The Other Woman

I don’t like my son’s wife. I don’t like that he spends Christmas with her family. I don’t like that he does whatever his wife wants.

My son is 10 years old so, technically, there’s no wife. But there will be, and I like to be prepared.

I love to talk about this whenever I meet women with sons. When I confess that I am pre-emptively resentful of his faceless wife-of-the-future, they will sometimes give me a polite, yet curious look. Some will nod a sad, knowing smile, and then one of us will invariably say that quote I’ve grown to detest, “A son is a son ’til he takes a wife, a daughter is a daughter for life” (I have a daughter, but I know she’s not going anywhere, so this isn’t about her).

Then there are the mothers who do not agree with me. I do not like them. They say things like, “You have to let them go,” “We all grow up,” or “I love my daughter in law.” That is when I give them the same look I might give to anyone who ever asks me to go down to the basement in the middle of the night to see what made that noise.

other woman1So when my son got off the bus, clutching a scrap of paper in his hand, his serious face in place, I knew.

“There’s something I need to tell you,” he says.  He tells me he likes a girl and she likes him, and she’s moving away in two weeks, so he’d like to call her.

I do not panic. I am not angry.

Instead, I find myself excited for him. With my best attempt at nonchalance, I say, “Uh, okay. Let’s go.”

I watch as he dials her number, his brows knit with concentration. I listen as he uses his ma’ams and his pleases and I feel a surge of excitement when the mother says he can talk to her daughter.

He fist pumps the air, victorious.

He attempts his first phone conversation with a girl. I hear him say, “So — (long pause) — how’s your family?” I laugh from my eavesdropping spot at the bottom of the stairs.

Two days later, I pick her up after school and we go for ice cream. I pay, and then scuttle to the corner of the shop and pretend I don’t know them.

They are talking and smiling and laughing and eating their ice cream. other woman2

I’m near tears.

He looks happy. Which makes me happy.

It was one of those epiphanies, the kind delivered in crowded yogurt shops on Friday afternoons.

I had always viewed my son growing up and sharing his life with someone else as my loss.

I was a selfish idiot.

This is how 3rd graders see how they measure up

It’s a literal measuring up at this age

I was so busy fretting over me, I didn’t realize my loss was his gain. I live for my son’s gains. When he gets a hit at bat, when he gets a good grade on a test, when he gets invited to a birthday party, when he tells a joke that makes the other kids laugh, it’s my victory, too.

His joy is my joy.

(Sidebar: Whoever coined the phrase, “You’re only as happy as your least happy child,” was a genius.)

All this time, I failed to consider how it might be for him, to feel those first stomach flutters, to fall in love (LATER, MUCH LATER, PLEASE!!), to choose to spend his life with someone.

His dad is my everything, and raising our kids together is amazing and scary and difficult and so very worth it.

I want all of that for my son. Of course.

He still dances with me in the bathroom, holding my hands and twirling me, singing Jim James’ ‘I want a new life.’ He still hugs me around the waist and says “I love you, Mama,” (and sometimes pokes me in the stomach and asks me if I’m having another baby).

When we lie on his bed at night, a head on each pillow, his eyes are so open, so accepting, it sends hairline cracks across my heart.  My love for him is staggering in its depth and has taught me the true meaning of the word bittersweet. The days and years are sprinting away from us, leaving me winded and knee deep in achingly beautiful memories.

other woman4

I will always believe that whoever lands my son is the luckiest woman alive. But I no longer see her as a thief, stealing him away.

If this blog can still be found when he does find the girl of his dreams, and she reads it and is wondering what she can do to make her bat sh$% crazy mother-in-law happy, here’s my advice:

Christmas at our place!

And welcome to the family.

 

 

 

 

 

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18 comments on “The Other Woman
  1. Will Partenheimer says:

    From a son’s perspective: Accepting your son’s choice (way, way far in the future) will be one of the greatest things that you ever give him. Not doing so will put him inbetween you and his choice and will cause him heartache and misery. It may take a while but at some point he will have to make another choice, you or her. I know first hand that he loses either way. So do his children. I do hope your blog is around for your son’s choice to read so that she can see your love for your family. It should warm her heart!

    • Jaye Watson says:

      Ugh. You’re right. I won’t do that. At least I will try not to do that. I try to remind myself that I’m not only his mom, I’m another boy’s wife. And his mama loved him like that, too. Thanks for reading.

  2. Dianna says:

    Found this from a link a friend posted on FB. It is wonderfully written! My son is 35, still hasn’t found the right one yet, but I can SO identify with all the feelings you wrote about! Adorable photos, by the way.

