Saturday, February 09, 2008

A while back I mentioned feeling ashamed and embarrassed about having engaged in a shouting match with my sister-in-law at Thanksgiving.

A few weeks later I wrote her an e-mail that said,

Dear Jane:

I wanted to write to tell you that I regret that we fought at Thanksgiving. It is not my intention or hope to have anything but a good relationship with you.

It would mean a lot to me if we could find the time to talk openly about some ground rules for co-parenting during holidays or other family visits. By ground rules I mean parenting rules that we can all agree to follow together consistently with our kids.

Parenting is such hard business and each of us has to do what works best in our own homes. However, when we’re together, I think we need to compromise.

It seems to me that if we are going to be close to each other and each other’s children, we have to find a way to be comfortable when our children are in the other’s charge and know that they will be cared for in a way that we can both live with and accept. This is why I am suggesting we establish some ground rules. Had we had them before Thanksgiving, we might have avoided our argument.

For example, we may disagree about how to arbitrate fights between our children and when or why a toy would get put into time out, but we could perhaps set up a ground rule that standardized the response the kids would get in that situation regardless of whether it came from you, me, K or Jim.

I think the reason I got so angry with you was that I made a parenting decision as the adult in the room with The Mayor and Jackeroo when they fought. I felt like you did not respect the action I took and, in so openly challenging it, you undermined my authority in front of the children. If we had some ground rules for working together at parenting our children and nieces/nephews together then this wouldn’t have happened.

I hope you are open to talking about this further.



I didn't hear anything back from the e-mail I sent, so I printed the letter out and sent it to her in the regular mail.

Another month went by and because I didn't hear from her I wondered if she planned to ever speak to me again.

I decided to call.

My brother answered the phone and said that Jane was sleeping.

I paused and finally decided to ask,

"I sent Jane a letter... did she mention it to you?"

She had not.

I told my brother about the letter and asked him if he would be willing to ask her about it.

The next day she called me.

"You gave me the silent treatment when we were leaving," she said. "That really hurt my feelings."

"You're right. I did do that," I said. "I knew it would hurt your feelings when I did it. I owe you an apology and I am sorry."

She paused.

"I didn't agree with the way you handled the fight between The Mayor and Jackeroo, but the way I yelled at you in front of them was wrong," she conceded.

Though I like Jane very much, she and I haven't had a particularly close relationship.

Our conversation made abrupt starts and stops and it was awkward at times, but we were trying.

She talked to me about how hard things had been for their family these last few months. My brother works in new home construction and the market has been very slow. He's been anxious and his worry has bled over into their family life.

"I'm sorry," I said. "That sounds hard."

"It is, it is," she said. "It's very hard for him."

"No," I said. "I meant it sounds hard for YOU."

"You're worried about ME?!"

I thought she might weep.

"Of course," I said.

"I'm sorry, it's just that with the three kids and him home all day I'm the one that worries about everyone else from the time my eyes open until the time they shut. I don't have any time to myself and no one worries about me."

"That doesn't sound sustainable," I said.

She sighed.

"It's hard," she said.

"It sounds like it," I agreed.

"It's just been so hard since your Granny died," Jane said. "I really miss her. I really loved her."

I wasn't expecting our conversation to go in this direction. I choked back my own tears.

"She's the only person in your family that really saw ME," she said. "She understood what I go through. She appreciated me. She liked me. She made me feel special."

I was glad I was sitting down.

"She was the matriarch," Jane said. "She made sure it all fit together and that there was a place for everyone. Now that she's gone, I want to play that role... but that doesn't seem to work."

As she was talking I thought about my mom, my Aunt Nancy, myself, my cousin Shannon... the women who are, by blood, part of my family. I admit, it did sound odd to me to think of Jane adopting the role of matriarch in my family.

Jane and I talked for a long time.

She shared her experiences of various family gatherings, expressing - maybe for the first time to anyone besides my brother -- her frustrations.

I listened.

