Wednesday, February 02, 2005
Married into the Family of Uggggghhhhhh
My father-in-law is just your plain old garden-variety narcissistic alcoholic with limited social skills even when sober. When my daughter was 4 months old, we were in an Outback Steakhouse having what I thought was a normal, bantering, fun conversation, when he fixated on something I had said - JOKINGLY - several minutes before, and he suddenly shoved his chair back, stood up, and flipped me off. He very often calls up my husband to berate him for imagined slights and passing comments which were made several months ago but which my father-in-law just can't let go of.

And, of course, my mother-in-law is the one of the plane tickets fame, the black dress at my wedding, and other passive-aggressive misadventures.

Lovely, aren't they?

Now, we decided to host Christmas at our house this year, because we traveled for Thanksgiving and it was just more work than it was worth. And most of the holiday was lovely, some of my family was there too and everyone got along pretty well. My husband's birthday is the 26th, so the families stayed for that, too - still going well. Then, on the morning of the 27th, just before they were about to leave, we were sitting in the living room just chatting. First, my daughter was talking about playing dress-up, and my mother-in-law announced, "Yes, I know, when she gets dressed up she looks like a five-dollar hooker!" In front of my kids. Lovely. ("Mommy, what's a hooker?") Then, we were talking about Jacob's sleeping habits, and my father-in-law said, "Yeah, I bet he's got a little Playboy in there, he wakes up, masturbates and goes back to sleep." Which is not quite as offensive to me, but still inappropriate in front of the kids.

We were all sort of shocked, to say the least, and no one confronted it in the moment. But after a few days, Willem wrote them each a letter specifically pointing out what we had a problem with and asking them to tone it down a bit in the future. And then began the deafening silence. My mother-in-law kept calling and chatting as though nothing was wrong, but my father-in-law refused to communicate with us at all - very typical for the ways they typically react. Until last night - my husband called to wish his father a Happy Birthday, and father-in-law went OFF, how dare he reprimand his parents and family is worthless anyway he would rather be alone and why would we possibly think he would want a call wishing him a happy birthday and he's the parent in this situation and he doesn't want to hear it from us when our kids grow up spoiled and stupid and useless...

So, big sigh. The way the pattern goes, it will remain quiet around here for another day or two, then my mother-in-law will call and try to force us all to get along again, there will be extended awkwardness for a few months, then we'll all pretend everything is fine until the next blow-up.

Sorry to go off so long, I just felt the need to share the love and warmth of my in-laws. My own family has its idiosyncrasies, but it took getting married for me to realize how truly stable and wonderful they actually are.

Okay, back to my five-dollar hooker and my masturbating fiend of a son. Jeepers.