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I have sat by and watched this drama unfold for the last few months.  Now that you have made clear that you will not try to reconcile with your son, as well as making it abundantly clear that there is no relationship between the three of us I feel like that I can say all of the things to you that I have been unable to up until now.  First let me say that I understand that neither one of you will believe anything, or take any of it to heart.  I know that it is easier for you to place blame, rather than accept it.  I know that you see yourself as victims in this more than anything.  However, getting this off my chest will make me feel better and who knows, maybe it will move you to take a good, hard look in the mirror.

Our non existent relationship (your words, not mine) seems to be the best place to start.  We never really got off to a good start.  You had your idea of what your daughter-in-law would be and I was never going to be able to live up to that.  I was invited to go shopping and go to movies fairly regularly in the beginning.  The fact that I do not like doing those things, summarily ignored.  Have you ever had someone who you were trying to get along with try to push you to do things that you did not want to?  You tried so hard to make us into your ideal that you came off as pushy and drove me away.  We could’ve figured something out, met in the middle but the effort of compromise was I guess, not an option.  I would ask that you put yourself in my shoes for this.  If your mother-in-law said or did to you some of the things that you have said and done to me, how would you feel?

When we came to talk to you about finally choosing a venue for the wedding we had a nice dinner, pork roast and potatoes.  After dinner we sat down and the first thing that you said to me was, “We should’ve had this conversation a long time ago but to be honest we never thought you guys would go through with this so I never tried.”  This comment has stuck with me for such a long time because I think that it pretty much sums everything up perfectly, I should’ve done it but chose not to make the effort.  Then after that, D looked at J and said, “Are you sure about this?”  That night to me set the tone for our relationship.  D’s question may have been a  perfectly reasonable one, however it would have been infinitely better and less offensive had it been asked when I wasn’t present.

Do you know the definition of the word bully?  It is; “A form of behavior manifested by the use of harassment or coercion to affect others, particularly when the behavior is habitual and it involves an imbalance of power.  Bullying consists of three types: emotional, verbal and physical.  Bullying is domineering; tending to browbeat others.  Yes, I think you are a bully, and yes, you can be a bully and have a gay son and be the most liberal people you know at the same time.

I know that when you and J had your meltdown that he said something about speaking in a bad Asian accent.  This was met with denial, however, it happened.  On multiple occasions.  This happened early on, and on the second or third time I asked J to ask you not to do it.  He did.  It kept happening.  Not all the time, but on a fairly regular basis.  If I did something that made someone uncomfortable, especially someone I didn’t have the greatest relationship with, I would make the effort to stop.  I have never used the word retarded in your presence, I expected you to show the same courtesy, to no avail.

I have always thought that you don’t respect your sons, and at times your husband.  You talk over them and are derisive of their ideas when they do not mesh with yours.  I have never heard you pay a compliment to, or thank either one of them except when they have given you a gift for your birthday or Mother’s Day etc.  You do not care enough about any of them to use the filter between your mouth and your brain.  You cannot find the courtesy to censor yourself at the detriment of the comfort of those around you.  You think that if they are your family and if they care about you they will let you say whatever you want.  On the flipside, if you cared about them you would want to make them comfortable and put them at ease.

Say what you want to any of us, just understand that you will be held accountable for what you say.  I think that you believe that because you are their parents that they should respect you unquestioningly.  Because you are their parents, you get their love.  In order to get respect, you must give it.

I have never been anything but lukewarm towards you but I promise I have always kept a civil tongue and I certainly have never been disrespectful to you to your face.  This is not true for you, and the above examples are not the only things you’ve said.  Here are a few more if you need them.

Do you remember the baby shower at Kathy’s?  Do you remember the conversation at the end, when J and J were there?  You tried to give me a list of names to NOT name my son.  The only name on that list was Jack.  When I tell people about that they can’t get over the nerve that someone would a) be bossy enough to tell us what not to name our son and b) tell us that we couldn’t name him after my dead father if we wanted to.  I’m pretty sure that K and A wouldn’t have minded and Jack the dog will be long gone by the time our son cared about having the same name as a dog had we gone that route.

You have been heard on occasion to say that you feel we are dismissive of you and your opinion in raising children.  I would like for you to understand that up until very recently I have never thought you a bad parent.  How could I?  You raised J and J and they turned out to be amazing men.  I will point out that   technology has changed and that studies have been done in the 35 years since you had Jon and that yes, we are more likely to ask our doctor and put more weight in her answer.  I would also ask you to remember the whole prune juice discussion when our son was very young.  I believe that Dorothy’s granddaughters’ doctor recommended prune juice to help them with their incontinence.  Every book, website and person we spoke to at that point told us not to give him prune juice and when J told you this you took it personally.  Same with Judy’s MRSA.  You took it personally when it had nothing to do with you.  We were concerned for the welfare of our child and neither one of the doctors you spoke to were pediatricians.  When we did ask our doctor, and we have talked to her about it numerous times since she still says that we should be cautious.  I would also let you know at this point that it is my belief that infants and toddlers do not belong in hospitals.  If someone is dying then we may revisit the rule, however if someone is sick, especially with an unknown rash, they will have to content themselves with our well wishes and understand that we don’t want to expose ourselves, and in turn, our son to that.