We didn't get to talk about common ground rules for parenting, but we agreed to talk about it before the next time we were together.

Near the end of the conversation, I said,

"I realize there's a lot for us to work out, but I want you to know that it's important to me that our families are close and I want to do that work."

"I think it was good that we fought," she said. "We're having this conversation because of it."

Before we hung up she confessed to being a reader of this blog and asked me if I was going to write about our fight.

"No," I said. "I try not to air my dirty laundry on the internet."

"I want you to," she insisted. "Promise me you'll write about it."

I felt stunned and confused when I hung up. I wasn't sure what to make of all that was said much less know what I might write about it.

I decided to let it sink in for awhile.

A few nights ago I found myself in the space between dreams and wakefulness, the place where you are aware of your thoughts, but not certain about where reality begins and ends.

In that moment I saw Cindy, my best friend from high school.
“I know you know this,” she said, “but things would probably feel a lot better if you would just talk to your Granny.”

I eyed a photo of my grandmother.
“Well,” I said to Granny's image, “at least this time you sent a messenger I trust and not some crazy lunatic!”

As I became increasingly lucid, Cindy faded from my mind's eye.

I slowly understood that I was at home in my bed and Cindy was thousands of miles away in the Pacific Northwest.

I thought about what Cindy said in my dream state.

“Ugh!!! I know she’s right,” I thought.

I had trouble knowing what to say though.

I asked the friend who originally suggested I talk to my Granny's spirit,

"How do I talk to her? What do I say?"

She said that all I had to do was ask,

"What do you have to say right now, Granny?"

She said I'd be surprised by the response.

Days passed and I wasn't making any progress on the conversation with Jane or on talking to my Granny.

I decided I must be emotionally and spiritually paralyzed... until yesterday when I started talking to a friend over lunch about the conversation I had with Jane.

In retelling it, I found myself talking about her suggestion about playing a matriarchal role in my family.

My family.

Oh, there it is.


MY family?!


No wonder she feels frustrated with me.

Clearly I have maintained an unspoken boundary defining my brother as true family and Jane as something else. Merely his wife?

Oh, I am such a giant ass.

I can be so self-righteous sometimes (- oh my letter! -) when really I am the guiltiest.

This family of mine is of course hers also.

It's my responsibility to make sure that the way I speak, act and think conveys that to her.

I have to make sure I respect her equal rights, voice and contributions in OUR family.

[Why am I such a slow learner?!!]

Since I was making break-throughs anyway, I decided to push for further success on the car ride home.

"What do you have to say right now, Granny?" I said to the windshield.

The response I heard, was...

"I'm proud of you for understanding about Jane."

Jane was right. It is good that we fought.

May it be an important step on our journey to being truly close.

My Sister-In-Law, Jane


Mrs. Chicken said...

Family is hard. In-laws? Harder. This post moved me so much. I, too, think of "my" family. Now that we are all wed and there are children ... we have to be one family, "ours." Because for the kids, everyone belongs to them, right? Aunts, uncles ...

This made me think of my brother, whom I so often ignore/forget/dismiss because he is so much younger than I, and so different. But he is mine, as is his wife, with whom my relationship is VERY rocky.

Thank you, Jess. Your granny was a wise woman. As are you, and your Jane.


Scout's Honor said...

You are so very mature and adult. I took to the silent treatment, and four years later, haven't talked to my sister-in-law or mother-in-law. I've never met my nephew and neither have my children. Very productive, eh?

Good for you for opening the lines of communication. I wish I had the guts to mend fences.

At the same time, when the fight was happening, I felt like my marriage was at risk. so push comes to shove, I picked my family overs hers.

Funny, I've fought with sisters over much bigger things over the years, and let bygones be bygones, but I can't seem to completely forgive my sister-in-law and my husband's parents.

I need to channel some of your positive and pro-active vibe.

Anonymous said...

I usually cry with laughter rather than with emotion when I read your posts. I'm glad you talked with Granny.

