My blood family is small to begin with, and ever since my grandma died, my extended family hasn’t been close. My grandma was literally the glue that held our family together. So I was hoping that when I found my husband, I would have found my second family.
But in reality, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. And, in an even more brutal reality, it makes me incredibly sad that I never found a second home within his family.
The first time I met my husband’s mom, she was in a more than huffy and puffy mood. Let’s just say, she didn’t leave me with the greatest first impression.
We wound up pregnant rather quickly after an early miscarriage, and we were congratulated with “Don’t you think it’s a little bit early?”
When my belly turned into a baby, my boundaries and wishes seemed never to be respected, but rather laughed at and passively mocked. And things only got worse from there.
My first baby wound up in the NICU as a preemie, and, per doctor’s orders, I was obsessed with germs and germ-prevention once we got home. It was RSV and flu-season, so I never took my son anywhere other than where he absolutely needed to be.
Unless you’ve seen your baby with purple hands, purple lips, and a sinking chest, it might be hard to understand how easy it is to become completely freaked out about the spread of germs. But I was obsessed to the point that my hands were cracking and bleeding from over-washing. My son was my life, and I wasn’t willing to risk anything happening to him, especially if it was preventable.
So, if you were visiting our home during my child’s newborn days, you weren’t allowed to hold my baby unless you were stripped of your cigarette-smelling clothes and had damn-near bathed in a bottle of hand sanitizer. I just wanted what was best for my very first newborn. But, apparently, my husband’s family harbored a resentful issue with that… whether my choices were made for the well-being of my child or not.
As I’ve had more kids, I’ve become more lax in my parenting. But I can’t say how I would be if I had another preemie like I did with my first. So when my husband’s family witnesses my changed parenting style from then to now, they lift their nose to the sky and ridicule me for the way I was back then. Even though, in some ways, I am still that way now.
I always stand up for myself, because I know my choices were sound. But when it comes to family get-togethers, I’m instantly outnumbered by blood relatives so I’m in the minority as an in-law and with respect to my views.
Though there are a few folks in my husband’s family I truly love, for the most part, his family has never felt like my family.
And I don’t mean this as a personal insult against them, but none of them are helicopter parents as I would call myself. They believe in a very “whatever” style of parenting. I say that because, one, I’ve experienced and seen it. Two, because my husband has told me that about his own childhood experiences. And three, because they’ve never lived out the helicopter-watch lifestyle when helping me look after my own kids.
My son fell into a pool at a family get together where more than 10 relatives were present. I had been too ill to attend, and I didn’t find out for three weeks later. THREE. WEEKS. LATER. Can you say, livid? Because I was BOILING hot when I found out.
My son, the used-to-be fish in the water, will not set a toe inside of a swimming pool ever since the incident. My husband’s family can say I’m being dramatic about it all they want, but he is traumatized from that day. And rightfully so.
Since the incident, we’ve had seven months of water fear. Seven months of consoling and reassuring, “Mommy will not get water in your face,” before bath time.
I understand that accidents happen, but to not even tell me? How is that okay? I’m thankful for the relative who saw this incident through the window and jumped in the water to save him. But I’m absolutely infuriated that I wasn’t told about the incident until someone brought it up in casual conversation weeks later.
I still feel sick to my stomach thinking about my son falling in a pool without me there with him that day. And even more sick knowing that I couldn’t do anything to console his fears because I had no idea.
When it comes to my children, I have and forever will have my guard up with my husband’s family because they chose to cater to their fear of my rage rather than just be honest with me.
I understand that it only takes a second for something terrible to happen. But when my friends leave their children with me for the day, I leave an incredibly detailed analysis of all the little bumps and boo-boo’s they might’ve encountered while playing. So to drop off my child, not knowing full and well that he was okay, and act like the day went fine-and-dandy, is something I don’t even have words for. The closest word I can think of is selfish.
Since then, I’ve tried to keep things civil. I try to maintain healthy relationships with my husband’s family despite what has happened in the past. But when comments fly about the way I’m dressed, the state of my house, or the fatigue on my face, it’s hard for the full-out, non-resting bitch face not to show.
Where I was raised, you don’t bad mouth your family. So there is nothing I wouldn’t say in my writing that I would not say directly to their face. But to them, they don’t tend to believe in that approach. In my husband’s family, I’ve heard more trash about other family members than any other type of civil discussion.
So I can only imagine what’s being said about the “obsessed” and “helicopter mom” that is truly me. Sorry, not sorry.
Our town is small, and it doesn’t take long for bad-mouthing to get around. I’ve heard multiple versions of a story about me by multiple different people, and it sucks.
It sucks that I don’t have a second mom or a second family where I feel at home.
Maybe it’s the difference in upbringing, or maybe my husband’s family really just doesn’t like me. Either way, they are stuck with me. It’s just too bad they’re clearly not on my side.