Under the Quilt

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Looking from the past into the future

I never really had a chance to be a daughter-in-law. I never had the choice to either embrace or complain about my mother-in-law. She passed away before we were married. I had a brief amount of time to try to get to know her. Sadly, our relationship was marred with misunderstandings on both ends. I, being shy, unsure of my self, young and naive, did not feel very welcome in her house. This was my first real boyfriend relationship and I was all aglow with silly teenage love. I didn't really have the social skills to caress her ego. To make good enough small talk to pass the test. I was always polite, but in my book that also comes across as shy and passive. I know now that she tried to get to know me. To understand me and why I barely talked while in her presence. But how could that happen when she was struggling with the fact that I was taking her "baby" away from her? I'm not sure what our relationship would have evolved into had she lived to see us married. I sometimes wonder how it would have been if she had gotten to know my kids, her grandkids. I'm sure she would have been a very loving grandma and would have tried to spoil them as much as possible. I sometimes wonder if I'll ever get over that guilty feeling of one of the last times I saw her alive. We were at her house and had had a very lengthy (or so it seemed at the time) conversation about Ron and I. He had popped the question, or rather just asked if I wanted to spend my life with him. I, of course, being completely and utterly "in love" with him, said yes. We hadn't told anyone or made it official. I think both of us were just trying to get used to the idea ourselves. And I think he may have been thinking what in the he double hockeysticks did I just do? I was 17, he 20. It was the summer after my high school graduation. It felt perfectly right to me. I always felt older than my chronological age. Looking back I can see why she reacted the way she did when she found out. Back then, I was just pissed. How dare she turn something so exciting and exhilarating into something to be ashamed of? Not only did she find out by snooping at a note that he'd written to me, but she pretty much demanded that we sit down and talk about it. I would have rather stuck a hot poker in my eye and left it there for days. Why did I need to place myself in the most uncomfortable position of getting ridiculed for loving someone enough to say I'll commit to marrying them? It wasn't like we were headed to Las Vegas the next weekend. At the time we were planning on waiting at least a year, probably more.

After our little "discussion" was over (in which we were told that it was proper and smart for Ron to have college out of the way, a career under his belt, and a house purchased) we went to leave the house so Ron could drive me home.

I have never been rude like this to anyone, especially someone who is my elder, in my whole life. It was one simple gesture, or non-gesture, but to me it was significant. When we were headed out the door and she said goodbye. I walked straight through the doorway, not turning back, not saying a word. Why am I still carrying this around after 16 years? Not sure. It's not something I think about frequently, but it's one of those moments that I wish I could go back and have a do-over.

In three short days I will be meeting my new mom-in-law. This relationship will not be like your typical mother/daughter-in-law relationship. There will not be any overtones of you're not good enough for my son. For this first meeting at least, I will try to step back and let this be more of a time for her to get to know her son. How freaking weird is this? She is a very talkative and what seems to be fun loving type of person. I usually get along better with people like that because they can fill in all the gaps with mindless drivel. I've never been very good at that and have always found it awkward and annoying when I have to play that role. It's much easier to let someone else rattle on and on. So I'm not worried about that.

The feelings that do worry me are the ones that always seem to surface their ugly head. Jealousy. You're probably thinking, "now why would jealousy even play a role here". It's hard for me to admit this because it seems so "out there" and so egocentric (and Ron if you're reading don't take this the wrong way or worry about me because you have enough to think about with your own feelings. It's just me writing things out.). Because for so long Ron has had no one he can connect with closely other than me (on an adult level) and a few blogger friends and one real life friend with whom I became insanely jealous because I suspected he had feelings for her other than "just friends" (does anyone remember those first few embarrassing posts which I should delete). Anyways, I feel like our dynamic is about to change. Possibly in a huge way. And I hope in a very positive way. And I don't want to ruin that for anyone with my stupid feelings. I want to be happy and supportive. But it's very weird when you have been someone's everyday sustenance of emotional support. I am so glad for him to have this new connection (and for me and the kids too). But it's different. And I know that change is good. It just takes some adjusting.