Maddy said...

I for one appreciate the full and frank disclosure.

It looks like all of us are continuing to learn and that's always a good thing.
Best wishes

Veronica Mitchell said...

I don't have any words for you now. But thank you.

amy t sharp said...

That was so different than what I thought I would read as I clicked over here, but I was so happy to read yr words. You drew me right into the human condition and I thought it was a very well reflected piece... Sometimes it is hard to face things and it is hard to work things out..but it is always worth the are on a good path. :)
I love to read yr writing gal.

meno said...

Shoe-horning your way into an institution that existed way before you were around is hard. Very hard. That you are talking and you both desire a happy outcome is pretty much all that is relevant.

Omaha Mama said...

I'm bawling. Really.
And I don't even know why.

This is just beautiful.
Thank you, Jane, for suggesting that you write on it.

Probably my favorite piece you've ever written. Bravo.

Becky said...

I realized, sitting here, that I always call the hub's clan "YOUR family" when in fact they are mine, too. What a breakthrough, for both of us. So glad you found your way to conversation with Granny. There is yet a lot of wisdom and tenderness to revealed, is my guess.

That Chick Over There said...

Thank you for writing this. I haven't spoken to my sister in law for...well, almost four years now. For a lot of reasons.

This struck a chord.

Sarah O. said...

What a great post.

Mrs. Fussy Fussypants said...

Oh, The Excellance!


I first loved your site because of all the laughs you deliver in your dead-on way.
As the months went by, I began to love the thoughtful soul behind the site.
It is posts like this that have drawn so many of us into your daily thoughts. Excellant piece.

Feel the love, Sistah!

Anonymous said...

what a beautiful, moving and heartfelt post! sounds like you and your sister-in-law are on your way to closer and closer times.

Honeybell said...


It is so hard when the "elders" of a family are gone, and those of us who are left are at a loss at how to keep a family close. They had made it seem so easy. You and Jane are feeling your way along and discovering how it all works, and doing a much better job than my own family has done. Practice makes perfect, and I wouldn't be surprised if you and Jane don't become much better friends than you would have imagined.

Ortizzle said...

What's that I see over your shoulder? --Kind of looks like your granny's spirit.

Amazing what can happen when dialogue is open.

Little Monkies said...

Wow, sweet girl, that was so incredible. i'm sitting in my chair a little shell shocked.

I understand your frustration about MY family. I get territorial too. It's like that when you lose things and protect what you still have. you have a strong lineage of women, I don't blame you for feeling that way. But Jane can join that lineage. Pretty amazing.

Love to you, my dear. Love love love to you.

Mamma said...

I'm impressed that you were able to be so self-aware of this whole situation--even if it was a little late.

Families are hard. I may try to talk to my Aunt from now on. Knowing her though the answer I would get would be "cheesecake." She always did love me.

Moobs said...

I'm with your granny on this one: I'm proud of you.

Kyla said...

I think that the occasional fight, in many cases, causes open discussion and personal growth. Of course, it can go the other way, too, but I'm so glad this turned out to be a good thing for you all.

Good for you, Jess. And good for you, Jane.

slouching mom said...

Damn, J. This was beautiful. And poignant. And wonderful.

I hope that Jane feels the support of all of your readers -- because each one of us understands feeling as if no one ever wonders how WE'RE doing.

You did good, OTJ.

Reesie said...

Holy Freaking Cow!!

This is one of the most honest and amazing things you have ever written.

I see it from the other side. I am the SIL, trying to integrate in to the family and while I am loved and accepted, I sometimes to push too hard to have things "my way".

Best wishes to you and Jane as you work through this.

Yay Jess! Yay Jane! Yay Granny!!!

Life As I Know It said...

Wow. I hung on with every word of that post.
Family IS hard. In laws are even more difficult and complicated. I don't truly feel part of my husband's family...not sure that will ever change. And I think it's more me than them.
Like I said, complicated.
Wonderfully, emotional post.

