man. And I’ll think of how I will blink and my son will be packing for summer camp with zero fear. I’ll take a nap and wake up on his wedding day.
Somewhere between trying to get him to not miss the toilet (I mean, really) and scaring away the monsters in the closet, between the praying he doesn’t get hand, foot and mouth again and buying stock in apple juice, he will become a man. Perhaps more accurately, I will pray and cry and fight and bleed and hope I do the right thing by this boy so that he does become the sort of man that makes you say, “This is the one. This one is not like the others. This one is strong enough to hurt me, but kind enough to never even try. This one will protect me, but never suffocate me. This one is bold enough to speak truth, but wise enough to know the value of silence. The man who will wipe your tears and make you both better as a person and safe just as you are. The man who is as brave as he is humble. Who has an unshakable faith, an unwavering fidelity, a spirit that is nothing short of courageous.”
These are the things I pray you say about this little man of mine some day. The things I pray are true. Because I’m not raising a boy. I am raising a man. My efforts aren’t for the present. They are for the future. Because he will leave this cozy nest one day. And when he does I want to kiss goodbye a man, not a boy.
With each decision I’ve made, with each step I take, I know he is watching. I may not be showing him with my life each day what it means to be a man. But, I know I’m showing him (even when I wish he didn’t see) what it looks like to be a woman. And so, for the ways I am imperfect I am sorry. But, you can thank me, sweet girl; one day when you realize perhaps the greatest gift I will give to you will be that I lived honestly.
You can thank me one day for being a hot mess sometimes. I protect this 4-year-old with a measure I know is right. But, I believe more important than protecting our children is living in truth. We are called to live authentically and leave the supernatural protection to the Lord.
While I would die for this man you married, I would only have done him a disservice by painting the world as a perfect place or myself as some sort of Superwoman, Martha Stewart, June Cleaver. I am not that woman. He won’t expect you to be either. I’m already setting him up to realize there is beauty in purity, in honesty, in the imperfect humanity and paradox of being both strong and fragile.
I will with my actions and my words teach him the value of a woman rests in her character, her virtue, her mind, her heart — not her body. I promise you this.
Being a woman is hard. He will know this. You’re welcome.
You can thank me when you realize that this man of yours who watched me live saw a life that was authentic. He saw what it was like to be a woman without perfection. What it looks like to work and what it looks like to play. What it looks like to try and fail. What it looks like to be a woman who knows who she is, who knows what she wants and is sometimes afraid to go after it.
He will know what it looks like to fall seven times, but get up eight.
You can thank me for the cooking. He’s been whisking the pancake batter for a few years now. And you can thank me for trying to have dinner on the table every night, but sometimes (let’s get real — it’s the majority of the time) eating dinner on the couch.
The truth is that you can and will change the entire trajectory of his life. There is nothing this side of heaven that can more thoroughly build or break a man than the wife he chooses. And he chose you. I pray you build him. And I pray he builds you.
I can’t wait to meet you. The Bible tells me you are worth more than rubies. I know it’s true.