Most women are emotional, my mother being on the “always” end of that spectrum.
By comparison, most men simply just don’t emote as women do, especially my husband. I tease him saying that I’ve only seen him cry twice. The day after our first child was born and during the ending of Toy Story 3. (According to him, Toy Story 4 isn’t canon.)
What do you do when your mother wishes for this deep, emotional connection with her son in law and he just wants her to not “cry at him” again? Often I’m the one bridging the gap between the two of them.
My husband was raised in a household of mostly immediate majority male family only. He is the oldest of four siblings, and is loud (he says he projects) and bossy by nature. (Don’t worry, he knows it and approves this message.) He is, for all intents and purposes, the “strong male type” that my mother is, for her reasons, triggered by. He receives the brunt of what I deem as her misplaced emotional baggage.
My mother was raised in a household surrounded by grandparents, parents, and siblings all within very close quarters. She is the oldest of 3 siblings and is passive and emotional by nature. She is a baby boomer who, of course, grew up during a more conservative age where she was told, “Children were to be seen and not heard,” and “Women have their place.” Her dreams of being an artist and/or decorator were squashed by not only her father but by her husband as well. The traditional role of housewife and mother was what she lived for 21 years before her divorce. My mom was essentially starting from ground zero at 42 years old, learning how to drive, getting her first job, and raising me on her own. #geauxmom It had always been the two of us since I was 2 years old. And recently, her son, my only (much older) sibling, has pretty much disowned our family as well. I tell you all of that to tell you this: There has been no stable male figure in either her or my young life to hold to a “standard” when it comes to a healthy male/female emotional relationship.
It never fails that when we are all together for an extended period of time there will be something my husband says or does, doesn’t say or doesn’t do, that will inevitably make my mother cry. I find myself consoling her, yet having to simultaneously stick up for my husband. I am generally able to work damage control between them to my own detriment … until recently when I decided I had enough.
“Why can’t two grown adults tell each other how they make the other feel?” was the question that ran through my mind as I forced a sit down the last time they were together. It came out of my mouth as “Babe, do you like my mom?” and “Mom, do you like my husband?” and ultimately led to a seemingly promising breakthrough conversation between the two of them with few tears and frustrations.
I’m tired of being stuck in the middle.
I’m tired of having to bridge the gap between the two people I love the most (outside of my children, of course). I don’t expect either of them to change, but I’m working toward having them accept each other for who they are. I know they may not agree on how every little thing needs to be done or how every situation is handled like how much we discipline, what time the kids go to bed, whether someone should always hug goodbye or even if the sky is blue. For now, I’m trying to remove myself from the equation and encourage them to discuss the actions and situations that lead to tears and frustration. They’re not as different as they might think. They both love me unconditionally and if that’s not a starting point, I don’t know what is!