Yolanda Elvira said...

i like you.

Sugarplum's Mom said...

It so easy to draw the line between blood and marriage. "He's my uncle by marriage" "She's my REAL sister" etc. My first instinct probably would have been the same. I think it's fantastic that you opened the lines of communication with her. It would be so easy to just let it go and not ever mention it again. I'm glad you pursued it - it sounds like you two will really be able to find some common ground that will make your family gatherings much more enjoyable for everyone.

flutter said...

She's lovely jess, and so are you.

Granny would be proud.

Clink said...

Oh I am in tears! This was beautiful...I am so happy that you spoke to your Granny!

Beck said...

I burst into tears at the end of this.

Fairly Odd Mother said...

I did just as Beck did---complete burst of tears. I'm so glad you have found a bridge back to Jane and, therefore, one that combines you all as a family.

Bungi said...

Wow! I'm amazed at your humility... It takes a lot of someone to face up to themselves. But that is indeed the way to have peace and change stuff about ourselves...

And you have this amazing way of making people laugh in one post and almost cry in the other... :-)

Alpha Dude 1.5 said...

You did good.


Anonymous said...

Awesome! That is the great stuff that LIFE is built on. Keep on pushing through. Very inspirational! xoxo

Stimey said...

This is a really wonderful post. I love that both of you are able to agree to try to work together. And it can be so amazing to open yourself up to someone to whom you haven't done so before. Sometimes the most horrible catalysts can lead us to the best revelations.

SUEB0B said...

You done good.

(Hi Jane!)

jeanie said...

You brought a tear to my eye - mainly for the amazing way you have moved towards resolution.

Unfortunately I don't know that my SIL will ever be so understanding and workable as yours - she has been angling for matriarch status since lining my brother up, and has worked very hard in moving him away from our family and into hers. It seems a common theme.

Jen said...

Relationships with in-laws can be so hard. Cheers to you Jane for being willing to do the tough stuff and get it all figured out.

Oh, and I KNEW Granny had better taste in messangers than to pick a crazy thrift store lady.

Magpie said...

J-fascinating & interesting post. So hard to know those boundaries of family v. "in-laws"-and wonderful that you found a bridge.

Nancy said...

Your Granny will always be there for you. Beautifully written.

I have three sisters and one brother. One of those sisters is his wife. I have to stop and think which is the "in-law".

Shannon said...

Okay, that made me cry. In part because it was beautiful and the way we should be with each other, and also because I figure the odds of my reaching that level of emotional maturity are pretty slim as even now I am not speaking to one family member and am barely speaking to two others. I'm sure I'm right though....

Loralee Choate said...

Throwing inlaw's, boundaries, and struggle all together is really difficult.

Add a large grief to the mix and it becomes complicated, indeed.

I am glad that you had that conversation with your grandmother, Jess. I'm even gladder that you and your sister-in-law are making strides.

There are so many conversations that I need to have and haven't yet.

They are just sitting there festering and even though I have come a long way and self-analyze all the time, I didn't really realize how big some of them have gotten until I read this.

Karly said...

This brought tears to my eyes for some reason. I hope you and Jane work the whole co-parenting thing out. I have a hard time with that with my brother-in-law.

Sister Honey Bunch said...

How wonderful that you guys were able to talk things out and that you have true understanding now? I love it!

PS, you made me cry. I hate to cry.

Holly said...

What an amazing story about real life..and to Jane (cause we all know you're reading this!) good job sharing your true feelings!!! You are an inspiration to all of us!

Monica said...

Hello there,

Although I read so much over here ('cause I think you are SO great!) :) I don't comment much.

This, oh I had to comment.

If we just realize that how we view the way things SHOULD be, we get to understand that is our view. Not everyone's. I personally am so doggone controlling in the family I have as well... I've only just recently learned HOW controlling I was. It was never meant with harm... ever.

What you did with your sister-in-law was beautiful. You reached out and even as beautiful she took your hand.

