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Archive for the ‘in-laws’ Category

My mother in law and I were destined for one another. She may not have seen it at first but I think she’s coming around. From the proprietor of our favorite sushi/bibimbap joint telling her that she and I have a similar bearing to our mutual love of shopping – all signs point to “daughter you never had”.

If only I could speak Korean…

Today we had lunch at Steve’s Deli (Husband, Mom, the kids & I) then we went shopping at a boutique stuffed to the rafters with really cute and correspondingly expensive European children’s clothing. Thanks to Halmoni’s munificence, no one went home empty handed. I appreciate her generosity – but even more so, her happiness with constantly holding the grandson who is now approximately 1/5th of her total body weight.

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paul frank skullie

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Yasuro and I started dating in early 2000 when my daughter, Mitten, was 2 years old. We worked together in the IS department of an automotive PR firm in Fordland for about a year before we realized out mutual desire to jump each other’s bones. Things went well and within a year Mitten and I were staying at his house on the weekends (the only days he was home. Yay, consulting). We dated, with ever increasing seriousness, for three years. Then the three of us moved in together. A year after that, we got engaged. 5 months later, thanks to an infertility scare and the resultant conception of Toot, we were married.

Now, my husband does not have the sunniest of relationships with his parents and for most of our dating relationship I felt that they viewed me as a placeholder, the entertainment their son was allowed until his real wife, his Korean wife arrived. The fact that I had a child from a previous relationship certainly didn’t help me make a great first impression. I am a good mom. I worked and went to college full-time. I was respectful, from a nice family, kind and loving to their son. I love Korean food. Completely open to learning about and adopting Korean cultural traditions. I thought that with time, they would come to know me as me and their objections would fade.

When we announced our engagement to Yasuro’s mother, she played it cool. She said she was happy for us but that we should wait to tell his father until after she had some time to “prepare” him. This was in May 2004. In late June, we moved to California and Yasuro’s father still didn’t know that we were engaged. In August, I realized we were pregnant. I was simultaneously elated (doctors had told us we might not be able to conceive) and horrified. My future father-in-law STILL didn’t know we were engaged. I knew how it would look from his perspective. Because of these considerations, it was with some trepidation that I told Yasuro our news.

I shouldn’t have worried — his first reaction was to flex like a 1977 Schwarzenegger.

We decided to speed up our wedding plans and set a date of 10/02/04.

Yasuro’s father was brought up to speed and everything seemed good until about a week before the wedding. My husband’s parents still hadn’t invited anyone and we feared that they would eventually refuse to come themselves. A few days before we flew home for the ceremony we got the call. They wouldn’t come. They couldn’t accept me as a daughter-in-law. I still don’t know what they hoped to accomplish with this gambit but at the time it made me incredibly sad. I was insulted, sure, but worse, they were turning their backs on their grandchild and son. I felt horrible for my husband. Through all of this, Yasuro made it clear that if they forced his hand, he would choose OUR family. It was “us against the world” in his eyes.

We flew home and met his parents and mine for dinner the night before the wedding. That evening now carries the dubious distinction of holding the title of “Best Ambush Dinner”. We ate, we argued (for hours) – long story short, my husband’s parents agreed to come to the wedding. We had a lovely wedding with 40 of our closest friends and family. It was officiated by the mayor of the town we used to live in before moving to CA. Yasuro’s parents came and even seemed to enjoy themselves.
6 months later, our daughter was born and for the first time, there was ease to my relationship with my in-laws. I always had something to talk about with them and I got to see their very caring, considerate side that I had always figured was there (my husband didn’t get awesome from nowhere) but had never seen first hand. My MIL was/is especially good about making sure my oldest daughter is shown the same affection that they lavish on their biological grandchildren.

If my younger daughter started the healing process, my son was surgical glue. When he was born, I saw my FIL beam at me for the first time. He started being tenderly concerned about my health and well-being! I realize the sexism inherent in the Korean obsession with gochi but that doesn’t diminish the warm fuzzies and strange sense of accomplishment I feel when I see my in-laws cooing over my son. I think I even got a ‘thank you’ when they visited us at the hospital.

It’s taken a long time for us to reach détente. I hope that eventually they will see me only as ‘loving wife, mother and daughter in law’. Less and less as ‘white girl’. I will continue to get over my lingering trust issues. My husband and I will keep forging a loving family that is half asian, half european and all our own.

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