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An Open Letter to my Mother-in-Law

Dear Jane,

jane I am a mother. SO. I know: I was not the girl a mother dreams of for her son.

I hope my Southern good manners will stretch to cover my worry should Sam one day bring home a tatty, googley-eyed, egocentric, mouthy object with a questionable sense of humor, especially if she is prone to fits of Irish temper and zoning out into imaginary universes in the middle of conversations. Let’s throw in un-domestic, undisciplined, unreasonable, unthoughtful, and with no clear grounding in space and time—like, really, none.

Digression: In my family, the joke is that Sam was born the day after my birthday because God wanted his mother to remember that he HAD a birthday.
I often forget YOUR birthday, which is AWFUL of me. I am genuinely sorry for every time I’ve forgotten.

Does it make you feel any better to know I can’t remember my own wedding anniversary—THAT is a day when I can reasonably expect PRESENTS! I LOVE presents! And yet…best I can do is to tell you that I think it was this month. In other words, it isn’t pure narcissism. You can assume you are dealing with a genuine lack of calendar savvy when it often runs counter to the lacker’s own interests.

I am sure it didn’t help that you knew way too much about me. Scott and I were friends—best friends—for years and years. He told you quite a few stories about me as his crazy friend that he NEVER would have told you had I been his girlfriend. Edit: Let’s just pretend he told you ALL of them. Heh.

You knew I was the one who kept him out until 4 am stealing an old toilet and turning it into a house for a wounded crow I’d adopted. Because what wounded crow does NOT want to live in an old toilet?

Listen, between you and me? Every girl he dated was a straight up loon. Loon is his go to. Loon is his type. He just didn’t TELL you how bonkers THEY were. I met them all, his girlfriends, and between us, let me assure you that you were going to get a loon for a daughter in law no matter which way he jumped. But you knew things about me that you never would have known about those girls. And yet you were lovely to me.

Thank you for kindness to the moderately horrifying girl I was. Thanks for not letting the worry show, and throwing us a lovely rehearsal dinner.

Your family and the Jackson clan operate very differently—thank you for being patient with my foreign, weird Jackson ways.

Thank you for being such a dear and loving Nana to our children.

Thank you for your integrity. You raised an honest son with a good, good heart. Because you are kind, he learned to be kind. Because you have a slow burning temper, he balances my flash fire rages with his reason. Because you were patient with him, he is patient with EVERYONE.

You gave your boy some really good genes and even better values, and he has made my life a joy for 21 years. He has made even the most awful things endurable, the bad things better, the good things wonderful. He makes the BEST kids. Thank you for making him, for raising him right, and most of all, thank you for letting me have him.

He is the best one, and there would be no him without you.

I love you,
joshilyn sig

Ink 96645mm happy mothers day

5 comments to An Open Letter to my Mother-in-Law

  • Becky

    That is just lovely.

  • Jessica (the celt)

    When you catch a good one, you know that they didn’t just end up that way all by themselves (most of them, anyway). It’s good to have this reminder about my own favorite guy. (I’ll just assume that mine would make great kids, but we’re not going that route. He’s the best kitty-dad in the world, though! 😉 )

  • Sarah

    You beautifully express a sentiment I didn’t have words for. Thank you! Your books and blog are such treasures.

  • Leslie Madden


  • I love this tribute to the one who gave her Sweet son over to another woman for care and keeping. They are BOTH keepers!