Tag Archive | family

Thanksgiving Tidbits

Happy Thanksgiving Tidbits

Thanksgiving with my parents went really well, better than K or I could’ve imagined.  It was so fun that I’ll be sad now every time we don’t host.  (Thanks to Alton Brown at the Food Network!)  Surprisingly, things are finally warming up after six years of my parents’ awkward, passive-aggressive and sometimes mean behavior towards K.  (They blame him for leading me astray from the Church.  In reality, he rescued me from a cult-like life.)

After they left, I asked K, “Do you think you’ve forgiven my parents for treating you like crap over the years?”  Happily for me, he said yes, although he doesn’t “endorse everything they’ve done.”  I’ll take it!  I  want my future children to know my parents, who are loving people but very brainwashed by extreme religion.  My childhood with them was very happy… it was my move to independence that killed them.  K and I will just have to figure out what to tell our kids about religion… no biggie.  (Ha.)

The best thing about the day was that my parents didn’t ask how “adoption” was going.  They have their heads in the sand and think that we’re done with TTC ourselves (because they don’t imagine we’ll consider TFMR).  They want us to try some adoption agency recommended by Focus on the Family (NO THANK YOU).  Maybe my in-laws’ way of never talking about personal stuff isn’t really so bad.

Thanksgiving Prep

…wasn’t quite as carefree as I’d hoped.  Our plan for Wed was to cook everything but the turkey and do all the house-cleaning/decluttering/making-things-presentable-for-guests.  I tasked K with peeling potatoes while I cleared the dining room table.  The table is where I leave a lot of stuff “to do,” so I cleared it by (gasp!) actually doing those things.  Meanwhile I washed, dried, folded and put away about 6 loads of laundry and put away all the painting supplies from our bathroom reno a couple weeks ago.  I’ll admit, it took a while, so K kept on cooking.

I wanted to switch places for a while, but we couldn’t because K is incredibly bad at decluttering.  So I tried to explain that I wanted his appreciation for making it possible for him to do the fun stuff.  Instead, he thought I was accusing him of not letting me cook.  He kept saying how every other woman in the world would appreciate that they don’t have to lift a finger to cook, and if I wanted credit for cooking the meal, we could *say* it was a team effort.  Grr.   I wanted him to THANK me for doing the sh*t he didn’t want to do, not give me his imagined charity.  (Since then, we’ve finally resolved this issue; he didn’t realize he had to VERBALIZE his appreciation.  Guh?)

Chocolate Pudding Update

Even AFTER the chocolate pudding incident, K made my chocolate cream pies WITHOUT TELLING ME!  (I was in the other room folding copious amounts of laundry.)  He was just being a dumb boy but he definitely got an earful about that.

And now, the kicker:  The two gluten-intolerant family members DID NOT THANK US for making them their favorite pie!  In fact, they each took home almost an entire pie, in a beautiful ceramic pie plate, in a special pie carrier, didn’t say thank you, probably won’t return the plates or carriers, and did I mention they didn’t thank us?  Next time I’m making the f*cking chocolate pudding and bringing it in a disposable bowl.

Thanksgiving Wisdoms

My dad had a couple interesting things to say at TG dinner.  First, he said that when someone (like my SIL) takes over all the responsibility for hosting, or always insists on paying the restaurant bill, they THINK they are giving everything, but they are actually taking something away from other people who want to contribute.

Then he told us about the first Thanksgiving he and Mom spent together.  Dad’s dad, to whom we secretly referred as “Grumpa” because of his short temper, was asked to say a few words.  He paraphrased/modified an old proverb about being thankful for your problems:

Say each person writes their troubles down on a slip of paper and throws it into a bowl.  The bowl is passed around and everyone pulls out whichever trouble they’d prefer to have.  Invariably, they  take back whichever trouble they threw in.

Anti-climactic Endings

That evening we went to K’s family’s house for turkey dinner #2.  I understand they’d just started eating when we showed up, but their reaction to our arrival was lukewarm and disappointing. (Thanks, by the way, for not telling us you’re starting without us….)

I’ve decided that there is just too much assumption that happens in K’s famiily.  K assumed that dinner would be at my MIL’s, and everyone assumed that we knew the location was changed to my SIL’s house.  There was still no actual start time, either, just “later.” Despite everyone being pleasant, there is something funny about the family dynamics that I’m not quite understanding yet.

