the changing faces of family

Most Goris write about their own ILs and the drama that surrounds them. I notice that not many write about their own family and the possible drama that could be present from those monocultural and possibly ethnocentric Western family members. Well, if DH had a blog, (which he doesn’t) — and if he were inclined to put his experiences and emotions on the web for everyone to read, (which he isn’t) — then he would have lots to say about my family.
He would use the first 10pages to complain about my father’s dogs and the overall general attitude about cleanliness (or the lack there of) and furry four-legged friends. He would state that if my family truly wanted to demonstrate that he was “welcome” they would keep the dogs in a confined area and not value them more than human family members. He would note how different my family’s parenting styles and thoughts on teaching “respect” are from his own family’s. He would express his exasperation at the constant stereotypes that always seem to be looming in the background, ready to color all of his actions in the most forbidden shades. But, there are also some unexpected changes in our family dynamics and attitudes.
First, some background: I have two sisters. T is two years older and N is four years younger. T and N grew up, basically, the same way. I went to a residential blind school. It would seem that T and N should be closer. But, until recently, N and I were quite close. N has been married twice. she has M18, F16, M5 and m3. The last two children are her current husband’s. OK, N and I do not share the same values about money, bill paying, mind altering chemicals/substances and/or respect for our mother. But, N was always inclusive. She would help me find solutions for issues that required some sighte, listened and respected my thoughts on parenting/religion/etc, would request my assistance and advice, never doubted my capabilities to care for children and she actually enjoyed our sisterly time together. Furthermore, N’s one overwhelming positive quality is her ability to accept and socialize with all types of people. She is willing to try new things and is open to new experiences and she is “NOT” judgmental at all. I am the one who spent her 21st birthday with her: going to a bar and letting her drink. She is not afraid to drive anywhere, get stuck in the middle of a gay pride parade, enjoy her time in the Ghetto and listen to Hindi/indian music. For this reason, I love and appreciate N — and have to remember this wonderful quality when she annoys me by putting her desires for nicotene and other substances (legal or not) before her obligations. Noone in their right mind should ever loan my sister money. furthermore, her housekeeping habits have left lots to be desired. She does tend to put much household and child rearing responsibility on her teenage daughter. And, maintaining property and possessions is just not in her understanding.
Nevertheless, N and her husband were with DH and I when we went to the courthouse to marry. She always supported our marriage. We can easily laugh and talk together. A week later, her and her (current) husband also took the plunge after 2 or 3 years of living together. Although N and T do not get along at all, I still call N and we can have a 60-90 minute conversation.
My older sister, T, relished her position as “oldest.” She always seemed to put herself “above” us. As children, she would not waste her time playing with the younger siblings. I always felt that she looked down on my first marrital situation. When she married for the second time, there was a “no kids allowed” on the wedding invitation. She let my daughter come, but not my three boys. “They are just too active.” Or, was it that she was embarrassed?? Who knows. I always felt that my sister was a bit racist and certainly had some blindophobia going on. When my children became teens, she would askk the ones that she thought were the most popular to help her watch her own children. She has a male child who is 25 from her first marriage. then, she has m13, f11, m9 and m7 from her second. My sister has come to see me twice since Baby boy was born. Although I have lived in this house since March of 2010, she had not come to see me before then. They also invited us over for Christmas dinner. I was not going to go: (six week homebound bonding period was not quite up yet), but DH convinced me with the “your sister is holding out an olive branch,” speech. We went. And, yesterday, she came over again. Actually, before she comes over, she calls DH to tell him that they are on their way. I don’t know why she doesn’t call me, but her and DH have a kind of special relationship where they can talk about electronics and the IPhone and the NOOK for large spans of time. The children love to hold the baby. She is engaging all of us in conversation and seems to enjoy her time spent with us. Her children are getting more comfortable with Imran and I. In the past, she would come to Christmas celebrations and her children would feel quite awkward around me. I always say that if the adults aren’t comfortable, the children won’t be, either. So, what can I attribute this newfound relationship to? … … The birth of this wonderful baby boy. We also found out that her MIL (who is now retired) just loves fabrics and jewelry from PK/IN. And my BIL is actually pretty good with babies. Who would have thought???? Since my marriage, my mother calls at least once a week. sure, she has some annoying questions: “Does DH stop you from reading the Bible?” “Has he asked that you wear the veil?” But, she actually is wanting to talk more and is interested in our relationship. Now that the baby is here, she calls at least twice a week. Yes, she says things like: ” Get that man to start changing diapers!” and “I don’t think you should be going to Pakistan!” But, she is much more willing to accept my breastfeeding semi-attachment parenting style, some aspects of DH’s culture, etc. My new marriage has certainly stopped some friendships from blossiming. But, these are relationships that are flourishing and it would not have done so if it was not for DH and this wonderful baby boy. WOOHOO, the peacemaking bridge!!!
Now, it is on to the challenges present between DH and my children and father! Let’s conquer them all!


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