I believe that you think me the cause of the rift between you and your son.  I would have to disagree.  I know that there was a rift before I came along.  I believe your disrespect of me has exasperated that rift, however I would point out that in-laws don’t get along all the time and families still manage to flourish regardless.  Take your relationship for example.  I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard you say a nice thing about M and the relationship between the two of you is very strong.  I have heard and seen instances where were we to employ them, J and our son would spend time with you guys without me.  I have encouraged him to do so.  I still encourage him to do this.  I would point out that if he thought there was nothing to salvage after some of the things you have done or said, I wouldn’t blame him either.

Knowing all of this, I would do some things differently.  I will not accept full responsibility, as I think that blame can be equally shared here.  All we were looking for in this was for you to understand that you hold some responsibility in this and we were looking for an opening to talk about it.

I know that you see yourself as a victim in all of this.  If you really think that you are innocent in all of this I suggest you look at past actions and again, you may want to take a good, hard look at yourself in the mirror.  You and your sister no longer speak to each other and haven’t for years.  You and D and W aren’t on the greatest of terms.  You have nothing nice to say about your in-laws- I’ve never heard you do anything but belittle your in-laws in the food that they serve or the things that they do.  Your relationship with your other son has seen better days and well, J is the reason I’m finally putting all of this into words.  I do not believe these are coincidences.  You have a ‘my way or the highway’ mentality about conflict in your relationships.  I believe you could save yourself and your family a lot of hardship by being more open to compromise and understanding how to use your filter.

You D, have, it seems, a new outlook on life.  A warmer, fuzzier and more communicative outlook.  There is nothing wrong with that.  I believe that one of your comments to J had something to do with your being upset that neither him or your other son called you to talk to you while you were unemployed.  After watching your family and its dynamics over the years, I find it strange that someone who didn’t think it necessary to talk about feelings has done a such an about face when it comes to talking about things of that nature.  You cannot change the rules of a game mid-game and expect everyone to catch up with little time to adjust.  I think that it never occurred to J to call you because he wasn’t raised to pick up the phone to “chat” with his father.  Also, I would point out that relationships are two way streets.  It does not fall on them to only call you.  Do you ever call them with for no other reason than just to chat?  Without them having called you first?

A larger part of what I find sad in all of this is that J has talked more than once in all of this about his close relationship with his father.  I would never have thought that D would stand by and let this go on for as long as it has.  I think that I find your silence in this the biggest disappointment.  I think it may be J’s biggest shock and disappointment as well.  He was hopeful for a long time that you would step in to try to mediate a reconciliation.

I think there was surprise over the tone and nature of the meltdown with J however you have to know as much as I do, as the people who raised him, that that was never the intention.  That too is one of the biggest differences I see between mother and son here.  J may have hurt your feelings, but that was unintentional, it does not take the sting out of what was said but at least he didn’t set out hurt you.  Your actions after that: unfriending both of us and my mom on Facebook, the silent treatment, your back being turned when in your presence- very much done on purpose and fairly immature at that.

In the end, I guess that I would have to thank you.  It has been much easier for me to think of you and consider your feelings and actions now that I have been unfriended and faced with non-existence.  It seems that I can be nicer and care more and be a little more objective when I don’t have to place myself in the equation.  I have said some injudicious and unkind things in the past that made me feel guilty and made J stand up for you.  With the manner in which you have handled all of this, what you have done is cut ties to me without my having to do anything, and made J re-evaluate the kind of people you truly are and some of the things that I have said about you in the past without a word from me in the present.  Essentially, you have proved me to be correct in some of my rantings and ravings.  As cold as it seems, I have gotten my way without having to lift a finger.  In short, because of your actions you have pushed your son away on your own.

If I could give any advice to all of the single people out there right now it would be: If you don’t get along with your significant others parents, think long and hard before you get serious. Knowing what I know now, I would’ve given my relationship with my husband a lot more thought. The outcome would be the same but it would be close.

If you’re future in-laws think it’s funny to speak in a fake Asian accent by saying things like “flied lice” and “fi’ dolla” you need to either call them on it. or head for the door and never look back (especially if you’re Asian, but even if you’re not I’d still run because it shows a certain lack of class and reeks of stupidity and ignorance and who wants to marry into that?).

Have you ever had some one who doesn’t have a filter between their mouth and their brain? Have you been around people who preach compromise as long as they don’t have to be the one to do it? Have you had someone in your life that you have to just grin and bear it? Someone you can’t tell how you really feel because of the repercussions? Meet my mother-in-law.

