A Letter To My (Someday) Daughters-In-Law

Several months ago, I posted an only-half-kidding list of commandments for Mothers-In-Law. You are entitled to call me out on that list, if ever I break one of my own commandments. It's here, in writing, for all the world to see. Dangerous ground, yes?

But since I don't even know who you are, yet, (Maybe we haven't even met, yet!) I'm going to take this opportunity to give you some advice about marriage. It can't be considered meddling, can it?

Men are simple. Really. My sons are as simple as the rest of them. You will drive yourself insane if you try to deduce what they really mean by what they said all the time. The only way to interpret what a man says: take the most positive spin on it that is possible, and the least complicated possible message, and assume he means that. When he says that Bubba's new girlfriend has the prettiest brown eyes, that's all he means. He isn't saying that he wishes your eyes were brown, that hers are prettier than yours, that he wants to get her in the sack or that Bubba said something unkind about your baby blues. Bubba's girlfriend has pretty eyes. That's it. OK? If he says his Mom made meatloaf different, that doesn't mean anything except that mine is different. Not better, just different. In fact, mine is almost guaranteed to be different, because I cook with elk meat and I make it different every time. Don't read a big, fat criticism into it. Trust me on this.

Men are simple. They think about sex all the time. It is always at some level of their consciousness. This does not demean them, it isn't a negative comment. It simply is. This...pay attention! This is important! This is your key your feminine power. Don't use sex as a weapon against him. Don't think of it as being vulnerable. If he is excited by what might happen next, if he feels like you are passionately present in your love life, and if you make sure to ... um..... admire him in the ways that are most important to him, he will be yours. He will be more agreeable about everything else if his equipment is happy. Oh, and by the way: Victoria's Secret is not a making a bazillion dollars every year for no reason. Lingerie works.

Don't assume that just because they are big, strong men that they are callous. They are tenderhearted and have fragile egos. Let them be strong for you. Let them show you their masculine pride. Let them open the stupid pickle jar, OK? I'm not asking you to manipulate them. At least, not very much. But let them do things for you, ask for help sometimes, and express your appreciation for the help when you get it. Be careful with his pride. Never hold him up to ridicule, don't criticize him to or in front of others (especially me, for heaven's sake!), don't try to get his friends on your side. Your issues, your love life, mistakes, his moments of thoughtlessness should all remain private territory in your marriage. The two of you should build a wall around your private matters and both of you guard that like a castle full of treasure.

OK. Sensitive area here. If you ask for his help or if you are sharing the household duties, you will have to learn to accept a few things. He is not likely to ever do some household chores to your standard. If it's his job to do the laundry, you will need to accept the job he does on the laundry. You don't get to correct him, redo, or be resentful that he did it wrong. Either live with it or do it yourself, but either way, do it happy. You can't be mad at him for having a different standard on the whiteness of socks.

I am sorry to tell you that I did not manage to raise perfect children. You're going to find out that this lovable, intelligent and capable man is also stubborn and opinionated, with a talent for frustrating you to within an inch of your desire to stay married. He will do the most exasperating things for no apparant reason. He won't do what you want him to do, probably more often than not. You aren't going to change him. Oh, he will most definitely change over time, but that will be his own doing and will have little to do with your plans for him.

As smart as they are, neither on of my sons is a mind-reader. They will not get your hints. For many years, I tried to get my own Sweet Hubs to not put his hat on the table. It bugs me. I moved his hat every day. I sighed when I did it. I mumbled. I threatened to throw away the hats. You know what I didn't do? I didn't say, "Honey, hats on the table really bugs me." When I finally did, he made a real effort to stop putting his hat on the table. No fights. No struggle. Wow. I should have mentioned it years ago. Now I will have to also explain that a hat on the kitchen counter is just as annoying. One thing at a time.

Try to see the love in the things he does for you, hard as that might be to find. He is unlikely to bring you flowers every day. He'll forget important occasions. (News flash! You will, too!) You will have search for his loving intentions in everyday acts. If you ask him to put the toilet lid down and he actually does it? That is a supreme act of love. Roll with it.

