Part One: The Mother-in-law from Hell

My very first encounter with my future mother in law was when my soon to be husband called to let them know we were getting married in a week. There was a little chit chat and then Jack dropped the “we’re getting married next week,” bomb. There was obviously silence. Then his mother uttered, “I really liked that omit name girl. She was great.” I think my look at Jack was like when a dog hears a sound that makes their head tilt to the side. I ignored it citing that, hey we both put our parents through hell. I was also young and innocent and didn’t say anything. I did laugh when Jack’s dad said “Yeah she was great. She about made our son’s D**k fall off.” Pssst this girl cheated on him while he was on a 6 month deployment–she was spectacular. THAT was the very first encounter of my mother in law.

The second encounter, with my now mother in law was when our son was 6 weeks old. Jack, the baby and I fly to Des Moines, Iowa to be with his family for the holidays. It was a stay a couple days in Des Moines with his parents, then we would all drive to Moline, IL to be with the rest of the family. Jack made me hold the baby as we disembarked from the plane. “Hold him, she will have to go to you because you are holding the baby.” Remember I was 19 here, not 34. How bad could it be? That’s what I had been telling Jack the whole time. He had given me a little snippet of what his mother was like. For me I kept an open mind. I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt….obviously something Jack’s family doesn’t do.

When Jack and I stepped off that plane and out into the terminal his parents were there. Jack’s mom’s eye lit up seeing him and the baby. She put’s on a good show. To the passer by and even to her son, she wrapped her arms around me in a hug. His mom made it look damn good. The hug she gave; cold as ice; and chilled me to the bone. You ignore it and again make excuses in your mind. This is a hard position for our families to be in. It’s going to take time.

It may have been a day later or maybe two and Jack’s mom and dad decided to go to the grocery store. She wanted to take our son with them. The excuse “it will give you two a chance to have a break.” She had him swaddled in a blanket. I believe I made the comment of do you need help putting the infant carrier in the back seat? She said the words so sweet to our son “We don’t need a car seat I am just going to hold him in the front seat while grandpa drives.” Jack happened to be standing right next to me we were messing with the baby bag or something and I whispered to him, “over my dead body she is. If she takes him he goes in a car seat and that’s final.” Is it really MY place to confront her about this after only being there a day? I mean really. I don’t believe it is. Jack said something about the baby needing to be in the car seat. The look on her face, her son just slapped her in the face. “But we did this all the time with you kids and your sisters son. It’s just down the road.”

My hormones were still out of whack. I was stressed over this whole meeting the family. Jack and I had a lot going on. New marriage, new baby, getting ready to leave for Japan in a few months, learning the Marine Corps way. I don’t care who you are it’s stressful. Now I’ve got Beatrice, here thinking it’s the 1970’sand not 1997. Jack even came to me and said, “it’s just down the road, it’s fine.” I held my ground. “you are telling her our baby doesn’t go if he is NOT in a car seat.” I had tears in my eyes and I was NOT going to let her see the tears, so I went down stairs into our room and flopped on the bed. When Jack came down I was crying into a pillow so no one could hear me. He slide next to me on the bed, “she’s not taking him.” Then “you can’t let her get to you this way. Mom is who she is and you have to toughen up around her or she is going to eat you alive.” I looked at him, “That’s not right. I am not going to let her do whatever the hell she so desires doing. This is our family Jack and if my mother were doing this you can be damn sure I’d be saying something.” You dust yourself off; collect yourself and go on. Tuck n roll.

When I finally entered back into the room mother in law was still harping about she didn’t see what the big deal was, they did it all the time with their kids and all this. I ignored it to some degree but gave responses as cold as she uttered them. Rules have changed since we were all younger; it’s the law now. On the inside I am thinking, yeah and there are reasons why we have laws. it’s like the disclaimer before a dumb ass video don’t try this at home. Obviously the laws/rules have changed since the 1970’s due to numerous kids being killed, injured in car wrecks sooo.. Voila we have laws.

I am not always talkative around new people. I listen, I observe, I get my surrounding. It’s who I am, it’s who I will always will be. I was highly uncomfortable there. There was so much tension in that house it was nerve racking. I put that aside because I loved my husband. I loved my child.

As I write I realize I still have “Jack’s responses” in my head. He thought my “vibes” my “intuition” my gut feelings were ridiculous. It’s how I have always been. I could feel a storm brewing, something in my gut, the atmosphere told me it was just a matter of when that storm would come ashore.

Jack’s mother, Beatrice had this house that when you walked into “common folk” weren’t sure where the hell they should be. Should I sit on the couch? Hell should I use the towels in the bathroom? Everything had it’s place. It wouldn’t have surprised me if you moved the toaster and an outline of where it should be placed back would be there. I didn’t even feel comfortable making our son’s formula in their kitchen. God forbid I use the wrong damn thing. I made Jack do it. After all, his first wife and her got into an argument of how to properly fill an ice cube tray for crying out loud. You fill the cubes individually with water…no you slant the tray down and let the water run through. Really? Who gives a rats ass how the tray gets full. I will blow everyone’s mind and say “we never used ice except to keep shit cold.” I don’t use ice for my drinks cause it waters the drink down.

