Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Assumptions Are Hurtful

My Daughter-In-Law’s church has a blessing ceremony for new babies. It takes place on the first Sunday after the child is 40 days old.

This past Sunday I was sleeping in when I heard the front door open and close several times. My part of the house is in the back and separated from Jeffrey and Connie’s area by the wall that supports the staircase. In addition the kitchen is between us. We loved this when we bought the house since it gave us more of a 2 family set-up without having to pay the price of a 2 family or the added taxes. The side door off the kitchen leads to the carport and serves as my entrance. I hear very little and pay attention to even less.

A couple of hours pass and I’m beginning to feel awake and alive. The 2 cups of coffee helped and I went into the kitchen to get the 3rd that would make me wired enough to tackle the day.

And I discover my DIL's Mom and her brother’s girlfriend getting ready to leave. Everyone is dressed up – Connie looks like she’s going to a Sunday wedding. As I stand in the doorway between my place and the kitchen I take in the scene – there are pretty pink gifts all over the dining room table and Hope is dressed in a frilly pink striped dress with a white lacy bib.

They have just returned from Hope’s blessing ceremony. A ceremony I was not invited to.

There is history between me and my DIL’s family and I’m always very careful what I say to them and around them – especially since Hope arrived – so I waited until they left. To be honest I was shocked and I felt tears welling up.

I asked my DIL why I hadn’t been included in Hope’s blessing ceremony. She feigned surprise and said “I assumed you weren’t interested since it had to do with church”. I asked how she could assume I wasn’t interested in anything that had to do with Hope. Then she described the ceremony as “just a little 15 minute thing” that “wasn’t a big deal”. Well people got all dressed up early on a Sunday morning and came to NJ from Brooklyn – seems important to me.

It has become impossible to have a genuine disagreement with my DIL. The past is revised and presented and my son is dragged in. That last part frustrates the hell out of me since it’s usually the MIL who is accused of getting between her son and his wife.

Since Sunday I have received steely looks and defiant shoulders. Yesterday I was told that I was responsible for “creating so much stress that I had to go to the doctor”.

This always happens when I speak up. Along with being told I’m “opinionated” – which is Greek for not holding to her family’s party line and I’m “passive aggressive” – which stands for they’re not bright enough to get sarcasm.

Although sick with stress my DIL had enough energy to call me a hypocrite for wanting to attend Hope’s blessing ceremony. She thinks my opinions about religion somehow preclude my ability to simply enjoy a moment in my grand daughter’s life. Most everyone in my family attends church and observes traditions. I share in them all – with love. This accusation took place while smirking and shouting at me with Hope in her arms. I walked away saying I will never fight with her in front of Hope.

Where was my son in all this? He did not attend the ceremony. I don’t know how he felt about it since I contort myself into a pretzel to stay away from their decisions. I do know he should have told me it was happening and should have either invited me himself or asked his wife to. Of course that would have most likely started a different round of drama.

I doubt my political or social opinions had anything to do with Sunday’s decision, I fear it was far more personal and intentional, but it does shine a light on how assumptions are hurtful and go far to divide people.

51 comments:

Bond said...

That is crap.

Sorry...I am not a church-goer but when a family ceremony is happening I will be there.

Good for you for not arguing in front of Hope and all I can do is send a huge hug ...

Wait...you son did not go to his daughters ceremony? That I do not understand at all.

A Stitch In Thyme said...

Wow talk about needing control in someone's life. Your own son did not go to his own daughters ceremony. I'd be asking why. I think your daughter is a selfish young lady not to mention fighting in front of the baby, yeha, how christian is that.

These die hard chriatians are reallyy starting to get on my nerves in a big. They can not see past their noses to the hypocricy they bring to a setting. Very sad indeed.

The Peach Tart said...

Well just know it's more about DIL's insecurities than about you. Curious about what's the deal with your son. Anyway, DIL is rude, insensitive and passive aggresive at the least.

Akelamalu said...

Oh Dianne what an awful thing to happen, I so feel for you. I am used to biting my tongue on certain subjects, it's not easy but it saves a lot of heartache for my sons, however to be excluded from an important event in a grandchild's life is unforgivable in my book. Please accept some Reiki, I hope it eases the pain a little. xx

Allison said...

