I was pregnant when I got married. It wouldn’t last a year. I was a ditzy blonde. I was his son’s latest novelty. I would end up divorced because my husband would tire of me and my “bullshit”. My husband’s father made no secret, spreading these rumors about me, and on my wedding day no less.
My wedding photos made me sad the first time I saw them. They look like a hangover I wish I could undo and I cry whenever I look at them. In the photos, I am undone with happiness. My mom, she looks radiant and her smile comes off the page and warms you. My dad, he looks even more perfect than normal. Our shared eyes shine ever so slightly.
My in-laws look like they are witnessing their own execution. In fact, no one associated with my husband is smiling. Not even his grandparents. No one. Not a crack or a smirk. They look like wax corpses.
In every photo, the only people smiling are the guests and family that were mine. It feels like a constant need to vomit knowing that your husband’s family are the kind of people you should avoid. I wish I knew a lot of things then, but I didn’t.
My father in law is mean. Mean to my husband. Mean to his wife. He openly insults her, his children, and his family. He is the worst kind of narcissist. He knows it, and doesn’t care.
My mother in law is the kind of woman I ought to pity but don’t. She doesn’t like me any more than I like her. We are civil. She tries too hard and I care too little. She wouldn’t defend herself, much less me. She’s pathetic, and over time, she’s become intimidated by my inability to be shit on.
They both owe me apologizes that will never come.
Five years later, I had the baby I was pregnant with in 2012. In late fall that year, my in-laws had stopped to visit. As my husband’s parents were getting ready to leave, his mother was perched, hovering over my daughter. My baby “Bug” was making the baby sounds that become words in time. She was talking up a blue streak and enjoying the infant life. My daughter let out a happy squeal and wiggled on her back, full of delight.
“Way to go grandma. Teaching her how to bitch already.”
The vile comment flew out of my father-in-law’s mouth and hit me like a slap. He called my daughter’s talking “bitching” and because she was talking with his wife, it was, of course, “women’s conversation” as if women do not have value.
I felt rage. My husband’s father had taken his contempt for me, for all women, for anyone but himself too far. He talks out of turn, about himself, always self aggrandizing. Any ideas he has are always right. He is never wrong. Does not apologize. Other people are stupid. I believe the man is a classic narcissist.
“Watch it there grumpy grandpa,” my mother-in-law quipped. That was the most I’d heard her ever attempt at a comeback to her husband and his insults. But even she smirked, giving in to him.
“What? I’m a great grandpa.” He had the nerve to laugh. Out loud.
I think adults come with a bullshit tolerance and he broke mine. I stood, from where I’d been crouched next to my giggling daughter.
“You’re full of shit.” I said, matter-of-factly and without an ounce of hesitation. The adults looked at me in disbelief. I’d spent five years ignoring my father-in-law and his insults to me and my home. But that was before I was a Mom. I was no longer the idealistic woman in a pretty dress and curls. My marriage had effectively kept me quiet, not wanting to cause problems, rock the boat, or ruffle feathers.
I was done.
No one said a word. Silence was only interrupted by my girl’s laughter.
The in-laws left. No one spoke. I glared at my husband’s father, willing him to egg me on. I was looking for a fight, and in defense of Bug, I would school him in just how mean a “dumb blonde” I could be. That man had no idea just how wrong he was about his son’s wife. When they were gone, I tore into my husband.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” I asked evenly, my voice not raising an octave. He looked clueless. He says he’s learned to ignore his father. I don’t know how.
“That is not acceptable!” I said. “If he treats your mother like crap, I can’t stop it in their home. But he will not treat my daughter, or me, like that. If you won’t say anything, I will. That asshole is not welcome in my home at all. Anymore.”
Time passed in its usual fashion and summer came, as did Bug’s first birthday. I’d planned an outdoor party and planned on having friends and family over to celebrate. I was thrilled! My grandmother passed just two weeks before and my family and I needed the joy of our baby girl’s birthday.
While preparing the yard, my husband was in what I’d come to understand was his normal foul mood. He complained about the party, the fact I was having it, the tents, the food, everything. Our guests were scheduled to arrive at noon. Around 10:30 AM, I heard him on the phone. He turned to me and said that his father wasn’t coming.
“Fine with me. He’s not welcome here.”
My husband was soon on the phone again, begging his father to come. I wasn’t sure which was more pathetic, one grown man acting like a petulant child, or another asking please sir, I’d like some more. Was he actually begging his dad to come to his own granddaughter’s birthday party? Was this really happening?
My husband threw me under the bus. It was because of me that his father wasn’t welcome here. Apparently, I was the only one not okay with “bitching”. But, “oh, for her birthday….please come dad”?
My father-in-law showed up. He sat in a chair on my front lawn and didn’t speak to me, my family, our guests, or my baby. Not. One. Word. He didn’t enter my house or eat any of the $400 worth of food. I barely looked in his direction. Mentally, I flipped him off multiple times.
I see memes that express sadness regarding family members who don’t speak. Sometimes, I suppose that’s true, but in defense of Bug, I keep her from him.
I’ve blocked my husband’s family from my life. No one stands up to my father-in-law, so no one defends themselves against his intolerable bastard ways. If my girl wants to meet him later in life, she may, but only when she can (and will) defend herself.
My mother-in-law shows up about once every four-to-six weeks, and I feel like I need an elephant tranquilizer before she arrives. She told my husband that she’s afraid to “say the wrong thing” around me because she knows I’ll keep my daughter from her.
My husband often says I’m “mean” to him, because taking his shit has stopped too.
It’s funny how in his their eyes, my husband and his folks, I shifted from a ditzy blonde know-nothing to a fierce and independent warrior. I always was but my girl has reminded those who had forgotten, or as usual, underestimate me.
I have managed to find the woman that I was before I began pacifying my spouse and his family. By protecting Bug, I have gained the courage to say what always needed to be said. Not wanting to cause conflict had left me stifling my own important voice.
To raise a strong girl, I need to be a strong girl.
“Every girl who could have the power, will have the power, can stand up, will stand up.” ~Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Written by Melissa St. Pierre – Lapeer, Michigan
Feature Photo by Scott Webb
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One Comment Add yours
A good example of a toxic family dynamic. Maternal instincts kick in to protect daughter and self, at all cost. The price not to is so much higher.
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