She was correct, your *fight* was perfect. It brought the two of you to talk on the phone.

GREAT JOB both of you.

Something else I just learned recently-no one understands a woman like another woman. Sometimes what heals us is those we wouldn't think of turning to.

You are awesome and so is your family. ;)

Thank you so much for sharing.


liv said...

I think everyone has said it so well. You're a good egg, J. You make the sisterhood proud.

Pgoodness said...

I'm glad you finally talked to your granny. And I'm glad you're learning about family being OURS and not MINE - that is such a tough path to walk when it is so much easier to ignore it all. Good for you, and Jane.

jennifer h said...

This was really moving. Listening to others can be such a hard thing, especially when those people are in our families. Good for you for making that effort, and for listening and hearing both your sister and law and your Granny.

jakelliesmom said...

How wonderful that you were able to have these conversations, both with Jane and your Granny. Wonderful that you were open to her side, even more so that your Gran has helped to mend a fence. I'm glad for you, Jess.

tulipmom said...

Your granny is no doubt very proud of both you and Jane.

Anonymous said...

Lord in heaven! People actually talk this way with their family members?!? Any of my relatives would laugh me out of the room!

JaniceNW said...

Oh my gosh, inspiring. I am so proud of your maturity and your break through with your Granny.

I wish you could send these vibes to my SIL and her SO. I have never felt I am a part of their(her, MIL, DH) family. My Hub made it worse one time, by basically choosing them over me. He wonders why I feel he and the boys should travel the 1000 miles w/o me.

Joh said...

You are amazing! I am so moved by this story. What a shining example to the world. The reflection, communication, honesty, openess, wow.

PixelPi said...

Beautiful, just beautiful. I loved this post.

Lara said...

you rock for putting in the work to keep your family strong. ALL of your family.

stephanie said...

Whoa, awesome writing here. What a blessing of an experience, hard as it was.

I love those strange dream states people have; love it even more when they start to make sense!

That picture of your sister-in-law speaks. Well done, you.

Juju said...

I am so glad that you are well on your way to truly sorting this out. Much repect to you both :-)

JCK said...

I love how your sister-n-law opened up to you. It was like opening up a gift.

mel from freak parade said...

Wow. Very moving....both your writing and your actions.

I am so glad you wrote about it. Thank you, Jane.

nell said...

You're awesome. Accepting someone - even someone you like - into your family is hard, and it's also hard to be the one trying to get in. I think the two of you handled this admirably.

furiousBall said...

generally speaking in my family we settle our disagreements by going outside, stripping to the waist and flinging humus and pita bread at each other, whomever looks more delicious at the end loses.

i think your approach might be better

Lizzi said...

As one who frequently plays the part of The Sister-in-Law in the family, I can say that I am truly impressed by and in awe of the level of maturity and understanding that you and Jane have in your relationship.

This was a wonderful post, and almost - ALMOST - inspires me to try the same type of conversation with some of the other female members of OUR family!

Thank you for posting this.

Paige said...

As you know, I have spent the past four months coming to terms with a family relationship that has bedeviled me. Though it was one of the hardest things I have ever done, I am grateful that I put the work into it. I think in time you will be grateful that you and Jane worked to meet each other halfway too.


Ali said...

i LOVE this post. wow. i think it would help me to have one of these with some of the husband's sisters...

Anonymous said...

I've been reading you for over a year now and this is hands down my favorite post. I'm moved so much by you, by Jane, by your willingness to reflect on yourselves and your relationship. Beautiful OTJ.

Anonymous said...

Fabulous post. One of your best. I have tears in my eyes.

I wrestle with "step" issues more than "out-law" issues but I feel ya, sistah!

And man, I wish I had the number of comments you score. :)


Tracey said...

It is often the hardest to get along with the ones we love the most. Oh, and about talking to your Granny? I do that all the time with mine. In that "in between dream and wake" state you were talking about. I often hear her talking to me. It is comforting.

