Tuesday, April 8, 2014

What do you call your Mother In Law?

My Mother in Law is friendly, kind and nurturing.  I've never had any spat with her.  She has never  intruded in my marriage or parenting.

But there is always this elephant in the room when we are together.  You see, I'm married to her youngest son.  She has 5.  So there are 4 daughter in laws before me.  Three of the daughter in laws call her "Mom".  Ugh.  I just can't do it.  

I was friends with my husband for several years before we began dating.  I knew his parents.  I knew one of his brothers fairly well.  My friends and I were in and out of their house just as Ironman was in and out of mine.  I referred to his mother as Mrs..  I grew up in a time before children called adults Miss Cindy or Miss Debbie.  My mother's friends were Mrs. Landry or Mrs. Hamilton.  I did not call adults by their first name.  Oh no.  Are you kidding?  That would never be tolerated.  To this very day when my mother and I are catching up on news she will refer to her friends that way.  So that I'll know who they are, I guess.  I mean, by now I've come to realize these ladies have first names but I better not call them that.  I better use their formal name.  At least when my own mother is around.

All that being said, I was perfectly comfortable calling Ironman's mother "Mrs. Campbell".  It felt right. A few of Ironman's friends called her "Miss Susan" but that….. well, it just wasn't for me.

When Ironman and I became engaged, his mother sat with me one day and came right out and asked me not to call her "Mrs Campbell" anymore.  Her reason was that she referred to her own MIL by that name and always felt very distant from her.  She didn't want us to have that kind of formal relationship. Okay, that was fine.  I appreciated her telling me.  But wow, that would……. that was a challenge.  I tried calling her by her first name.  But it felt so awkward.

Meanwhile my SILs called her MOM.  MOM?  She's not my MOM.  I don't even call my own Mom MOM.  I just can't do it.

I've asked 2 of my closest girlfriends about this dilemma.  Both of them told me "Oh no,  she's not your mom.  That's putting so much pressure on you"  Ugh.

Remember that Everybody Love Raymond episode where Debra and Ray are having the same problem?  And Debra tries to call Marie "Mom"?  Remember what happened?  Marie looks at her with a shocked expression and says "That's alright dear"

I know what Dr. Phil would say  He's probably say "How's that working for you"  Or he'd say, "What do you want from your MIL"   It's not working…. or maybe it is.  I don't know.  But what do I want from her?  I'd like her to go easy on me.  I'd like her to make it easy on me.  Give me a little slack.  She is fully aware of the distant relationship I have with my own mother.  In fact, she's tried to fix it.  Oh gosh, a story for another day.  I'd like her to acknowledge that I'm trying but that it's not easy.  I feel as if I'm being graded in a way.  How about some bonus points for effort?

Just in case you're wondering, I have tried to call her by her first name.  It's awkward but I just DO IT.  Most of the time, though, I call her "Meme".  It definitely got easier when my babies began calling her that.

I will one day be a mother in law.  I honestly do not care what I'm called.  It's their choice.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Day My Daughter Lost My Trust

I still have a headache and it's been 5 days.  I don't even know where to begin to tell you what happened.  But I will say that I feel angry, scared, panicked, embarrassed, frustrated and protective.  Mostly protective.  Like a Momma Bear.

So here's what happened.  Dancer Girl is in her first year of high school and enjoying all the things that go with being a student at a large high school.  She's always been an easy going girl who is friends with everybody.  If you ask her who she eats lunch with she'll answer "I just sit anywhere.  I'm friends with everybody so it doesn't matter."  She's sweet and trusting and outgoing and athletic and pretty.  She's never given us any reason to not trust her.  We are aware that she's only 15.  It's not like we drop her off at the casino or anything!  It also helps that our two older children gave us zero trouble during the teenage years.  Sure they were messy and lazy and forgetful.  But they both were excellent students who were responsible and kind.  I guess that lulled me into a naiveté sleep.

I'm awake now.  Wide awake.

