Seven Things I Vow to My First Son-in-law (and the One Thing I Ask of Him!)

The Piglet's engaged and The GypsyNesters couldn't be happier!

Congrats to our wonderful daughter, The Piglet, and her fiancé – they’re engaged and we’re thrilled!

We were awoken from a dead sleep in the late afternoon while on our bike tour of Sicily (days of 20 miles of cycling + too much Sicilian food and wine = major Italian siesta action) to an exciting Mom, Dad-we’re-engaged! phone call.

The Piglet’s happiness bounced from cell tower to satellite and back to another cell tower all the way from Mexico, where she and her beau were vacationing with friends. Her laughter combined with tears of joy as she shared their happy news.

There is no better sound in the world.

Love at first sight.

My mind reeled with the crazy amount of questions going through my head: When are you getting married? Where? What can I do to help? Let’s start making plans!

But I was good; I stuck to the proper questions of the moment: How did he ask? What did he say? Text me a photo of your ring.

After hanging up, I immediately started to freak out. Did I handle the call as properly as I should have? Did I, in fact, ask the right questions? Did I sound the right amount of excited?

The Piglet and Decibel in a rare quiet moment.

It dawned on me that, once again, parenting doesn’t come with a handbook.

Here’s – yet another – event that I’ve been totally blindsided by.

It’s not that the news came completely out of the blue; after all, they’ve been dating for almost four years.

Our daughter, Decibel, had been telling us for at least six months that the moment was eminent.

So why the heck was I so caught off guard?

The Piglet has always been the trailblazing Spawn.

She’s the oldest of our three, she’s got an extremely strong personality, and she works hard to achieve her goals. As a child she was as charming as she was stubborn, playful as she was mischievous, loving as she was independent.

She’s usually the first to lead me into a new chapter of motherhood.

It was the first-ness of it all that freaked me out in the aftermath of the Mom, Dad-we’re-engaged! phone call.

My first Spawn wedding – and I don’t even know what to do! Then – OMG, I’M GOING TO BE A MOTHER-IN-LAW!

That’s when all reasonable thought left my head.

I’m clueless about being mother-of-the-bride, but that’s easy enough to learn. The lovebirds are having an extremely small, city hall ceremony – so as long as I don’t show up drunk, don a clown suit, or smear lipstick on The Piglet’s dress, I’m golden (cross your fingers for me!).

But being a mother-in-law? That’s some heady, for-the-rest-of-my-life stuff!

Happily, we adore the man our daughter is going to marry. He’s an incredible person who makes her deliriously happy – what else can a mommy ask for?

I want to be the best mother-in-law – ever – to my new son (and not only because he’s allowing us to call him “Frenchie” on our site!).

To alleviate my fear, I turned to our insightful GypsyNester community and pleaded for mother-in-law tips on our Facebook Page. I’ve taken the most poignant from the wise women who have taken this journey before me, and have added my vows to my future son-in-law (you’ve got it in writing, Frenchie!):

My Vows to my Future Son-in-law

“NEVER offer your opinion unless and until you are asked. Much more difficult than it sounds!”
Frenchie, I will do my best. I don’t always have the best filter regulating the space between my thoughts and my mouth but, if I ever overstep my bounds, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

“I think the problem with many mother-in-laws is that they frequently outstay their welcome.”
Duly noted. If it looks like I’m moving in, feel free to pack my bag. I hate packing, so look at it as if you are doing me a favor!

“Stay out of their marriage. Remember they are the family unit now…not that they don’t love you but it is their marriage to build.”
Beautiful advice… it is your marriage to build. And it is my sincere prayer that it flourishes from your foundation of love – the most important gift that life gives us – to soaring heights based on the mutual respect you have of one another, the joy you give to each other, and the peace you find in your Nation of Two.

“I would just ask them what they’d like…”
I will. I can’t read your mind (I bet you’re saying WHEW! right about now), and I will strive to not make assumptions. Assumptions suck.

“Never speak bad of him. Treat him like your own. Say I love you. Hug. I have a fantastic son in law, but we have very different culture. So I try to not push my ways on him, but worry being not invasive, can be seen as too uninterested.”
I won’t. And I will, I will, I will! As for the last part, let’s navigate these waters together. Lead me to understand how to strike the proper balance.

Trust your daughter’s judgement if you ever don’t agree on something. Love him even when he isn’t having a great day. It’s just a day.”
The Piglet has excellent judgement, obviously, she chose you. I promise to love you when you’re grumpy.

I also promise you this, my darling Frenchie:  I will never nag you to produce grandchildren. BUT, just in case a few happen to show up, all I ask of you is that I get a cool French nickname.

I don’t want to be called Granny. Ewww.


P.S. Reason number bazillion I’m going to love having a French son-in-law (Frenchie emailed me today with this news): In French, mother-in-law is “Belle-mère” which literally translates to “beautiful mother.”

Seriously, can it get better than that?

YOUR TURN: What are your thoughts about being a mother-in-law? What are the ups and downs you’ve had with your own mother-in-law? What have you learned? Still wanting all the advice I can get! What do your grandkids call you?

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13 thoughts on “Seven Things I Vow to My First Son-in-law (and the One Thing I Ask of Him!)”

  1. My friend, like me is an aesthetician, she has a blingy way of going about everything (unlike me, #still a woodsy loving girl). Now that she is a grandmother she goes by “glamma” (glamour)

  2. I don’t remember if I was the person who gave you that first piece of advice (about not giving unsolicited advice), but that’s one I try to stick to. As Chloe said, I think you’ll do fine since you already managed to land your helicopter. (Read their book if you don’t get that last reference).

    1. Unsolicited advice might be a good thing sometimes (like if it comes from you) but not when directed at your offspring’s relationships. Just glad we are so happy with The Piglet’s choice. And they seem extremely happy together. (Same advice about reading if you don’t get The Piglet reference.)

  3. These are the rules I try to live by. I think it won’t be very difficult for you because you have created a full and vibrant life after kids. Bad mother-in-laws happen when women haven’t moved on after the kids are grown.

    One of the hardest but best things I did was reel my daughter she couldn’t bring their arguments to me. I know she’d get over them but I wouldn’t. That was hard because we’re very close, but I think it is essential not to get in the middle of anyone’s marriage.


  4. The first year of my daughters marriage was a bumpy ride as two very strong personalities learned to coexist. When my daughter wanted to vent, I told her to talk to her husband not me. 1. I was not their mediator. 2. They needed to exercise their communication muscles. 3. Learning to forgive and move on is key to staying together. A few years later they were discussing how difficult that first year had been and he asked her why she stayed with him. She told him, “I stayed because Mom wouldn’t let me quit!”. He thanked me for helping without getting into their business. My parents had been a wonderful example of how to “In-law”.

    1. This is great advice. I’m aware of too many guys and girls taking their marital struggles to parents IN DETAIL. Encouraging them to take it to their spouse is a good way to set the pattern.

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