By Camille Arbeter for HowAboutWe.com
My mother-in-law insisted on including a long list of women, some of whom I’d never met, at my bridal shower. This forced me to exclude my own close friends so we could fit in the small space at the venue my sister had booked. My husband and I assumed that since his mom had so much influence over who could attend my bridal shower, she’d similarly control the guest list at her daughter’s bridal shower, and I would be granted an invitation, despite not getting on well with the guest of honor.
So when my sister-in-law’s bridal shower had come and gone and I wasn’t invited, my husband and I were annoyed.
In conveying our frustration to my mother-in-law over the phone, I asked, “How could I ever invite her to my baby shower?”
Of course, I was referring to my someday, far-off, theoretical baby shower. She didn’t take it that way.
“Ohmygawd, are you pregnant?!” she scream-asked.
I was so stunned by her question, I couldn’t respond right away. I thought she understood that that’s something you never ask a woman of child-bearing age -- if she does have pregnancy news, she’ll share it when she’s ready.
After several seconds of uncomfortable silence, I mustered a feeble response of, “Not yet,” because I wasn’t expecting, but I imagined my husband and I would try to have a baby at some point. I wish I had simply said, “No,” instead.
But it was too late. My long silence and not entirely negative response seemed to confirm her suspicion that yes, I was with child.
“Don’t worry,” she assured me. “I won’t tell a soul.”
“There’s nothing to tell,” I replied quickly this time, hoping this would end the awkward conversation and persuade her that my womb was indeed empty. I failed.
“I’m so excited!” she shrieked.
“There’s nothing to be excited about,” I told her firmly.
By then she was positive she was becoming a grandma, and no one, not even the lady inside whom the baby supposedly resided, could convince her otherwise, so I stopped trying.
I didn’t see or speak to her until her daughter’s wedding a few weeks later. Because I felt extremely awkward attending an event to which I was invited but probably not wanted (by anyone except my husband, that is), I needed some liquid courage to make it through.
I had already had a couple of drinks when I felt my mother-in-law’s eyes on me as I waited in line at the ice luge for a shot (yes, there was an ice luge at this wedding). Then, I remembered she probably still thought I was pregnant.
Now getting drunk was extra-appealing. It would officially end her suspicion that I was expecting -- or horrify her that I was drinking while pregnant and make her think I was an unfit mother.
Maybe it was because I was already buzzed, but the latter was hilarious to me.
Sadly, I couldn’t see her expression as I took my first shot with another related-by-marriage-only guest. I think she was still watching me as we did another. But by the third, she had lost interest.
And she never again brought up having babies to us.
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