We all went out to the mall one day (she likes to shop), I am not much of a shopper. Walking the GD mall I might do 2 times a year just stroll it. Most of the time, I go in get the what I need and get out. All 5 of us got to the mall. G’ma is holding the baby. “Where’s his binky?” he doesn’t have a binky. He doesn’t like the binky. “you don’t leave the house without a binky.” Sweet Lord. The child doesn’t LIKE the GD binky. We all headed straight to a high price store.. 7-8 bucks for a stupid ass choo-choo binky……that he spit out. She kept trying to hold it in his mouth. I kept getting pissed and biting my tongue. When I’m pissed I shut down, I don’t’ want to talk to you, cause I am about to say something you aren’t going to like. She was complaining he wouldn’t keep the binky in his mouth, even with her holding it in there. “Told you he doesn’t like the binky.” You whisper it just under your breath so you husband hears it and laughs.

I was happy we were all getting in the car and going to his sisters house. Maybe there would be normal. His sister remained in Moline. His brother had lived in Chicago and would be coming in a few days.

Jack before had told me, “there’s something I have to tell you about my brother.” ok? “he’s gay.” that’s it? Good grief I thought you were going to tell me something bad. I mean really? My mother’s best friend from high school was a lesbian. One of her friends was gay. To me gay or lesbian was no big deal. Murder, convicted felon…that’s a big deal. Gay? Ummm no. Then I was warned it was a touchy spot in the family. Apparently so are black people or as his family likes to refer to them as “N” I can’t even say it. I said it one time in my life and I still feel the sting. I was allowed to drop the F bomb anytime. But calling a black person a “N.” My mother would NOT tolerate it. Which is funny because Beatrice doesn’t like the “F” bomb but she will let “N” fly like it’s nothing. Imagine the rude awakening I got with that one.

What have I learned over the years? I am ashamed to say, ignoring it is accepting it. Even uncomfortably (nervous) laughing at the remarks is also accepting it; condoning it. All of them…including my own husband, let it all fly. You learn to keep your mouth shut. On the inside it was repulsive, ignorant, and it made me sick to my stomach.

It’s like I told Jack when he left and was telling me everything wrong with me and how I didn’t do this…didn’t do that. You get what you give. It’s that simple. That’s EXACTLY how I treated his parents. What they gave; they got back. What Jack gave; he got back. It took me longer because I actually loved him with all my heart. He got what he gave.

If dealing with his parents…mainly his mother was not an indicator to Jack that, I wasn’t going anywhere I don’t know what else was. There’s a lot of things that should have been an indicator to Jack that I WASN’T GOING ANYWHERE because I genuinely loved him.

Christmas literally SUCKED that year. It’s immature to be excited on Christmas Eve. “Can we wake them up yet?” No go back to sleep….five minutes later…”how about now” For the love of God you’re an adult go the hell back to sleep and wake up when everyone else wakes up. WTH kind of CRAP is this. Who the hell sleeps in on Christmas? “When name omitted nephew wakes up…then we all wake up.’ SIGH!!!!! Toss ;turn… Who the hell taught this nephew? Whose rules are these, I want to complain.

How did I grow up? Go to midnight mass at one of the local churches (they all took turns)…come home, go to sleep for a couple hours. Visions, sugar plums…yaddity yaddity yah….haul ass down stairs….go back up the stairs cause you didn’t slide down the banister…I had to hear mom “stop sliding down the banister.” Heard it…OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO presents. When we lived in the trailer…tin can as mom called it. I climbed through the window that had been taken out when the addition was added. “quit climbing through that.” sorry mom serious business here…OOOOOOOO presents. Now? Welcome to Military version of Christmas. Jack was used to the military long before he ever joined. Structure…YUCK! Everyone “had” to wake up. Get coffee, have breakfast. COME ON ALL READY.

Jack was pissed he never could change that in me. 34 years old…I still do it. I go NUTS over Christmas. It starts about end of November and goes until January 1. I love Christmas time. It’s the best time of the year. Don’t give a crap if I get presents..I love the season.

I was glad to get back to North Carolina after that “vacation.” We move to Japan a few months later. I keep in touch with his parents writing them letters, sending them pictures of our son. The majority of the flowers his mother got….I sent or hounded him to the point the went and did it.

