*This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events recounted to me by a friend who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission
Raising a family with your relationship partner will change your priorities, adding challenges about kids, costs, and keeping your home organized, but being parents together is also a very fulfilling part of your connection as a couple.
What do you do when you and your partner are excited about a pregnancy, but your parents don't care that much and don't even look happy when you tell them they will be grandparents soon?
My friend Miranda, who lives in Phoenix, Arizona, has been married to her husband, Thomas, for two years. They had a short engagement, only three months, and a simple marriage ceremony in Phoenix, close to their families and friends.
"We didn't need a big party, and we didn't care about those things. What mattered was that we were in love, and we both felt ready to commit to each other for a long time to come. Having our home together and raising a family was what we both wanted, and I will always remember that day as the beginning of our happiness," Miranda said.
While their parents got involved in planning the ceremony and also contributed to the costs for it, not all of them were pleased with the event. Gina, Miranda's mother-in-law, didn't like her dress, and she still brings it up when they look at the photos on that day and tells everyone her daughter-in-law can't choose nice clothes.
"I knew she wasn't very fond of me. From the first time we met, she avoided talking to me for too long and then found something to criticize about me no matter what I did. Her husband is slightly better because he's quiet almost all the time, but I don't think I'm the wife they wanted for their son, and our relationship can get stressful sometimes," Miranda said.
She decided to look beyond her in-laws' ideas and still be happy with Thomas, but it wasn't that easy. For every family occasion and party in Phoenix, Gina invited her and then focused on Miranda's clothes and hair or criticized her cooking skills.
"I know she was a housewife all her life, but I'm not, and I don't plan to be. I value my career, and being married doesn't take anything away from that," Miranda said.
As time passed, the couple planned vacations, they both got promoted, and they also managed to buy a bigger home. Two months after moving into their new home, Miranda found out she was pregnant. The couple got very excited because they'd been looking forward to becoming parents for a while, and they felt this completed their relationship.
"We were busy with work, and it never seemed like the right time for it, but when I found out that I was going to be a mom, I was so happy. And Thomas felt the same way. It changed our relationship, and it made it so much better. We were still in love, but thinking about our baby made us get even closer," Miranda said.
They visited Miranda's parents first to let them know about the pregnancy, and they were so happy that they called all the neighbors over and had a little party.
"Mom and dad wanted to help any way they could, and I could tell how much it meant to them. It was amazing to see them filled with energy at the thought of welcoming our baby and celebrating our relationship this way," Miranda said.,
Things were very different as far as Thomas's parents were concerned, though. Not only did his mom feel she was too young to be a grandmother, but she also wasn't excited that Miranda would be the mom of her grandchild.
After voicing a few objections and telling them they should have waited longer, Gina began shouting at her daughter-in-law over a plate she had dropped.
"She shouted at me when my husband told her we'll have a baby. Maybe she was upset we were having a baby, but I was happy, and she made me feel strange. And blaming me for her plate right in the middle of that talk and shouting so loudly was too much. I asked her to apologize, and when she wouldn't, I walked out. Thomas came along after whispering something to her. I just felt offended and so disrespected; my relationship with her is just not working out no matter how hard I try," Miranda said.
Thomas tried to convince her to visit his parents a second time after they all got calmer, but Miranda wouldn't do it unless Gina called her to apologize first.
"These two years, she's always criticized me, and now she can't be happy that I'm pregnant. She can either say sorry, or I'm not going there again. And that goes for our baby too. She won't see our baby if she can't behave nicely to me," Miranda said.
Gina thinks she's overreacting and that she will soon come to visit her in Phoenix because she'll need help with the baby.
"Maybe she got annoyed, but she wants to work, and she's going to need my help. She'll come round for sure. Don't I know all about moms who want to work like you can have a happy family and a career? In the long run, that baby won't be her priority, and I'm sorry for my son," Gina said.
What do you think about this situation? Was it fair for Gina to shout at her daughter-in-law right on the day she came to tell her she was pregnant? Should Miranda be more flexible so she can improve her relationship with her mother-in-law, or should she avoid her completely unless she apologizes for what she did?