Friday, 5 April 2013

Ouch, whine, drink

My mother-in-law will turn 90 in a few months.  Yes, that's right, 90.  Probably older than most of your grandmothers!  So of course, our minds have turned to the big event.  The social organisers of the family - the sisters-in-law (of course) - have had discussions, and plans were hatched.  But they all depended on Brother No. 1 (with apologies for the insensitive but in some ways surprisingly apt Khmer Rouge reference).  Brothers #1, #3, and  #4 have all lived overseas for many years, but #3 and #4 both return much more regularly.  Brother #2, my husband, lives here, only a short distance away from his parents, and in recent years has felt that we can't really move because they are aging and becoming more needy.  I've whined about this from time to time  .And so, emails were sent, and efforts made to see if all brothers could get together.  Unsurprisingly, these were unsuccessful.

Scene set.  Father-in-law sent out an email noting that it was unlikely to happen. He feels sad - he believes he will die without ever having all his sons together in the same room again, and this belief was the main impetus behind our efforts to get the brothers together.  I feel sad for him.  But then he lost me.  He said in his email that the prime reason for a get-together would be seeing all the grandchildren get together - cousin meeting cousin.  Not a celebration of his wife's longevity (he's a good deal younger).  Not the opportunity to see all his sons together again under the same roof.  No, it was the next generation. 

And yes, as my husband pointed out (and I knew this but I wanted a whine), my father-in-law reflects on his life and worries about the "continuation of his line."  And yes, I do still feel sorry for him that he doesn't have his sons and his grandchildren around him.  Heck, he only has 50% in the same hemisphere.  I get that.  I do.  He's old, and sad.

But still.  Ouch.  Unintentional as it might be, the snub hurts.  Clearly, our attendance is largely superfluous.  Irrelevant.  The last 13 years, when we've been the only relatives left in the country, feel as if they count for nothing. Because we didn't produce grand-children.  And, after all the efforts I made to try to arrange this reunion, after taking the risk that Brother No. 1 would blame me for pressuring him to return, after the time and energy and frustration that I have invested in this family, in keeping them in contact with each other, in ensuring that the grandparents actually see some of their grand-kids, that hurt.


The irony is that, completely unrelated to any of this, my husband and I are hatching a plan that might mean we won't be around at the time of the proposed reunion.  And despite my hurt, I still feel guilty about that.  Guilty as charged - childless with a conscience; a conscientious irrelevance.  No kidding. 

Time for a drink.

Disclaimer:  This was written when I was hurt.  I know I shouldn't write posts when I'm hurt - so don't be surprised if I delete this tomorrow!

22 comments:

  1. That hurts. I get that. It feels always unfair that the people who are there and make the effort have to listen to how the absent ones (who didn't) are missed.
    I have an overseas brother with kids too...
    And if I'm honest it does make a difference now that I have Suzy.
    Sorry you had to go through that, hope the drink helped!

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  2. dear Mali,
    it hurts, I am sure.
    I am glad you wrote about it. This is why it is pefect to have your own blog. You can write about ANYTHING you want. And you feel better afterwards.

    My parents-in-law have only two grandsons (aprox. 20 years). My grand-mother loves them. But my father-in-law isn't interested at all in them. His favourite living being is our beloved Wolf (only when he sees the Wolf his eyes sparkles).

    ***
    So - my parents in law never hurt me. But my mother does.

    My brother lives with his family in the same house as my parents. The last time that I visited them with my DH my Mum said: "I will invite for a cake also OURS". It is hard to translated, this is the best translation possible.

    ANd I replied: "You can not speak to me about my brother and his family as "Ours". What does it mean - am I not yours?

    And my mum replied that I do not live there any more so this name is reserved for brother's family.

    Yes, I get it. My brother is more precious because he could give to my parents full tribe of children. It did hurt. It doesn't any more. I learned to spend as much time as possible with DH and beloved Wolf. THey never ever hurt me.

    ***
    Your plan about escaping - great plan! Wheter the next generation gets along or knows each other at all.. it is really not of your business.

    Take care of your heart. You have only one.

    hugs!

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    1. Klara, I'm sorry you have that situation with your mum.

      And yes, I'm hatching a plan. I might even see if it can include Slovenia. But no promises yet!

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    2. dear Mali,
      this is exciting.... that you are thinking of including Slovenia into your plans!!!!
      I am out of country from 10-16 May (meeting Pamela)... otherwise I am here, waiting for you :)

      Tourist information about our beautiful capital:
      http://www.visitljubljana.com/en/

      lots of love from sLOVEnia!!!

      Delete
  3. Ugh. Inlaws. My own FIL is pretty good, but stepMIL can be a pain at times, and some of the extended family...! :p Dh is always the one trying to get the family together -- not sure how the role of organizer fell on him, but he tries. It's hard when it feels like you make so much effort, and it still doesn't count because you haven't got kids.

    Enjoy your drink, you deserve it.

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    Replies
    1. Loribeth, interesting that your DH is the family organiser. Maybe as the ones without children we feel the need to belong, to connect, more acutely, and that's why we try to connect with everyone so much? I don't know - will think on it.

