Sunday, January 30, 2011

Our Parents' Essence of Us

As many of you know, I had felt dismayed over the way that my parents and my parents-in-law have treated me particularly in the last year when I was at my lowest with our infertility struggles.

I just felt like they didn't do enough. I'm still upset with my mother who seemed to have blamed me for one of our miscarriages (though working on getting over it & forgiving) and for overall just not saying the right things. And I still don't understand how my in-laws stayed silent throughout it all.

Here I was in the depths of sorrow, mildly depressed, no energy, jealous, sad, angry... and I just couldn't get the support from the people who are family.

What a disappointment.

And I'm beginning to become aware of this phenomenon that our parents like the essence of us but may not really know us.

They think they know us, but it's become apparent that they just don't. Both my husband and I feel this way. They hardly know what we do for work (which we both feel passionately about). And in general, they don't really ask probing questions about things that really matter to us, things we're into, what we care about...

I can't help but think that our parents love us, but if they are not in our day to day lives, they can easily get stuck in remembering us for who we were, back when we did live with them...

I've felt disappointed that they seem to place so much importance on family, but then don't seem to want to really know who we are, at our core. The relationships with them just don't seem as authentic anymore. I've felt this way for a long time.

About 5-10 years ago, I began traveling moreso than I had done before, venturing outside of my only-having-gone-to-Europe zone... to Thailand, Tanzania, Costa Rica... I'd plan my trips a year ahead of time, saving money each month looking forward to this, but my parents seemed only mildly interested. You see, they hadn't moved forward with who I was becoming.

And with my in-laws, I had had a big coming-to conversation over Thanksgiving this year, writing them an email ahead of time letting them know how I was feeling and that I wanted to talk about our struggles, that it hurt when no one ever asked.

And, after all that, my mother-in-law calls me yesterday. I haven't gotten a phone call from her in months, maybe even close to a year. And you know why she called? To find out the color of the tie that my husband wore on our wedding day. They are re-painting their bathroom and want to paint it that color.

"And you're doing well?" she asked, hurriedly from the store. "Yes, I'm fine, " I replied, knowing that she didn't really want to know.

And for once, I wanted to say yes, I am fine! Better than fine - I'm GREAT! And did you know I'm going to India this Friday??? She still doesn't know that. She doesn't really want to know...

It's just the essence of us that they want, it seems.


  1. I hope you have a fantastic trip to India!!!

  2. I think this might be true. Last year my husband and I were dealing with some medical issues, that was the focus of our lives at that time. My parents asked how we were and I explained about the tests and stuff. And my stepdad said, okay, we really don't want to know that. Isn't something else in your life going on? Well, ummm, no! This is the stuff we are dealing with right now! So, yeah, they just sometimes want to know you're okay, living your life, and on the surface that things are fine. Which sucks. Because that's about all an ACQUAINTANCE wants out of you. But parents? Even if they aren't putting food on our table anymore, shouldn't they care more? Sigh.

    I'm sorry you are dealing with this. Much love to you as you wade through the kaka.

  3. Hope you have a wonderful trip to India!

    As far as parents and in-laws go, when I began my TTC/IF journey, they just didn't get it. No one in my family has ever had IF troubles at all. So I ALWAYS got the "you're young, you've got plenty of time, you're just trying to hard" speeches. When it finally got to the part where we knew something was wrong, I would just go to my mom's for some 'time away'. Mom and I are really close. There was this one time when I lashed out on her, yelling thru snot and tears "You don't understand! You never had problems having a baby!" ANd she yelled back, "All of that is very true, but YOU are MY baby and I can not stand to see you in pain knowing there is nothing I can do! And I am not going to allow you to lay on my couch crying for days on end. Get up and go talk to somebody! Get some help!" Now this was back in the mid 1990's when IF 'help' was basically non-existent, especially for a girl in her early 20's. Anyways, all that to say, I was (what I thought) icnored by my family and inlaws--that they didn't care or basically thought I was just obsessed with having a baby to the point that they didn't talk about it all. To my surprise, it was quite the opposite. My mom didn't understand and didn't want to believe that I would never have her a grandchild. It hurt her to see me hurt. It still does, even 20 years later.
    Maybe they just don't understand and being silent is the only way they know how to deal with seeing you hurt. I didn't get that out of my mom until I just exploded on her. Then I realized that it was killing her to see me in so much pain.
    All in all, nothing about IF is fair nor makes any sense and I am so sorry that this is going on, on top of everything else.

  4. wow. I am so sorry for all of this. That is great, what your say about your essence, that is exactly it. I used to say that my MIL likes me on paper, but less so in reality.
    I am so sorry that your family is not more supportive. I am stunned that your mother blames you for a miscarriage and my heart breaks for you just imagining what that must feel like for you.
    thinking of you....

  5. I struggle with the same things with my mother. She doesn't get me (we couldn't be more different) or this process, even though she has made bigger efforts to try. She's more often than not made it about her, which was as wonderful as that sounds.

    However, a fellow infertile friend reminded me once, "We forget that our parents are just human, too." It made me soften a bit. Maybe they are trying their best, maybe it's partially a generational thing (don't discuss your problems), maybe we have to come to terms with they can't be all we think they need to be, either. I don't know and I still am trying to work through this every day. I appreciate you sharing your frustrations because I have them, too.

    Sending you a big hug and hope you have a wonderful time in India!

  6. You are right on this. I'm a stranger to my parents and they didn't even know the essence of me or who I was. Who I have become frightens them I think.
    Bon voyage en Inde !!