It’s so strange when your son gets married. Random acquaintances who scarcely know me and certainly don’t know you, express sympathy saying, “Oh it’s so hard when those girls steal our sons away.”

I try not to be too defensive or too smug when I respond, “I haven’t lost anything. I’ve just gained the two most fabulous daughters-in-law in the world.”

And my goodness, you are.

I don’t go a single day without marveling how lucky/blessed we are to count you as part of our family. I hope I’ve told you at least a hundred times how much I love you, how brightly you shine, how much joy you bring into our lives. I know you hear the way everyone shouts your names when you walk in the door, the way everyone crowds around for hugs, asks your opinions and pulls you into the current game or project.

Rather than breaking up our family, you’ve strengthened it with your enthusiasm for family traditions and birthdays, your willingness to try new and crazy things. Without the two of you, and your dedication to family time, we would have never made it to Timpanogus this year, Hansie’s birthday video would still be on the cutting floor, our Sundays would be dull and lifeless.

You’ve set a high standard for future in-laws in this family. All the younger siblings recognize the need to choose someone who wants to be part or our crazy, fun, loud and opinionated family culture– someone who can jump into a wild game, laugh at our ridiculous humor, get fully incensed over injustice in the world and show proper appreciation for the latest potato gun.

In some ways, you’ve been welcomed into a pack of wolves– the rowdy games, the endless jokes, the science projects. I apologize for all the ways I failed you in raising these boys. I tried, I really tried, but I’m grateful to put them in your able hands. You’ll tame some of the wildness I could never eradicate, but you’re probably stuck with their need to wrestle each other to the ground on any and every occasion.

Perhaps best of all, you’ve stepped into the wolf den and nestled Mary under your wings. Just when my little girl needed more than I can offer, she gained the two sweetest, wisest sisters imaginable. You’ve wrapped your arms around her and offered her unconditional love. Because you see the best in her, she sees the best in herself. I love our male dominated family, but I also know the strength and compensatory power a sister offers. I also love the way you love each other– you are so good to each other and it’s a pleasure to witness.

You’re both better people than me and I’m so glad. My only superiority lies in clocking more days on this planet and, well, I don’t like to brag, but I know a lot more about wrinkles.

I know we’re only at the beginning of this journey together; life will get complicated and I will surely make some missteps. So, while we’re enjoying this simple, golden, sunlit era, I want to make some promises…

  1. I am always on your side. I am always cheering for you. Wherever you go, whatever you do, I’m ready to offer support and encouragement.
  2. Let’s keep holidays merry. You’re both so kind about spending equal time with both families on holidays. I’m so grateful, but I also understand there may be seasons when your family needs you more. I promise I’ll never sulk. I know you love us. You’re doing the best you can. I’m extending invitations not command appearances.
  3. Your babies are your business. As much as I adore babies, I’m in no hurry for grandchildren. I trust you to make your own choices. And when those adorable babes do arrive, I’ll be ready and on call to babysit, run to the grocery store, clean your house or anything else you need. What I won’t offer? Advice. You’ll know more about your babies than I ever will and I’m working as the stage crew, not the director.
  4. I’ll never try to replace your mother. You both have mothers I not only respect but almost idolize. I would never want to disrupt your relationship in any way. I can’t compete and why would I try? We can create something of our own.

I’m sure I’ll think of more, but for now, this list seems sufficient. I should note my own mother-in-law Maria kept every one of these promises.

Please know how much I love you both. I never think of you or see your name without breathing a prayer of gratitude.

I love everything about you. xoxo, m

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  • November 17, 2016 - 10:53 pm

    Danielle - What a beautiful tribute. Someday I’ll have a daughter-in-law and I will make her the same promises.ReplyCancel

  • November 19, 2016 - 5:34 am

    Heidi - Your family all amazes me! Such beautiful DIL’s, but what an inspiring letter for a great dynamic relationship.ReplyCancel

  • November 19, 2016 - 1:03 pm

    tasha - I have four sons and I am so looking forward to having four daughters (in-law) one day. My eldest is 17 and I can see the monumental changes on the horizon for him as he is on the precipice of adulthood. Thank you for sharing such lovely and nourishing slices of your life with your readers. It’s wonderful having your excellent example.ReplyCancel

  • November 20, 2016 - 11:52 pm

    Michelle - So much love. Your daughters-in-law are radiant, and they are blessed to have you. You are all blessed to have each other. And we are blessed to learn from and with you as you share glimpses of your loving lives.ReplyCancel

  • November 25, 2016 - 3:15 pm

    Ruth Ann Mitchell - Somehow I missed this post. Anyhow, I loved it! All good promises from a MIL. And I second everything you say about how wonderful Sammie and Heather are!ReplyCancel

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I’m trying to catch up a bit here– once we hit Thanksgiving, everything about fall and Halloween feels outdated. So please forgive the rush…

As I mentioned, Halloween this year was far too extensive for one post. There was a school dance, a murder-mystery dinner, school carnival, Beehive party, Hope’s birthday and most important– Heather’s birthday.

It’s fantastic to have Heather in the family for many reasons, but we love that her October 30th birthday gives us an excuse for an all-out, dress-up, play games Halloween birthday party.

Gabe was so tired from a weekend of Ultimate Frisbee tournaments he napped between every game and at the dinner table.

Only Mary can properly write “Two-four-six-oh-one!” on Xander’s arm.

And Gabe’s asleep again.

Sisters!

Poor Heather will never get to blow out her own candles at our house.

Going back in time… Friday night.

