Last week we got an invitation to a wedding in January 2009. This is a wedding we have to attend, despite the fact that I'd really rather not. This wedding is for a niece, my older sister's older daughter, who also happens to be my goddaughter. My ambivalence is that this family shares nothing with mine except for some DNA. We aren't really friends, we don't visit, we don't call, we don't share views on anything, but we do share parents and so end up at the same events occasionally. When we are at the same events, talk is stilted and brief, rough outlines only. Going to this wedding means dressing up, pasting on a smile, hugging people who otherwise wouldn't give me the time of day, and getting stared at, as my multi-hued family is a bit of an anomaly in their circle. Of course there will be benefits--I should see relatives whose company I do enjoy and who, more importantly, appear to enjoy mine, and it will keep my mother happy. One of my mantras is "Thou Shalt Not Upset the Grandmothers." My grandmothers are long gone (and missed), but the girls have my mother, KidOne and KidTwo's two paternal grandmothers and KidThree's two grandmothers. We also have a former family sitter known as Grandma, and one set of cousins has a grandmother who is collectively shared with all.
My reluctance to attend this wedding has to do with my massive inferiority complex relating to this sister, to so many feelings of rejection over the years, and the memory of slights and of stinging comments made about my children and their paternal relatives. All of that is rolled up into a ball and chain that I've tried to get untangled from, mostly by withdrawing from engagement and realizing that nothing I could ever do or say would make this family approve of mine.
I wish my niece and her intended all the best in the world, but it will be an effort to attend this wedding. The problem is mine, not theirs, so I won't mar their day by not showing up. I will show up and will do my best to blend in and will just keep mumbling under my breath, "Thou Shalt Not Upset the Grandmothers." My mother deserves that.
On a more cheerful note, here is a funny story from when KidOne was four and we were living on an army post. Our next-door neighbor was a helicopter pilot with two small sons, so his house (and consequently ours) got buzzed a lot by helos. The kids loved that. On the way to the commissary, we always passed the heliport, where KidOne loved the sight of all the helicopters squatting on the ground. One day, we happened to be in front of command headquarters when a helicopter was getting ready to take off from the big lawn in front. Its rotors were spinning away and my then-husband said to our daughter in the backseat, "look, m'ija, that helicopter is getting ready to take off." Our daughter looked over at it, then serenely corrected him, "oh, no, daddy, only the little ones fly."
That will be my lesson for the day: It's all in your perspective. I'll go shopping and get a nice outfit and go to the wedding and enjoy seeing many people whom I both like and love, and I'll enjoy seeing two beautiful young people pledge their love to each other. More love in this world can only be a good thing.
(And to this day, when my ex- tells our daughters he loves them, he doesn't say he loves them past the stars or the moon, he tells them he "loves them past the helicopters.")