I just need to commiserate or vent or something with someone that gets where I'm coming from. No one around me grasps this one. I either get told I should just cut contact with xh's family or "it'll be fine."
It WILL be fine. That doesn't change how much I completely dread Thanksgiving. When we were married, xh's family ranged from mostly ignoring me to argumentative/mean (depending on the person). The only exception is xh's father. He kept the bridges in good repair and the whole family should be so greatful to him for it now. He would privately pull me aside and tell me how great a wife and mother I was and how thankful he was to have me in his son and grandchildren's lives. When xh left, his family essentially cut off the kids. They wouldn't even return phone calls or emails. Xh referred to them as my children, not his or ours anymore, and they seemed to follow suit. They just disappeared. Except xh's dad. Xh's dad would send anonymous presents for any holiday he could think of. He always knew just what the kids were into (xh certainly didn't, so i can't imagine the effort it took for him to keep tabs on the kids online for that info), always got clothes the right size or just 1 size too big. It would have caused a huge stink in their family if anyone knew, so it was always anonymous, but not untrackable when I made the effort to varify where things came from. A few years ago, xh's dad went into the hospital for complications related to diabetes. They were certain he would not make it back out of the hospital. Xh made a fuss to the kids about how the one member of his family that they had any real bond with was dying this very discriptively painful death. =/ I tracked down the hospital he was in and had the kids call when I knew his wife would be at work. It meant the world to him, and the rest of the family took a step back and stowed any negativity they might normally have had, considering the circumstances. Well, ds was on the phone with his grandfather at LEAST once a day the whole time he was in the hospital. He made a sudden, miraculous recovery that started just a few days after ds started calling him. Everyone, doctors included, were stunned and completely attribute it to ds's love and attention. He was released from the hospital and is still alive today. He and ds are the best of friends and spend tons of time on the phone together all the time. Xh's dad is confined to his bed, with nursing care in his home. Ds is homeschooled so is available to "keep him company" a lot more than the other grandkids or family members. They will sit together on the phone for hours sometimes, watching TV together and just hanging out.
Xh passed away shortly after his dad was released from the hospital. The kids and I currently live about 6 hours from Xh's parents. These people are the kids' family, whether I want anything to do with them or not. Since xh's death, they've really bent over backward to make nice with me and be involved in the kids' lives. Suddenly, they realize that they can't afford to play games anymore if they want the kids in their lives. I've taken the olive branches and absolutely encourage the kids' relationship with them. It is always a stress on me to deal with them, though, even though they're totally behaving kindly anymore. Since xh passed, we have a tradition of spending Thanksgiving with the Ex-InLaws. This serves multiple purposes. It's a really possitive thing for the kids to do the big holiday with all the extended family and cousins and what not. It also knocks out spending some time with them all in a couple days, so I'm not dealing with different members of the family throughout the year. (though one of xh's brothers, and his 4 kids, try to come visit us for a bit in the summer, and last time xh's mom *yikes* came with). Anyway! I'm extra dreading it this time around. I've recently remarried, and they've invited dh to come with. The kids are SUPER excited about the idea, so we're braving it. It's such a loaded situation!
I know, logically, that it will all be ok. Everyone will be on best behavior, for fear of damaging their relationship with the kids. It's been almost 3 years now, that they've been nice like this. I absolutely think they'll stick with it. It will be SO tense (while we all pretend to be relaxed and friendly), though. I dread Thanksgiving with the Ex In Laws!!
Sounds rough. If it makes you feel any better most people I know dread Thanksgiving with family. If you usually have a nice one then I guess this is a big step down for you. Paste on that smile, haul out your small talk and know that this too shall pass.
Of course you're stressed about the situation. I would be too. I hope that it will be fine for you all. But if it isn't, take the appropriate steps from there.
Just from reading your post I can tell that you have a level head about the situation and you are doing what is best for the kids. Your's ex's father must be a really awesome guy and his relationship with DS will mean the world to your DS later on in life since his father has passed. My DH had an outstanding grandfather who filled the role as dad for years because his bio father was not in the picture.