Be strong for him, and vulnerable for him. He needs to know that you are strong enough to be a true companion to him, but he still wants to be protective of you. He will be your champion if he knows that he is THE ONE who always has your back. Save some of your secrets and tell him instead of your best friend. Let him see the soft, vulnerable belly that you hide from the rest of the world. Be strong enough that he knows that you will always protect his soft, vulnerable belly.

This one might be the biggest one of all. Learn how to pick your battles. When you are tempted to correct him or criticize him, hold your words for just a few moments and ask yourself, "Does this matter? Is he doing it on purpose? Have I told him how I felt? Does this negate all the good things?" and frame your thoughts from there. Some things need to be brought out. Other things will go away without any intervention from you. You will save a lot of tears and yelling and hurt feelings (yours, mostly) if you can decide early on how to pick your battles.

He has a good heart, my son whom you love. He had a good teacher, because his daddy is a wonderful husband. We had our struggles, to be sure, but we also always had eachother's best interest at heart. Treat his heart as the tenderest of treasures and protect it whenever you can. With him, you can build a strong, lasting marriage that will be the hub of your lives together. Nurture that relationship. It is the foundation of all the good years, yet to come.

Your Someday MIL.

PS. You don't have to call me "Mom" unless you're comfortable with that. I know you already have one. But, please, call me something!


A Letter To My Sons

I have loved you and have been worrying about you since the moment I knew about you. I watched what I ate, took my vitamins, made sure to do all the right things so you would be born healthy. Then I fretted and stressed over every decision, wanting to give you the best upbringing I could. I tried to teach you to be strong, happy, independent, honorable men, and I think it worked. You're both wonderful men. Dad and I tried to be the best examples we could be, showing you a strong and loving marriage.

I want you to have a strong and loving marriage, too. I want for you that kind of tender and abiding love that will warm you all of your life. You'll need to find the right woman to achieve that.

Look for a real woman, boys. Look for a woman with a mind of her own, but a heart that she'll give to you. Find one who is strong enough to be loving and tender. Be strong enough to be tender with her, too.  Find a real woman, complex and abstruse as she might seem to you, because it takes a real woman to build a life and a family with.

Be a man who is respectful and respectable, and look for a woman who will be respectful of you. Find a woman with integrity, discretion, empathy and tact. She should be the one who knows your secrets and holds them close, never revealing things that you wish to remain private.

Choose a woman with a light heart, who finds the joy in every day. Choose a woman who makes you feel like the future with her is the brightest sun. Choose a woman who makes you laugh, and who you make laugh, too. Choose a woman you can talk to, and whose opinions you value.

Attraction is important. You should never focus only on her outer beauty, which is so changeable, but you need to be attracted to the one you plan to spend your life with. She doesn't have to look like Katy Perry. If her eyes sparkle when she laughs and that makes your heart race, if she has great legs or an awesome rack or whatever, she needs to appeal to you. Son, I don't care if your preference is for a tall brunette, a short redhead, a curvy blonde or that bald green girl from Star Trek. You're going to be looking at her almost every day for the rest of your life. You need to like what you see.

Take a good look at a woman you're serious about. Can you live the rest of your life with her, with her flaws just as they are? Never marry someone with intent of "fixing" them. If she changes, it will be her own development as a human, and has nothing to do with what you want to change about her. When you know her better, you will know more flaws, too. And always remember that you, my darling son, are not perfect either. Every time you are tempted to open your mouth to criticize or correct her, ask yourself two questions: "Could I do any better than she is doing?" and "How many things would she like to correct about me that she is not saying?" Then decide if it's worth going there.

You must learn how to see the love in what she does. Remember that everything she does for you is probably at the expense of something she could be doing for herself. It is a demonstration of love for her to do things for you, whatever they are. Teach yourself to notice those things, and appreciate them.

