Family expansion

Today my two sweet sisters-in-law along with my mother-in-law threw a lovely wedding shower for our Amanda. There was punch in lovely glasses, and cake topped with roses, and Lindor chocolate, and red roses and white tulips in crystal vases, and a lovely sweet devotion and prayer. Every detail showed the touch of love.

Amanda glowed, surrounded by a room full of women and girls, new family and old. The family in which she grew up, and Ben’s family, the family into which she is being welcomed. I met some of them for the first time today.

Back when I was a newlywed, I remember being glad that John’s family was a good one, kindhearted and welcoming, people you’d be glad to spend time with even if you weren’t bound by a web of family relations. I’ve been in his family for 22 years now, long enough that it’s been awhile since I’ve paused to think of which people knew me since I was in diapers and which I didn’t meet until my teens or older. These days, they’re all just family.

It didn’t fully hit me until this afternoon the magnitude of this family expansion project that Amanda has embarked upon. Sure, I’ve added some of her new relatives as Facebook friends lately, and I’ve been asking questions in an attempt to sort out who is related to who. I’ve even gotten (and accepted) some very kind offers of help with wedding preparations.

But this afternoon, sitting surrounded by all these female relatives of Amanda, I was warmed by more than light flooding through the high windows into the living room. I was touched by the realization that the new faces in this room represented more people in the world willing to pray for Amanda, to look out for her, and to care about her. She has more people to call her own. I think we all want that for our kids.

Yeah, this means I’m going to have to share her. She’s a dual citizen now, if you will. Thanksgiving and Christmas will have to be shared or done by turns. Since our families have been friends for years, Amanda has a jump start on this transition.  I’m not expecting smooth sailing– family growth causes growing pains. There will be inevitable creaks and stretchings as people settle into the new family constellation, and we all figure out the new norm.  But Lord willing, 5 or 10 or 20 years from now, many more people in this new family will be her true friends.

Who knows –I know I’m dreaming far down the road here —  maybe someday she’ll be sitting at her own daughter’s wedding shower, thrown by the relatives into whose family she married. By then their relationships will be rich in shared memories. They’ll be able to rejoice over her daughter’s happiness just as fully as she. And she’ll sit in the room, full of the certainty of being known, and loved, and cared for. Because that’s what family is for.


  1. Mary this makes me tear up. Just lovely. really lovely! I am so happy for you all and this sounds like it was the perfect shower. Good for you for being able to see the biggest picture of all this and the joy for your sweet daughter, just beyond the bitterwsweet part that has to be there too. What a great mom you are, I hope and pray to do as well when the time comes for us. M

  2. That is so neat. I truly wish I could have experienced that. My mil was resentful that I was taking away her first born and it caused rifts that still sit in my mind to this day.

  3. As a daughter and a new mom I just want you to know how lucky your daughter(and all your other children) are to have a mom who is so thoughtful and loving. It seems like you try and put yourself in her shoes and give her the freedom to make her choices/decisions that she must. Yet you also are right there to help where she chooses and asks. I know A blog is only a small window into your life but I just wanted to tell you that you seem to be a very good and compassionate mom. You’re family must be proud of you. Keep up the good hard work.

    Grace and peace.

  4. What a great perspective on the old gaining a son not losing a daughter theme – you are joining a larger village with different customs and how beautiful there will be more believers to hold dear your lovely Amanda.

  5. How wonderful for you and her! Thanks for sharing these thoughts…they warmed my heart.

  6. It sounds like a beautiful melding of two families and how nice it is that you all have been good friends, too. I’m sure the wedding day will be rife with emotion and joy will abound. It won’t be long now!

  7. A very sweet & insightful post.

  8. You are an awesome mom and are going to be one awesome mother in law!

  9. Mary, those are beautiful words. You are a wise & gracious Mum (mom) and I’m sure you will be a lovely mother in law. You are such an encouragement to me through your blog.

  10. A family in my church has a two-year-old who has just been diagnosed with cancer (with an excellent prognosis), and when they got up to thank the church for our prayers they were clearly overwhelmed by the support they’ve received – they talked about people praying for them here, in Ottawa, in New Brunswick, at the hospital in Toronto… That’s how it’s supposed to be – each of us embedded in circle upon circle of people. Yet how few people have that these days – so many people have small families, no church – really nothing standing between them and the world.

  11. You are a son-in-law’s dream. I think you need to think of a future book about how to be a welcome mother-in-law. And let this post be the intro.

  12. Beautiful post. I am the mom of two daughters and two sons-in-law. they have enriched my life. It isn’t always easy to let go, but it is easier knowing that they are first of all in the Lords hands.
    Thanks for sharing.

  13. Very sweet. I am so grateful for my family of in laws. They are all awesome people and I am so glad that I am in the family that I am in. I have heard so many stories of wives barely being able to tolerate their inlaws and I am so very grateful that I get along so well with mine.

    It sounds like your daughter is going to have wonderful family. To pray with, to laugh with, to enjoy life with.

    May it be a full life! Every moment of it!!!

  14. bridal showers are fun and it is a good way to socialize with other people too ..


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