Monday, February 06, 2012
Marriage vs. Mother?
Every day seems to usher in one more small battle between their marriage and Celia’s mother, but Rob and Celia are beginning to feel like they are winning.
Rob, standing behind the counter in his Starbucks barista role, watched Celia and her mother continue their conversation at a table over tea.
“Look, I love you and I want us to live together, but I need you to be a team player,” he heard Celia tell her mother.
“I am a team player,” he heard his mother-in-law say with a touch of whine in her voice.
“Being a team player has to mean more than your best intentions,” he heard Celia continue. “Rob and I need you to listen to what we’re saying. When I ask you not to talk about the baby’s sex anymore it’s because”— Celia glanced up at Rob and he held her eye contact for the long moment before she looked back at her mother – “it’s because I don’t have the energy it takes to have the same conversation, over and over. Please.”
“Well, you don’t have to get mad about it,” Mom said.
Rob laughed inwardly at his mother-in-law’s lack of nuance. People were either happy or they were angry in her world, and since Celia was not obviously happy she must be angry. Watching Celia and her mother struggling out of their rut, he credited them both for their efforts. Reaching into the pastry shelf he picked out two miniature cupcakes, grabbed a pair of napkins, and walked over to Celia and her mother.
“Good job,” he said, giving them each a bite of dessert.
“What do you mean, Robbie?” his mother-in-law said.
“I mean that I’m proud of you both. It’s hard work to figure out how to live together and you’re doing it.”
“I’m just not going to say anything at all,” Mom said. “That way I won’t get in trouble.”
Rob and Celia both laughed in spite of themselves, and Rob knew that even that was progress; to laugh at her limitations instead of despairing over living with her meant they could be on the same team even if the going got difficult.
Celia’s phone rang at that moment and she answered it.
What is the call about?