Wednesday, June 01, 2005

In-Laws - can't live with 'em, can't shoot 'em

To make a long story short, the wedding was really fun. The drive down was tolerable and we made it in 10 hrs. The hotel was lovely. The rehearsal dinner was delicious but a tad over-crowded. The best man put together a photo montage of the bride and groom that was sweet to see and reinforced that yes, they DO look like each other already. There were a few baby pics where we couldn't tell which baby was Carrie and which was Marc. Scary, huh? The wedding itself was beautiful with the big altar completely covered with votive candles. And *I* looked pretty damn good and wore the size 10 dress! I paled in comparison, of course, to the bride herself, but was happy with my appearance. I had all the friends of my sister be the judge on which dress to wear and it was unanimous: the 10. I was a happy lady! My fuck-me pumps looked good and I was able to walk down the longest aisle ever without killing myself, and even kept the suckers on for most of the reception. But damn, my dogs were barkin' the next day - yeow! Lauren slept through most of the entire wedding ceremony and everyone was ooh'ing and ahh'ing about how cute it was to see her crashed out in her daddy's arms. So it was all good.

And then came the reception.

The reception was good. The food was delicious, the drinks were top-shelf (had me quite a few cosmos - yum!), and the company was fun. The DJ sucked, but whatever - people were dancing anyway. I was enjoying chatting away with many of my parents friends I've known my whole life who travelled down for the wedding. At some point my mother took off her shoes and no shit, wore her slippers. Her slippers! Eww. Can you say tacky?? She was wearing a really nice, expensive dress and her ratty white slippers. I was appalled and told her so. She eventually took the stupid slippers off. My mother is a force. You really don't want to be on her bad side. Ever. I have been (see all my adolescent years) and it's not fun. Trust me on this. But once you're in her good graces, you're golden. She's got your back and she's a powerful ally. Mr. Chick didn't get off on a good foot way back when when we started dating. We moved fast and furiously in our early years and he moved in with me for the summer after I graduated. We'd been dating for 4 months and my parents didn't know him. I was moving to California for a job and he came with me for the summer (he was two years behind me in school and so would be returning in the fall). This did NOT go over well with my folks. Not that I blame them - as a parent now myself I would be horrified and pissed off if my kid made this seemingly bad choice. But I was in love and there was just no getting around that fact (gag!). I didn't help things between them because I kept running interference and wouldn't let them ever really talk and hash it out. So Mr. Chick was off to a rocky start. Add to the fact that he's from a divorced family and isn't Catholic (hell, not of ANY religious belief), and you've got a big hole to dig yourself out from with my mom. Lots of strikes against you.

Over the next 13 years Mr. Chick has redeemed himself. He's proven his worth. His core values are in place (as I've always known them to be) and his priorities are straight. My parents pretty much know this. But my mom, again, is a force. She's a very nice lady who has a thriving social circle. She's not without the ability to get along with people. But she sometimes commands things vs. asking nicely. Mr. Chick is very sensitive to this. She'll say something like, "Mr. Chick, go get the cups from the table" and he'll bristle. He'd prefer her to ask him: "Mr. Chick, could you please go get the cups from the table for me?" Subtle difference, but important. This has always bugged him about my mother. He respects her, but wouldn't choose her as his favorite person to just hang out with.

Now add my first brother-in-law, married to my sister Katie. He's from an enormous family of 12 kids. No shit - 12 kids. He's #6. They're all smart and successful people. Each and every one went to private Catholic school and good universities. That's where my bil met my sister - freshman year at Notre Dame. He's got all the qualities a parent could wish for in a son-in-law. He's an attorney (prosecuter), was an officer in the Navy, a Notre Dame graduate from a strong, intact family. A parents wet dream. He's a good guy - we all like him. He's competitive and has been known to say that Mr. Chick was the best thing to ever happen to him in our family because he took the heat off my bil. Reinforcing the fact that Mr. Chick has a reputation for being the outcast, or black sheep, of the family. Then add my most recent bil, the groom from the wedding. Marc. Also a really nice guy. From a good family whose parents are still together. He's Catholic to boot and met my sister her freshman year at Santa Clara University. It's all sunshine and roses. He's what my parents would order if they could select the qualities of a son-in-law for one of their daughters. So again, Mr. Chick seems to be lacking some of the same qualities. He's different. My sisters don't care - they all really like him. He fits in just fine with them and the bil's. Even my dad seems to be just fine with everyone and everything. But there is an undercurrent of understanding that Mr. Chick doesn't measure up somehow. Its' sort of become an unspoken joke of how Mr. Chick knows what a hard time it can be to get into this family, blah blah blah. Well, all that came out at the reception. BIL #1 is all, "So Mom, am I not your favorite son-in-law anymore?" and she's all, "nope, not tonight. tonight is all about Marc" ha ha ha - love fest 2005. Meanwhile Mr. Chick is standing right there witnessing this exchange feeling like dogshit. Normally he can blow that stuff off, but that night it was getting to him. He was told by one of the brides friends, upon meeting him, that she'd heard that he was the "black sheep". Makes a person feel real good to hear that message over and over again. So he'd had it. By the end of the night he couldn't shake it off. He went for a walk to clear his head but was unsuccessful. He asked if we could talk about it. It was 2:30am and I got dressed and we sat by the pool.

