Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Let the Nuptials Begin
Long weekend. It started Thursday morning. I went to work at 8:00 to sit around and not have a staff meeting, because apparently there are a handful of responsible, mature adults and then there are the rest of us, and when it's left up to the rest of us, we'd rather sit around and chat than hold a staff meeting. Go figure.

Afterward, I went home to pick up Willem and the kids, they dropped me off to get the alien communication device (a.k.a., an IUD) installed. I learned that "You might feel a little pinch" is gynecological code for "BWAA-HAAA-HAAA." I never used that fancy Lamaze breathing in any of my trips on the labor merry-go-round, but it came in handy in the office there... not because it actually helped with the pain one little bit, but because it kept me conscious and therefore not falling out of the stirrups onto the floor.

Emily had her first gymnastics class that afternoon. As far as I know, she had fun - I had to wander all over town looking for the post office and barely made it back in time to pick her up. But she wasn't bleeding or whimpering when I got there. I take that as a good sign.

At 8:00 that night, we picked Willem up after he taught his class, and drove to Albany to stay at his friends' house. The drive was just delightful. That is, if your version of delightful includes two wrong turns, the brand-spankin'-new minivan being left in Drive during a gas fill-up, pulling out in front of someone so as to test their reflexes and the minivan's ability to accelerate, and then arriving at the destination at 1:00 in the morning.

Jacob woke up in the car around midnight. So he was awake when we arrived, and stayed that way until 3:00. He, Willem and I shared a queen-sized bed, which was plenty big enough, it just really interfered with Jacob's sudden desire to climb Mount Mama. I was able to doze on and off, but not much - it was like sleeping with a small blind man with poor short-term memory. Every few minutes, I had tiny little fingers exploring every plane and crevice on my face, some spots more enthusiastically than others. Bliss, I tell you. Nothing like a toddler-administered nasal irrigation at 2:00 in the morning.

The next morning we finished the drive to Rochester. Willem went to pick up the tuxes, and discovered that having measurements taken and writing "Size 2T" apparently meant nothing when it came to actually handing over some clothes. Jacob's tux was big enough for him and Emily, and maybe a few small woodland creatures as well. We returned to the store, and were told, "It's the smallest one we have." Wonderful!
It wasn't MY wedding, so I was able to stay cool, calm and collected, and just said, "Okay, then we'll have to go somewhere else."
"Oh, wait, this one might be smaller." And lo and behold, it was. Next time I'll just start out with the tantrum and save us all some time.

Rehearsal was a smashing failure as far as Jacob was concerned. After 4 hours in the car and then two hours of attempted nap at Grandma's house, he finally slept on the way there, so he woke up all disoriented and sleep-drunk. Would not walk, run, crawl, or fly down the aisle. This caused both bride and groom to repeatedly assure me, "If he doesn't want to do it, it's okay with us." Good to know, I'd hate for the fate of the marriage to rest on the capriciousness of a two-year-old. And while I knew that (a) he would have a nap on Sunday come Valium or high water, and (b) if he had a decent nap, he would be an agreeable and cooperative critter, I couldn't say that, because I just got the all-knowing and condescending suuuuure-he-will nods from anyone who would listen.

We decided to leave the kids with my mother-in-law for the rehearsal dinner. Willem and I barely remembered how to function out in public without having to cut up someone else's food or pause for constant irrelevant interruptions. We really should try it again more often than annually.

The first mother-in-law tantrum was with Willem Saturday morning, re: "Have you called your dad and told him you're here?"
He said, "No. I don't have time to get together with him, I'm doing wedding stuff all weekend. And we told him the dates, if he wanted to see us he could call."
[several-minute pause]
"Did you call your father yet?"
"No. I'm not going to."
"But he'll want to see the grandkids."
"He knows we're here. He can call if he wants."
[several-minute pause]
"Willem, have you called your father?"
"MOM. STOP IT. I said no. I meant it. You chose to get a divorce, now things are awkward, stop cramming this down my throat. Let him worry about himself."
He left for a golf game shortly afterward, leaving me to hang out with Mrs. GlaresALot.

The second tantrum came a while later, when we (myself, mother-in-law, both of my sisters - who happened to be in town after summer camp, Mary as a camper and Sarah as a counselor - and Emily and Jacob) were all at a mall for pedicures and random shopping. After a period of blissful silence, my mother-in-law announced, "I've lost 20 pounds and no one has noticed." What is the correct response to that? If I congratulate her, she'll disregard it anyway because it wasn't spontaneous and independent noticing on my part.
So I went for brutal honesty instead. "Oh, I've lost 15 and nobody noticed either." I did NOT add, "Pfbllghtt."