I'm so sorry for your pain. A celebration should be just that - not an opportunity to divide and hurt anyone.

Daryl said...

Oh Dianne .. this makes my sciatica throb .. did the church or her family not teach has about respecting one's elders?

Bridezilla, now Mamazilla, had her baby christened.. how do I know? I saw pix on Facebook .. and I am wondering of my friend, the baby's grandmother was told/invited/there.. I somehow doubt it .. I believe your DIL and her's were separated at birth

Mrs. C said...

*gasp*

I'm sorry. Do you know how much I would give to have my parents EVEN VISIT my children? Let alone want to come to a ceremony they don't believe in?

Dianne, we have vehement disagreements on religion, politics and most anything else. But Nana love is universal. And I wish my kids had it. And I wish your son and DIL understood how precious it really is.

Dianne said...

bond - I will gratefully take that hug, thanks :)

stitch - to make it even more frustrating - they don't attend church much, they really only do the events and holidays
and no one does any volunteer or charity work

peach - in following with my beliefs I did not baptize my son into any religion and as he grew up I taught him the history of them all and would ask from time to time is he was interested in being part of one
he never was
when he married he was baptized into his wife's church solely so she could have her wedding in the church she wanted
He has not attended since
I assume he felt it was less stress if he stayed away from the ceremony, I don't know for sure since I don't ask

akelamalu- thank you! I appreciate the empathy

allison - thanks, I appreciate your kindness

daryl - no throbbing now!! it's OK, I'm really mostly glad I didn't argue in front of Hope
that was most important to me
nice to prove to myself that I can walk away, no matter how angry or hurt I am

mrs c - if I lived closer I would joyfully sit in as a Nana
and yes, I'd join you at church :)

Mahala said...

That had to have been heartbreaking. I'm sorry :(

bobbie said...

Such a sad situation. And in some ways, a familiar one.
I have never argued with my DIL, although I've come very close.Having observed past family problems with my mom and brother, I vowed never to be the MIL who caused the problem. But my DIL seems jealous of my son's time with and concern for me. And my son ALWAYS defers to her. I guess that's OK since she's his wife, but it does hurt sometimes.

Cherie said...

Oh Dianne, I am so sorry. I've had similar things happen to me (though none so important as a grandchild event),it's devastating. More cyber-hugs headed your way.

Lisa said...

That's terrible, Dianne! Whatever your relationship is with your daughter-in-law and her family (and their church) you definitely should have been included in the ceremony. You may not have wanted to go (of course you would have!) but you should have been asked.

And your son not attending speaks volumes. Perhaps the fact taht you were excluded has more to do with something going on between the two of them than it does about you.

Whatever the reason, it was a childish and petty thing to do. And that can't be very good for your health now, can it?

lizcooper said...

You know, my parents taught me to "kill 'em with kindness". I can't say I've always proceeded that way, but I can say that I've always felt at peace when I know I did the right thing.

I am a devout Christian, but I am not so narrowminded as to miss a good heart. I'm sorry you're having to endure such tension and wrongdoing.

Thank you so much for your sweet comments about my photos and my family! We have so many many struggles with so few good moments that, when they happen, I try to be sure and catch them on film!

Sparkling Red said...

Wow, that must be such a frustrating situation for you. It's bad enough to not get along well with in-laws, but another thing entirely to have to live with them. Yikes.

Sylvia K said...

I'm sorry Dianne! I can only agree with what everyone else has said! It's at times like these that I'm glad only one of my kids is married and I adore her husband. But, unfortunately, that's not the norm. From what I see and hear, it's more likely to be a copy of your situation. And I wish I had some wonderfully wise thoughts to offer, but instead, I'm just sitting here grinding my teeth and wishing I could bop someone in the chops. But then again, there's always Hope!

Thom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thom said...

Crap I made a typo:

I wish right at this moment I could take you into my arms and give you a huge hug and just hold you for a while. Shit, I got tears in my eyes reading this.

I applaud you to no end for not going off on your DIL. Does she not realize your love for Hope? If not, she needs to get it together and see that us loud mouth very opinionated people do have feelings.

