lezbemoms

Raising a Blended Family

Revisiting Grace

on December 23, 2012

I had a conversation with my mom yesterday.  We were just casually chatting about our Christmas plans, what types of pies to have (I voted for four different kinds… ahem), the babies’ presents, etc, when I casually asked about the guest count for Christmas dinner.  Last I’d heard, the only guest outside of the immediate family would be my grandmother. Perfect. Nice, small, intimate Christmas dinner- I would miss those family members who couldn’t be present but would be grateful for less dishes to wash.

I was, however, informed that besides just my grandmother, my aunt and uncle would be there too, after all.  I felt a small elation at this- I’ve always loved this particular aunt and uncle, and have been anxious for them to meet the babies.

The list of add-ons wasn’t over, however, and in the midst of me expressing my joy at seeing my aunt and uncle again, my mother casually mentioned my grandfather may come, too.  And that was like a huge bucket of ice water being thrown over me.

To say my grandfather and I have issues would be an understatement.  All throughout my childhood, we got along just fine. I came out as gay and nary a word was said, everyone was very supportive, and I felt like the luckiest girl in the world to have such a strong and supporting family…

…until the Christmas when I flew Shorty out to meet the family. And my grandfather was mysteriously ill and unable to make Christmas dinner that year (my grandmother came without him). And I later found out that the reason he hadn’t come (the first Christmas dinner he’d ever missed, in spite of a long history of illnesses), was that he had, in fact, disapproved of me being gay all along and had no interest in meeting my fiance or my new daughter (Thing One). And he felt so strongly about these beliefs that he couldn’t even make peace in the name of Christmas. And he never (and still hasn’t) bothered to say a word to me about this, just left the information to be filtered through the family phone tree until my mother was finally the one to tell me. Yeah.

Ouch.

To say that I felt betrayed would be a tiny bit of an understatement.  I had grown up with this man loving me, freely shared my stories, my successes, and introduced my girlfriends to him in a way that you just don’t do when you are gay and you know you are in the presence of someone who is deeply homophobic.  Had I known, I would never have been so open. Had I known, I would have not been so candid with stories of my girlfriends and relationships.  Had I known, I would have probably not felt as close to him growing up.

So, the boycotted Christmas came and went.  Life moved on… Shorty and I got engaged.  And we got news, shortly before the wedding, that my grandfather would, once again, not be attending. No surprise there but it definitely dug the wound a little deeper.

I haven’t spoken to my grandfather since before that Christmas. I haven’t purposely avoided him, but it has felt like he has avoided me.  I have always told my grandmother to pass along my love when I spoke with her, have always included his name on Christmas cards and baby email updates… I tried, in a word, to exhibit Grace when dealing with him. However, he has never reciprocated and it got to the point where I honestly believed I would go the rest of my life without ever talking to this man again- until the conversation I had with my mother yesterday.

Since that conversation, all kinds of feelings have set in.  I feel angry towards him- I never felt angry before.  I feel protective, of my new son and other children- do I really want them around someone who denies the validity of their parents’ love, marriage, feelings? What kind of psychic harm could he do to my children?

Shorty tells me I need to forgive him.  I need to move on, let bygones be bygones, accept that he has been a homophobic asshole in the past, but that he is coming to Christmas dinner this year and that means he’s trying and I should give him some credit.  The thing is… I am really good at holding grudges. I excel at being pissed off or wary or disliking of people for YEARS, even. And it’s not that I walk around with hate in my heart- mostly I don’t think of these people at all. But when I do, I tend to remember all the shit that’s gone down before, and I hold on to it and let it make me wary, let it inform my actions, let it color my relationships with these people. And I shouldn’t… I know I shouldn’t.  I need to have more forgiveness, to handle things with more grace, to let it go. To let his actions go.

But still. They hurt, and knowing that I am suddenly going to be confronted by this man who did this hurting after all these years and nary a word of explanation from him, is hard.  Being a mother and trying to teach my children in this situation is even harder, but also clarifying. A mother would show grace. A mother would teach her children to forgive, to forget, and to love. A mother would be the bigger person.

I guess I’ll have to work on that. I will try to be the best mother possible this Christmas, and to have Grace. Even if it means forgiving my homophobic grandfather.

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3 responses to “Revisiting Grace

  1. jilldab says:

    Being a good mother doesn’t mean forgiving necessarily. But it means not letting it ruin you and the holidays for your family. It is hard to have things sprung on you at the last minute and I cannot imagine how hard it was for you to have to live through the rejection of someone you loved and cared so much about. I hope all went well. Protecting your kids and yourself makes you a great mother!

  2. I’m lucky enough not to have any personal experience with this, but you definitely have my sympathies. I wasn’t sure how my grandmother (my one remaining grandparent) would react when I came out to her by inviting her to my wedding to PB, since she wasn’t exactly joining PFLAG or anything, but she told me that she’d always been there whenever I’d asked her to be, and that wasn’t going to change. By the time the wedding rolled around, she’d definitely headed into senility, but I like to think that the letter I got was from the grandmother I remember from my youth.

    I struggle with the “forget” part of “forgive and forget”, myself. (I like to think I do a little better at the forgiving, but that may just be self-delusion.) Aren’t we supposed to learn from experience? I mean, there’s a big difference between “I no longer wish to slash your tires” and “I’m willing to trust you with my bruised heart (and potentially my children’s hearts)”.

    I have a particularly hard time with people who don’t actually apologize. I’m not sure I can remember my father *ever* saying “I’m sorry” out loud, which used to make me furious. Until, that is, I realized that he’s never going to say it through words, but he will through actions. “I thought we could go out for ice cream”, or “did you want to go to the movies?”, that kind of thing. He does reach out. So… maybe this is your grandfather reaching out? I don’t know him, but it would be nice if that’s the case, right?

    I think you’re totally entitled to your anger, and I would definitely be protective of the kids in your situation, although fortunately the babies are, well, babies, and likely oblivious. But assuming that your grandfather knows that you’ll be there, maybe his willingness to share the holiday with you and your family is him reaching out. Maybe?

    Of course, it’s occurring to me that it’s already Christmas, and that whatever was going to go down has likely already occurred. In any case, I wish a very Merry Christmas to you all! (And four different pies is entirely reasonable.)

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