Dancer Girl is a member of the girls' lacrosse team at her school.  She has tournaments several times a month that Ironman and I both attend.  Apparently during one of these tournaments she met a boy through another girl on the team and gave him her phone number.  (trust me, that'll never happen again)  The texting blitz began.  Over the next couple of weeks they exchanged thousands of texts.  Thousands.  I know what you're thinking "uh….did you not notice?"  She's a texting machine.  And she has dozens of friends.  If I asked her who she was texting and she answered "Maria" or "Alice" or "Janelle" I trusted that she was telling me the truth.  Many times I checked her phone.  The texts consisted of homework help all the way to silly nonsense things.  What I did not know was that she was lying to me and using another texting app knowing I wouldn't recognize it as a communication tool.  Yep, paint me yellow for STUPID.

A week ago I took Dancer Girl and 3 of her friends to a boys' lacrosse game.  They knew most of the boys on this team and had attended the same school for years so I agreed to take them.  I made it clear I was going to go TO THE GAME.  I was not going to just drop them off.  And so that's what we did.  There was a medium group of students there and I sat within ear shot but did my best to make myself invisible.  Little did I know that texting boy was in that group.  Leaving the game he was right there on the sidewalk as we all exited the stadium.  I had no reason to be concerned.  I'm usually much more intuitive than that……

Saturday comes and Dancer Girl tells me she's going outside to wall LAX balls.  (hit balls up against the side of our house)  Not unusual.  She's done that often.  I can hear the ball as it hits the wall so I know she's right there.  We live in a quiet neighborhood and feel perfectly safe.

My daughter comes back inside and tells me she's going to run a mile.  That is also not unusual.  We have a park inside our neighborhood development that measures a 1/2 mile.  So she was going to go around twice.  Little did I know that she had arranged to meet TEXT BOY at the park.  OMG.  Just typing that out scares me to death.  TO DEATH.  And here's the thing - I felt suspicious.  But I swallowed it.  I just had a feeling…… and I ignored it.

Two minutes later Ironman comes through the room and is informed that our daughter has gone running so he walks out on the front porch to watch for her.  When he can't see her immediately he comes back in, slips on some shoes and tells me he's going to find her.  At that very minute I notice her cell phone sitting in the chair and so I reach for it to do my check.  My occasional check.  Which I had neglected.  This time I saw the texts between her and TEXT BOY.  She obviously had not deleted it.  It detailed their plans to meet.  I felt like I was in a dream when you want to scream but nothing comes out.  In the 2 minutes it took me read and decipher what I was reading, Ironman came back in and I could hear the LAX practice resuming.  I started reading the texts out loud to him.  He was silent.

Our daughter was ushered into the kitchen and I read the texts out loud to her.  She froze.  My heart had not started to beat again.  Not yet.  I was stunned.  I was panicked.  Ironman began methodically and calmly - Yes, CALMLY - which I couldn't believe asking her every detail.

The question that shook our world:

Ironman:  "How did he get to our neighborhood?  He lives clear across the city"
Daughter;  His Dad drove him.
Ironman:  His Dad dropped him off?  In our neighborhood/
Daughter:  His Dad brought him to our house and drove around the neighborhood while Texting Boy and I snuck off to the other side of the park where nobody could see us.


I looked at my husband………..CALL THE POLICE.  That's all I wanted to say.   OH GOD OH GOD.  What has happened?  WHAT IN THE WORLD?

I was so angry.  And so panicked.  And so……………. Offended. Yes, offended that another adult - this boy's father - aided and abided this STUPID DECISION by two STUPID ADOLESCENTS.

What did we do next?

After a lot and I mean A LOT of talking…..

1.  She is not allowed to be out of our sight.  Ever.  Ever.
2.  Verizon has set her cell phone to only be able to communicate with SAFE CONTACTS.  Which, for right now, is her Mom, Dad, Brother and Sister.  And that's it.
3.  No computer time except to do homework and I will SIT NEXT TO HER as she's online.
4.  No weekend plans with friends.  Zero.  None.

I told her that I realize she can sneak behind my back.  Even though I don't think she can bypass the parent guards on her cell phone, she might be able to.  BUT!…WHEN I find out that she has tampered with those settings OR if she has any communication with Texter Boy whatsoever  she will NOT get her driver's license this summer.  In fact, she will have to wait an entire year.

This scared us to death.  I'm not sure that my daughter realizes how much it scared me.  One day I think I'll be able to say it was a GOOD thing that it happened because it sure did wake me up from my slumber.  But I'm not there yet.  I'm still scared.

And, by the way, Dad of Texter Boy?  I hope I meet you one day.  Because I have a few things to say you need to hear.