I'm more pissed off at your son. But my friend, as you read in my birthday post to my mom, sometimes we do very hurtful things to our mothers that we later regret. And I'm pissed off at him for not realizing what I realize now but being his age I can understand why he didn't mention this.

I would urge you strongly to "discuss" no yelling and getting all bent out of shape, no 1 finger salutes or anything. But I would tell him how you feel. How hurt you are. It's not good to keep things botteled up.

I have seen a change in you since Hope arrived. She so brings you pleasure, love and happiness. You will always have that in your heart and if you carry that with you always, times like this will get you through this. Take her someplace and have your own little blessing ceremony. Just the two of you. It can be simple and just special between a WONDERFUL Nana and her HOPE!

I send you all my love and aloha.

xoxoxox

Jay said...

That was extremely thoughtless of her. But, you did the right thing by not engaging in any arguments. Sorry that happened babe.

Bob-kat said...

I am so glad I visited because it allows me to join my voice to others here in support of you. It's bullcrap that they can't appreciate that your love from Hope has nothing to do with your beliefs and I think it has more to do with them and their attitude than you.

My family do the same thing with me. My brother had his son Christened and I wasn't invited although I am expected to buy birthday and Christmas gifts for a nephew I am never allowed to see. I do the gift thing, but mainly because I think the sins of the father are not passed to the son.


I really wish your DIL and their family could put aside their narrow minded attitude and appreciate what a great person you are!

Micky-T said...

I didn't enjoy reading that story knowing it would more than likely end with feelings hurt and undertones that might never go away. Such is family. Forgive and forget "as best you can".
Sorry that you missed the ceremony.
Now you can plan your own personal ceremony and don't invite them, but make damn sure your son is there and he knows "why" he's there. Hugs!

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

So true, Dianne. One should not "assume" anything! It seems, in this case, THEY were very "passive/aggressive", to use their term.....I understand your feelings being hurt. And both your son and DIL should know that--no matter what you may fel about Religion in general...Hope is your dear dear Grandaughter and you would want to be there for anything that was a meaningful ceremony for her.....
I feel hurt for you, my dear.

Sometimes Family is damn complicated, causing problems where there weren't any...If only we all could put aside petty things for the Greater Love....!

Dianne said...

mahala - it made me sad, still does
thanks lady
I gotta come visit you - sorry I've been such a crappy friend

bobbie - complicated isn't it
you'd think a woman would respect a man being good to his mom

cherie - thanks for taking the time on such a busy day, you're a good soul :)

lisa - Jeffrey is the king of avoidance so I think his not attending had to do with not having to deal with his in-laws
nice to see ya :)

lizcooper - I'm so glad we met on Positive Day :)
you and your family are lovely

sparkling - it's made even worse by the financial situation
the stress is huge

sylvia - "bop in the chops" !!!
made me laugh
thanks! you're the best

thom - I bet you give the best hugs :)
thank you so much
as for talking to Jeffrey, I doubt I will, at least not about this
I'm going to wait for a bit and see how things play out

jay - thanks :)
thoughtless and disrespectful - I've been thinking that a lot these days - what a shame

bob kat - I know you know! ya know ;)
thanks so much
hope things are calming down for you
hug the kitties

micky - thanks for taking the time when you're dealing with your own stuff
hope Bic is doing OK and hope your foot is better
hugs right back at ya

old old lady of the hills - thanks so much
you're a good friend
family is a royal pain in the ass many times ;)

Rambling Woods said...

Ouch...that one hurt..Sigh...I don't mind religious people as long as they don't try to force it on me or treat me as they are superior. I guess not sharing their belief system is very threatening and they have decided to use Hope as a way to punish you. Damn small mindedness. I hope there can be a truce before Hope gets old enough to feel the hostility....

Ramblings of a Villas Girl said...

My heart goes out to you Dianne. I don't think people realize how hurtful it is to NOT be invited/included. It doesn't matter what the event is. An invitation should be extended and then up to you if you want to attend or not.