Our kids never knew they're "other grandma", Ron's adopted mom. It will be easier for them to accept her as grandma because they will have no other "my dad's mom" to compare her to. For Ron this will be more difficult. He has already let her know that he's not comfortable calling her mom. He may never. And hopefully she'll be fine with that. For me, I can see myself falling into the daughter-in-law role just fine. I've have always (ALWAYS) wanted to have in-laws. I wanted the choice of falling in love with them just as I did Ron, or complaining that they've overstayed their welcome and started to smell like fish (is that how that saying goes?-I am writing this at 3:30 am). Mostly, I wanted in-laws because that would mean that Ron would have someone other than me or the kids. Someone with whom he could connect. Someone with whom he could call his own. I always try to put myself in his position. I think I now know why he has always had a fixation with the scenarios of the kids and I getting in an accident and dieing and he is the sole survivor. Imagine, if you will, that the family and close family friends that you grew up with are all gone. Now imagine that your spouse and kids leave this world, too. I think I would be obsessed too.

All of this, and I haven't even started cleaning the freaking house for my first ever visit from the in-laws. Aaaaahhhh!!!! Get out the bleach and the vacuum kids. We're having a cleaning party tomorrow (yes, mom...whatever).

***I just wanted to add some memories that I have of my mom-in-law that was never meant to be (Ron's adopted mom): Her garlic french bread. I could have devoured the whole loaf. The way she really really tried to make me feel welcome and invited me to dinner. The rousing games of Pictionary. Her laugh. It was deep and guttural. A couple of gifts that she gave me. One was a cross stitch hanger that reads "Bear hugs are in". I've always found a special place to hang it in each of our houses.


  • At 10:20 AM , Blogger Bearette24 said...

    Thanks for being so honest. I really enjoyed reading this. Especially the bit about Ron's adopted mom. I don't think you should feel bad about walking out without saying goodbye. Under the circumstances, it was perfectly understandable, and a lot of people might not have conducted themselves as well.

    Reading about his adopted mom also made me feel better about my own MIL (it's one of the most challenging relationships in my life).

    Anyway, thanks for sharing :)

  • At 3:27 PM , Blogger His suzy said...

    I think you're feelings of nervousness and being worried about possible jealous are understandable. It's a unique situation. You're right about the dynamic changing, even if it's only a little, and there's no sure way to know ahead of time exactly how it will change.

    I'm sure it'll be great, though! One thing I'd probably try to remind myself of is that she's going to be just as nervous as you are, if not more so. I'm so curious to hear how it all goes!

  • At 4:51 AM , Blogger Invader Stu said...

    That was a very touching post. I can understand why you are nervous but I'm sure it will all be fine :)

  • At 4:08 PM , Blogger anne said...

    Indeed, a very honest post. I think you will be fine when the time comes, but you certainly make good points. It helps to talk about it/write about it, as I'm sure you know.

    I'll be thinking of your family this week - good thoughts coming your way.

  • At 11:04 PM , Blogger Roxanne said...

    Bearette-I guess you're right. I think I've always felt bad because of the timing. And the fact that it was uncharacteristic for me. I think the typical MIL/DIL relationship can be one of the most challenging. Mothers never feel like anyone is good enough for their boy. That's why I'm so optimistic about this because it is SO not typical.

    Suzy-She's already said she has some of the same fears that Ron does. Rejection. Saying the wrong things or acting the wrong way and hurting feelings. I know it will work out the way it's supposed to. I just have to let it out. :)

    Stu- Thanks for your confidence. :)

    Anne-Thanks for your positive thoughts. It's much appreciated. :)

  • At 9:51 AM , Blogger Liz said...

    How very human of you to respond that way, to not feign politeness when you felt affronted. Sure, years of perspective often leave us wishing that we could get a "re-do", but most of us do the very best we can in any given moment.

  • At 11:43 AM , Blogger Roxanne said...

    Liz- Thanks. That brought tears to my eyes to hear that. Really.

  • At 1:44 PM , Blogger Caro said...

    If my sixteen-year old were mad at me and left without saying "bye", I would not be surprised. I would be more surprised if she said "good-bye!"

    It sounds like normal behavior to me.

    In fact when my husband is mad at me, he usually stomps out without saying anything. And he's 39!

    The scarves are lovely, especially the bluish/purplish one. (I'm kind of color blind!)

    Have a lovely visit!


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