And the most disappointing part of the day, as I briefly mentioned before, was that AF visited on TG.  Luckily I had plenty of distractions that day to keep me from wallowing in self-pity.  By now, I’m back in the 2ww, hoping that this will be the month.   ❤

Chocolate Pudding

This is a really small, silly thing that happened last week, but for some reason I just cannot let it go. I thought maybe if I post about it, I can finally put it to rest and realize how ridiculous I’m being.

* * *
My parents are excellent planners. A month ago we had our TG 100% planned, down to who’s bringing what, what time they’ll arrive, and what we’ll do while we wait for the turkey to finish baking.

Conversely, my in-laws are notoriously lazy planners. If it were up to them, we would send out our first semi-planning email on Wed around noon. But somehow, amazingly, all 10 people manage to be present at every holiday. They’ve done it this way forever.

Until I came along. I’m the first addition to Kyle’s family in 15 years, and evidently I’m also the only one with a familial holiday conflict.

In the interest of being proactive, I sent an itty bitty feeler group email to Kyle’s family asking if we could have TG dinner late this year since we wanted to spend time with my parents earlier in the day. (Mind you, the only time we had an early TG dinner was last year, when two days before TG, Kyle’s SIL’s mother [yeah, I get confused too] invited us all to her place and set the time for 1:00, which is what my parents and I had already planned. I pulled rank and told Kyle we were going to my parents’ place. Kyle was not happy at all.) After a week, I did get “approval” for a late TG dinner. Planning Phase One complete.

Planning Phase Two: deciding what to bring. Kyle’s sister has always acted the martyr despite almost everyone else’s enthusiasm to contribute. She’s a workaholic, a cookaholic and a hostaholic, which my therapist says is actually a sign of being a control freak. It’s not the mean kind of control freak, it’s the “Oh, I already know how to do it, so it will be easier for me, and you shouldn’t try because everyone will like my way better and we’ve always done it that way” kind of control freak. So, once the “late TG” timing was set, my SIL’s final response was, “OK, Mom and I will start planning.” Which in SIL control freak language means, “OK, Mom and I will divide up the cooking and hosting responsibilities between us, and everyone else’s contributions will be purely nonessential.”

Call me crazy, but I was offended by her comment. Why weren’t Kyle and I included in the planning? Kyle and I both love to cook and we consider it an act of love to contribute to the food stash. I decided to ignore the “OK, Mom and I will start planning” comment and immediately asked them to please let us know what we can bring. After a week of not hearing from them, I decided to make a suggestion: I knew how much my gluten intolerant nephew and BIL love chocolate cream pie (so much so that I saw my BIL lick the pudding and whip cream right off the graham cracker crust last Easter), so I could make a big bowl of chocolate pudding with whip cream and they could eat it to their heart’s content without the threat of gluten. Seemed like a nice, thoughtful idea to me.

Kyle immediately jumped into the email thread by saying that he was sure we could make a gluten-free crust to make it a proper chocolate cream pie. I wasn’t thrilled about him editing my offer without my permission, but I let that go. Then my SIL, the martyr and control freak, said she had once made a gluten-free pie crust with cinnamon chex and could make it again. I fought off my first reaction, which was, “WILL YOU PLEASE JUST LET ME DO IT ALREADY?!” What the hell is wrong with pudding, anyway?

I decided not to let her be the martyr and usurp my idea, so I spent about 30 minutes formulating my response. I came up with “Interesting, I’m not much of a crust person myself, probably because of my anti-flavor-mingling tendencies. But it seems like a cinnamon chex crust will be much appreciated, so I will happily make that, along with a little bowl sans crust just pour moi.” There. I patted myself on the back for shutting the door on any argument while remaining sweet and civil.

At that point, Kyle stepped in again, saying, “Now, now, ladies, there is plenty of pie-making to go around!”

Well, I flew off the handle at him (privately, not in the group thread). In one sentence he had made it sound like I was perpetuating an argument and he was stepping in to lighten up this tense situation with his charming humor. It felt like he was trying to “manage” my relationship with his family. He said he was only “needling” me to be funny and he never would have done it if 1) I’d actually sounded b*tchy or 2) if he’d realized how much time and effort I’d put into my response.

