So this weekend is the much-anticipated trip to visit my in-laws. Anticipated in the sense that I have had raging stomach acid and nausea all week just thinking about having to deal with them.
I’ve alluded to this before, but my relationship with Joey’s parents is less than stellar. I could absolutely write a novel about all the bullshit that we've been through with them. When I start thinking back about my relationship with them, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when things started going horribly wrong but basically it was at the very beginning when I first met them. The morning after we arrived, we were sitting at the breakfast table and my father-in-law slid his coffee mug across the table toward my mother-in-law and said, “Woman, you better whip that titty out and put some milk in my coffee, dammit!” I just about fell out of my chair in shock. So you can see, it was a rather rude introduction to Ma and Pa.
I played the dutiful girlfriend and then daughter-in-law for years. I put up with their nosiness, their controlling nature, and the fact that they just couldn’t seem to cut the cord and let my husband (and my brother-in-law, for that matter) grow up and be an adult. The most irksome part is that they were what I would consider below average in the parenting department. You see, Pa is an alcoholic and has been for years – and Ma is a classic enabler. Pa was verbally and physically abusive to Joey when he was growing up, and Ma stood by and let it happen. And it wasn’t like she didn’t have resources to turn to for help – her own parents lived right next door and could’ve taken her in, she has a large family who still to this day don’t understand why she has stayed married to Pa for so long. I think it was an early failed marriage and the embarrassment associated with it that has kept her married through the worst of everything.
I know it’s Joey’s deal – they are his parents, he is the one that lived it all. But part of me absolutely cannot forgive Ma and Pa for what they put him through back then and even now. One moment in particular sticks out in my mind – back about 5 years ago when I was pregnant with Monkey Man, Joey decided to finally buy himself a John Deere lawn tractor. He grew up always wanting a big John Deere tractor and since we live in the city it wasn’t really practical to park a combine in our garage, so he decided to get a lawn tractor. At the time, we had a one-year old Craftsman lawn tractor with all of the bells and whistles on it – barely used – so he decided to give it to his dad. Pa, you see, had never owned a decent lawnmower in his life. Most of them were held together with bailing wire and duct tape, so Joey was convinced that his dad would be ecstatic to get this almost-new tractor. So we borrowed a trailer, loaded my very pregnant ass up in the car and drove two hours to take Pa the tractor. We pulled up in front of the in-laws’ house, unloaded the tractor, and Pa came waddling off of the porch to give it a test ride. And do you know what he said?
“You little motherf*cker, the least you could’ve done is make sure it had a full tank of gas before you brought this piece of shit down here.”
No thank you. Nothing. And the look of pain that flashed across Joey’s face is a look I will never forget. He has always tried so hard to make his father proud, to win his approval, and can’t get anything more than cruelty and criticism.
Things went pretty far south between the in-laws and myself during my pregnancy. Without going into the major drama of the whole thing, the Cliff Notes version is that my brother-in-law’s crazy wife (at the time, they are now divorced) was also pregnant so Ma and Pa were completely nutso about the entire thing to the point that Ma orchestrated a joint baby shower for Kelly and myself in which Kelly got to pick the date, theme, and everything and then the crazy bitch ended up not showing up at all and Ma spent the entire shower obsessing over whether Kelly would be upset that she didn't get to open her presents. I mean, what the hell? There was constant overstepping of boundaries by the in-laws from comments about my body to the choice of names for the baby. The kicker to the whole thing was Pa trapping me on his front porch and lecturing me about how he’d “heard from some wimmens” that sex after having a baby was terrible and he sure hoped that Joey and I wouldn’t have those problems. I was so shocked and angry that I marched right into the house and demanded that we leave that instant.
Our relationship has never healed. Yeah, I’m a grudge-holder, but if someone apologizes I will always forgive – and even if they don’t, I can usually put my big-girl panties on and get over it. Not these people. I will never, EVER forgive them. Joey had several lengthy talks with them about how they had hurt my feelings and that they were going to have to apologize for what had happened, and both of them ever denied that they did anything wrong. Yeah, even to the point that they blamed me for being “too sensitive” and “a bad sport”.
The worst part of all this is how it affects Joey’s relationship with his parents and how much he aches for them to have a role in Monkey Man’s life. Personally, I cannot stand the thought of these people who refuse to show me one iota of respect having any relationship with Monkey Man at all. And it hurts me to know that Joey has given up so much of his relationship with them – his own parents – to keep me happy and protect me from being hurt by them again. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that as long as they can be kind to Monkey Man and refrain from making any comments about me or our family, that I will stand aside and let Monkey Man have as much of a relationship with them as he wants to until he’s old enough to choose for himself.
I just hope for their sakes that they never hurt Monkey Man like they’ve hurt Joey. Because that would be truly unforgivable and I would absolutely inflict the worst bodily harm ever known to man on them.
So on Saturday afternoon, please say a little prayer for us. It’s always like playing Russian Roulette…you never know exactly what you’re dealing with until you walk in the door. Maybe if things get bad enough I can steal some of Pa’s hooch and numb the pain a little bit.