Your great-grandma told me that marriage was like two stones rubbing together. Eventually you rub each other smooth. She was right. 100%. Knowing that, learn how to pick your battles. Decide if a thing is really worth fighting about, and if it is...FIGHT FAIR!

When you find this angel woman, who treats your gentle heart like the most valuable and fragile treasure, who respects you and plays with you and makes your heart go pitter-patter, be all that you can be to deserve her.

Pay attention when she speaks to you. She merits your attention.

Don't wait until she has to ask you to do something. If her tire is going flat, don't wait until she is stranded on the road side. If you see her struggling to open the pickle jar, just open the damn thing for her. OK? Give a little advance thought to what she might need or want. Anticipating her needs is a wonderful way to show her your love.

Never make fun of her, embarrass her or hold her up to ridicule. Be sure that if you are teasing or playing with her that it's a game in both directions and not sport at her expense. Make sure that you always, always, always treat her like the most beautiful girl in the room, even if Katy Perry really is there. She won't mind half as much if you look at other women, if you make her feel like she always looks better than "her" to you.

Speak well of her behind her back and to her face. Treat her with the honor and respect she deserves. Regard her love for you as a tender and fragile gift that you must nurture, support and earn.

Take care of your health and your looks. You want her to be attracted to you, too, and you want to remain healthy enough to do something about it when her eyes tell you that you are looking hot. 'Nuf said.

My wish for you is to have the kind of marriage that is the nurturing foundation on which you can frame your life. It can be the shelter against the world's cold winds, and the greenhouse to grow your family. Your marriage can be your hiding place, your showplace and your safe place every day of your life. You must build it to be that. Together, you and she can create it.







We had two lovely-dovely weeks in our faraway dream spot.

Our two boys joined us for four days of that and had some much needed brother time.

We saw cherished friends, beautiful scenery, wildlife up the wahoo. It was wonderful.

I am trying very hard to make peace with squirrels. You know how I feel about them. I'm trying to get over my revulsion to the creepy little bastards  little critters. I made myself sit for a while and watch one while it did its squirrelly little things. While I haven't quite managed to get over the willies about them, I am at least conquering my desire to get the .22.

The Sweet Hubs replaced the facia and barge rafters on the house; he didn't like the engineered product, MDF or NDS or something like that... that was there before. If you don't dig construction jargon, let me just tell you that it meant he got very high up on a ladder that looked dang wobbly to me. But he looks so darn sexy swinging a hammer, I had to watch.

I wrote a while, sewed a while, read a while and got in some serious wine time. Huckleberry wine sipped on that porch right there.


My Prayers

I am better at writing my thoughts than speaking them. Words that come from my brain or my heart seem to flow better through my fingertips than out of my mouth. With that in mind, I decided to add a category of posts for my prayers.

I pray a lot. Not in the traditional Catholic sense of the word, as in reciting the Lord's Prayer or an Ave Maria. I often find my mind and heart reaching out to that Great Unknown, seeking a connection with my Creator, asking for help, guidance, asking for someone else's comfort or healing....a myriad of things. I very often just stop for a moment to thank Him for a beautiful scene or a lovely person.

Today, I'm praying for a sweet child, only 3 years old and fighting a terrible disease. Lord, heal her body, comfort her and her family and make her well.

I'm praying for a dear friend who just found out his cancer is back. Give him strength and health, Father. Give his darling wife the strength to help, faith in Your wisdom, hope for their future together and preserve her health, too.

I'm praying for a client who passed away unexpectedly, and for his dear wife left behind. Give him a place in heaven, and give her your loving attention to heal her heart.

My prayers go out for another friend, about to have surgery. Let it be simple, fast and effective, with a quick recovery.

Last, Father, help my friend and neighbor. Take away her pain, make her surgery fast and effective. Help her through the trials she is facing with her health and her family, and guide her.

What I See--Alita

Oh, Alita! What can I say? We've known eachother for so many years! Alita and I became acquainted first because our husbands worked to...