  3. Leigh Howell says:

    I was the girl that my husband’s mom wasn’t too thrilled about. When he told his mom and dad that we were getting married, my father-in-law was very happy and she was very subdued. Later, he tried to explain to me that his mom did really like me. I laughed and told him that I knew that. She just wasn’t ready for her last child to leave home. I always tried to be very understanding toward her and do what I could to make her life easier. When she died at 90, we had been married for 34 years, and she and I adored one another.

    • Jaye Watson says:

      Thank you for sharing your story, Leigh. My relationship was similar with my mother in law. I can say that at the end, I believe she liked me. And now I get it, I had taken her boy, her youngest..away.

  4. Diane Byra says:

    When I met my Mother in Law to be, My husband told me that he loves his mother dearly as I do my mother. He said ” I really hope you never ask me to chose between you and my mother” ha added “Of course I will always chose you, but it would make him sad to do so” I replied ” I believe your mother is just as important to you as my mother is to me and I will always give her the same respect as I give to my own mother” There were days we didn’t see eye to eye, but I always loved and respected her and I am happy to say He has never had to chose 🙂 I can only pray that your son meets a woman who will love and respect you and he will never have to chose either !

    • Jaye Watson says:

      What a sweet story, Diane. I will never make him choose. Because as a wife myself, I’m afraid I would lose.

  5. Caressa says:

    I am that woman the mother doesn’t like. Her son caters to me and does everything to make me happy. And I don’t tolerate much, backbone of steel on this mama. So when I say no, I mean no. That drives her nuts that he doesn’t “stand up to me”. He does just not so bluntly and forcefully. We’ve been together 7 year and have 2 kids and she still complains that I’m too thin. The whole family hates the fact I stay in shape. I just smile and keep moving on. I’ll be nice but I’m not here to impress.

  6. Abby says:

    As a news anchor, a mom of boys and a fellow blonde (ha!), I feel like you are my friend. Love your blog! You are an excellent writer. In fact, we just aired your cerebral palsy story…which is why I googled you and found this. You stole my heart.

  7. Barbara says:

    I read this last month when it popped up on my Facebook newsfeed and knew immediately that I needed to send it to the mother of my daughter’s fiancé. I thought it was sweet, funny and right on target and something both of us could relate to as we look forward to the wedding of our children in November. My youngest daughter is marrying her first born son. As I read it I switched the gender to make it all about my baby girl, who is 35 and has a successful career in Manhattan. I thought, will she spend Christmases with his family when she’s always been with our family? Will he come home with her for the birthdays of her nieces, whom she adores? Why did she have to fall in love with someone from New York, now she will never come back to Atlanta. Then I realized she is loved by this wonderful man and his family and she is happy in a way I’ve never seen her before. So, once again I must learn to share just as I had to learn to share my granddaughters with their other grandparents. I learned it’s not my loss but my gain because I now have added another branch to the family tree.

  8. Vanessa says:

    I love this! I AM the other woman.
    I have no relationship whatsoever with my MIL and neither does my husband at this point. It breaks my heart and I vow to never be that type of mother in law. Of course it will be hard for me when my son finds his perfect girl, but I am preparing myself (he’s 6) to be a loving and considerate mother in law. Fingers crossed he finds a girl that can put up with me!
    I also want to commend you on your Roanoke piece. A friend shared it and that’s how I stumbled upon this post. It was eloquently written and hit very close to home. My husband is an executive producer at our local TV station. I am thankful he is not out in the field, but to think of the possiblity of this happening to someone in our news family? It’s unfathomable.

    • Jaye Watson says:

      Vanessa, thank you for reading a couple of my blogs! Yes, I need some MIL training, big time..as is evident by my blog.

      As for Roanoke, I’m glad your husband is in the building…thanks again.

  9. Jeanni Russ says:

    I am in love with your writing! I feel like you crawled inside my head and my heart.:) I remember my mother in law made a comment with bittersweet eyes that a mother “loses” her son to another woman forever. In my ignorance, I was like “it doesn’t have to be that way”. Now having a son of my own, who I adore and get along with so well, I get what she was saying. I war within myself between being the mother that peacefully and lovingly releases her son to the love of his life and wanting to be like Gullom dysfunctionally murmuring “my precious” lol. I’ve got work to do the best way to love him is to love her 🙂

    • Jaye Watson says:

      You made me laugh out loud with the ‘my precious’ part. Truly, I so get it. I’m not proud of it. I need help with it. But man, no one will ever love him like me. See? There I go again. Thanks Jeanni, for reading my blog. Good luck to you..we both need it!!

  10. Glenda says:

    I just found this on FB. Love your writing!

  11. Tammi Fraser says:

    I cannot tell you how happy I am to have read this! Being the mother to my only child, a 3 year old boy, I fret about this already! My friends already tease me about feeling sorry for Jack’s future wife! While I was totally commiserating about how you started out the blog, like you were reading my mind, I was so happy that your heart changed and I so hope that mine will too! It will be tough though!!!!
    Thanks for sharing!!!

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