“I don’t know why we aren’t better friends,” my future mother-in-law says to me.  “I’ve tried to get to know you better, invited you out to lunch, to shop, to go see a movie. . .”  She says it like its my fault.  In some ways it is.  I don’t like to do those things.  I don’t like shopping, I see a movie in the theaters about twice a year and my favorite person to go to lunch with, is me (and a good book).

“Well, I work crazy hours.”  It’s true.  I’m a restaurant manager and I work 60 hours a week, easy.  “I’m around people all the time, some of those things that you invite me to don’t appeal because I like to stay away from people on my days off.  In a way, I hate people.”  I tell her.  In a way I really do.  Once you’ve had to cut off a loud drunk, had someone try to scam a free meal off you, argued with an idiot over why a child who isn’t eating, but takes up space at the table counts as a person so when he tells you there are 5 people and there are really 6, and that’s a totally different table, you just want to relax on your day off.  People free.  You also kind of want to just be yourself and that’s hard to do around this woman.  But my day off should be my day off.

“We’ve talked about your job before,” she says indicating her husband, who up until this point has said nothing all night.  “We’ve wondered how you are able to do your job when you’re so anti-social.”

That’s it I’m done now.  This woman has insulted me way too many times for me to be happy or comfortable.  This isn’t the first, won’t be the last, and I really feel as though I can call it quits and not feel bad.

 

About a month before my son was born, my mother-in-law had a baby shower for me. Towards the end, she asked me if we’d thought of any names for the baby.  We had and we were keeping it a secret.  She then goes on to give me the list of names (really only 1 name) that we CANNOT name our son, starting with my dead father’s name, or any derivative of.  Really??

My dad was dead less than a year when my in laws got a dog.  They gave their dog my dad’s name.

“So what can you tell me about the venue?” my future mother-in-law asks.  “I would like to help you with everything, you know I was a wedding planner.”  Oh I knew.

This was why it had been 4 years and we still weren’t married.  Early on in our engagement, we had made an attempt to plan our wedding.  We had wanted to go about 2 hours north, which would require people to stay over.  Not really a problem for either of us.  We figured that anyone who would be there would be there because they really wanted to be.  After all, you hear about people flying to Hawaii or Mexico and getting married on the beach all the time.  We spent a lot of time up north and wanted to be married outdoors with the sun beating down and the leaves changing colors.  That got shot down right away.  That meant that the wedding would be very small because no one would want to drive or stay, she said.  I was okay with that.  I knew that the people that I wanted to be there from my side of the family would be there and I really didn’t care about anyone else.  Plus, I didn’t want to have a big wedding.

So here we were, 4 years later getting married in a place that was an acceptable distance to all involved.

“How many people are you inviting?” She asked.

“We haven’t really thought about it.  The club will accommodate up to 450 so we know there’s enough room.  We want to keep it small.  The smaller the better.   I want a quiet, intimate wedding.” I managed to get that whole bit out without hissing or spitting.

“You know, intimacy is really in the people who you invite, not the number.  You can have a big wedding and still have a big wedding and have it be intimate.” She said.  “There’s no reason that you couldn’t have 300 people.”

Well, let’s see- I don’t know 300 people..  Check that, I just don’t know 300 people that I would want at my wedding.

“To tell you the truth, this conversation is long overdue, but to be honest we never thought you guys would actually go through with it,” said my soon to be mother-in-law.

“It” being (my?) our wedding we’re talking about.  Deep breath.  How did I get here and how do I get the hell out, I wonder to myself.  Really, someone please tell me what I’m doing here.  I was sitting across from my future in laws, wondering what to say in response when my boyfriend,(fiancé?) put his hand over mine.  I wonder if  he is trying to help me calm down, or if he is making sure that he’s got a piece of me to hold back in case I follow the urge to jump from the couch, wrap my fingers around her throat and tell the woman what I really want to say.

In all fairness, we’d been engaged 4 years and hadn’t done any planning for the wedding until recently.

My fiance and I can’t take all of the blame.  We both had other things on our minds.  We both had to graduate, me from culinary school and him from college.  After graduation we had a few tentative wedding conversations and decided that we needed to avoid all wedding talks until one or both of us figured out what we wanted.  I don’t think that either one of us had ever given any thought about weddings in general, and our wedding specifically?  Forget about it.

My college roommate had her bridesmaid dresses picked out before she’d graduated high school.  I’ve been told that a lot of women fantasize about their wedding- cakes, dresses, flowers. . .  That was never my thing.  In fact, I was the one who swore she’d never get married or have kids.

I was beginning to wish that I’d stuck to that way of thinking.

Then I thought, what about eloping?  I didn’t think it would fly but I gave it a shot.  I bounced it off him later that night.  No go.