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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Hold out hope

The mini vacation is officially over.  Boo.

Yesterday we were supposed to take his mom out for her birthday lunch.  We got a phone call from the place we had a reservation for high tea and were told they had a flooding issue and had to cancel all reservations for the day.  I was so upset but something told me to have a back up in mind because something just told me from day one this wasn't going to come together.  She arrived after a doctor's appointment and brought some of the Mr's favorite cookies from childhood.  Given she doesn't bake anymore, we appreciated her making up a batch for us.



We chatted for a little over an hour. and then we left for the backup restaurant and had a nice lunch.  We went shopping afterward letting her pick out her Christmas presents.  She got a nice top at a shop and we got her set up to cut the cord.  I sent her home with Christmas cookies (she doesn't bake them anymore but loves having what I send home with her) and some stuff to enjoy the season like soaps and candles.  Then we had her bag with a few smaller gifts to open Christmas morning.  Because of a nut ex-family member, she never knows if she'll be invited to Christmas or not so I always like to make sure she has a few things to open Christmas morning if she gets exiled.

I couldn't help but think back to what 17 year old me would've thought of this scene.  We did not get off to a good start with each other.  In my 20's, the thought of seeing her would make me physically ill because I knew that she didn't like me and there was nothing I could do about it.  I tried everything and felt I was getting no headway with her and I finally told the Mr. I had no problem with him seeing and spending time with her but I couldn't spend literally weeks sick anymore.  After a horrible manipulation by his family almost 10 years ago, the Mr said he would never allow himself to be treated that way again.  I suggested the following year we begin to take her out to lunch for her birthday and let her pick out a Christmas present.  It was a little awkward but in that setting and with no expectation of ever winning her over, something began to happen with each passing year of doing this...she started to come around.   When we spent time with her on our terms, I was never once nervous.  I never had my heart in my throat anymore.  Never prayed for our time to be "served" so I wouldn't have to deal with her again.  I even felt if she didn't like me, she was doing a pretty good time covering it up which funnily enough, was progress. 

It was about 5-6 years ago when she stopped taking the word of the nut ex-family member and after a firm "setting the record straight" by the Mr at a mama/son lunch that she finally realized that I was always me.  She may not have liked me for her own reasons and it may have been easier for her to believe the bad things people said because she felt like she was losing her "baby" but in the end, I always stayed true to myself and she has finally seen that.  She has seen how upset I get in her defense when she is mistreated.  She has heard me give common sense approaches to issues she's dealing with and how she needs to put her own health first.  She has been the recipient of my kindness when I send something with the Mr on their occasional lunches together when there is no occasion other than to let her know she's thought of. 

The day went by too quickly yesterday and before we knew it, six hours had passed and I was sad to see her leave.  It was a day of watching my husband laugh with his mom about why he ended up in the hallway for detention, learning why he got reprimanded by a teacher in a way that would get her fired today and confessions of sneaking her frozen cookie dough.  It was laughing when I accidentally called her dude when she tried to talk us out of buying her gift.  It was watching her play Pac Man for the first time in her life after over 70 years on this Earth.  It was a day that made me happy that I put my fear and insecurities aside so that when the time comes that she's no longer with us that the Mr would not regret missing that time with her. 

It took 20 years but I finally feel like I'm accepted for who I am by my mother in law.  She'll never run to me for advice or ask me if I want to do a spa day together and that's okay.  I'm just happy to have a completely normal conversation that includes stories, laughing and feeling at the end of the day like the day went too fast instead of not fast enough.

Is your relationship different with your in-laws than when you started dating?

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12 comments:

  1. Sounds like a great lunch! Mothers-in-law can be makers or breakers when it comes to their sons. I'm glad she has seen the light and sees you for the wonderful human you are!

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    1. Yes they certainly can be! Aww, thank you. As an adult I understand a lot more of the pressure put on her as the only daughter in a small town where things were expected of her behavior wise. I only wish she could let some of those things go to truly enjoy a more stress free life now.

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  2. I know my mom really appreciates the time we spend with her and it was a great way to open her eyes to the wonderful person you are so it is a win-win. Might be good advice for any newlyweds out there who want to turn the tables a bit sooner than we did.

