Mix, mingle, mesh? Whatever you want to call it. My parents and my in-laws simply don’t do it well. In the eight years I’ve been married, they never have. Oil and water do better in the same room . . .
As a couple we’ve seen many changes throughout our married life, but the mixing of our families is consistent. It consistently doesn’t work. The families mixing happens seldom but when it does, I start popping the TUMS. My nerves go into overdrive, my stomach turns, and I don’t sleep well.
First, let me say, both sets of our parents are fabulous, loving, gracious people. They adore our daughter, love her unconditionally, and glorify being grandparents. Each couple has their strengths. My parents are the fun-loving type who could literally throw a party in the middle of an insurance convention. They often “bend” the rules to make my daughter smile and their playfully loud spirit brings joy to every room in our house (no matter the hour). My in-laws are calm, mellow spirits who are wise beyond their years, strict with the rules, and genuine with their compliments.
Our folks haven’t worked well together since the beginning of our relationship. Wedding woes and disagreements started the drama which has followed us loyally through every holiday, special occasion, and anniversary. It stinks; simply stinks. This weekend was no exception. We celebrated Sutton’s fourth birthday party. All parents were invited, all attended. Everyone got along, no major arguments (trust me, we’ve had those), but it was just the air of uncomfortableness knowing someone might get offended by something we did . . . or didn’t do. Feelings bruise easily with this group and dare we upset someone, we hear about it for weeks (sometimes months).
Listen, my husband and I aren’t perfect. We fail all the time. When it comes to our parents we try really, really, really, hard to make everyone feel loved and know our gratitude. So, what’s the problem? It seems to me people have lost focus on what is really important. It’s not about who gets the better room, who sent the better birthday card, who gets the better time slot, or any other silly detail. It’s about a four year old who loves her family and lights up when she sees all of them in one room. It’s about putting things into perspective and appreciating all the blessings we do share. So many families are truly battling issues such as financial woes and health problems. My family (all of us) have nothing to complain about. We get to spend the day watching a four year old believe she is a princess. That is beautiful, that is life.
So, what has this taught me as a wife, mother, and woman? It has taught me how I don’t want to act when my children are married. I’ve learned the strong influence that a mother or mother-in-law can have over a marriage . . . yes, even a strong one. I’ve learned that it is simply, “not always about me”. It has taught me that sometimes the best methods are those taught to our toddlers, “you get what you get and you don’t get upset”. Why, oh why can’t more adults live with this motto? If only, right?
So the mixing, meshing, and mingling is over and I’m (once again) left shaking my head wondering what I can do better and how I can make everyone happy. I guess the answer is that I can’t. I envy the families that all get along and the the blissful photos of everyone smiling at Thanksgiving all around a fully set table. This is not my reality, but I guess I have to heed my own advice . . . “you get what you get, and your don’t get upset!”