Monday, August 28, 2006

Time Does a 180 Sometimes

What a difference 30-some years make! I contrast my first visit to my in-laws with my current visit and it’s like night and day.

I first came to Detroit in 1974 before we were married to meet his parents and attend his 10th high school reunion. That was before I was Jewish also. It was as if I was a ghost in his parents’ house. His mother asked him what he wanted for breakfast while looking straight through me. My enthusiasm for embracing his family was squelched as I pondered what in the world I was getting myself into in this relationship.

In their eyes I became a real person when I converted to Judaism, which I always reminded my father-in-law was at my choice and not because of their threats not to come to our wedding if it wasn’t in a synagogue. From that moment on, they were courteous and attentive to my feelings, but the initial meeting always lingered in the back of my mind.

Today my mother-in-law constantly compares me to her daughter-in-law born of Holocaust survivors and I come out on top. On this current visit, she has invited several extended family members over just to meet me, bragging to them about how I read from the Torah and how I made the brisket that was in the oven. The joke is that David really made the brisket (I cut up the onions and garlic), but cooking is still a woman’s job in her eyes, so I must take the credit.

So while some things are exactly as they were 32 years ago – we’re still sleeping on the same lousy beds with the exact same sheets and bedspreads – my status in the family has improved incredibly. Time has this way of wearing away the early misconceptions and proving once again that people are not so very different after all.

3 Comments:

Blogger Old Lady said...

It's certainly wonderful that time and acceptance has eroded this for you. It can be most uncomfortable when in-laws are not accepting.

11:10 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

It is nice to hear that their attitude towards you has changed.

When I got married I always felt that Sofia's family was my family and I refer to them as such (mother, father, etc, rather than mother-in-law, etc).

On my family's side, my parents always have regarded SOfia as a daughter. It hurts them that Sofia is unable to call them mom and dad and instead chooses more formal appelations.

For Sofia, my family is always "the inlaws" which is not the way I think.

3:25 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

What a nice 180 for you! (I have experienced a few 180's that are not so nice!) I am lucky in that we both get along with our respective in-laws and they are actually good friends with each other. When we have them over together, I have never worried about having to facilitate conversation; they have tons to talk about and truly like each other.

You never do know about people do you? Nothing will surprise me in this workd!

9:22 PM  

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