Yesterday morning I got a call from one of Michael's brothers who lives out of town. He said was in town for a few days, staying at Michael's parents' house, and asked me if I'd like to come out and have dinner with them. I accepted and I'm so glad I went. There were just ten of us. In that large family that's a small get-together!
We had such a good time visiting together, and the food was so good. My mother-in-law is an incredible cook. She made ribs last night, which was one of Michael's favorite dishes of hers. I've got to get her to teach me her recipe.
It was the first time that I have really felt like I have a place in their family even without Michael being there with me. I felt entirely comfortable - like I do with my own family. It's a relief to feel that way because they are my strongest connection to Michael now.
This is a huge improvement from the early days of our marriage. Michael had made the mistake of telling his ex-girlfriend that she could "have his family" because he felt guilty for breaking up with her. So the first holiday season after we were married, we went early or late to his family events so that she could have prime time with his family. It made me feel hurt and angry at the time, and I told Michael that I didn't agree with it. However, he felt strongly that it was something he needed to allow, and he thought my family was enough for us. I let it go hoping that things would change, and over the next year things did get better. We attended gatherings and she didn't, and I was pleased. It's not so much that I wanted her to lose his family, but I did think it was healthier for her to move one. Furthermore, I desired to know them and for them to know me. I was so uncertain of them that I stayed close by Michael's side every time we were there. It's not that they were unkind to me, but we were practically strangers.
When my mother-in-law stayed with me during my bed rest last month, we had a little heart-to-heart about Michael. We talked about how his well-intended decisions led to so much wasted time and several unintended consequences. She said how for the first year or two she didn't know how to relate to me because she didn't know me. I think it's fair to say that we didn't really get a chance to know one another until we had to come together and care for Michael earlier this year.
I know if we could all go back and do things again that things would be so different, but I'm happy that things have progressed as much as they have. I love Michael's family, and now I know they love me, too. Michael would be so happy about that.