I have two sons. While I realize I will never know the joys of having a daughter, the same can be said for the many things in life we may never experience—like not having children at all, choosing a job that is death-defying (which brings me back to parenting), or moving overseas. Simply put, we don’t miss what we don’t know. I love my choices, adore my two boys, and wish for nothing more.

Still… as I watch my girlfriend answer her phone from her adult daughter even though she just called an hour ago, I understand that their bond is different from what I share with my sons. Not better or worse, just different. The saying goes, A son is a son until he takes a wife, a daughter is a daughter all of her life. A bit trite perhaps (and sexist, but let’s save that for another time), but this sappy sentiment sums up the difference between mothers and their relationships with sons and daughters.

So, dear future daughter-in-law, here are a few things you’re going to want to know before joining hands in matrimony with either of my sons…

  • It’s not you, it’s him – I may be the mother of your beloved, but I’m also a woman who was in the same place you are now. And I have the luxury of having learned the many quirks, idiosyncrasies, and faulty wiring in the male species. In the event of any fight you may have with my son (and you will have them), I’m likely to ask him what he did wrong, and suggest he apologize. I don’t even need your side of the story.
  • He’s going to grow up – One British medical report states that, on average, the male brain doesn’t reach full capacity until age 43, while the female brain flourishes 11 years earlier. The truth is, that young man you’re in love with, is only going to get better with age. But then, you can say that about all of us.
  • I’m going to be the be best damn mother-in-law – I know this because I also began married-life as the new daughter-in-law. It can be an uncomfortable fit when the mother of your soon-to-be is convinced that no one is good enough for her son. You’re not only good enough, I think my sons will have to work at it to rise to your standards. Love my boys? Check. Knowing my sons aren’t perfect? Double-check.
  • I’m going to love you no matter what – If my boys decide to marry, they will not be the only ones who will fall in love. If they see something in you, so will I, because my sons have good taste.
  • It’s OK if life takes a different turn – Whatever the future holds, you need to do what’s best for you, and I will understand. Even if you don’t remain a part of my son’s life, you will always have a place in my heart.

So, dear future daughter-in-law, hear this. While the two of you may make the perfect couple, you are just as complete as one.

Heidi McCrary is a writer and a regular contributor to Moxie Magazine. Her novel, Chasing North Star is available at Kazoo Books, This is a Bookstore, and online wherever books are sold. Follow Heidi at heidimccrary.netand facebook.com/HeidiMcCraryAuthor

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