But now with a new DH and really a new chapter in your life, revisiting the old would stress me out enough. But who knows? Maybe your ex's family will think he is a great guy and be welcoming. Your ex's family should be happy for you about the new marriage to some extent IMO. They have a male figure in their lives and you guys are happy. Since their father can't be there, your DH is a positive aspect. And if they have been as nice as you say for three years, if something does go wrong, deal with it then. I bet you are comfortable enough by now to say what is on your mind to some extent. Besides from what you say, no one will want to jeopardize their relationship with the children. And if it's anything like my family, no one will rock the boat while your ex's father is around.
Good luck to you mama!
Artist wife to . Mom to DSS (3 yrs) and DD (04/12). (2/28/10).
I think the way you've handled this situation over the past few years has been amazing. What a gift you are giving your children! And what awesome lessons you're teaching them about how to treat others!
I hear you about the dreading of the holiday. I am like that every time I visit with my ILs. They're perfectly nice people, if a little rough around the edges. But I am just not comfortable with them or their traditions or their way of interacting with others. I am just so tense the entire time I'm there. I imagine that you and I will be rowing in the same boat this Thanksgiving!
Sleepy mama to Colin Theodore 8-12-08 and Trevor Arthur 7-17-12.
Thanks guys. I've certainly tried to keep a level head and do what's best for the kids in all this. I have to admit, ds's bond with his grandfather is still the main reason I put in the effort I do. I think dh is the reason THIS Thanksgiving is terrifying me more than most, though. I know they are/will be happy that the kids and I have someone in our lives that loves us and treats us well...but I doubt they're expecting his bond with the kids to be nearly as deep as it is. DH and i have been close friends since we were teens, before I even met xh. The kids have known him as a family friend all their lives. When we finally decided to add a romantic element to our relationship, everyone was so involved in each other's lives already that there was barely even a transition. The kids refer to him as their dad (he and I don't. I call him by his name to them. That's all them). I *think* they have enough tact to refer to him by his name around their bio-dad's family, at least until it becomes so ingrained they don't realize what they're doing. Dd is really into the "daddy" this or that though, and rebellious enough to do it constantly if I try to push that she should hide that she does from xh's family. *sigh* It wouldn't be such a big deal if dh and the kids didn't adore each other so much. lol For so many years, I've begged for such "problems"! =D
Such a loaded situation!
I can't tell you how nice it is to be able to come here and just complain like this. I know full well how blessed my children are that I have to balance my dh's love for the children and xh's family's love for the children. It's good to be able to unload the strain of it somewhere I can hear "Oh, ya. I know just how you feel." ;)
I can empathize with you a little bit - we are meeting my oldest children's grandparents the day after Thanksgiving for them to visit with the children. In our case their bio dad is still alive but has had his rights terminated and DH has adopted the children. I still want my kids to have a relationship with their grandparents, however. We will be joining them and much of the family. I will have DH there with us and I'm nervous about it. I've talked to their grandma several times and she is very upbeat and excited but still, as you do, I feel a bit worried.
For me I just keep thinking how it will be a wonderful experience for the kids. That's my focus. I know everyone will be polite to me and DH. I can't really change what they'll think after (and I can't really help how DH feels, either, though I know it will be awkward for him). I can focus on making it a good experience for my kids, though. So that's what I'm going to try to do... and probably feel very relieved at the end of the day!
Heh...all that worry for nothing! Xh's mom emailed me tonight to let me know Thanksgiving's off. There are some serious illnesses in their family and no one is up to the big family holiday this year. They'd love for us to come visit sometime when everyone is feeling better, but now is just bad timing. =D
I really do hope those that can feel better do. I suspect we'll be seeing a lot of them soon because one of the people that's not doing well is Xh's father. He's been declining lately and it's getting out of hand. That final hospital stay may finally happen any time now, I think. =/ I talked to DH about it asap. We need to make sure we have an emergency budget aside to cover travel costs to head out there last minute, if need be...
I just traded a holiday w the x-ils for one with the new il's...AND one making sure my mom behaves around her new sil...there's no avoiding the holiday madness, is there? ;)