I met Husband's parents very soon after Husband and I started dating. About two months or so. They came to town one weekend for dinner and a show. Frankly, I was all of twenty-three, super naive, and in a bit of a lovey-dovey haze, so I didn't get too nervous. I was actually excited.
But the night before they arrived, I found myself vomiting - and violently - and camped out on my bathroom tiles. Lovely. I was not just ill. I was ill. Turns out I had a bout of the Norwalk Virus that was spiraling through my good city. But I rallied. And by the time the in-laws swooped into town, I was able to transfer from horizontal to vertical, shower and dress. Husband and I headed to the restaurant to meet them.
And there they were. The most put-together, attractive set of parents I've ever seen (next to my own, bien sur). And I was mildly intimidated by these polite and pretty creatures especially because - barely in the wake of my stomach bug - I felt like a mere shell of myself and could barely string a sentence together. It was not the best moment in which to meet the People to Impress.
Dinner was lovely. I sipped slowly from my water glass and barely touched my wine. I picked at my food. This was nothing like me and I sat there thinking, I am acting like the opposite of me. Normally, I would be savoring the courses and the conversations. But not that night. But I held it together. I smiled at appropriate intervals. I felt safe sitting next to Husband. I made it through the evening without a vomit incident in an upscale restaurant. I considered it a victory.
So, looking back, I did not make the best first impression. But thankfully I've had a few years to make up for it. As I learned long ago, Grammy and Dad-Dad are not just lookers, but they are warm, intelligent, and loving. When it comes to the In-Law Lottery, I unwittingly hit the Jackpot. I consider myself lucky. Very.
At this point in my life, a good number of my friends are married. And you know what? Many of them have problematic relationships with their in-laws. Many of them. Over the years, I have heard tons of shocking and hilarious and wacky in-law sagas. I am beginning to realize - and thank my lucky stars - that in this arena, I seem to be the exception to the Have-In-Laws-Have-Issues-Rule.
It's funny because my Mommy Friends have been passing around an advance copy of LIFE AFTER YES. I am thrilled to say that they have all loved it. But recently one of these friends emailed to say that she adored the story, but she had one question.
Did your mother-in-law read it yet??!!
At this question, I smiled. Because there is a difficult mother-in-law character in my story. One that is not even marginally based on Grammy. For those of you who are writers, this might prove an interesting aside, but when I signed with Agent, she had a few insightful comments on my manuscript. In her estimation, the protagonist's beau Sage was too good, too squeaky-clean. Agent suggested I dirty him up a bit so he would better balance his exceptionally-flawed amour. And so I did. I added a new character to the mix. His mother. A domineering and depressed Mama Bear who has trouble releasing her claws. This additional fifty pages brought the book to a whole new level of intrigue and depth. Point is that I have a good agent and that there is zero connection between my fictional and my real MIL.
Anyway, this is all a very, very roundabout way of telling you that we are all headed to Pennsylvania later today to visit Grammy and Dad-Dad for the weekend to celebrate Dad-Dad's impending sixty-fifth birthday. And we are excited. Not for the near-certainty of car vomit, but for the change of pace and scenery and for the good dose of family fun.
And I sit here, moments before the girls rise, contemplating the day ahead, the many things I must do before we hit the road. There is a Preschool breakfast, and a construction meeting, and an appointment in midtown. There is wine to order. There are bags to pack. And it is all kind of overwhelming. Particularly because I'm not moving at full speed this morning and these days - emotionally at least.
You see, Monday would be my own Dad's sixty-eighth birthday if he were still around and I tend to fall apart around this time of the year. This time last year was a rough and revealing stretch for me. A time when I stopped pretending I was totally okay and began to let myself examine my life after loss. A time when it occurred to me to start a blog. To open up. To acknowledge struggle. Mine. All of ours. To ask questions. Mine. All of ours. It was an impossible time for me, but ultimately an exquisite turning point. I'm able to see this now.
But this year. I am a bit better. A lot better, actually. Just heavy with awareness and soft with sadness as I anticipate Monday and think about that gaping hole in my family's fabric.
But this year. I am able to see the life-honed bounty at my feet. I am able to see the simple and stunning truth that I am alive, awash in a sea of family - by blood, by law, by life, and, yes, by blog - that buoys me through the good days.
And the harder ones.
- Am I the only one who genuinely loves my in-laws? Do you have In-Law Issues? (Has anything exacerbated these issues? Kids? Incidents? Confrontations? Geographical distance?)
- Tell me your best (a.k.a. worst) in-law story!
- Tell me your "Met the Parents" story!
- Have you ever broken up with someone you cared about because his/her parents were terrible?
- Have you ever imagined how you will be as someone else's in-law?
- Are there particular times of year when you tend to have a hard time for one reason or another?
- In retrospect, did you start your blog for a reason, a deeper reason, than you once thought?