Tuesday, February 26, 2008

My 100th Post

Wow, today I'm actually sitting up again (well, sort of slumping over, but better than total recumbency  I guess), and I'm having strange cravings for potato chips and cold fresh cherries (that last is thanks to Robyn, who put the idea in my head--I'm obsessed!).  

It's my hundredth post! I'd love to have a contest like people do on these minor milestones.  But I'm still too flu-addled to come up with something.  So maybe soon.  Stay tuned...

So, imminently I must confront my next fear: my mother-in-law.  Every year A. and I take E. on the plane to Texas for a couple of weeks' visit.  Now, I adore Texas.  It's one of my favorite places on earth to visit.  A. and I even lived in Austin for a while, and I have a very fond spot for the state.  For A., who lived an extremely peripatetic boyhood (all over the world, not just all over the States), I think Texas is his second home.  After Brooklyn, that is.  

Every year, to gear up for this sometimes trying visit, I consider the things I like about Texas; here are a few:

1. A. has some really lovely relatives.

2. It's so warm there, 

3. and the Mexican food is sublime...especially because we get Mexican home cooking, not just restaurant food.  Cooking that involves many spices hand-ground in a mortar and pestle, and pots simmering away all day on the stove.  

4. My M-I-L lives in hill country, and the fresh air is abundant.  E. can run around all day and regain her health.

5. The sound of the wind howling around the house at night is romantic, and I can pretend we're on the Scottish moors.

6. The craft superstores are super fun! A far cry from the over-priced, overly precious fancy yarn stores of Brooklyn and Manhattan (not that I don't love those stores, but sometimes you just crave some nice Peaches n' Creme cotton).

7. The Mercado (the Mexican marketplace in downtown San Antonio) is always exciting, year after year.  Never gets old.

8. M-I-L's gigantic house is immaculate, which creates a restful environment.

But here are the problems:

1. M-I-L's house is immaculate.  She has long been a living reproach to me and my own housekeeping skills.

2. It gets a little claustrophobic after a week, even though we've got our own suite in the gigantic house...

3. M-I-L doesn't have any vocal inflection (I mean, her voice is completely flat!!!)  Coming from a family of emoters, this is quite unnerving.

4. A's dad, one of the most wonderful, courtly, delightful, funny men on earth, died the week E. was born.  His absence is truly painful.

5. M-I-L doesn't really like me.  I've known her for 17 years, and our relationship has always been a little strained.  I think she thinks that although A. found a mate who's his equal intellectually and in other ways, I've kept him from being truly happy.  To this I say, lady, you discouraged him from being a fighter pilot, and that's what's kept him from true happiness.  Nothing to do with me!  But why doesn't she like me? She thinks I'm difficult (sure I am sometimes, most notably around her), overly dramatic (again, sure, I'll buy that), neurotic (yup), Jewish (once again, check), overprotective of E. (well, I can't help it).  Worst of all, she thinks that I keep A. from his family.  Now, anyone who knows the real situation knows that 
it was all because of me that we still go on these yearly pilgrimages.  I'm telling you, I'm the one who has singlehandedly held it together! And if that sounds self-aggrandizing, well, it's just the damn truth.

And you know, I've really tried to make it work with her over the years, on a personal level. I tried to be dutiful, I tried to keep her updated on E's comings and goings, to be friendly and loving.   And part of me hates to be disrespectful to my elders (I'm not kidding about this!) by carping.  But when someone doesn't like you, it's hard to stay positive.

How do people deal with their in-laws? There are some good ones out there--I know them even, and I've heard tell.  But what about the myriad difficult ones? Any advice on this topic? Any stories to share? I'd love to hear them...


Lisa said...

First, I'm glad that you are somewhat upright! Craving chips and such is a good thing.

As far as Texas goes, I cannot add anything to the list that you probably don't already know. I do owe you an email regarding your upcoming visit and you will get that this week.

Congrats on the 100th post milestone!

Now, as far as In-Laws go.....when I was married to the ex, his family hated me and they let it be know the day we married and it never diminished. As such, the ex would take one child a year home for a week long visit and I think I only went three times in seventeen long years.

My new In-Laws are funny. My FIL is charming and witty and always makes me feel so special. We talk about investments and cars and cameras. He is always checking my glasses too. He is a retired eye doctor and had a big part in the development of modern contacts. I love him dearly. My MIL is charming in her own way, but to her I am only temporary and of course only after the money. I do everything I can to be the perfect DIL when we visit and I am responsible for cards, so I make sure that all of the relatives get birthday day and Christmas cards in a timely fashion.

Karma, I try to remember that when I will be vacationing with the In-Laws, because Wifey could some day be like one or both of them.... ;)

Leah said...

Hi Lisa! Your FIL does sound lovely. For some reason, the fact that he solicitously checks your glasses really touched me--maybe cause I wear glasses, and I'd be totally sold on someone who took an interest in the well-being of my eyes!

You know, I'm in charge of cards too. Mostly just because I sort of like the job--although I forgot this year to do our holiday mailing!!! Talk about out of it!

And I laughed out loud at the idea of Karma...I think A. already displays characteristics of both parents...but he's overly self-aware of being too much like his mom, so he's always on guard against it...but it slips through somehow, right?

Too Little Time said...

In-Laws - My sister-in-law and I were friends in HS, but too be honest, if it wasn't that I married her brother our friendship never would have lasted.

My mother-in-law I have little to no use for. She allowed (we pretend she never knew, but as a mom I find that hard to buy)... she allowed her husband to abuse her daughter and than sent her daugher out of the house. She than continued to live with said man for an additional 17 or so years. She enables the younger 2 at every turn and is so petheticly (sp?) weak (personality wise) that I have a hard time being civil. While she has practically raised the grnad-children of the younger 2 boys, she is a stranger to my children. OK enough - change subject.

Try asking your MIL questions that will lead to her tell you stories of her life, the kids life etc. Maybe this will give you something to talk about and most people like to talk about themselves.

Immaculate house - let her - how boring!! Imagine how hard that must of been for A growing up. Life should be easy going. Would you want your child to remember that your house was perfect or that her mom and her did this and that. Think of what MIL missed.

Pity is also a very handy weapon too.

Chat later - K P.S. Good Luck

Leah said...

K--you're such a wise woman.

First let me say, that's gotta be one of the very worst MIL stories I've heard. Gosh. I can see why you can hardly be civil to the woman.

And I think you're right about A growing up in that perfect house. It's funny, I'd never thought of it that way until just now when I read what you wrote--I always just assumed that her household is his ideal, but he's never actually said that. I think he prefers the way it is at our house--always a little cluttered, but lively and always some project going on.

"Pity is always a handy weapon," K, you crack me up. But you're absolutely right!!!

Rima said...

Congratulations on your 100th post!

Skeeter said...

Congrats on your 100th posting. It was a good one. My wife is Chinese and her father and grandfather detested me for not being Chinese, for being an American and worse yet, for being an officer in the military. It seemed like there was nothing I do to change the opinions they formed of me - long before they even met me. Only after a loooong period of time went by did they slowly come around. I wish that I had a better solution, but the only one I found that worked with my inlaws was to give them a very long time to get to know you and then let the magic happen. Best wishes.

Noni at The Brick Street Bungalow said...

Leah, I came through your comment about Theme Thursday. I've been reading through your posts on knitting and Texas. I have to say I admire your frankness about your in-laws. I feel constrained in my postings because they read the damn thing! LOL. This was an old post... I hope things have improved, but suspect not likely with a 17 year history. God bless you!