Thursday… Mary decided to have a party for her Beehive class with one day’s notice. We made it a warm-up for Heather’s party: decorating cookies,

a tea party,

pin the spider on the web,

shoot the  balloons,

necklace making and the classic eat-the-donut-from-the-string game. I thought the girls might be timid– I was SO wrong.

Xander as a hippie on the way to Monster Mash.

I love replacing all our photos with old Halloween photos.

Trunk-or-Treat, Eagles after dark…

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Today I’m breaking a self-imposed eight year moratorium on political talk on this blog. Not because I can sway or convince anyone (the election’s over, after all) because I want to record how I feel, how my family feels, at this point in history.

Tomorrow I’ll search for the silver lining, but today I’m grieving.

Our country has chosen bigotry, misogyny, mocking the disabled, persecuting religious groups and voted for acceptance of crude language and behavior, a sexual predator, a grown man who bullies and throw temper tantrums, spews venom and threatens lawsuits for the smallest offense. I shudder to think of him as a role model for our children.

And I’m a Republican.

I was among those eight years ago and again four years ago, who felt like Obama was a poor choice for our country. Now, my concerns seem laughable. While I still don’t regard President Obama as a great president, I do regard him as a good man, an excellent husband and father, a man with many qualities I’d love to emulate.

Even yesterday morning, I had so much hope for this election. Utah and Mormons received very flattering press these past months. There were various New York Times articles expounding on Why Mormons Don’t Like Trump, the NPR release on 4 Reasons Mormons Are More Skeptical Of Trump Than Other Religious Conservatives, Think Progress offered Mormons Detest Donald Trump and for lovely reasons such as: we value morals, we’re smart, we welcome immigrants and abhor religious persecution.

My very favorite article came from Bloomberg Press by Noah Feldman: Utah Is The Political Conscience of the Nation. For me, his article forms a list of proud Mormon moments in this election cycle.

  1. The Church’s statement on religious freedom after Trump’s anti-Muslim remarks.
  2. Mitt Romney’s press conference begging Republicans to choose a better nominee.
  3. A poll which gave Evan McMullin, a third-party candidate, the lead in Utah.
  4. The Deseret News, our local Mormon owned newspaper, calling for Trump to resign his presidency. “The belief that the party and the platform matter more than the character of the candidate ignores the wisdom of the ages that, ‘when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.’ (Proverbs 29:2).”

And Feldman’s comments, “You don’t have to agree with the sentiment to be impressed by it. There’s a word for this moral non-hypocrisy: It’s called sincerity. And it deserves to be acknowledged.”

I especially loved Feldman’s conclusion, “Just the reality of widespread disgust at Trump should make us realize that somewhere in this land, there are people who actually act on what they believe. For Trump to lose Utah would be a tiny sliver of moral redemption for the rest of us.”

Ah, we could have done it. We could have made history. For the first time since 1964 we could have voted for a Democrat or, even better, Evan McMullin as a third-party candidate. But we didn’t. Like so much of the country we voted righty down party lines. At least Salt Lake County didn’t vote for Trump. I can be proud of my own county.

I’m no fan of Hillary, but she doesn’t exhibit the volatility, the hate, the meanness of Trump. I felt like she would gather good people around her and be especially careful of staying within the law (since she’s had so many legal troubles).

Like so many others, I could not have guessed a year ago I would consider Hillary the better option. I feel so much like Hamilton endorsing Jefferson. If you’ve read Ron Chernow’s stunning biography (and you need to read it right now), you absolutely can’t imagine Hamilton supporting Thomas Jefferson. They HATED each other; Jefferson was awful to our darling Alexander. But A. Ham found himself in the same position I did and Lin-Manuel provided the perfect lyrics:

I have never agreed with Hillary once,

We have fought on like seventy-five diff’rent fronts

But when all is said and all is done

Hillary has beliefs. Trump has none.

One of my friends told me her children had never heard racial slurs or comments about the color of their skin until this year, “And now, they hear insults every day. I’m afraid all the name-calling in this election made people feel like it’s OK to be cruel.” Her children’s experience isn’t unique. All across the U.S. barbs and jibes are being used as verbal weapons.

As followers of Christ we can commit today to speak kindly. We can commit to reach out with compassion to every person we meet no matter how different they may be from ourselves. We can commit to NEVER abusing someone because of race, their religion, their appearance, abilities or sexual orientation.

 

I’m extremely proud of my family’s dismay over Trump’s behavior. They are passionate about kindness and respect and religious freedom. Last night, when we were watching the results come in, we exchanged dozens of texts ranging from teary to dark humor (mostly Putin jokes). I’m so grateful we’re united and can speak openly with each other.

We’ll be OK. We’re white and privileged. But I worry about families who will be separated, kids bullied for the color of their skin, Muslim families shunned by their neighbors. I pray we can reject cruel words and stereotypes, set an example of goodness and compassion and truly see each person as a child of God.

My kids reaction echoed much of what I’m hearing today– we don’t pull back. We need to engage in the work of inclusion and education. Ben called the Salt Lake Refugee Center to volunteer his services, Xander is offering free tutoring at the high school. We can all find a way to reach out.

In Oct. 2001 General Conference, just weeks after 9-11, while bombs were dropping over Afghanistan, Pres. Hinckley admonished,

And as we go forward, may we bless humanity with an outreach to all, lifting those who are downtrodden and oppressed, feeding and clothing the hungry and the needy, extending love and neighborliness to those about us who may not be part of this Church. The Lord has shown us the way. He has given us His word, His counsel, His guidance, yea, His commandments. We have done well. We have much to be grateful for and much to be proud of. But we can do better, so much better.

We can do better, so much better.

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