Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Reading the Signs

Last month, before Fritz's parents came out here to the land of moss to live near us, I worried.  "I just hope they'll like what we've done, setting up the apartment."  Meaning more than that.

Said my listening friend, "You know they won't."  Which left me gasping with a sudden absolute acknowledgement that she was right. 

Not that she was absolutely right.  When the time came and my in-laws, too, they smiled clear smiles voicing open pleasure in the bedspreads and lamps, stacked towels and shelved cans of food - taking all our efforts as it was meant - evidence of care for their comfort. 

But my friend's words were right on a deeper level.  She herself a grandmother, a mother of grown children, and a mother-in-law.  She knows the tugs and snags and undercurrents those varying relationships must sail their way through. 

"You've got to know it's going to be hard for them to leave their home and come here where they know no one."

And so her words freed me from having to make everything just right, as if the success of this new plot-wrinkle depended on my efforts only.  Freed and reminded me that there were issues at play here that had nothing to do with how many hangers we hung in the bedroom closet.  As friends' words do, hers let me loose from the tight boundary of myself  and let me walk out into a wider field. 

Where I could do what needed to be done as a way of saying "I love you" to Fritz.  Which he understood. 

And for the immediate pleasures within the tasks themselves - a Saturday morning with Middlest poking around the secondhand store for pretty lamps, finding cheerful kitchen curtains.

There were other things said, things that helped. (No need to repeat any others . . . if once be once too many . . . )

Most helpful of all was what my mother said  (after wild imaginings of all impossible worst scenarios and our laughter dying down into hiccups).  My mom said, gently, into the phone, "So then, just do what you would do if it were me there.  If it were your dad and I."

Which gave me permission I hadn't known I'd been needing  - to enjoy these other parents and stop wishing it were mine moving so near.

And it helped, too, my dad getting teary-eyed (yes, it was over the phone, audio only, but I do know what that throat-clearing sound means . . . ) when I told him the other day how it was working out just fine and what Mom had said to me and how it opened the door for me, how I had gone into Portland for an appointment with Fritz' father and then gone wandering around the streets with him - "like you would have done, Dad.  Scouting out the terrain.  And it was easy."

A pause. "I'm so glad," he said, throat-clearing with a vengeance, ". . . yeah."


Melissa said...

I really love this post. And those parents you refer to. And you.

Mrs. Organic said...

What Melissa said. Also, I just love how friends/parents (and their perspective) bless us.

Velouria said...

Interesting post.

My mother in law does things very-very differently from me, but she is not critical of my style - so it does not occur to me to be self-conscious. My own mother on the other hand!...

Emma J said...

Velouria, my mother's experience was more like yours. Her mother-in-law was in some ways much more motherly than her own mother and she adored my dad's mom (I think it was mutual). My mom's mom was a sculptor and intense and fascinating - but not always easy to be daughter to . . .

It makes me wonder how I'll be when my children marry.

Emma J said...

美利 (Morgan?)

I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thanks.

suzanne said...

Sigh. Ouch. In-laws. Growing up. Nice words.

Related Posts