Today I'm really hoping to hear your stories and opinions on the issue of what to call your mother-in-law and father-in-law. (Mom & Dad? John & Jane? Mr. & Mrs. XYZ?)
After four years of calling mine by their first names (at their request), it's difficult to imagine myself calling them Mom and Dad now that I am married to their son. I mean, I already have a Mom & Dad. And maybe it's just because I've only been married for about 4 months now, but the difference between my biological, life-long caretakers vs. those of my husband is still a rather significant one. Brian's parents feel like in-laws; they don't feel like my parents. And I say that with the utmost respect; they are incredible parents to Brian and have always felt like a "good fit" for me in terms of family.
But the thing is, I *want to want* to refer to my in-laws as Mom & Dad, if that makes sense. Because that's how it's done in my family and in my culture. Plus, I really like the idea of fully embracing Brian's parents as a new addition to my own, so why not do it in a symbolic way, such as via their names? Now, is calling your in-laws Mom & Dad the only way to "be family" with them? Not necessarily. But because of the reasons listed above, I *want* to feel comfortable enough to call them by such affectionate and intimate names.
I've asked Brian's parents what they'd like for me to call them. His mom, as expected, said it's up to me. His Dad (half jokingly?) said I could call him "Abba" which I found to be problematic because:
1. When I think of "Abba" the 1976 disco hit "Dancing Queen" plays in my head.
2. God is often referred to as "Abba" in the Bible and in Christian music I've heard throughout my life. And although Brian's dad is a Methodist minister with a rather large presence (both physically and in terms of personality), he ain't my Abba.
Needless to say, I'm still undecided.
I'm also beginning to think I've got this all backwards. I can't expect for my marriage with Brian to instantly make me feel differently about his family (even though I instantly felt differently about Brian and his family once we got engaged). And I can't expect a name change to facilitate a deeper emotional connection with his parents, either. Perhaps a name should reflect how I'm feeling now instead of how I want to feel (and probably will feel, eventually) in the future.
So maybe all of this just takes time. Maybe I don't have to make a decision this very second. Maybe I can grow into loving them even more than I do now, the same way that they will inevitably grow into becoming more parental to me as the years go by. Maybe after more Thanksgivings at Brian's aunt's house, and summer vacations with his parents, and weekends with his cousins, all of this will get easier. Maybe there's a way for this dilemma of mine to organically resolve on its own.
Then again, there is something to be said about the deliberate use of the terms Mom & Dad as an intention - the intention to be their new daughter, the intention to care for them in old age as I will my biological parents. I really dig this perspective, too.
Ack! I'm going in circles. Thoughts, anyone?