Last night, I dreamed that both of Doug’s sisters (his mom’s daughters) were pregnant.
I’m not sure if this is my subconscious working for me or against me.
Of course, the dream was deeply disturbing. His sisters are almost-13 and just-15. In my dream, they seemed slightly older, but not by much. The older of the two had already had her baby (but somehow was still pregnant), a little girl who looked like a Cricket doll (creepy) and was clinging to her mother’s leg. The younger sister was just starting to show.
“Teen pregnancy is not how we do things in this family,” I told Doug’s mother matter-of-factly. I watched her wrestle with her morality as it pitted itself against her love for her grandbabies.
See, Doug’s mom is… Difficult? Living in a fantasy land? Operating with a skewed moral compass?
When I had my miscarriage, she told Doug over the phone, “Well it’s a good thing, because you weren’t planning on getting married anyway.”
When Doug applied to her for help with his dental work, she told him that his dental problems are his own fault, because he didn’t brush his teeth well enough when he was a kid.
When her friends were joking around with us at the neighborhood New Year’s Eve party, saying one of them could get ordained on the internet and marry us then and there, she argued, “That’s not the way I raised my son! That’s not how we do things in this family!”
So it’s nice to know that, if only in my dreams, I can give her a taste of her own medicine.
In real life, I keep quiet and let Doug fight these battles with her; I try to get in good with her daughters and her husband, so she’ll be forced to like and accept me, because everyone else does.
And she’s not horrible. Not across the board. She just lives in her own world, and wants everything her way, and it makes her difficult to reason with or comprehend. But there have been good moments; moments where I could tell how much she loves her son, moments where she’s told me I’m the best thing ever to happen to him.
Not like my last mother-in-law.
My ex-husband’s mother thought her son could do no wrong. She never got used to the idea of me. I think she wanted to like me, but conversations I had with her were strained at best, and I just couldn’t help but feel like I was never going to be let in to her family. I was too American for her, too improper, too ready to speak my mind. Her daughter was a carbon copy of her, mimicking her every opinion: the one time I confided in my 17-year-old sister-in-law, about something having to do with one of my college boyfriends, she went straight to her mum, who went straight to my ex-husband, who then had to come to me and ask me not to talk about that stuff with his sister. (Did they think it amounted to me cheating on him? Who knows.)*
The last straw for me was at my ex’s college graduation, where there was a professional photographer taking graduation portraits. I got a picture with my ex, but was not allowed to be in the family portrait because, per his mother, that shot was for immediate family only (his aunt/godmother was also not included).
And I thought, “Shit, woman. I’m about to marry your son. Do you really not consider me to be part of the family, even now?” But I said nothing to her. I said something to him, later, and he… took her side.
That was the last straw, actually. Even after we moved back to California, my ex would talk to his mum on the phone every day. I asked him not to, explaining that I needed to be the one he confided in now, since he was married to me and all. But I couldn’t break this habit. “My mum misses me,” he would say, excusing himself from whatever we were doing to take her calls. After we split up, our two sets of parents got together one evening when his family was in town, to talk about what had happened to us and whether there was anything they could think of to fix it. Although I wasn’t speaking to anyone at the time, my mom came to my rescue that night, asking how anyone could expect our relationship to ever be functional, knowing that every minor complaint my ex had ever had about me had gone straight to his mother’s ears.
So when I met Doug, and he confessed that his relationship with his own mother was akin to that of oil and water, I was actually thrilled. She may be difficult to deal with at times, but at least I knew he and I would always be on the same side when it came to dealing with her.
Because loyalty to each other is how we do things in this family.
*I do, actually, occasionally miss my ex-father-in-law, a cheerful, talkative, enthusiastic hypochondriac, who really did seem to like me. Unfortunately, I’ve had no contact with him since my divorce – unsurprising, since he’s so flattened under his wife’s thumb, he hardly has any friends of his own.