Queen of the Mayhem said...

The whole "instafamily" with in-laws is very difficult to embrace. I have the same struggles. I am so glad that you have realized you need to embrace sounds like she could really use it right now!

We mommies have to stick together...even if we need to lay some groundrules first! :)

Jennifer said...

Oh my word. Is to late to marry into your family? Perhaps your mom, or SIL will adopt my husband?

Awesome, both of you, Jane and Jess.

Aliki2006 said...

Okay, I'm really crying now--I don't know, I'm feeling very sensitive and emotional about extended family stuff today.

You are so awesome, really, and that Jane sounds pretty wonderful, too.

Thank you for this post.

Jenifer said...

Oh J, what have you done to me! This might be the best thing you have written yet.

Kuddos to both you and Jane for seeing the bigger picture and what the real meaning of family is. And to Granny for her infinite wisdom, may she always guide you.

Janet said...

You did a good thing; both of you.

Claire B. said...

Wow. I feel like I've been wrung out like a sponge. I can only imagine how you must be feeling. . .

Incredibly brave of you to confront the situation and your own shortcomings. We should all be so mature. Life is too short.

I am sending this link to my brother and sister-in-law (the ones I adore) in hopes they will mend fences with my other brother (whom I adore) and sister-in-law (whom we have "diagnosed" with narcissistic personality disorder); they are also feuding over parenting issues. Methinks there is much more lurking below the surface.

Excellent post. So moving.

Anonymous said...

You two are strong women.

good. Granny will be proud and at peace with that.

(anne at crazymumma), blogger is being...difficult.

QT said...

Nice work, woman. It was tough, but you worked it on out. I am glad you made up with Granny, too.

Lisa Milton said...

I couldn't get in to comment yesterday, and boy did I want to.

This was such a moving post.

I'll be thinking about it all week...

Circus Kelli said...

Well done, Jes.

-The Shiny Happy Mama- said...

Beautiful post, J. All misty over here. Thanks for being so open with us.

Theresa said...

Oh, the choked throat. Oh, the tears. This is how I know your writing skills to be a gift. You're gifted, and by using and honing them, the giving continues. Thanks for sharing this and letting us (me) come along on the journey. You and Jane are in my heart today.

Anonymous said...

I may have given birth to one daughter and one son - but I have three of each to love. Lucky me. Grandma Seattle.

Kara said...

I've cried three separate times I read this post..I finally have it put together enough to post a comment. You are one beautiful, smart woman. You have touched many wonderful women by this post. I for one needed to read this touched me deeply.

the mama bird diaries said...

What an authentic, moving piece.

Thank you for sharing your faults, your honesty and your courage.

Anonymous said...

You're a beautiful writer. This is great material for a short story.

kittenpie said...

You know, I understand that boundary, though, because on one hand, you're right, family is family, and it's not right to hold someone at arm's length. But at the same time, different families ahve different rules, different traditions, and different ways of relating and understanding. If Misterpie tried to take too much of a role in my family, I would think he doesn't GET my family enough to do that. He needs to respect the way my family operates. In turn, I don't barge in much with his family, because they operate in their fashion, and I dont' think it's my place. Perhaps it's just because our families are very different, but I think there is a certain respect for letting a family operate in their own way that has to be maintained, too. It's a balancing act, any way you slice it.

Anonymous said...

I think you and Jane did a wonderful job working out your differences and coming to a better understanding of each other. I'm in awe. I need to work on my skills with regards to dealing with family members whom I do not agree with. I tend to just withdraw which is not the best way to deal with it. Thanks for posting this Jess.

FENICLE said...

I love how open and honest this post was. I've had similar situations within my own family...but no follow-up. You made the best of a bad situation. Sounds like it all worked out for the best.

Faerie Mom said...

Wow. Just Wow.

To Jane, if you read this, I know how you feel. I am a SAHM to 3 with a DH who was without work or back and forth for some time. It's hard... take care of yourself!!

