Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving and a Partially Broken Vow

I've been struggling with what to write about this Thanksgiving. There's the obligatory list of things I'm thankful for (our health, my job, my wonderful husband, my beautiful children, etc.), but while I truly am thankful, I didn't have anything new to say about them. Our actual Thanksgiving day was very low key, which after hosting large Thanksgiving dinners for the past two years, was a welcome change. We drove over to San Antonio along with my sister, and ate a lovely meal at my grandparents' retirement center. The food was great, the company better, and the short drive and lack of preparation and clean-up perhaps the best of all!

Landon looked quite dapper in his bow tie; and while he spent much of the day in a rather uncooperative mood, he was perfect during the dinner in the fancy dining room (probably because he knew our threats of spending the next four days in his room if he acted up in public were quite real, as was the far more serious threat of not being allowed to eat any of the cookies we baked together on Wednesday). Clairebear was a huge hit among the retirees and bestowed big smiles on just about everyone. We left our house at 11:30 and were home at 5:30. After some crazy weeks at work, it was truly the perfect Thanksgiving for us.

You may have noticed that we haven't seen my in-laws since JP's graduation in May (the only time we've seen this year, actually), and while they were supposed to spend Thanksgiving with us this year, they are quite obviously not here. I very nearly broke my vow to not talk badly about them by writing a scathing blog post about the absurd fight my mother-in-law manufactured back in July. I even typed out a partial draft last night. But then I spent a fantastic morning with my children and sat down at my computer at naptime feeling so happy and joyful that I just can't muster up enough anger and indignation to finish it.

Because as I look at these pictures from yesterday and this morning, and I bask in how fabulous my little biscuit is, and how much fun Landon is, and think about how much they both have changed in the 6 months since we saw my in-laws (Claire wasn't even born yet), I know that this whole situation is 100% their loss. I may hate that my mother-in-law manufactured drama out of nothing (the story, in a sentence, involves them wanting us to go to Disneyworld with them in September, and us not wanting to go with a two-month old and suggesting we take a trip next year. Really, that's it. She called back 15 minutes later and, through a hysterical voice mail message, canceled their trips out here for Claire's baptism and Thanksgiving.), and I may hate that they don't seem to care that they haven't met their granddaughter (not that they were interested in her at all before she was born, but I thought it might change), but again, their loss. We're their only family and they've completely missed out on 6 months of pictures, stories, and visits to see these two wonderful little people.

So no matter how annoyed I get at the situation, particularly when I know she's somehow made it our fault, I look at Landon and our not-so-little-anymore baby Claire, and rather than anger, I just feel sad for them. And I still hope, despite 9 years of knowing her, that my mother-in-law will decide to swallow her falsely wounded pride in order to meet her granddaughter.

JP doesn't understand why I still care, or why I make him call his dad every now and then at work just to check-in and test the waters, but I can't help it. Family means too much to me and I'm too proud of my own to not want to share it with two people who should most want to be a part of it. And I know that deep down, past the irrationality that frequently rules my mother-in-law's mind, she wants that too.


  1. The thing that kills me the most about my estranged relationship with my parents is that P misses out on grandparents - but the grandparents don't care they're missing out on P.

    Your kids are so lucky to have great grandparents (and great-grandparents) on your side!

  2. Chrisy in Chicago11/26/10, 10:12 PM

    There are people in your life that you'd never associate with unless you were related in some way. My grandmother is like that. I used to wish she'd change or that things were different, but you know what? As soon as I realized that she is always going to be a disagreeable, selfish, whiny, uppity, never-wrong hag, I felt better and just let it go. I see her once a year if forced.

    If JP is ok, and Landon and Claire don't know any different yet, stop trying to make her into something she's not. Don't pain yourself for her benefit. She'll never appreciate the effort you are going through to give her the gift of her grandchildren.

  3. Yeah, it's true that she won't appreciate my efforts (though on some level she knows the reason they have any chance at a relationship with our kids is because of me; JP checked out emotionally years ago), and it's definitely true that she won't change, but while she drives me crazy, it doesn't usually rise above the level of irritation. Well, maybe a little more than irritating, but truthfully, unlike JP's gradmother who really is quite awful, my in-laws are good people somewhere inside and do want a relationship with us. And before they got all weird about Claire's birth, my MIL was an adoring grandmother. So I can't quite cut them out yet. JP could, I think, but I know it would really be my decision (he'll do whatever I want on that front) and I can't be responsible for eliminating that relationship at this point. If they ever say anything negative to our kids the way his grandmother did to him, they will be cut out immediately and I won't second guess it, but they haven't. They're irritating as all hell, and seem to thrive on manufactured drama, but until they're actually mean (or if this happens again in another year and Landon is old enough to be aware of the drama), I won't be the one to end it. Not that I'm trying to mend it - I'm just not going to refuse to speak to them if they call. Not yet, anyway. But it's nice to feel at peace with the whole thing on my end. We've had fights with them before that were partially our fault (and by "our" I mean JP's), but in this case we're blameless and we're not the ones missing out on anything. We'll see where it goes.

  4. Another reminder how grateful I am for Nick's parents. My ex-boyfriend's parents, particularly his mother, was exactly that brand of crazy, and just really awful. She'd manufacture drama to manipulate him, but unlike JP, he'd fall for it every time.

    Sounds like it was a perfect Thanksgiving, without drama. JP is lucky to have your family; I feel the same way about Nick's family, which is considerably less crazier than mine!

  5. I've followed your blog long enough to say quite honestly that it's sounds best this way. The times you've visited the in laws, they (mostly your MIL) did everything on their premises, including taking care of Landon despite your wishes to the opposite. I was seriously offended back then on your behalf, you and JP aren't teens anymore, living under your parents' roofs. MIL hasn't figured that one out. Yeah, like you say, her loss. She needs to get a grip. Glad you broke your vow, you weren't unnecessarily harsh btw :)

  6. This post had the unexpected result of making me reflect on how grateful I am for my in laws. I am so lucky. And then there is my own mother who is incredibly difficult and has no concept of boundaries. It seems that every family has it's challenges.

    I suddenly feel compelled to write my in laws a note and tell them how much I love and appreciate them, so thank you for inspiring me to do that.

    And I think you are handling the whole situation with a lot of class. Just for the record. I am a long time reader as well so I know some of past struggles.