Guilt. Trip.

“Guilt is the price we pay for doing what we are going to do anyway.”
– Isabelle Holland

We went to dinner with J.’s parents over the weekend and afterwards, after shooing the men off, my mother-in-law and I took in some shopping and talked a bit about friends, family, and the upcoming move to grad school.

It was good to get her take on it all, because I appreciate her points of view – usually she’s right.  But at one point, when talking about the move itself, which will be across the country/state, she started to tear up…and I froze, like the culturally confused, emotionally stunted useless lump that I am.  Because naturally I felt that somehow it was all my fault.  That I had lured her son into my bizarre world of regular continent-hopping, complicated familial relationship, and wanderlust, and out of  a stable clan homestead away from all he holds dear.  Heavy, Catholic-style-self-flagellating, corrosive guilt swamped me.

Of course I know that this is purely in my head.  Both my in-laws are extremely supportive, fantastic people and they are just sad because most of their kids have already moved further away than is convenient, and now J. is too, and J.’s the baby, etc.  But still, somehow I feel as if I’ve mucked up.  Actually, technically, J. did .  He picked the schools, but that didn’t matter.  If he hadn’t married me he’d never have been encouraged in this rash sort of behavior like leaving native states – to say nothing of countries!  “This,” my inner demon cackles, “is All Your Fault.  Homewrecker.”

J. of course finds my angst hilarious.
” I made her cry,” I exploded the second we left my godparents house where we’d been visiting.
“No you didn’t.”
“I contributed!  I’m a horrible daughter-in-law!  I’m encouraging you to go to some of the top schools in the world, supporting your decision fully, and I’m awful because of it!”
“Not exactly,” he soothed.

I was not to be dissuaded.  When debating whether to buy gas we decided against it because it was raining.  “Like your mother’s tears!” I wailed.  “She’s just going to miss us,” J. offered.  “Because I’m an academic Jezebel who’s lured you away,” I cried, digging around in my purse for a hair shirt.  “We’re close and it’s hard to see us move away,” he tried finally.  “But I want to go somewhere else…I hate myself for it!”  I probably would have leapt from the car to a quick death had the idea occurred to me then instead of just now.

Nearly two years as an exemplary daughter-in-law, torpedoed by a single crushing failure: I made my mother-in-law cry.

*Not really.  But still!

7 thoughts on “Guilt. Trip.”

  1. Oh man, that is so me too. I know Bart’s family would die of joy if we moved back to Utah. But, um, the job market in Utah is dire. And I don’t really long to live in Utah my entire life (and by “don’t really” I mean “DON’T”).

  2. Drama queen? Toi??????

    She’ll get over it and so will you — once he is department chair of Big Fancy University and she gets to come and stay in the gorgeous house you have been able to buy with the proceeds of his fab career. You know, the one YOU jump-started?

    People choose their own reactions, although I do feel your pain. No one wants to make someone feel sad or cry. But change is painful (and exciting!)

    I bet once you send her an airplane ticket to come and visit you, she’ll feel a lot better. Whatever it costs, it might be worth the investment.

  3. Does it make me a bad person that I was really upset when a feasible job opportunity opened in Utah? I nearly threw a tantrum about it, but I decided to keep my mouth shut and hope that if he gets that job, it’s only temporary. lol. Not that I don’t love his family, or my family, but ummm…I just don’t want to live in Utah for the rest of my life, and I feel like it just sucks you in.

  4. So, while it’s never fun to have anyone cry because of a choice you (or the two of you) made, you must know just how proud she and dad-in-law are. Right? Sure, she’s sad you’re leaving, she definitely misses her kids… but I guarantee she wouldn’t have it Any Other Way.

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