Tuesday, January 10, 2006

In-laws and Outlaws

Most have difficulties with them. It is a struggle as old as time. Everyone has them in their families... Except Eve (damn lucky girl!), but then, she was the original "law enforcement kid" so she didn't have it any easier. If you think about it, it is inevitable that there will be conflict. Most of the time, opposites attract (as in my case), and when you try to bring together a group of people whose ideals and concepts on living life are different, well, it can get interesting. I am from a law enforcement family and my husband's family is the Alaskan Frontier family, who made their own rules and enforced them as well. They are good people, but unused to anyone telling them what to do. So, here I come, and I have ideas on what should and shouldn't be, and may have some very good ideas, but nobody wants to hear that my way is the only way, no matter how nicely I put it. heh... Well, I at least know when I have overstepped my boundaries and try to make amends. This is where it can get sticky. See, I am pretty good, most of the time, about forgiving and forgetting. If someone crosses me, I may get mad as a hornet (if it is bad enough), but as long as the person bites the bullet and says, "I'm sorry." Heck! Water under the bridge! But not everyone is able to do that, not that it is a flaw on their part, but it makes it pretty darn difficult on anyone who makes a mistake and wants to make amends, and I hate that awkward feeling, when you know you have done someone wrong, and no amount of wallowing and apologizing will ever get you back in their good graces. So, that is me, I am the girl who speaks in a big loud voice and carries a small stick, that later I end up choking myself with for letting my words get ahead of my thoughts.

(cue cheesy, spaghetti western style music. ie: trumpets/guitars ala mariachi band)

So, I mozy into my in-laws world like a gunslinger who had her heart stolen by their fish wrangling son (commercial fisherman) and without so much as a "may I", I stake my claim. Okay, so maybe that is a bit overly dramatic, but you get the idea right? So, long story short, myself, the MIL and the SIL square off in the center of town and when the dust clears, we are all gut shot. Now, we are all struggling to recover and while there are still some hard feelings, I would like to think that eventually we would all sit down (Waldon Family style), have a beer together and say, "This town ain't big enough for all three of us... but it will have to be." and just get on with our lives.

Now, I joke and create cutesy anecdotes, but all kidding aside, it is hard to get women to play nice. If you have spent any time in a junior high or high school setting and just observed the cruelty with which women toy with and sometimes destroy each other's feelings, it is really frightening. So, no woman should really be surprised when she is rebuffed when trying to find her place in a new family. MILs are really maligned in jokes and passing. They are made to be the villains, but I can see the other side of the coin, especially now that I have two little boys. It will be so hard, when they are too old for kisses and cuddles, and then when the day arrives that another woman (gasp!) comes along and kisses and cuddles MY BABY... Well, I will bite my tongue and play nice as long as she makes him happy... But so help me... If she hurts my boy!... You know. lol

So, I have to admit, when I get together with gals who are in the same boat as me (young, married, raising rugrats and struggling to maintain our sanity) I have a story I like to tell. Now, I have to say, it is far better to leave the past in the past because it only serves to keep bad feelings alive when you rehash all the wrongs that have been committed against you. However, if you must, make certain you are truly over the situation and have found humor in it and deliver it with as much as possible. So, here it is....
When I was a new mommy (weary, bleary-eyed and very much thin-skinned), I was trying to be the absolute best. I wanted my son to be comfortable and happy at all times. Safe from anything sharp and dangerous. Unfortunately, his very hands were sharp and dangerous. If I didn't put "no-scratch mittens" on his paws, he would claw himself something awful, and he wore them until he was three months old I think. Well, my MIL and SIL were trying to joke with me about the mittens and I wasn't in any shape to laugh about my attempts at mommyhood. My SIL turns to me and says, "Well, don't come to me for help when he needs psychological help!" (or something to that effect). Well, at the time, I was very hurt and angry and felt like I was being attacked. I handled the whole situation wrong, but, you live and learn. Now, I am learning to read comments made in humor as such.... Sometimes it takes me a moment, but I am getting there.

I am learning how to forgive. My pastor tells me, "If it was as easy as pulling a "forgiveness" card out of our back pocket and handing to someone who hurts us, all the psychologists in the world would be out of a job." Along with all the lawyers and Jerry Springers too. That is why it is so hard. Also, he warned me to be careful when praying for more forgiveness, because you get what you ask for and that means LESSONS in forgiveness. God puts people in our lives that push us to change for the better. So, the next time someone hurts your feelings, you really ought to thank them for teaching you to forgive and then... Forgive em! Yah, I know, easier said than done, I am not there yet either (but I am working on it!).

So, I am the outlaw, as you may have guessed. I am slowly working on being more of a "lady". I am trying to consider my words before they leave my mouth and are no longer able to take back. It is a long hard road. My advice to anyone who is struggling to find their place in their spouse's family is to find a way to put yourself in your MIL's shoes: She doesn't see you as adding to her family, but subtracting from it. Maybe, she was even mistreated by HER in-laws and doesn't realize she has taken on the role of abuser now. Break the cycle of abuse yourself, and vow to never treat your children's spouses the way your in-laws treat you. Oh, and, turn the other cheek. I know, it is so very hard, but if you return harshness with love, maybe someday, they will realize you want peace and hopefully, they will too. Also, given time, seeing how much you love their child as long as you are respectful of your relationship, eventually they will come to accept you.

No comments:

Past Musings You Might Ponder

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...