Happy NINTH Anniversary to my kids!
I thought I would share just a tiny fraction of my favorite memories from Danny & Rebecca's special day, August 3, 2002...
Which, by the way, was also one of THE HAPPIEST DAYS OF MY LIFE!
Which, by the way, was also one of THE HAPPIEST DAYS OF MY LIFE!
Nine years ago, I gained a beautiful daughter. And in the last nine years, three adorable grandsons have been added to our family. I am a very blessed mom.
I am not a typical woman in a variety of ways. No need to share all of them. Some are funny. Some are embarrassing. Some are possibly very positive (no offense intended to those of you who are more typical). But when it comes to my son, I have never felt the slightest desire to control him, live through him, or be his number one priority. (I think it's no secret that some mothers do inherently have these issues with daughters and sons, but particularly with sons.)
I always looked forward to Danny growing up, having a wife and a family of his own. Yes, leaving the nest. Not because I wanted the freedom from responsibility for him, but because that is the natural cycle of life and I looked forward to seeing him grow into a man, husband and father. I also looked forward to having a daughter-in-law and grandchildren. To me, it was ALL good! Everything to gain, nothing to lose. When friends say, "Don't you wish they could stay little?" My answer has always been, "No. Not at all." I enjoy having an adult relationship with my grown son. And I love being a grandma. There are great things about getting older. (They outweigh the ones that are not so great.)
Some of the best adivce I think I EVER gave Danny was when he began dating in high school. I remember telling him that whenever he dated someone who might possibly become a serious girlfriend or his future wife, to PLEASE not go overboard telling her how close we were or what a good cook I was or anything that sounded like she had anything to live up to (aka: compete with). I never wanted her to view me as a rival and stressed to him that he could unintentionally sabotage a potentially good relationship by getting us off to the wrong start. I remember saying, "Don't give her any reasons to resent me right off the bat."
I told him that when he met the right woman, she should ALWAYS come before me. I never wanted him to feel any conflicted loyalty issues. I never wanted my feelings to be between them. She should know from Day One that she did not have to please me or have my approval. And I told Danny that even if he married someone who didn't particularly like me, my gift to him would be unconditional love and acceptance. I told him I would do the work of having the best possible relationship with her because I never wanted my role in their lives to be demanding or stressful. I truly desire to enhance their lives and not have a lot of expectations. This may sound like an unrealistic goal to some, but it genuinely has been my goal as a mom/mother-in-law. I remember vowing to myself that even if I did not like the person he chose, I would do my best to make certain she never felt that from me.
Reflecting on those aspirations today makes me laugh because I have the best daughter-in-law in the world. She is easy to love. It hasn't been hard work to get along with her. She has never treated me like her rival. She has always loved that Danny and I are close. She makes me feel so valued as a grandma to her boys. And I consider my daughter-in-law my very dear friend.
Another memory that always makes me chuckle is of a repeated conversation I used to have with friends who reminded me frequently that I only had a son and sons just naturally gravitate to their wives' families and what if Danny married a girl who hated me...??? They weren't trying to worry me. I think they thought they were being realistic and preparing me for the inevitable. But I would always just laugh and say, "That's not going to happen. But even if it does, I will do the work of loving her so well that ultimately she will just have to love me." And I really did believe that. I never feared losing Danny to a wife. I just knew I wasn't going to compete for him that way. The most important thing to me was that Danny have a good and healthy marriage; not that my needs were met as a mother. And it has all worked out so beautifully. I'm not taking credit for that. I'm very, very blessed. I could have had the same attitude and a different outcome. But I do think I had my priorities in the right order.
Am I a perfect mom or mother-in-law? Far from it. I'm emotional. I have sensitivities.
I remember the day the kids were here and I was going into my over-explaining mode (because I thought Rebecca thought I was giving the boys something that wasn't good for them). The reality was that she wasn't scrutinizing me at all, but I have this overdrive need to please and make sure everyone knows my good intentions. She said, "Relax, Grandma Shari." And every nerve ending in my body stood on end. In that moment I had to decide whether I would just silently rise above my emotional trigger or whether I should open up and explain the origin of my trigger. You all can guess without me telling you ... I chose the latter.
We wound up laughing about it. But when I began, "I need to tell you something..." I remember the look in her eyes. I explained that the words, "Calm down" and "Relax" had -- in the past -- been used in a very belittling and condescending way to antagonize me. To this day, when someone says those words to me (even in fun), I have an internal physical reaction. And I have occasionally felt provoked enough to respond, "Don't tell me to calm down." (Leaving the other person wondering why I got so upset.) John understands how much I dislike those words, and why, and he rarely ever says them accidentally. The only times he has said them were when he was trying to tease me and even though I take teasing extremely well, I never respond with laughter to those words. (Danny said he knew exactly how the words were going to affect me the minute they were said. He said his stomach tightened at the same time mine did.)
That is just one of my little quirks. I have many. I am so far from the perfect anything. But my daughter-in-law makes me feel like a great mother-in-law. I could even tell her how much those words bothered me and she cared enough about my feelings to understand and laugh with me ... and not say them to me again. LOL. I trusted her enough to tell her. If she was the kind of person who would have used my sensitivity as a weapon at a future vulnerable moment, we would have a completely different relationship. But I know she genuinely cares about me and my feelings. Believe me, I know how blessed I am.
Oh, how the time flies when I start writing on my blog about memories and people I love. I have to get off this computer and get ready for a lunch date. But I just wanted my kids to know how thankful I am for the last nine years, and for the blessing their little family unit is to Grandma Shari and Poppy John.
Happy Anniversary, Danny & Rebecca!
I love you both so much!