Normally, I love painting, sewing or making pinatas, because they give me time alone to think and reflect on things. It's a good thing, unless I start going over and over the same thing in my mind and second guessing myself and wondering, if I'm overreacting to a situation or whatnot. I hate obsessing about things, and I usually don't do it, but I find myself doing it more often, when I'm alone with my thoughts.
Today has been no exception.
I've been obsessing over The Inlaws.
It all started when I noticed that Bugster became friends with her cousins and aunts and uncles on her dad's side on Facebook. I just wasn't expecting it. It took me off guard, and before I knew it, my stomach was in knots. My stomach was doing flips like it was competing for the gold medal in the Olympics.
The thing is, I want Bugster to keep in touch with her cousins on both sides of her family. I think it's wonderful that she is in contact with them, and I hope she can get to know them better than she does right now. But something about seeing my husband's brother and his wife totally threw me off.
I don't like them.
I used to like them, but then I got to know them.
I didn't like what I saw when I saw the way they treated our girls, and now I can't even stand the sight of them. I get angry when they happen to cross my mind, and I hate it. I am afraid I'm becoming bitter toward them, and I don't want that to happen. I don't like feeling like this at all, but they hurt my little girls' feelings, and I have no use for them anymore.
Several years ago, we attended Hubster's family reunion. It was small. It consisted of his parents, our family and the families of his two brothers. So it was decided we would all go to the mall to go shopping together at a gigantic mall in Scottsdale. We'd have much rather spent the time visiting than shopping, but we went along, since that was what was on the schedule.
The plan was to go shopping and all meet back in the food court of the mall at a certain time. While all this was being discussed, Scooter had walked up to her Aunt Kay and started holding her hand. It was Scooter's way of saying that she liked Kay, and that she liked hanging out with her. While Kay smiled and acknowledged Scooter's presence when she walked up and took her hand, she simply let go of Scooter's hand and walked off without a word to our little girl. Scooter was absolutely crushed. She clearly understood that Kay didn't feel the same way about Scooter as she did about her.
And as much as this incident made us want to
But wait! There's more!
During the same family reunion, Bugster was constantly quizzed by Kay, a former school teacher and now principal, about what she'd learned, read, and whether or not she ever got out of the house to socialize with other kids. Poor Bugster couldn't relax and have a good time while she was there, because she felt there was always a pop quiz right around the corner. And while I can understand a question here or there about Bugster's homeschool experience asked as a result of genuine interest, the real reason Kay was probing had to do with her feeling of superiority. In her mind, the only way a child can learn is from a teacher, and I was not a teacher.
A few years later, we had yet another family reunion. We'd met in a small ski town to spend the day having dinner, shopping and whatever else deemed fun. It was decided that after we ate we'd hang out and go shopping. However, The Hubster was invited to ride around the mountains a bit with his dad, brothers and nephews. Hopper asked, if she could go with them. She can never seem to get enough time with her daddy, and she wanted more time with him as well as getting some time alone with the guys in the family. We stood there stunned, as we saw her grandfather shaking his head vigorously and making sure we knew that she was not welcome.
Talk about a blow. This time, Hopper was crushed, and Hubster was absolutely devastated. He couldn't believe his dad had done that. We would have totally understood, if they'd have taken us aside earlier and explained that they were hoping for some man time, But the public manner in which it was done, right out there on the sidewalk in front of the cafe where little Hopper could witness it was almost too much to bear. She was absolutely crestfallen.
Being the stand up guy and adoring father that he is, Hubster chose to spend the time with his girls instead of going riding with the guys.
But wait! There's more!
Not only did the guys make it perfectly clear that our girls were not welcome to spend time with them, but his mom made it clear she didn't want the girls shopping with her, either. As we were getting ready to follow her into the store, she turned and told me that she thought the stores were too small for Hopper and Scooter to shop in, because they might break something, so they'd catch us later. It didn't matter that Hopper and Scooter are good shoppers and don't maul the stuff on shelves. She just didn't want them around. Fighting back tears, I just tried to explain to the girls why they couldn't shop with their aunts, cousins and grandmother and tried to heal their wounded hearts.
But wait! (Are you sensing a theme yet?) There's more!
Everyone had agreed to meet in one spot about 5:00. It was just up the street from where we'd been shopping, so we knew it would take no time to get there. So when Hubster, Hopper, Scooter and I all came out of one of the little shops around 4:30 and saw his parents in one car and his brother's family right behind them headed back towards home some 50 miles away, we were taken a bit off guard. His parents slowed down a little, told us they were heading home, and they'd see us for supper.
Poor Hubster. Talk about being slammed with reality, (and a sucky one at that), over and over and over again for the day. It was very obvious that we were not wanted. We were not good enough to be in their presence. He was totally devastated.
I mean, seriously. Who does that?
He told his parents not to expect us, but he wanted to tell them something else entirely, and it wasn't pretty. So our little family came together that night. Bugster had already finished shopping with her cousins and, thankfully, was oblivious to all that had transpired, met up with us, and we spent the evening together as a family - enjoying each other's company, a skate board competition held downtown, ice cream at the local ice cream shop, and just hanging out. We made it through together as a family.
His parents came through town a few years ago. They wanted to take us to lunch. I asked, if they could let us know when they'd get to town, so we knew whether or not to send the girls to school, or if we should pick them up instead. I was stunned when they told us they didn't want us to bring the girls. They told us to leave them in school. They only wanted to spend time with us, because as adults, we "don't get out for adult conversation enough."
They hadn't seen their granddaughters in 2 years.
And while I allowed myself to be bullied, (by them...never by Hubster), into going without the girls, I will never, ever again meet them anywhere without the girls. In fact, I could kick myself for meeting them in the first place.
They can suck my big toe.
All of this has been running through my mind today. And I just get angry when I think about it. This is why my stomach started training for the Olympics when I saw their pictures this morning. I'm sure a lot of it has to do with Bugster and Bubster's upcoming nuptials. Although I know my mother and father-in-law will be here for the celebration, I'm really hoping that his older brother and Kay don't make it. We can tolerate his parents one on one, but when the older brother's family is around they're even worse.
And while all of this is running through my mind, I wonder, if I'm blowing things out of proportion. Should I be trying harder to stay in touch with them? Should I be encouraging Hubster to try and strengthen his family bonds? Am I overreacting, or am I justified in my feelings? Am I just becoming the bitter sister/daughter-in-law? I know I don't feel very Christian toward them at all. In fact, I've had many decidedly un-Christian thoughts toward them.
I told Bugster of my concerns this morning. She said, "Yeah, but Mom, maybe they don't know how to handle the pink elephants in the room" that are her little sisters. "Maybe they just don't know how to react, and so they react poorly".
And all I could think of is that pink elephants have feelings, too. And when our little pink elephants' hearts were crushed, when their countenance was fallen, our family of 5 banded together, huddled around them, and protected them.
Our herd may be small, but it is mighty.