Archive | March 2014

Over a Bowl of Fruit at Sammy J’s (part 1)

“This whole issue of expectations seems to cause a good deal of conflict between  MILs and DILs.”

I offered this as an opening to my conversation with Bonnie as we sat together on a warm summer day in a very busy diner.  We hadn’t known each other very long, but were both involved in a weekly Friday morning  group.  I was curious to hear her story as she had written about her MIL/DIL relationship  that “We have come a looong way in  32+ yrs.”  bowl of fruitShe was enthusiastic to share.  I followed her lead and ordered a bowl of fruit and iced tea.

“I’m all for full disclosure” she stated.  “Get it all out on the table.”  The waitress placed our food and drinks in front of us.

Even though Bonnie and I hadn’t spent much time together, I wasn’t surprised by this.  She is a “straight-shooter”, one who rarely minces words.

“I want to know what your expectations are and I want to respect them.  Tell me.  There’s no right or wrong.  I wish my MIL had done that with me.”

Isn’t that a great attitude?  She wants to respect her MIL.  But, what about this:  Is it true – that there are no “right” or “wrong” expectations?  Expectations are  … conjecture.  We suppose that something or someone will be a certain way.  Let’s check out the definition:  expectation – a strong belief that something will happen or be the case. 

“So” I ventured, “do you remember what your expectations were when you married?”

“I think the term ‘mother’ has enough connotations in itself for one to expect … umm… love.  Not mushy, gushy love, but love and respect.  And because Matthew chose badly, she was kind of ‘standoffish.'”

I was confused.  “She felt that your husband chose badly when he chose you?”

“Yeah” she replied.  “Below him.”

Around us customers came and went.  The blender whirred.  The dishes were cleared off the table next to us.  And I didn’t know what to say.  Does this kind of thing still happen?  Seriously? I took a sip of the cold tea aiced teand wondered “Why would she feel that way?” .

“Umm, I was rough around the edges.  Very independent.  I didn’t need anybody.  I don’t need you.  I’m a Christian and at that point I was three years in the Lord and God had done a lot of work in me before she met me.  She should know that!”

We both erupted in laughter.  Some of us just know that we have come a long way and still have a long way to go.

Bonnie continued.  “But I was …   She paused, thinking.  “They were upper middle class … and I wasn’t.  I was …. I can imagine his mom having sleepless nights thinking about Matthew marrying me.  She didn’t know me … all she knew was what she saw –  tomboy …. bold-speaking … aggressive … and it was hard for her.”

Hard for her?  Yes.  Because her expectations for her son were not being met.  Where did these expectations come from?  Did she even know she had them?  What were yours when you married or added a DIL to your family?

Stay tuned for Part 2!

It’s Her Birthday!

It’s her birthday!  We want to send a  gift that she will enjoy and that will show our love.

Our son and his wife live hundreds of miles away and we don’t see them as often as we would like (which would be weekly!)

So, we call our son weeks ahead.  No, he doesn’t pick up.  Does this happen to you when you call your adult sons?  We leave a voice mail message  asking what his honey might like.  This ought to make it easy.  He’ll know.  He’ll know just what would make her smile!

No response.   Hmmm.  Perhaps voice mail is nationally disabled.  Have you heard anything about this in the news?  No?   Perhaps his phone ran out of battery juice and he lost the charger.  Very possible.

Email.  Same thing – no response.  Has all of his technology broken down?   Perhaps he fell in a gigantic sinkhole while on the way home from work one day?  That’s gotta be it.

Okay.  Clothes?  Let’s try clothes.   What mother of two sons wouldn’t like to buy pretty clothes for a DIL?   Oooh!  Here’s a pretty  blouse.  Elegant!  Great color.  And it’s her hard-to-find size.     blouse

Shall I buy it?  I love it.  It would look lovely on her.  Yes, I’ll buy it.

Will she like it?   Shall we send it or ask first?  If we send it and she doesn’t like it, it will be worn once and then “deep six-ed” in her closet … possibly for years.  You know!  You’ve probably got some of those in your closet right now.

Let’s ask.  Cell phone out … take pic … hit “send”.  “It’s the right size … silky … blue & black print …”

Her response?  “Probably not.”

Hmmm …… Maybe she couldn’t really see how pretty it is because the photo was too small.  That must be it.  Such a shame.  Too late to return it.  Wait a minute!  Can we salvage this situation?  What do you know?   I wear the same hard-to-find size!  and it’ll go perfectly with …

Ooops!  Sorry!  Back to the issue at hand.  Okay, how about we stay away from clothes since I’ve missed that mark now about eight times.  I’ve yet to get a feel for her style, but it will come.  I’ll keep working on that.  I’m nothing if not persistent.

Brainstorming … My parents once treated us to dinner and the theatre. “Sweeney Todd” was playing in Boston that month.  We’d never heard of the show, but it turned out to be darkly entertaining.  A chilling story about love & loss.   Many years later, we still remember the fun we had that evening.  tickets

Great idea!  Google ” theatre in DC” … Oooh!  Great local venue!   Lots of options for concerts and shows.   Let’s send the link to our son and DIL and let them pick what they’d really enjoy!

Response:  “Nothing really piqued our interest.”

Ouch!  Don’t you just hate it when your best idea doesn’t turn out to be someone else’s favorite?   Gotta keep at this.  The special day is getting closer.  We’re thinking “We LOVE you and want to celebrate you in our lives!”  So, we figure we’ll at least send a card saying “You are a joy to our hearts!” and we really mean it.  We do.

Our son finally calls!  I make a mental note to mark this down in my diary:  “Son survives giant sinkhole, total communication blackout in the DC area and temporary memory loss.  What a great day!”

He offers suggestions.  Great!  Knock-around shoes.  Running tights.  Baking dish.   “Super!   Send links.  Soon, please.”

We wait expectantly for his email.   It should be here this evening.

Nothing.  Now, it’s too late to send a gift that will arrive in-time.  Hmmm.  Disown son?  No, we love him too much.  Take a deep breagiftth.  Be patient.  Note to self:  Start this process earlier in the month … or year.

Finally, links show up in our Inbox.   Good.  But, did you forget to send color preferences and shoe size?  We email him again.

No reply.  Nothing for days.  Definitely thinking about cutting this son out of the will.  Or should we simply cut him out of the whole gift-giving process?  Is that what he’s trying to communicate?  What do you think?

We resort to texting our DIL and ask her directly.  (Texting is her preferred method of communication these days.  With us, at least.  Can you identify?)  There’s no longer a possibility of surprising her now.   Oh, well!  Her gift will arrive late, but will definitely be something she likes and will use and wear.

Okay.   Black running tights, not grey with Dragonfruit accents.   (See?  I would have chosen the Dragonfruit accents!  I love bright colors.)  Click, pay, send.  Mission accomplished.  Phew!

Email yesterday from DIL:  “Thank-you!”

🙂  We love you, Juliana.  Happy birthday!  And may this year be the best one yet!