Over the years, I have known very few women who remain important to me. My mom, of course, was the primary woman in my life and I still miss her every day. My sister is my best and dearest friend, and I have a sister-in-law whom I love, but see infrequently. My best friend from high school, Sandy, has returned to my life, and I love her, but she, too, lives far away.
I've had women friends, but none have stood the test of time, and I've had rocky relationships with two mothers-in-law and a sister-in-law. Just not a "woman's woman" I guess.
Funny how things can change.
In 1994, when my children's dad and I called our middle son to let him know we were getting a divorce, he was with a young woman whom he called his friend. When our sad and distressing conversation ended, Lisa was there for him, giving him loving support and providing strength for a young man who was far from home and whose world had just tilted on its axis. Two-and-a-half years later - on my 49th birthday - Jason married his best friend, Lisa. Their marriage has blessed all of our lives and provided three beautiful boys who call me "Gran."
I don't get to see my Midwest family very often - the distance is great - but I always stay with them when I visit. Lisa always welcomes me with open arms and I feel welcomed; not just tolerated, but genuinely welcomed. Let's face it, having your mother-in-law camp out in your house isn't most women's idea of a good way to spend a week, but Lisa actually seems to enjoy having me there! I can talk to her like I do any other member of my family - we tease and laugh, bad moods (mine and hers) are overlooked, and she's always game to go shopping with me! (She even, on one memorable occasion, donned rubber gloves and cleaned the bathroom after I became violently ill on the last day of a visit. Now, that's love!) Best of all, she loves my son and I love seeing them together and being a part of their family for that brief time. She always makes certain that Jason and I have some mom-and-son time together and there is an easy friendship and love that we share. Lisa is a blessing to me and I am thankful that she is my d-i-l.
When I moved to Oregon following the divorce, my youngest son, Ben, came with me. I agonized and worried that I was ruining his young life. He was just starting high school, and I had dragged him 3,500 miles away from the only home he had known. Family, friends - the relationships of a lifetime - were now a continent away. I rationalized that the Northwest was a more wholesome environment and he would grow up around his cousins, and his aunt and uncle. But still, I worried.
During his second year of college in Oregon, he mentioned to me that he had met someone he really liked. He'd had one serious relationship in high school and had dated other girls briefly, so I didn't give it much thought. But I began to hear her name more often: Briana. In fact, hers was the only name I was hearing! But he was young still, and I know how transient young love can be.
The summer of 2000, Ben came home and brought Briana with him. I was captivated by her immediately. The love they had for each other was obvious and they, too, were friends; best friends, in fact. Four years later, they married, and not quite 18 months after that I was in the delivery room when Addison was born. Having your mother-in-law in the delivery room seems to rank right up there with having her in your house for a week, so you can see how the love flows both ways.
I have been Addison's "Granny Nanny" since he was about 2-1/2 months old - and that is a gesture of trust and generosity on Briana's part that humbles me. Briana and I share many personality traits (a comment that makes her shudder, I know!), but we also share the joy of a comfortable and open relationship. She loves my son - the one thing I have prayed for all of my children - and, as with Lisa, Briana makes sure that Ben and I have mom-and-son time together. She, too, is a blessing in my life, and I am so grateful for my d-i-l, jr.
And so, I give thanks for these two young women, born not of my body but into my heart. They truly are my daughters-in-love!