( A little different from my usual posts. This was entry was just on blackandmarriedwithkids.com)
I’m going to tell you a secret. After five years of marriage and seventeen years of knowing my husband and his family, this year’s Turkey Day was the first time I felt comfortable going to my in-laws without my husband there. Yes. That’s the big secret. It may not sound like a big to-do but, I’m sure a few of you understand.
The Apostolic faith has always been very present in my husband’s family. I grew up going to church on holidays and found a Baptist church home when I turned twenty-two. When visiting his family, comments were made about why I didn’t wear dresses or why I chose to get a tattoo. I always felt as if everyone was looking at me, judging me. I’m pretty sure it was just me isolating myself. At least I hope it was just me. Going to visit them without him was always a fight if he wasn’t by my side. I’d go in, have everyone’s eyeballs on me for a few minutes and then quietly leave through the back door. My presence had been felt. I had said my hellos. I ate a plate of food and took a slice of Grandma’s Famous Apple-Peach Cobbler with me. Mission accomplished.
I can’t do that now. My husband and I have a daughter and everyone wants to see her. Maybe that’s what makes it less stressful. No one is looking at me anymore. They are looking at our wonderful daughter, saying she looks just like my mother and has her father’s eyes. They are watching her play with the other kids and notice how she looks taller than she did a few weeks ago. And she loves it, most of the time. For the first few minutes, she hangs around my legs looking at people as if she’s never seen them before. Then she loosens up and starts running behind chairs and snatching things off of tables or shelves accessible to her. When the other kids come around, she smiles and hugs and chases them around. And now, I’m looking at her too. Their eyes aren’t on me anymore. They’re watching my daughter grow into this wonderful person who blows kisses and gives hugs to, almost, everyone by the time we leave.
Now, it doesn’t matter if I’ve been inducted into the family by way of our daughter or if they can finally tell that I am who I am. They look at our daughter, an extension of both of our families, with fascination and adoration. And I don’t mind them watching her. I love that they can see her grow and learn and play. I still get invited to church and am told how I look much prettier with my hair down and with a dress on. But most importantly, they love having our daughter visit.