Ah, the holidays. A time for way too many cookies, ice cold eggnog, Christmas tinsel everywhere, excited children counting down the days and your mother in law huffing in the kitchen about who the hell knows what this time? After nearly 15 years together, Mr. JudgyBitch and his mother DowagerJudgyBitch have come to some sort of agreement over his decision to marry me, and things are finally starting to run a little more smoothly, and really, that’s lovely for everyone, but particularly lovely for Mr.JB.
The fact is that the Dowager is bitter over being replaced in Mr.JB’s affections and now that I have a son of my own, I can well imagine how she feels. If LittleDude grows up and marries some screechy career lady who has the kids off to daycare as soon as she leaves the hospital after her scheduled c-section, I am going to have a very tough time liking her. In fact, I will probably be praying for a car accident. The potential for me to be a dreadful mother-in-law is very real, which has led me to see the relationship I have with the Dowager in new light.
Mr. JB and I come from very different social class backgrounds. His family is very solidly middle class. The Dowager was a teacher until Mr.JB was born and then did not return to work until he was in high school and even then, only part time. His father owns his own very successful business in the financial industry. His grandfather was the Treasurer for a globally recognized company and his grandmother comes from a family of jam-makers (you likely have a jar in the fridge). Not quite posh, but very close. Posh enough to INSIST they are middle class.
I grew up a very long way from the middle. I was one of four children born to poor farmers scratching out a living in the dirt all the while making our lives miserable with some insane evangelical religious bullshit that saw them give away what little money they could earn to a church with more money than the elders knew what to do with. Thank goodness we had the farm, or I’m pretty sure we would have starved. I learned self-reliance rather early on, and I have always understood that there are privileges that come with being female, and responsibilities, too.
One thing we both had in common was that our mothers stayed home to raise us, and did not pay someone else to take on that responsibility. We both grew up knowing that we would replicate that with our own children, and any potential partner who did not share those values was off the table. Obviously, it took until our late twenties to find each other. But when we did, we knew more or less instantly that we would marry.
I have never been able to forgive my mother for her terrible, religious inspired violence during my entire childhood, so Mr.JB does not have to deal with a MIL of his own. My father offered me a heartfelt apology for the misguidedness of his youth and tearfully told me how much he regretted how he had treated his children, so I forgave him. My mother doesn’t think she did anything wrong and has thus consigned herself to pits of loneliness and despair, and hey, too fucking bad. Snow White has had enough of your shit, Evil Queen. Off the cliff you go, and have a nice trip!
When I first met the Dowager, she told a lovely story to a table of dinner guests (who had come to meet Mr.JB’s new lady interest, which was me, of course) about how, in a moment of inspired charity, Mr. JB’s father DukeJudgyBitch has taken some poor boys off to a ballgame for the afternoon with Mr. JB. When the boys returned from this afternoon, the Dowager insisted on washing them off with a garden hose outdoors before she would allow them in her house.
Yeah. Ain’t she a peach?
So that’s how me and the Dowager started our relationship. She was completely gobsmacked at our wedding and silently fumed the whole day, revolted by our simple outdoor ceremony and the pizza and beer we served afterwards. In the wedding pictures, she honestly looks like she’s at a funeral. To this very day, the wedding album she keeps hidden away in a drawer at her house contains a picture of the Duke, the Dowager and Mr. JB on the cover. I’m not in the picture! It’s kind of funny, really.
Despite the Dowager’s snotty snobbery, Mr. JB loves her very much, and the altercations we had over the years have deeply distressed him, and I am by no means painting myself as an innocent victim in this scenario. The Dowager collects sheep, for example. Pint-sized toy sheep. She has little flocks of them all over her house.
I STEAL them and then put them up in cheeky places all over my own house. Because she is very pleasant and middle-class, she pretends she does not see them. Over the years, I have amassed rather a lot of the Dowager’s sheep, which I wrap up and give back to her as presents for her birthday, Christmas, Mother’s Day. She retaliated by knitting me a gigantic sweater with a cow’s head on the front and the cow’s ass on the back. I have placed it beside one of my normal shirts so you can see just how huge this sweater is. GIANT FUCKING COW. I retaliate by wearing the stupid fucking sweater when the Dowager’s friends are around and I make sure to let them know the Dowager made me this sweater and isn’t it fucking great?
Very mature of us, isn’t it?
Over the years, the Dowager and I have come to have a grudging respect for one another and although we disagree on many things, we both agree that we love Mr. JB and our principal wish is for him to be happy. There is precisely zero probability that I will make it through this holiday season without wishing at least once that the Dowager would just SHUT THE FUCK UP, but I can’t control what comes out of her mouth. What I CAN do is shut the fuck up myself. At the end of the day, she is the woman who raised a wonderful man, a lovely husband and a beautiful father and I can only hope to do as well .
This Christmas one of my presents to Mr. JB will be to try my best to love his mother. I’m still wearing that sweater, though.
Now pardon me, I need to wrap some sheep.
Lots of love,