So we partied yesterday, Easter style. This party was with my in-laws, largely a nice group of people, but very different from me. One sister-in-law in particular tries my patience. Avoidance works 90% of the time. The rest of the time I just nod and smile, or make stuff up. I wasted years trying to understand her point of view and react in a way that maintained my sanity and dignity. I have limited sanity and dignity to share with lunatics.
Last weekend, I saw the SIL at a baby shower, where she grilled me about home improvements that I have not completed. I told her that I was waiting until the weather warmed up before painting my bedroom, so I could open the windows to let the fumes escape. “Isn’t it funny,” she said, “that opening the windows makes Oscar sick, but leaving them closed makes you sick.” Translation: You are such a bad mother that you are willing to put your health before your son’s.
I ignored that little zinger, because it was wrong on many levels. Dignity restored, temporarily. Rise above the haters. Practice compassion. Blah, blah blah.
I was on such a joyful holiday high yesterday that I forgot my mental armor before going to the party. When my childless SIL started giving (bad) parenting advice to a pregnant guest, I didn’t laugh or roll my eyes. Dignity. But the sanity part escaped me. For some reason, making stuff up seemed the best way to deal with the stupidity. I started telling everyone that I was going to make my own molded butters for every holiday. You’ve seen the rabbit and turkey shaped butters, right? Someone offered to save the rabbit mold that was currently holding the Easter butter.
“No,” I said. “I’m going to make my own molds, too. Turkeys, Christmas trees. I’m going to dig up the clay.” They all just stared for a minute, so of course, I continued. “I’ll need a kiln.” They laughed uncomfortably, and changed the subject to every pregnant woman’s favorite topic: nightmare birth stories.
After dinner, which was a delicious Polish feast, the evil SIL approached me again. “Oscar’s Easter basket looks more like a Halloween bag.” And then she stood there looking at me, waiting for an explanation about the wrongness of my son’s basket.
At this point, I had been making stuff up all afternoon (once I started, it was hard to stop), some bullshit about weaving my own linens and smelting ore for silverware, and I really just didn’t have anything left. I was all out of BS. This was my opportunity to address her real concern: my children aren’t experiencing what she considers to be an ideal childhood.
Instead, I said, “Oscar is a unique boy, so he has a unique basket.” What does this mean? Absolutely nothing. I had no idea what she was talking about. It was a wicker basket, for Pete’s sake.
When we were packing up to go home, the penny dropped. My son had packed all of his Easter goodies into a plastic grocery bag. The kind you might use to go trick-or-treating. Another opportunity to bridge the gap wasted. Will I ever grow up?