The third tantrum came on Sunday morning. She had been very quiet and withdrawn, which I was kind of enjoying but which, as it turns out, was supposed to be a punishment. Apparently she was not feeling well, and finally launched into a detailed and extravagant description of her bathroom experiences thus far that day, ending with the statement that, "If we hadn't gone out to dinner and then had ice cream last night, I wouldn't be feeling like this." This is a woman who has three ice cubes and a freezer-burned TV dinner in her freezer and an assortment of ready-to-eat kid snacks like yogurt and cheese sticks in her fridge. We have never actually eaten a home-cooked meal in her home. (Anybody remember 2003? Where she asked us to drive out there for Thanksgiving dinner which she then ordered pre-made from a grocery store and left it sitting on the kitchen floor, amidst a pile of cats, for three hours before it was served? And then I got e. coli and was just a little tiny bit pregnant with what turned out to be Jacob and couldn't take meds for it? Wasn't that GREAT??) But, okay, let's blame it on eating out the night before. Sure, why not?

The fourth tantrum had to do with the fact that I was having back pain (how DARE I?) and I explained that, "No, actually, I have seen a doctor, and we have a treatment plan in place for the next few months, until my health insurance kicks in and we can consider some other, expensive options." She hates when I'm not an idiot, and was only able to console herself by assuring me, "Well, a lot of doctors really know nothing about back pain, so you might not be getting the best possible advice." Thanks. And bite me.

In further consolation, she has FOUR herniated discs to my measly little one. I'm such a wuss.

The fifth tantrum (and, truly, five in two days is a lot even for her) started when I asked if she would drop Jacob and I off at the wedding, because she had agreed to come pick the kids up midway through the reception. "No, I can't, I'm feeling too sick to go to the stable so I'm not going to make any extra trips out today." Hmm, let's review... too sick to be maintain appropriate filters when it comes to polite conversation, too sick to drive the 15 minutes to go feed and medicate your horse, too sick to drive me and your grandson to the wedding... but well enough to pick the kids up and get them to bed afterward?? It seems that my confusion about this was irrelevant and frivolous to her. I guess it gives Jacob the chance to learn more about what can happen in the bathroom, no?

Only two more to go, honest. The sixth incident wasn't a tantrum on her part, it was just a reminder of precisely how warmly and fondly she regards my marriage. When I was getting Jacob tuxedoed up, I told him, "You'll be so handsome! You'll look just like Daddy!" I asked my mother-in-law if she had any pictures of our wedding day, and she *immediately* replied, "No." Didn't have to look around, didn't have to think about it. In her house, there are photographs of every other family event, large and small, that have happened in the past 30 years. But not of my wedding. Okay, then! Loud and clear!

The final snit came late Sunday night, after the wedding and reception. She asked to see photos, and her first, immediate, knee-jerk comment was, "Did she gain weight?" First of all, no. Secondly, shut up. Thirdly, shut up.

But in all honesty, the weekend wasn't all bad. Not even mostly bad. Willem had some good times with his buddies (He has a simply delightful story that involves aa bowel movement and a tree on a golf course - but it's not my tale to tell. For which I am grateful.), and I got to do a bit of socializing, myself - we went out Saturday night, with children, with Jeff and Laurie, and Jessi, and various offspring. We went out afterward, sans children, with Jeff and Laurie, and we were somehow able to console ourselves even though Jessi mercilessly and brutally stood us up.

The wedding went beautifully. I spent time throughout the weekend practicing the tux-on, tux-off maneuver with Jacob, and by Sunday afternoon he got it on without a peep of protest. We also told him that the ringbearing pillow was Daddy's pillow, "Can you go give this to Daddy? He needs his pillow." So every time we saw Willem all weekend, Jaocb handed him this pillow and then Willem would sneak it back to me. By the ceremony, wearing a tux and walking down the aisle were old hat for my man-of-the-world. I'm surprised he didn't stagger under the weight of all that cute.

The bride was beautiful, and my mother-in-law's jealousy and snottiness bore no relation to reality: she did not look like she had gained an ounce. Wishful thinking does not a fat ass make.

The ceremony went off without a hitch, and both my kids behaved beautifully. Jacob went home with my mother-in-law at 8:00 (lots of people said, "But he's behaving so well! Why is he going now?" It's BECAUSE he's behaving so well that I want him to go now. It's like Gretzky, let him retire at the top of his game) and Emily decided to stay till the end because there were two other flower girls to play with.

I chatted with two other fraternity-wives, and enjoyed their company immensely. I even enjoyed chatting with other of Willem's fraternity brothers, though not quite to the point of wanting to turn back time and live through college again.

Willem and I danced. Twice. This is two more times than we have danced since our own wedding.

So, a good weekend. And a bad mother-in-law. What else is new?