"If we're gonna heal, let it be glorious."
My in-laws were here from April 20-24, and as is always the case when my mother-in-law is around, we were kept pretty busy. It was a whirlwind of restaurants and shopping, brunches and photographs, fifteen rounds of Mexican train dominoes and fifteen more of Cards Against Humanity and then two hours of Heads Up that left me with aching cheeks and days of sore abs from laughing, and a little concerned that the neighbors would come knocking about our unusually rowdy noise levels. The neighbors did not, either to our credit or theirs, come knocking.
I am thankful for this family that has taken me in, even when they exhaust me. I am more thankful that now, five years in, I'm able to say "my mom has been a little absent lately" and they have enough context to know that I probably don't want to talk about it but do want to be folded in a little closer. I am thankful that my brother-in-law and his girlfriend have been living in the city for the past year, that they join us for dinner once a month, and that we now have a second bedroom so that when the parents are here there's a place for them to sleep other than an airbed our living room floor. I am thankful that they have shown me that functional families exist, and also to know that even in functional families nobody is 100% fond of 100% of every person's traits. I am thankful that they resolve conflict with a little bit of silence and a little bit of time and a little bit of talking. I am thankful that they are not, generally, voice-raisers, even when they're angry. I am thankful that they are feelings-namers. I am thankful that even if they are occasionally taken-aback by our choices, they generally acknowledge that for the most part their reactions are not our responsibility. I am thankful that most of the things I find difficult to deal with about my mother-in-law are things I find difficult to deal with about myself, and that the same is true of many of the things I'm fond of. I am thankful that when G and I compare ourselves to them, everyone laughs a little knowingly. I am thankful that doing so is an affectionate thing.
And I am thankful for the whirlwinds, because I sometimes forget to have adventures if there aren't whirlwinds now and then, and also thankful that I've finally been able to establish with them that if we're going to do whirlwinds I also need downtime. I am thankful that I'm comfortable enough that when I haven't had any downtime, I can be a little cranky without being worried they won't love me anymore. I am also thankful that my mother-in-law has come to the same conclusion about her own cranky moments, because it feels like privileged trust to be allowed to see someone when they're not at their best. I am thankful to have learned the same lessons from some of my other adopted family members, and in this I am thankful for being known. I am thankful for eggs benedict and fancy tiled floors and teaching my mother-in-law to use Instagram so she can follow @Ihavethisthingwithfloors and #whereistand, and thankful that a love of home design elements is something I share with both my mother-in-law and my brother-in-law's girlfriend (I am thankful for her, also, and really hope she sticks around). I am thankful for in-laws that I miss when they leave, and also thankful for the quiet that follows.
This visit came on the tail end of feeling very broken, very sad, and very, very unparented, and so I'm thankful for G and the people that have entered my life through marriage. I am thankful for healing, thankful for the process, thankful for the setbacks and the reminders that the only way out is through.
I am also thankful that their visit meant I missed the first couple of days of freak-outs over Lemonade, and that when I finally got to go through it at 7am on Monday, I did it alone and without any background commentary from the internet. I am thankful that I cried a bit over "the mother of your children, both living and dead" and that when the healing was glorious, I knew what I was going to write about this week. I'm thankful that even though we're supposed to be instituting Household Austerity Measures for a couple of months to recover from a very expensive April, I bought a book of Warsan Shire's poetry immediately. I am thankful that in doing so I discovered that multiple sources have sold out of her work entirely over the weekend. I am thankful that I thought how lucky we are to be alive right now and in doing so realized it's true: the world is a mess but it's also full of people Doing the Work of healing it, and that's a truly glorious thing to get to witness.
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