Even spending 20 minutes with my in-laws leaves me spending days having to talk myself out of reactions I am still having to the encounter.
Last night, in the span of maybe an hour, I got so many sideswipes by them that I’m not sure I have processed all of them. While my brain is in the mode of “they can fuck off”, their words are still echoing in my head.
Like G encouraging me to share with them my new job I’m transitioning into. I explain it only to have my MIL go “it’s with the same company yet, right? you didn’t leave that job, did you?”
Uhm, what if I did? Is that her problem? What if leaving that company made me happier? How is that her position to measure what is best for me? And assume I’m not measuring what’s best for the family?
Or when we had to point out that some plans they had for the girls had to be modified because DJ’s prior commitment rescheduled for the same weekend – and unfortunately she cannot miss that weekend. That was met with “but we had plans” and “but she needs to be there for her sister” to “well, then you need to come out and help with this thing if DJ can’t come”.
Uhm, how did this become such a do-or-die situation? Also, I’m to teach my daughter to not honor her commitments? Is that it? And no matter how hard I try, I still cannot mentally juggle things on that day to see if maybe I can go out and help Indigo for a while. Even though it isn’t my problem – I now worry. Sigh.
I was wandering around, and took photos of Indigo at this school event – she was operating the corn roaster which was kinda cool. I came back to where they were standing with G, DJ flung herself around me as she tends to do, so I turned the camera on both of us. Only to hear my father-in-law say “You know when you were taking a photo of yourself with DJ, Indigo saw that.”
Uhm, okay? I did turn to him and point out that if he had been watching, he would have seen me taking photos of Indigo not a few minutes beforehand – so it’s not that all of my attention is on DJ. Then I put my camera away. I love photography, and he ruined that spontaneity of it for me by critiquing how many and what kinds of photos I was and was not taking with the girls. Ironically, I took 4 pics by that point – 2 of Indigo, and 2 of DJ. Sigh.
We were talking about the ongoing year long schedule for a few of the activities the girls are doing. G mentioned that the shift in schedule meant DJ wasn’t going to miss the last weekend of spring break but the first one – to which BOTH in-laws started shouting “spring break is when we think we’re going to be at Grandmother’s funeral on the east coast – you cannot believe that….”
I held up my hands in interruption – “Do you really think the girls are not going to be there for her funeral? On what planet would that be something you would think we would deem acceptable?” G had spoken up too – but my tone was “Emmy is fucking done” so he let me verbally smack them because, well, the punch would be greater. And I was okay with that. They stopped, backpedaled, and took their leave soon after.
Later, G and I went over to the dive bar to debrief without being around the kids. And during the conversation, I was like:
You know – they know nothing about me. Not because I have been unwilling to share, but they are unwilling to listen and understand. They do not have a shared experience with me. Both are privileged white kids who never knew the taste of government cheese, listening to their parents decide which of the utilities to the house they could live without until the next paycheck because the current one couldn’t pay both, or debate about whether or not the car would make it 50 miles to a family event we were supposed to attend. While my mother in law will tell stories about making her own dresses after the divorce because she couldn’t afford to buy one, she wasn’t a kid whose mom made all of her clothes for years. Or made all of my little brother’s baby clothes, not because it was a nice handmade touch, but because it was cheaper than having to buy them. Or what it was like to enter the world of adulthood without a safety net. If I had failed post-college, the most my parent could offer me is a place in their house. No money could be sent – no stuff could be bought and sent. The idea of “extra money” was only that – an idea and a dream. I was on my own. Both my in-laws had parents and families who routinely supported them when they were trying out this career or that career starting when G was a baby and thru high school.
So hearing bullshit like I’m going to put my family at financial risk by taking the wrong job pisses me off because I always remember what it’s like to be in a situation where there IS no money – where you keep your fingers crossed that the car makes it one more month because maybe then, you’ll be able to get it fixed. I never take risk at the expense of my family – NEVER. Even when encouraged to do it, I’ll not do it because I don’t want my kids to go through any of what I did. Not because it is entirely bad, but it puts stress on the kids that the kids don’t need.
My family taught me that sometimes hard decisions, unpopular decisions need to be made – and they aren’t easy for anyone but mainly the people choosing them. But obligations and commitments to long term programs have to be honored and met. My parents would have patted DJ on the back for making the hard, tough, unpopular decisions. They would have told me and G that we did a good job raising a kid willing to do it. My in-laws just chastise because they didn’t get what they wanted. And would rather bitch about it then figure out how to solve it or adjust to the change.
Love is not measured by number of photos taken or who is hanging around my neck at the time because if that was the measure, Indigo gets it from infanthood as that kid was my baby who was always in my lap, around my neck, and cuddling with me – does that mean that during that time, I loved DJ less? Does it mean I love DJ less because I don’t get up early Saturday mornings to make sure she can go to drum practice the way I do with Indigo? Judgement of an entire situation based on a 1hr interaction is just bullshit – and despite the fact I know this, it is fucked up that they think it’s acceptable.
I still shake my head because they have the nerve to ask G why I don’t like them.
What is there to like exactly? Why would I spend any extra time around them when this is how an hour is with them?
I guess I value my sanity – but this is what an hour gives me.
It’s funny because people will ask why I don’t share my story with them…..
….this, examples like this…..they are why.