Not to offend anyone, but I find religious people to be the worst. Well at least the ones I know. All righteous and holier (I know I spelled that wrong), but the most spiteful. If a wrong or a preceived wrong is done to them, they speak their mind and they're not called 'opinionated'.

I love 'opinionated' people. You know where you stand. You can talk to an 'opinionated' person and they listen and consider what you have to say. So my friend, you be as opinionated as you want. I love you for it.

You did right walking away. Don't stoop to DIL level.

As for your son. I do agree that he should have at least told you. But because he didn't attend the ceremony, leads me to believe that he didn't agree with what was happening. They could have been arguing about this. He may have wanted for his daughter what you did for him. Let her make the decision when she was ready.

I know this hurts, but don't let DIL get to you. Don't let her come between Hope, your son and you. This is probably what she wants. The bitch in me is not in the habit of giving people like her what they want. Instead, kill her, (not literally) with kindness. Don't let her see that she is getting to you.

And Dianne, you have an open invitation to my home anytime you come down dah the parkway. Love ya. Lisa

Queen-Size funny bone said...

She better think about how her behavior towards little Hopes grandmother will affect her in the future. she should not poison the relationships of other because she seems to be in many disagreements with you.

Cloudia said...

You have the right idea not fighting before Hope. Good for you. Some people you can only love....and DUCK!
Aloha my friend-

Comfort Spiral

Ron said...

Hi, Dianne...

Honestly, I'm totally SHOCKED to read this. I guess I thought that since you've been posting a lot about precious Hope, you were being included within everything involving her life.

Damn...I am so sorry that you had to experience this because I KNOW it hurt - I can FEEL it myself.

And you're right, I sincerely doubt that this had anything to do with your political or social opinions, but far more personal and intentional.

It truly sounds like she fears your strength.

Don't just LOVE family drama?

This why I exclude myself from everyone in my family except for my mother and younger brother. I'm SUCH the bad sheep - and I love it.

Listen, the love you share with Hope is/will always be there. And I believe just as Thom shared...it will be the thing that will support you as move you through this.

You're a very special human being, dear lady.

One who I'm proud, honored, and LOVE to know!

Love ya, love ya, love ya!!!

{{{{{{Dianne}}}}}}}
{{{{{{Hope}}}}}}}}}

Grayquill said...

Dianne: Sounds like there is a lot more to this story. My guess is that DIL had hoped after marrying son that he would change; after all he did join the church for her, and now he won’t attend with her. I bet she feels tricked. I bet she is also angry with herself/world that she married a husband who is not supporting her in the raising of a child in an area she believes strongly.
I also bet DIL was hoping MIL being a woman would be someone who she could tell how badly she feels and get support. But she cannot get that from MIL because MIL has different beliefs. Is that bad? No. But it is what it is and I bet DIL still feels a loss in that area.
In reading your account, there were many wrongs done by everyone. I see finger pointing. “Your wrong is bigger than my wrong."
There is my two cents and it probably is worth less than that.
I hope you still like me.
BTW – I am sorry!! This was a huge loss to miss this very significant event. I can only guess how badly you feel.

Travis said...

I'm sorry you were excluded and had your choice taken away from you. I can think of no other words for it than needlessly cruel.

Linda Reeder said...

Dare I suggest that the ceremony was for showing off and getting attention? The dressing up,the gifts, the mostly attending church for ceremonies? It all sounds self centered, and not for Hope at all. If your son didn't even go, then maybe it wasn't the place for you either.
I wish you well in this complex relationship.

the walking man said...

Welcome to my world kiddo...never been invited to a baptism, birthday party or graduation (except the one where my daughter was pregnant and no one thought it important to tell me that bit of information)...*shrug* I really don't care anymore but I never forget to or forgot to send a card and check.

Now I simply don't care. which I guess was the ex's ideation all along.

Matt-Man said...

Wow that blows, but personally, I would just get over it and say, "fuck em". Cheers Di!!