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  4. Wow. That stings me FOR you. I'm sorry you had to go through that. I think it's important that you wrote about it, even when you were hurt, because those times are as much a part of our journeys as the times when we feel healed or at peace. All the different aspects should be shared, so others can realize that even those who have moved on in most ways, still feel that sting.

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    Replies
    1. E, yes. I definitely don't want this blog to be all about "happily ever after" and paint an unrealistic picture of life after infertility when we're living with no kids. Just as people with kids have problems, so do we. I think I have to be honest. Thanks for the support.

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  5. Ouch, I feel for you, Mali....

    My mom is pretty much the organizer in this family; however I hadn't attended the last 8 family reunions (every other year), not because of being infertile, but due to me being deaf. Picture a pack of adults and children speaking Russian and one speaking Peruvian. That's what it is for me. This year, mom is organizing for the family get-together in Washington (state)and insists on me coming. Now it's not about me being deaf, that I'm dreading but of seeing the new generation- I don't know what goes on in mom's mind (it'd be the first time she'd see the family since my surgery last year). She is certainly fanatic this year, to get me there. Methinks, it's a red flag for me to duck away.

    Recently, I got a card from an aunt, among her writing, she said "I don't blame you for not wanting to come to the family reunion- being left out for communication could be painful." Nothing was addressed about my infertility- I had noticed with most relatives who are aware, had not addressed the issue of me being childless. Looks like it's all swept under the rug *again*.

    So I get your sense of being left out, despite you being there for your parents, others aren't. Go have out for your own sake- life is too short. :)

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    1. Wolfers, I'm sorry you're dreading the family get-together. Have you told your mother and/or aunt exactly why you don't want to go? Are they the type of people who would understand? Certainly your aunt strikes me as someone who might be prepared if you reached out to her? Or have you already tried?

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    2. *sigh* Mother is the type who have selective listening. she hears what she wants to hear. She had always thought I'd "get over" from not having children, and that I do "all this to get attention." So no sense in trying with her. For the aunt, I don't know- she had lost a son to suicide a few years. I noticed she'd talk with me about the son, her absense, her guilt, the whole kit and caboodle- making me realize she doesn't see me as a niece but a therapist (since I AM a therapist). I have kept my distance from her then. That sucks, huh?
      No worries, if I have to go, I'll just bring my fishing pole and stay at the river most of the time as possible, and my nook to read and play games at night.

      Delete
  6. OUCHHHH...sorry to hear about this and the conflicts of feelings (I dislike "inappropriate" grief - if I can call it that). It's very understandable why you would want to be out of the country during the "celebration".

    I agree with the other posters on writing the "not-so-beautiful stuff" 'coz it'll also be good for your soul. To let it all out and leave it there (instead of letting them all churn inside round and round in a vicious cycle).

    And anyway, you HAVE spent so much time and effort to be close to your in-laws as well as organizing the reunion, so I say you deserve to enjoy your holiday with hubby! :-D

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    Replies
    1. Amel, it's not that we want to be out of the country during the celebration. I enjoy (usually) the company of my brothers-and-sisters-in-law, and most of the nieces and nephews. It is one of my great regrets that our nieces/nephews don't live closer to us. So I'd be perfectly happy to be here for it.

      It's just that other things have happened, and the timing is such that we may actually decide to "skip the country" at precisely the time all the others were thinking about coming. But as it turns out, they won't be coming anyway. You're right though - I think I deserve to get away and so will try not to feel guilty!

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    2. Oh, they won't be coming after all? IC IC...

      Btw, I know that you didn't purposely want to be out of the country, but I just didn't want you to carry around unnecessary guilt because I know how heavy it can be (a friend of mine, a counselor, told me about this kind of guilt when I shared my feelings with her and it felt SO free to let it all go).

      Delete
  7. Well, the in-laws may be old in years, but not necessarily in maturity and wisdom. That's evident in the naive, childlike comments -- seeing only what they want to see. We, on the other hand, are wise beyond our years. That's what comes of being tested.

    As for my latest post, yes, I had to mull over the "grief is a form of love idea," too. My blog post headline changed a few times, but the fact that it caused me to think is the very reason I elected to keep it.

    BTW: Your posts always give me something to think about, too. I have accumulated lots of topics for conversation for that time when we finally have the chance to meet over a bottle of wine.

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    1. Yes, wise beyond our years! (I'm smiling at that).

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  8. Oh, that does hurt!
    I am lucky with my parents and was lucky with my "in-laws" - neither set ever made me / us feel badly for not providing grandchildren. However, I get this from my aunts when they are planning family dos. And it sucks.
    Glad you are making other plans (do they include England?!)

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    Replies
    1. I will admit that this sense of "not counting" is not common. We've never been subject to the pressures some others endure from their in-laws.

      Plans still at drawing board stage, so don't know what they include yet. You will find out in due course.

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  9. Ouch. Go ahead and whine! Cheers!

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  10. wow. I am playing major blog reading catch up here. But, man, that's uncool. I understand the getting old thing and feeling sad. my grandma lived with us for many years, and i saw that. But, still. Being grab onto what is there. Good on you for getting it out. Family can be so stressful.

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  11. Thanks for sharing your post with me on my blog. Its sad to know that this happens all the time, but comforting to know I'm not alone in my thoughts and feelings about it.

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