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    1. Yes, and getting that note from her today saying how special it made her feel was confirmation that the time spent is well worth it. Unfortunately, it's not something you can force and many elements have to come together for that kind of revelation on both ends to happen. But for newlyweds, know that it may not always feel as bad as it feels with a hard to please MIL in the beginning.

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  3. The answer for us was to have my husband have a relationship on his own with his mother.

    And after she died, he pretty much has a relationship on his own with his three brothers.

    The rest of us (we have three kids) see them on the rare occasion, like every 10 years or so. He sees them about once a year. (They are spread all over the Country.) None of them are currently married, no kids. So it is just easier to have the four boys get together.

    How I wish we had figured this out in the beginning. We have been together since 1982. We did not figure this out until a horrendous visit with his mother and two of the brothers in 2008. Up until then, we had tried once a year.

    By the time all was done, I had nearly PTSD in regard to his mother that lasted until she died in 2010. That set me free.

    And I had lasting resentment toward my husband. And he felt very bad.

    My clue that I should have stayed away was that was what her sister (husband’s aunt) did. Very firm boundaries.

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    1. It's always sad when someone is just so completely impenetrable and leave this Earth not having learned to embrace those around them. Boundaries are by far the most important thing in most relationships. I so understand your feelings and I had some resentment toward the Mr at different points when I felt he wasn't standing up for us and not in a mean way but a firm way. Thankfully that got better. Good for you for findin what works for you and your well being!

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  4. In-laws...you can choose your friends, but not your family. But you can determine how time is spent with them! I loved your story and I'm glad for you.

    My husband's family is tough, but I understood right away that as the baby of the family, he was mom's favorite and would he always be her "baby" and I would never interfere with that. Luckily, she really likes me. And I say "luckily" whole-heartedly because she lives with us in an in-law.....I would not suggest that any newlyweds start their married life this way if they can help it! My friends tell me there is a special place for me in heaven - I don't know about that. But I do know that if it were reversed, my husband would want my mom to have lived with us. But it's not for the fainthearted.

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    1. I had to laugh at your "he always be her "baby"" comment because guess what my MIL whispered to me in a challenging tone 46 seconds after we were pronounced husband and wife!?! She did it when her son wasn't looking and my maids of honor were bustling my dress so there were no witnesses!

      I'm glad you have a good relationship and uh, yes...there is a special place in heaven for you.

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  5. I am so glad you had that time together and you have had a real shift if your relationship. That is wonderful and makes all of you feel good.

    I don't have a good relationship with his mother and haven't actually spoken to her since 1999. I encourage him to go visit her (she lives out of state) and to talk on the phone (I make sure to leave the house and don't grill him when I get home about their conversations)and after a decade of not speaking to her, he does so now on a regular basis. For me and my own health, I know I'm in a good place not having a relationship with her because it would be horribly toxic. She makes no qualms about telling all and sundry how much she despises me and after the first few years of trying to fight that, I decided I didn't need the continued manipulation and abuse. I'm much better now at this age about letting people go and not feeling bitter about it than I was in my 20's and 30's and I'm thankful for that because it's freeing.

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    1. Definitely.

      Yeah, I remember about your wench MIL. There's a special place in Hades for that woman. She is the last thing you need in your life. Pffft

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  6. Good for you! You learned at a much earlier age than I did to set boundaries and continue to be yourself. My late MIL never liked me and I let her walk all over me for 30+ years. I was treated like a servant in the family, always cooking all the holiday meals, celebrating her birthday and Mother's Day, etc. My husband did not take up for me and I let him get away with that, trying to "take the high road" and continue to be nice to her. I totally regret it now! My advice to younger women is to stand your ground, be yourself and don't allow your in-laws to make you feel bad about yourself or take advantage of you. It's too late for me but I can pass on what I learned too late.

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    1. I'm so sorry you had to go through that for so long. I think as women we are expected to do what you did and "take the high road" at the expense of our own well being. There is such a thing as not cutting off a spouse from their family but not subjecting yourself to their crap.

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