Dianne said...

rambling woods - I'm going to do all I can to make sure Hope doesn't feel any hostility from me, thanks

rambling lisa - I would love to come down dah pawkway!! I was thinking about that the other day, thanks Lisa :)

queen size funny - it started when I got hurt, I was home so much more and I guess that bugged her - before that I worked in the basement all day and at the store all night
plus Jeffrey needed to do things for me and money got tight and she got more and more frustrated with the situation which then became directed at me

cloudia - I'm ducking and bobbing and weaving ;)

ron - you're a good friend Uncle Ron :) thanks
family is complex to say the least

grayquill - of course I still like ya sexy Roadquill ;)
my son did make it clear to her that he was being baptized only because she wanted to be married in the church she grew up in, he had no interest in her religion and would not participate beyond the wedding
what they have discussed for Hope I don't know

travis - I'm sorry to have to say that I am discovering my DIL enjoys being cruel. I'm seeing it more each day. Before Hope she had nothing to use against me, now she does.

linda r - when I think of it that way it is easier to take, thanks
perhaps I gave the ceremony more meaning than even they did!

walking man - it's a long journey to the not caring side of the bridge
for now I'm working on remaining in the moment and concentrating solely on what's good for Hope
love ya kiddo

matt-man - will do!! ;)

Natalie said...

I'm so sorry to read this, Di.

I've experienced a lot of situations where religious people make "assumptions" about what I might or might not do, think, or want to be included in. It's very frustrating. Especially because if this behavior on DIL's part continues, Hope is going to grow up with Nana not being included in things and she will not be old enough to understand the subtleties of opting out of religious ceremonies, etc. I think if you don't speak up, you risk being left out as a "default" situation and Hope might get the wrong idea when she is older.

But like a lot of your readers, I don't necessarily think this had to do 100% with your beliefs. Since your own son did not go, I personally think it has more to do with those two than you. He probably disagreed with some part of it and she didn't want to ask you if she would have to explain to you that he didn't approve either. She might have seen that as a win in your column. Less embarrassing for her to just forge ahead secretly with her family than actually do the right thing.

Sending you hugs from Dean and me, and lots of purrs and head butts from the kitties.

meno said...

Mean, just mean.

The young can be so mean, and they think they are justified.

I'm sorry.

Jackie said...

I'm so sorry too Dianne. I'm inclined to think that you being there if your son wasn't would have made things even worse, but whatever, it shouldn't have happened and is so very sad. It shouldn't be a competition between families and although I know that you'll rise above it again and again that won't stop it hurting. I'm so so impressed you walked away so as not to argue in front of Hope.

I'm a Christian, though I choose not to wear it on my sleeve, and I hate the way you've been treated by people who should know and live better. Your post and Mrs C's response in particular has just tugged at my heart.

Melli said...

Dianne... I was here yesterday and left a verrrry long response to this. Then I clicked comment and blogger ATE it! I decided that was God telling me to JUST be sympathetic this time, and not share my own stories! LOL! So... I just want you to know... I'm really REALLY sorry this happened.

Volly said...

Dianne,

Reading that really made me hurt for you. And I think you have an enormous amount of strength and grace not to have reacted the way I might have -- either sulking or screaming, since being excluded is one of my personal hot buttons.

I guess all you can do is focus your emotions, attention and energy on Hope. The great blessing of infancy is total blissful unawareness of how badly the so-called wise, mature grownups are farging up the world. So if you can get yourself into that sort of a place, you'll be much more serene than the Drama Queen.

Good luck with all of that!

Jackie said...

You know, I was thinking about this last night (can't get you out of my head!), and I worry a bit that your DIL could use this blog against you if she were to find it. I don't know if it's possible in blogger (it is in wordpress) to make posts private, so it might be worth after the comments have died down on a post making it for your eyes only rather than for public view. Not that you should have to, but I could see the brown stuff really hitting the fan :(

Lu' said...

What would it have hurt to ask you even if the thought was that you wouldn't want to attend unless of course her thought was that you not attend. Bummer some people...

Dianne said...

natalie - sending hugs and head butts right back at ya :)
you have a point about it being more about them than me, thanks for the perspective

meno - yep! mean describes it

jackie - thanks for the kind remarks kiddo :)
as to your second comment down below - I don't care if she reads this - I haven't said anything that isn't true and if she had an interest in discussing this with me or working it out she would have by now but I do appreciate your concern

melli - I hope your stories were not sad ones
thanks for coming back and thanks for the kind comment

volly - I'm trying my best, thanks

lu - I'm convinced at this point that I was not welcome there and it had nothing to do with my views on church but more to do with using Hope to hurt me

Linda said...

