I am blessed beyond all reasonable expectations: I have a loving husband, three beautiful children, a fabulous home, two cats and a dog. I really do have so much to be thankful for. But beyond all that, I also have a pretty great relationship with not only my family, but my in-laws, as well.
You see, I've really taken that for granted - the relationship with my in-laws. This September, the Little Mister and I will hit 21 years of being together (dating and marriage). And while no one was exactly thrilled with our very early marriage and our having a baby so young, everyone is quite happy with the way we've turned out. I love my in-laws to pieces. The meddling mother-in-law or husband tied to her apron strings cliches simply do not apply here. In fact, my in-laws are incredibly supportive and understanding. I love bouncing ideas off of them, sharing our children's successes - and the challenges. My in-laws read my personal blog, f-bombs and all. And while I'm sure they were intially shocked to read such language from me, they say they love reading my blog because it helps them understand the boys and all of their challenges. Since we see them so infrequently, reading the blog helps them feel closer to us. I am so grateful to them for taking time to learn all they can about our boyos.
But I've come to realize others are not so lucky. In fact, I've met a number of people in the special needs community who have positively disasterous relationships with their in-laws. Their in-laws actually blame them for their grandchid's special needs - a concept that just blows my mind. I cannot imagine the additional strain on a marriage that may already have problems, the additional stress that having a special needs child has on a marriage, and then dealing with some sort of bullshit blame game from people who will never understand the full gravity of the situation, and the hurt they are causing.
Every time I hear one of these stories, I talk to my husband about it. I explain how it just makes no sense to me to blame a daughter-in-law for a chromosomal abnormality (half of our chromosomes come from the dad, too, you know), autism (no one knows exactly what causes autism, for God's sake), or a myriad of other physical challenges. My husband invariably brings up the fact that our special needs children are adopted - neither of us really had a dog in the fight, genetically. Maybe that makes a difference. Afterall, their biological mother smoked meth. The idea of blaming a mother for not taking a folic acid pill, or eating shellfish as "causes" of disability seems laughable to me. But that's not even the worst of it. I've heard of many in-laws who go out of their way to EXCLUDE the special needs child. The in-laws send their "typical" grandchildren birthday and Christmas gifts, but not their special needs grandkids. They never ask about them during phone calls. In short, it is like these kiddos do not exist for them.
Nothing, in my mind, could ever be more hurtful and more disasterous to a marriage. It must slowly chip away at a mother's self-esteem, making her question everything she did during pregnancy - as if she wasn't doing that already. My heart goes out to these families. Perhaps this will somehow get forwarded to these family members and they will recognize themselves, they will feel remorse, and immediately begin to change their ways. Perhaps not.
Regardless, to my family and in-laws who have unconditionally taken two very special boys in need of so much extra love and understanding, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate all you have done for us and our boys. I realize how lucky I am to have you in our lives, in our boys' lives, and I thank you.