J, thanks for writing this. I think it is an important subject!

Elaine A. said...

I had a sister in law that was difficult to get along with at times. She and my husband's brother have since divorced. I say this only to let you know that I can relate to "in-law" issues, they can be so complicated. You two seem to have certainly made a breakthrough... I like your blog because you are so HONEST. Thanks for that...

Anonymous said...

What an amazing post. It is so difficult to speak of these things. These things between families. After the initial awkwardness and hurt feelings, it almost always works out for the better. You were wise, introspective, and even-handed (and the parts about your Granny made me weep).


SouthernBell` said...

That's SO true! We in-laws are usually kept at a distance. And there ususally is one person who sees us for us and not the "in-law." Good for you for breaking down that barrier! Your family will be much stronger for it. (Sounds like you're stepping into that matriarch position. You're grandmother would be proud of you for "seeing" your SIL.)

Hol&J said...

I loved this post, it's very inspiring. Thank you.

Cyndi said...

This was great. Could you forward it to my in-laws?

LceeL said...

My wife has five sisters and three brothers. Whenever we have one of our rare family get-togethers, one of her sisters invariably will suggest that all of the Valdes kids get together for a 'family' portrait. And the nine of them get into a group photo. My wife doesn't understand why this irritates me. She doesn't understand why I feel like I and the other 'inlaws' have been excluded and, to some degree, insulted.

There's way more to this story and I don't want to get started, but thanks for helping me give voice, in my own mind, as to what I object to about all that. Now if i can just make her understand.

bew said...

This time, I'm going to comment first, rather than read through the responses....

This hit home in so many ways.

Thank you for this post.

(editing, a lot of times to make sense of it all)

we_be_toys said...

Wow - I'm so glad you and your sister-in-law are talking, and really, really glad you are pseaking with your Granny again.
Let the healing begin!

Anne said...

What a nice post... communication is so important. I'm glad that you and your sister-in-law finally got to talk.

Chanda (aka Bea) said...

You are a wise woman. I think I need to take a page from your book when I deal with my sister-in-law. You made a lot of sense. The time and effort you take with your relationships is astounding.

~JJ! said...

You've made me cry.

You've taught me something today (again).

Thank you.

cce said...

Wow, lots of people weighing in on this what's one more?
You and Jane seem like really mature and well adjusted people. Most individuals live a lifetime without ever having such a frank conversation with another human being. You both will get it right if you are committed to difficult and honest communication. (I have no SIL but my BIL is an asshole, incapable of even admitting his own feelings to himself.) I'm glad for you that you have enlightened people with which to share this family-thang.

Don Mills Diva said...

I don't know why this made me tear up but it did. Family relationships are so complex and there was sooo much in there that I could relate to...thanks for being so honest and writing about it so beautifully.

Mom of 5 said...

When this post started, I expected something different...a fight.... something about how ridiculous of a person she is....but I was way off. It is beautiful. To bad my SIL isn't this mature. I'm very very touched.

Jenni said...

Wow, this was such a poignant and beautiful post.

I think I need to call my mother-in-law now.

Mel said...

Can I just tell you how much I love you right now?
I'd KILL to have a sister-in-law like you, one who really cares about our relationship and works on it, as you are doing with Jane.
You are both to be commended for approaching this like reasonable adults. A hug for you both:

Sugared Harpy said...

You are so amazing. It takes a lot in us to admit when we're the ones causing a particular issue, it's so hard to look inwardly. I'm proud of both of you. And, thank you.

Kimmylyn said...

What a post. I think it is my favorite post ever. I was drawn in and then found myself cheering for you for how you grew from this fight..

Damselfly said...

Wow, this is amazing. My sister-in-law and I fought at Thanksgiving, too, and I tried to apologize then, but she wouldn't hear of it. I wish we could have a heart-to-heart talk like you and your sister-in-law did.

And talking to your Granny... how powerful.

Ruth Dynamite said...