I absolutely hate it when people put children in the middle of their disagreements. If your DIL has a problem with you then she should NOT be using Hope to further it; that's just wrong on so many levels that I wouldn't even know where to begin.

Common decency would have been to extend an invitation to you and then you could have chosen whether to go or not go but as you've said, this has more to do with a problem she has with you and seemed to be a good way to hurt you. Shame, shame, shame on her. I certainly hope that Hope becomes a better person than her mother currently is.

maryt/theteach said...

OMg! Dianne, For 25+ years I cow-towed to my SIL in a very similar situation having to do with my niece and nephew. I kept my mouth shut so I could have a part in the life of this niece and nephew. And the SIL was taking care of my mother who lived with her and my brother.
Today she AND my brother no longer speak to me. (Both my parents have passed away)(our politics and religion are miles apart; I don't attend church either) Thank god my niece and nephew who are grown now do speak to me and love me. But my brother is lost to me.

I feel for you. It is the most difficult thing when people around you who are religious close you out cuz you are not religious or don't think the way they do. Stay close to your son, of course. I'd ask him why he didn't mention the blessing to you. (He was probably trying to avoid trouble...between himself his wife and his wife's family) this is so hard on you and on him. My brother took his wife's side without question (She and I had a falling out). Too long a story. But she doesn't know how to have an diagreement or argument either. It's her way or no way. I've spent 25+ years going along with her. And then I stopped. That's when it was all over. I'm sad not to have my brother but right now there doesn't seem to be anything to do. I hope you and your DIL and you son can come to some agreement and you and Hope can develop a loving, wonderful relationship. I would have wanted to be invited to the blessing even though I don't believe in all that hogwash. My heart and my thoughts are with you.

Raven said...

I'm so sorry. This brings back memories of my time with my niece in Arizona. It's painful, frustrating, infuriating, profoundly hurtful and there are few or no good solutions no matter how kind, thoughtful or careful you are. You have my sympathy and my empathy. But remember that you also have Hope.

CG said...

i am so angry and upset on your behalf. I can just imagine how you must have felt! What was wrong with them asking you and leaving the decision in your hands instead of making the choice for you?
I could cross the Atlantic and shake a certain person VERY hard!!

Border Explorer said...

It is hurtful to be left out. And--just as bad--it sounds like DIL is not particularly close or empathic. Tough spot for you. I'm very sorry you were caused to miss Hope's ceremony. Sending a hug to you and a prayer to the family for peace and reconciliation.

Jackie said...

hey no worries - I guess I'm just a bit precious and not so good at confrontation :) (actually no guesswork there, I'm hopeless at confrontation). I didn't really think you were the type to pull a post really.

Just looked up at the posts above. I love your football post, what great stories! (I'd better not say anything about *it's not *real* football*, had I?! - I support a little football (soccer to you guys) team in Scotland who just got promoted from the bottom league to the next-to-bottom league, and if they play like they did at the end of last season they'll be heading straight back down again. But it's fun to have something to support and agonise over that's separate from real life!).

jennifer said...

Dianne I am so sorry you were hurt. If they were using their faith in any way to hurt you or shake you up... well, that's on THEM. Not you honey.

Hugs.

Hilary said...

Oh ouch, Dianne. I hate that for you. You're a far better grandparent for not engaging her in front of Hope though. I'm sorry you're hurting and wish that things could be better between you and your DIL.

Pagan Sphinx said...

Not inviting you to that ceremony was so rude! Of course you'd want to be there. I'm so pissed on your behalf that I can't even see straight.

Maybe one day DIL will grow up and actually appreciate how much you adore that baby. Let's Hope.

Askew To You said...

That situation sucks. A polite adult (she does not sound very adult) would have let you know about the event and left the decision, to attend or not to attend, up to you.

I hope she mellows as she grows up. Unfortunately, it takes some people longer than others. :(