Sunday, February 25, 2007

The best thing is a family.

When I wrote this post I was just kidding about being a bad mother-in-law. It was a joke.

However, some of the comments I got made me stop and think about why I would even write such a thing in the first place.

First of all, my children are only eight years old. They are nowhere near being ready to date anyone, much less entertain thoughts of marriage (however, for some reason, the boy seems to think about his future wife a lot). I do think, however, that they are old enough to recognize marriage and what is a good and/or bad marriage. I also think they are old enough to recognize what a family is and what will, for us, constitute a family.

Before the two of them were born I would lay in bed at night and think. I thought a lot about my future and about how I would have to raise them on my own for at least a while and just how scary that was for me. At the time I had never done anything on my own, not really. I went to college, but it was a local school. I had gotten a job on my own, but it wasn't a good job. I had bought a house but the house was in both my name and my ex-husband's name. I'd never done anything really important on my own.

I also thought about the fact that I would meet someone else. That someone else would fall in love with me. And that I would eventually get remarried. My first husband's claims that I was unlovable did not ring true. I knew that someone would love me again.

To that extent, I dreamed about the family that I would marry into. I dreamed about them loving me and loving my children and I dreamed about finally having the family I always wanted. I wanted my children to have grandparents. They have my parents, of course, and my parents adore them, but I wanted them to have more. I wanted more for me too. I wanted a family. A big, loving family to surround me. To be interested in me and want to know more about me.

Of course I married a man who's mother never accepted me, much less loved me. Who honestly believes that her son married me because he feels sorry for me. Who thought of my precious children as "baggage" and treated them like second class citizens. Things didn't even remotely work out the way I dreamed of. Since my husband is more than I dreamed of I consider it a fair trade. But still.

I have tried, many times over the past seven years, to attempt to understand her point of view. True, her son is a wonderful person. True, I am not Christy Turlington. There are other women who have loved her son and other women that I'm certain she feels would have made a better wife to him. Probably those women have working ovaries and don't have periods that last more than sixty days at a time and can give her grandchildren that don't need glasses.

Still, we love each other and have a really good life together. A life she knows nothing about because she is not a part of it.

Not very long ago my son, who is a thoughtful little fellow, said to me (out of the blue):

"Mom, when I get married, my wife will be a part of our family, right?"

I assured him that yes, of course, his wife would be part of our family.

He then said,

"And when I have children, you will be their grandma. And you will love them and they will part of our family. Right?"

I assured him that of course, I would adore his children and they would be shining stars in our family.

He sighed.

"So why doesn't dad's mom treat us like we're part of their family?"

I explained to him, as best I could, that sometimes people don't understand the way we want them too and that unfortunately she doesn't understand what our family is. She doesn't understand that we are a good family and that we love one another and that dad is their dad, even if he's not their biological father. That just because mom doesn't conform to what she thought was the right thing for her son, that it's not up to her to decide what's best for him. That she raised daddy to be a strong, capable, independent person and he made a decision which has turned out to be a very good decision for him and unfortunately she can't see it.

I went on to explain that I would love his wife, because I trust him. Because I really do my best to raise him right and when he grows up and finds someone that he loves enough to marry, I will trust him. Even if she's been divorced four times and has twelve children, I will trust him. Because I trust myself to raise him right.

He seemed very pleased with this news and he then told me that he couldn't wait until my sister had her twins this summer. Because that means that we have a bigger family and, "The best thing is a family."

That is why it's hard for me. Because he's so good. He's so kind. He's such a really amazing kid. It IS difficult for me to see that someday he'll fall in love with a woman and she will be his wife.

But I'm raising him so that I will trust him.

And I trust myself, to be a good momma to him and to raise him to make the best choices. Even if they aren't ones that look shiny and perfect to me.


frannie said...

that made me get the shiny eye.... sometimes I feel like the two of us have lived tandem lives.... I so wanted my husband to have a close family because of some of my circumstances. I felt like it would help fill a void in my life to be really close to his family.

M said...

Oh this just broke my heart.

I hate that they know she isn't around. I hate that he questions it. I hate that your children really are so good and so are you and all of you deserve so much better.

I'm suddenly feeling so lucky that Josh's mom's brand of crazy is something I can keep my kids from much much easier than you can keep from yours.

My heart breaks for all of you. Thank cod you are such a good mother. And el husband is such a good father.

Someday you will make a wonderful big family for two unsuspecting people your children decide to love. Even if they are hose beast hag freaks you'll still treat them like human beings and that's something to really look forward to. Maybe you can't have it for yourself but at least your kids can.


Denise said...

aww that teared me up. The mr's family are not involved in our lives like I would like them to be.The mr's mom a bautiful soul died a few years ago and his dad remarried his mothers cousin. creepy I know. Anyway since then his dad has become a totally different person who we never see and we live down the street from them. After his mom died the cousin came in and redecorated, took all of the kids toys out and everything. It is not a kid friendly place anymore. I agree with you about trusting your children and their instincts. Thats what it all comes down too.We raise them to be their own people and ultimetley make decisions that maybe we wouldn't have made for them, but still accept those decisions.