Sniff. I just love happy endings.

And I love your granny too. Let her voice be your guide.

BOSSY said...

Family Dynamics can be a wild ride -- but Bossy couldn't imagine a better seat mate than Oh The Joys who at least is always thinking and adjusting. You and Jane are both lucky.

carrie said...

Oh, how this resonates with me, in many, many ways. It is so true that we view these families as "mine" and not "ours."

You, and your beautiful sister-in-law, are wise, wise women...

I am glad that you chose to write about this.

Kerry said...

I love full circle posts... I also love that you were brave enough to take the first step and she was brave enough to accept your apology and return the apology. I love that you were able to fight and now your relationship is better! So different from my family where no one talks about anything uncomfortable. ever.

Aimee Greeblemonkey said...

Jesus, you made me cry again.

P.S. Hi Jane!

Anonymous said...

Life is too short for feuds and spats. What a wonderful story of a restored and deepened relationship.

Family Adventure said...

Joy, this was lovely. You've made me think about my own family, and how I view it.

Thank you, and good luck!


mamatulip said...

Blending families, blending people, blending lives and all the rest, it's hard. It's something I've definitely struggled with since I got married, and one of the hardest hurdles for me was trying not to draw the line between Dave's family and my family. Trying to think of us all as a family, a collective.

You have strong women in your life, Jess. That is a blessing.

Lawyer Mama said...

I'm so glad you got to talk to your granny. She sounds like she was such an amazing woman.

It is incredibly hard to join a close knit family and feel that you fit in. It took me years to stop seeing insults and slights everywhere in my husband's family. Now, my in-laws are just as much my family as they are T's. But it takes time. And honestly, it may have been easier because T doesn't have any sisters.

It's so wonderful that you and Jane had your talk, that you're both willing to work at your relationship. Clearly, both of you are great women just like your granny.


ewe are here said...

Fantastic post.

BookMomma said...

I read this post a few days ago and have been thinking about it ever since.
Like many of the commenters here, I also have a horrible relationship with my SIL. Through a series of misunderstandings and passive aggressive behavior on both our parts things have gotten so bad that she's only seen my oldest son twice and has never seen my youngest son. We live three miles away.
I wish (wish, WISH) I could say we could do the adult thing and talk it out like you and Jane did, but I honestly am not sure that's a possibility. After some reaching out on my part and some attempts at repairing the rift on my husband's, not much, if any, progress has been made.
But that doesn't change me wishing it were different. Wishing that my sons could know their super-cool aunt and uncle. And I could never blog about it becasue she reads and would be uber-insulted (although I've started and stopped a thousand times).
So... I live vicariously through the House of Joys, and the wise women in the whole family.

And wish.

She She said...

Wow. What a lot of work you did to get to this place of understanding. I'd call that a breakthrough. Good for you.

Day Dreamer said...

Extremely good post.

Honest, strong, forehead slapping post.

You did good.

Kevin Charnas said...

Life is messy...TRULY messy. But, persistence still pays off, no?

Speaking of Mayor being a "badass", I think that he takes after his mother.

Deb said...

I'm trying to catch up after vacation, and you've got me in tears with every other post.

I now have a close relationship with my oldest brother because of a period of harsh strife and honesty. We helped each other through my father's death last year, and I've never been so happy to have him on my side. In hindsight, it took tremendous maturity for both of us to get to this place, and I feel so proud of us for having gotten to it. I'm impressed by how quickly you reached it. You're so much wiser than I. ;)

Redneck Mommy said...

As much as I love my sisters in laws, I would pay big money to be able to call you my sissy.

I'm glad you and Jane are making ground with one another. It will ultimately lead to future happiness.

Granny is smiling. I can feel it.

Wishful Mommy said...

lovely post! i am the "jane" in my (husband's) family so i was very, very moved by your words. hope the real jane is too. i try to love all my family (even ones who don't love me back) unconditionally. it has helped the overall picture a lot - especially for the children in family.