Oh.My.God! He was SO pissed and angry and hurt. I've never seen him like this. He kept saying how he was sick and tired of feeling like shit in my family. And what more does he need to do to get them to stop punishing him for not being Catholic or from a "normal" family (his mother is PSYCHO, if you didn't already know...). He was damn near distraught. I cried for him. I tried not to be defensive of my family. Well, my mom. He's cool with everyone else. It's my mom that sets him off. I told him how sorry I was that he felt like this. I told him that I was with HIM - that I choose him and my loyalties were with HIM, not my family. As much as I love them, he's my husband. Those were the vows I took when we got married. Hurt him, hurt me. He's at the point of not wanting to move back to Portland so he doesn't have to deal with my mother. It's that bad. I told him I would speak to them and get them to understand what's happening. It's nothing overt or specific - it's all undertone and vibe and joking. But my mom has a big mouth and what she might think of as funny just isn't anymore, and her quips and comments can influence opinion. I was NOT looking forward to that conversation.

On the drive home we had a chance to speak more about this. He'd calmed down and thought things through a little more. He still felt that something needed to be said, but now he wanted to be part of the conversation instead of sending me in as the family spokesperson. I thought this was a fantastic idea. After all, he's the one with the issue. The day after we arrived back home my folks stopped in on their way up to Portland. Mr. Chick, who we all know has issues with receiving gifts graciously, and who I reminded that my folks gave him a very generous graduation gift that he didn't really acknowlege well, eased into the conversation by thanking my parents again for coming down to graduation and for the generous gift. He was really nice about it. We had been talking about our grad party and it was a natural seque. He then proceeded to tell them about what had been happening and how it was making him feel. My dad has a background in social work and counseling and is a GREAT listener. He kept saying how glad he was that Mr. Chick and I felt that we could even talk about it with them in the first place. My dad has a way of making you feel very good and not judged. My mom got a tad emotionally defensive and pled ignorance. She says she was completely unaware that this sort of behind-the-scenes impressions were being perpetuated and that's not how she feels about Mr. Chick. She said some really wonderful things about him. I really think they do love him, but the "comparison" game needs to stop. They get that now. I think things will get better. There was no shouting or accusations thrown about, and I was really proud of how Mr. Chick handled it. Calmly, rationally, and open. It was an honest discussion. We didn't want to make a big thing about it, but wanted them to understand how he was being made to feel so it could stop. I think it will. God, I hope so. Because it was really awful there for a few days. Lots of tears and upset. I'm very close to my family and the thought that he felt so poorly around them was heartbreaking. That he was ready to cut ties completely was unthinkable, but that's what he was saying the night of the wedding. So I have hope that things will turn around. It's not like he expects them to kiss his ass or tell him he's their favorite son-in-law - not at all. He just wants the respect he's earned as a good husband, friend, provider, and father. He's paid his dues and he now demands equal respect for who he is. I think now that they're aware of how even subtle comments disguised as jokes can really hurt him. It's been building and building over the years. But now, at last, I think it's over.

To "celebrate" putting that behind us, Mr. Chick and I FINALLY christened the hottub. And it was good.

Wow, MP! What a ride. I'm very glad you and Mr. Chick were able to get things out on the table. I think this is really going to be good for the future. Your mom sounds a lot like my mom was so I had to chuckle at a few of the sentences you wrote. :)

Glad you FINALLY broke in that hot tub. It's about time!!! ;)
Wow, that was quite a ride!
Good for you and Mr. Chick for talking to your parents about it in a non-confrontative way. I sure hope, for everyone's peace of mind, that THAT is the end of that.
OK, you have a hot tub? I am so jealous. When we moved up to Sandy, we had to sell our house in Eugene, and it had a hot tub. Our new house doesn't (yet, ha ha!). sigh. Remembering how great it felt to kick back with a glass of wine in hot, bubbling water, gazing up at the starlit sky.
MP - I am so glad that you and the Mr were able to talk to your parents that that the conversation flowed nicely. You and he both must feel a ton better. Congrats on breaking in the hot tub!
Hey MP -

How are you? I just wanted to say I lurk a lot (when I have time) and don't post like I should to you, but I love your blog and writing style.

I just wanted to say I was with you aLL THE WAY on this entry. My life oculd be your life (orshould I hubby's could be your hubby's life)
Hey MP -

How are you? I just wanted to say I lurk a lot (when I have time) and don't post like I should to you, but I love your blog and writing style.

I just wanted to say I was with you aLL THE WAY on this entry. My life oculd be your life (or should I hubby's could be your hubby's life)

If you ever have the chance, drop by my blog (when I actually update it) plus I have another place I share my thoughts that you could e-mail me about. Let me know and I'll e-mail you about it.

Wow - I really can connect on this. I'm really glad my DH is NOT alone!

I'm glad ya'll could talk it out (my mom is JUST like your mom, except she never pleads ignorance....its her way or the highway!!!) and make progress. The relief must feel amazing. We envy you, as we've tried...and we really love my parents. They just really blame DH for being laid off...

I'd better stop now, or I'd take all the space here. I hope we can talk more in the future, and I'll try to post more!

Have a good day!
thanks for the supportive words. I was very pleased with the conversation, having dreaded it for a few days there. It's never easy to talk with someone, especially parents, about something like this. It went better than expected it to, so I'm grateful. I really am encouraged that things will get better for Mr. Chick and he'll start "feelin' it" - change like this takes time and will be subtle. I had to shake my head and laugh, however, because my sister Maureen - who I cried to about this - called me to say that my mom has been talking with HER about this since our conversation. All good stuff, no bashing. But this just goes to prove that my mom has a big mouth and TALKS to people about stuff. All under the premise of "helping" but talking nonetheless. That's how a lot of this got started in the first place. That's just my mom - gotta love her. So much for her vehement claims of being able to keep her mouth shut.... uh-huh... sure mom.
Post a Comment

<< Home
Free Counters
Hit Counters

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?