Anonymous said...

What a great little boy you have. From this post alone, I'd say you are doing an awesome job raising him.

and rudeness said...

Oh girl, I have goosebumps from reading that. It was sooo beautiful and sad at the same time.

Your son sounds like an amazing kid! You've done a wonderful job!

Family can make it so hard sometimes. I think we all have visions of having a large extended family that loves us as ferociously as we love our immediate family.

I know that as your children get older and marry and have children... your dream will come true. Cause you are so right... you are raising him to be that person. And you CAN trust him.

Alpha Dude said...

I've said this to you before, but that won't stop me from saying it again:
Children are a direct reflection of their parents.

Boy Child is a good egg.

I can only imagine how you feel, but I do actually know the pain Jason feels (and tries not to think about). My wife's family is awesome and loving and accepting and some of the most wonderful people I know. MY family chooses to treat us as though we don't exist. It is sad because they are missing out on so much.

Hang in there, Chick. You and Jason are awesome people.

(I enjoyed your flickr slide show. You two have a beautiful family)

my4kids said...

I understand your frustration, somewhat our situation is a little different. My In-laws didn't like me from the time we were dating. They felt I thought I was to good for them (I never said anything to make it that way) because my parents made more money and had a bigger house. When we got married they felt like I wasn't good enough and had taken their son, they thought I was a bad influence. My mother in law was the worst about it she never acted like she liked me and would tell me she didn't. One thing good though is she loved my kids. A few years ago she died suddenly from a heart attack at 57 yrs. It was very sad especially for Izzak who was really close to her. My father in law started dating a woman who asked him out on a date not 3 weeks from her death and they married a year later. She is worse she clearly doesn't like my kids and they see it and comment all the time. She came into the house and took out everything they were used to including toys and decided that we needed to call a few days in advance to even visit. Also she spent 2 years trying to convince them to call her grandma (even though she never remotely acted like one). Izzak one day was so frustrated with this and told her "I have a grandma (my mom), I had a nana and she is dead, I don't need another grandma who doesn't like me". It was really sad and she didn't get it. To make it worse their grandfather has changed from the fun Grandpa who would come and take them out and do things with them to one they see on rare occasions when he feels like its the right thing to do. I think I much prefered the mil who didn't like me but doted on the kids to the one who doesn't like any of us. I am the type of person who likes to have close relationships with family but my husband and I unfortunatly like your husband have had to get to the point of not really having anything to do with them out of lack of respect and for my kids own sanity. It's really sad so I understand how it must hurt when your son voices concerns like that, it is hard isn' it? You are a good mom though and that will be the most important in the end. Sorry for the long rambling comment maybe I should post it myself,hmm.

CPA Mom said...

You know we have the exact same situation with monster-in-laws so you know I already struggle with the same feelings. I must trust my son to make the right choice, just as my husband's mom did NOT trust him. When our kids are old enough to get married, we'll just have to boost each other up then. Only you will know what I am going through.

julie said...

What a smart, sweet boy you have! *sniff, sniff*

Isn't it amazing that "family" can have so many different, emotional, intense connotations?

Angela Z said...

Ok 3rd comment.... damn, this is the price for a mac. Safari can't open the page. Get real.

Any way, Great post and it makes me reflect on my own situration. I am raising two boyz on my own. Older than yours, but still on my own. We just hope that we have laid the true foundation but, ultimately, it is their decision, theirs to do what they want.

Ever since I was a little girl, I jsut wanted a family and a home. Well, the home is up for grabs but my boyzs choose to stay with me. Good Luck to you and I know I won't make a great monter-in-law. No one is good enough for my boyz. Guess, that's the Italian in me. I love reading you. Take care!

Shanilie said...

*sniff sniff* I'm all choked up. What a sweetie. You just want to give him a big hug. You can see his heart in asking those tough questions. You answered them well. I agree. The best thing we can do is raise them right and trust that they will make the decision that is best for them when the time comes.

I know not every situation is the same but my (step) dad's parents after 20 yrs of marriage are finally coming around to the fact that he married someone with 2 children and now they have a great relationship. Even this weekend I was visiting them and they told me how much they love and appreciate my mom. I couldn't believe what was coming out of their mouth. That would have NEVER happened when I was little. I hope your hubby's fam. may some day have a change of heart. Family really is the best thing, and they are the ones missing out.

Real Life in South Carolina said...

You're a good mama. It's funny because my husband asked me if I could imagine anyone loving my children more than I love them. I honestly can not...even if (when) they find their soulmate, it's hard to imagine that person loving my children half as much as I love them. But my mom is such a good example of how a mother-in-law should be. She knows when to keep her mouth shut and just the right thing to say when something needs to be said. I hope I can be the same way when my children get married!