I guess this silly little email thread has bothered me so much because I have a long history of being misunderstood by Kyle’s family. I’ve been working very hard to improve my standing. It started when Kyle proposed too early and I asked him to wait a while. Proposing at that time was a bone-headed move on his part because it was obvious I wasn’t ready. But of course, his family is understandably biased, so they only heard his side of the story and thought I was being a b*itch. I think Kyle and his family still believe that the proposal debacle was entirely MY fault. Then later there were 3 years of of fertility troubles, which meant that I was sometimes sad at family gatherings because I was either having a f*cking miscarriage, or the previous day’s IVF didn’t go well, etc, etc. Rather than ask me what’s wrong, they would just whisper amongst themselves about what a morose b*tch I was being that day, and oh poor Kyle for having to put up with that, and oh she seems depressed, has she gotten any medication for that? In more recent times, they have begun asking Kyle what’s wrong with me. But as you can see in the case of the TG feeler email, he doesn’t always make things better. Then there’s the fact that I occasionally need time to myself because I’m an introvert. Conversing meaningfully in a group of 10 isn’t one of my strengths, no matter how hard I try.

On several occasions, I’ve tried talking directly with individual in-laws about my issues so that they wouldn’t have to whisper, surmise, assume, or ask Kyle to translate badly. But every time, I have felt very distinctly that they don’t want to hear about it. They only want to hear about good things. My SIL knew how to react to exactly one scenario: she could be excited for us after embryo transfers. Fragile X, miscarriage, infertility, hormone stims, chemical pregnancy… these are all ideas that are completely foreign and uncomfortable for all my in-laws. They’ll either change the subject or just stare at me, not knowing what to say. The support from them has been lackluster. If you ignore it, it will go away, and all you will feel is happy. If you don’t feel happy, we can’t help you.

Well, that’s interesting! I thought this was about chocolate pudding.

The Struggle to Find Support, Part 4: Family

When I wrote parts 1-3 of this series, I actually forgot about family. Why? Because my parents have been the most judgmental influences in my life. It’s taken years of excellent therapy and a very helpful husband to realize the extent to which judgement is toxic, debilitating, stubborn, and long-lasting even after the original source has been removed.

After our meetings with Dr. Avery and the genetic counselor, I stupidly told my parents about my Fragile X carrier status and our five reproductive options: TTC with TFMR, IVF with PGD, Egg Donation, Embryo Donation, and Adoption. Actually it was necessary and harmless to tell them about Fragile X, but I really wish I hadn’t shared our options just yet. They were quick to tell me what they thought I should do.

In my conservative Christian parents’ eyes, TFMR would send me straight to hell. IVF, conceiving “unnaturally” outside the womb, “wasn’t what God intended.” Egg Donation and Embryo Donation were like IVF. Therefore, Adoption was the only Christian way to go. They would love adopted grandchildren like their own, they said.

OK, well, most people can tell their parents to shove off. I’m not most people. What if they’re right, I thought. What if I’ll really go to hell? Will my parents be disappointed in me if I choose a different option? (The answer to that last question was, in fact, yes.) A lifetime of their judgements, as well as my childhood church’s judgements, echoed in my head. Plus, as I’ll describe in my next post, I wound up needing my parents’ help.

Ironically, sometimes I think that the delay in our parenthood could have been divinely inspired. The last 3 years have allowed me the time and opportunity to identify my own judgmental nature and negative thinking so I can try not to burden my children with the same anxiety, self-doubt and perfectionism.

So what about Kyle’s family in all this? They have basically been the perfect supporters. On our way home from seeing Dr. Avery we stopped to visit Kyle’s mom. She said that she would support us in whatever decision we made, but that it would have to be OUR decision. The rest of his family has been similarly hands-off. They don’t bug us about our fertility status, but if we bring it up they are supportive and make absolutely no attempt to insert their own beliefs into the conversation. They might be, sometimes, a little too hands-off, but that is vastly preferable to my parents’ insidiously controlling ways.

I guess the moral of the story here is: Take the support where you can get it. Try to ignore the judgements. Do what you think is right.