At our son’s 2 year birthday Jack and I decided to go to FL. His parents had moved there from Des Moines. The joke of the family was…they will only stay there two years. For some reason they or Beatrice has to move. Jack would always say “everyone in the neighborhood has probably pissed them off about time for them to move.” They graciously invited my mother down to FL so she would be able to see us as well. I will say my mother had more tact that I did. My mother couldn’t stand Jack’s mother. For her, dealing with them was worth the sacrifice to see me, Jack and her grandson. I laughed hysterically at mom.

You should have seen Beatrice face when we went to Daytona….and mom said to my husband “take me to get a tattoo.” You want to talk about pious. Beatrice was the queen at it. “I can’t believe your mother is getting a tattoo. If God wanted you to have tattoo he would have given you tattoos. If God wanted you to have earrings he would have given you holes.” My response. “Those new earrings you have…those are pretty.” Smile. Beatrice likes throwing God around when it suits her. Her “Christian” beliefs pertain to only others….not her. Then she’d wonder why we didn’t want to go to church with her. “Oh let’s go to church.” Oh let’s not. I believe in God. I pray to God almost every night. If I want to go to church…I go to church. If I don’t want to go to church…I don’t go to church. Oh and I wear what ever the heck I want to wear to church. I don’t have to dress up.. The gates of hell didn’t open up and swallow me when I walked into church at 11 years old wearing a Bon Jovi t-shirt….think I am good. If we go to church…can I bring a barf bucket cause your “Christianity” is making me sick….hypocrite. Thought it…didn’t say it.

My son and I come back from Japan. We ended up staying 7 weeks at his parents house. Jack had wanted me and our son to go there for a couple weeks. Then he wanted me to stay there for the duration until he came to the states, cause he didn’t want me to be driving alone to my mom’s house…in St. Andrews New Brunswick by myself with our son. Even now I see it as a control issue. I truly think he thought that if I went to Canada that long, I wouldn’t want to come back. Again I don’t know what part of “I’m in this forever” is not understood. Anyway, Jack would say I was crazy with that thought. It’s how I felt…it’s how I feel.

You try to be this good little house guest. After all it was just the two of them and two other people adds expense. I offered to help pay for groceries, help with any bills you name it I offered. One day I finally got a head of Jack’s dad in line and finally paid for groceries. Freeloader I am not. If you want to play mind games of when I offer to do something and not take me up on the offer…that’s on you. Don’t bitch about it. If I didn’t want to do it….I wouldn’t have offered the gesture. Our son was in American overload. Poor child only knew Japan. He was SO excited to see his grandparents. I didn’t exist. He didn’t want mom…hell mom was there every day…G’ma this…G’pa that. I mean some mothers would get jealous of this. It was new to him. Mom took him to go pee and poo all the time. “I want grandpa.” or “I want grandma.” It was important to him. He was a child in 3 years this was the second time he saw his grandparents. I mean really.

You make sure you aren’t leaving your child so they think you are taking advantage of them. You feel damn well guilty for going two days to hang out with your brother in law but they are pushing you out the door, “Go have fun. Mom’s need breaks. Don’t worry about him he’s fine.” OK even after I said “I don’t’ need to go, I don’t want to leave you guys here with the almost 3 year old.” Oh crap did I just insult them for being old and not able to take care of a 3 year old? He’s pretty chill but likes to keep going.

We went to Daytona. The grandparents wanted him to feel the ocean on his toes. He said no. They drug him and he started kicking and screaming. I just said “he doesn’t want to guys, don’t force him.” Oh well he was ruining the trip to the beach. Who gives a rats ass if he wants to sit in the damn white sand and build sand castles all day. The kid hasn’t seen the ocean before. He likes pools. The ocean FREAKED him out. And what did Jack’s parents do. Called him a spoiled brat. He ruined the trip. They made him feel like shit. He came up snuggling next to me. “Mommy I want to go home.” I held him close. And the two kept on at him. I told him we would go back to the gma and g’pas house later. We were having a day at the beach. “No mommy I want to go back home to Japan.” Then it was the question of “When can we go see nana.”

The cold hearted truth. My son knew his nana (my mom) better than he knew his g’ma and g’pa (Jack’s parents). It wasn’t intentional. I wanted my child to have the same kind of relationship with his grandparents as he did with his nana. The difference, the grandparents didn’t have a computer. My son talked to his nana every day. On the computer and on the phone for those 3 years. He knew his nana. They talked about anything and everything. He only talked to Jack’s parents a handful of times while we were overseas. He recognized pictures. I had family pictures out because I wanted him to recognize his grandparents and his family. Just because we were half a world away didn’t mean he didn’t have to not know them.

Our son reacted differently when it came to my mom and to Jack’s parents. He was my snuggle bear. How my son and I were during the day while Jack wasn’t there, was different when we were all together. When Jack was home our son would come to me for consoling, praise. There were times lil man wanted his dad….there were times he wanted his mom. I regret now listening to Jack in the child rearing. Mother’s do it differently than dads.

We finally left to go get daddy in Atlanta.

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