Friday, December 06, 2013

On the feast of St. Nicholas, a mother-in-law wannabe laments



Today is the Feast of St. Nicholas - patron of all kinds of things. I can't think of a saint that has more causes than good Saint Nick! including - Brides, grooms, maidens, newlyweds and virgins!

I wish I could add a couple of more to St. Nicholas's work load- Mothers and mothers-in-law - or maybe more specifically - mother-in-law wannabees!

As the world celebrates this feast today, my oldest son is preparing to move into a brand new apartment with his longtime girlfriend - not as man and wife or even as an engaged couple, but just as boyfriend and girlfriend (ridiculous terms to use for adults in their mid 20s). To be fair, it's not for lack of trying.  He DID propose and they were engaged for 5 minutes last summer.   But his intended is just not having it and I can't for the life of me figure out why.

I am not pleased with this turn of events.  Three of my six children are co-habitating with young women they are not married to.  Granted Gabe is living also with his baby daughter, daughter's mom and grandma too and I think the entire household is a bit shell shocked from the unexpected C-section and the ongoing cranky baby! Nonetheless, three of my kids have more or less launched from a Catholic home with parents in a marriage that is three decades old into live-in relationships.  Epic fail.

wedding
Of course they're not alone.  Most of the couples that I have worked with as a wedding coordinator at church are already sharing the same mailing address. It's pretty clear from the Pre-Cana evaluations we get every year that couples don't consider living together a sin.  In fact I just reviewed some of the comments from last year and one gentleman clearly said he was tired of hearing it was a sin because he had been with his lady for 11 years - as if sticking to a sin for a long time somehow makes it better.  

The wedding of Calvin and Helen
When Calvin was sharing his plans with me, I of course tried to plead my case.  I went from "You weren't brought up that way", to  the Theology of the Body argument of how shacking up is not total self-giving, to a tearful, "Just go down to the courthouse and get a marriage certificate.  We won't even have to tell anyone that you're legally married,  Do it for me?" 

Interestingly, the one argument that did seem to get a visceral response was this one - Living together without marriage is not a conservative family value.  In fact it is very liberal and by setting up your household this way you are part of the problem.  I saw a bit of the wind get knocked out of him with that one.  But the feminine wiles of his "girlfriend" who seems set on doing this overrides any compelling and persuasive argument I might come up with - and I KNOW that last argument was both of those!
august2012 151
I'm praying the Christmas Novena with renewed fervor this season - My special intention is that somehow, someway in 2014 we have a wedding - a celebration of two lives joining - a joining of two families and an official entry on the family tree without equivocation or an asterisks. I want the certainty that comes from a marriage.  I want to know that the time, effort and love that we pour into these women is going to be nurtured in the graces of matrimony instead of the fear that for some reason, or no reason at all, the couples will drift apart and the connections completely lost. I want to be a a mother-in-law and not just my son's mom.
Daniel and Lowerta Leckrone marriage license
And why not?  I'm being asked most of the time to put in that level of commitment as far as being supportive and understanding - which in a way is kind of ironic since they won't commit to each other.
Yet Mr. Pete and I are supposed to be the supportive understanding ones while our values are flaunted and feelings trampled.
Kay's wedding 030
So St. Nicholas - generous saint who made the impossible marriage prospects of three poor girls possible   - my Feast Day Prayer is to somehow make the seemingly impossible, possible yet again. Remove whatever the obstacles they see in their path and let them come to see that God's plan for family life, truly is the best way.  And if all of that seems too big a project for 2014, maybe just some peace to accept what we can't change and the strength to double down on our remaining three at home - hard!
Kay's wedding 051



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6 comments:

merlin said...

We are asked to "love one another," and we are asked "to leave judgment to God." These may be the two hardest things to live out in this lifetime, but we are asked to do this. You did your part "raising them right" now the hard work to do what Jesus asked of us. Let us love one another, let us be the example of Jesus' unconditional love here on earth.

Elena LaVictoire said...

Jesus called John the Baptist the Greatest Man born of Woman - and John the Baptist was martyred because he spoke out in defense of marriage.

We also have the example of St. Monica, who not only prayed for her wayward son, but in fact followed him until he changed his life. Because of her efforts, we have St. Augustine, a great doctor or the church.

I see nothing in the gospels that say that we are supposed to ignore bad behavior - if anything Jesus taught us to speak out against it. You are confusing final judgement which is God's alone, with judging behaviors that are wrong.

Janette said...

I agree with you Elena. The old- be tolerant and just love- is not what Christ did. He constantly asked people to push past their sin and follow Him. Sure, He ate with the sinner, then extended a hand and walked them from their life.

My children totally lucked out that the people they chose as partners, chose marriage. It had nothing to do with me.
The part I really don't get is why women would permit themselves to be disrespected in such a way. This old crud about "you need to have a degree and a job before you marry" has taken things to a whole new level. Further, having a child without benefit of marriage often sends that child to an underclass :(

I lay some of the blame on the "don't marry a pregnant couple in the Church" as part of the problem. If we do not need religion or even commitment when we have made a mistake, why do we ever need it?

One thing I have learned, there are no sure things in life and, faith and religion are not the same thing.

Linds84 said...

I read Merlin's comment as an encouragement to "let go and let God" and for Elena to forgive herself for any mistakes she may feel she made.

While I don't agree that living together is wrong, it can be hard to see your children live opposite to the way you had hoped they would.

Don't beat yourself up over it too much. It's almost impossible to prevent something like this nowadays. More people in my province are co-habitating than are married.

However I must point out that you have made a few posts about your sons' girlfriend and how you sometimes struggle to form a relationship with them. Obviously I don't know you in real life but in some of your posts your attitude towards them seems less than warm and welcoming. It's almost as though you believe that your sons' mistakes are somehow their fault. In the case of Calvin's partner, I can tell you I wouldn't be too revved up to marry into a family where I'm seen as a manipulator and user of "feminine wiles" These girls know you're judging them and it may be why they're keeping you at arms length.

When I married my husband my dear late MIL had trouble accepting me into the family. With time she began to love me for my own sake, not as her son's wife. Try to think of them as "Julie" or "Ann" as opposed to "Calvin's Girlfriend" or "Gabe's daughter's mother" (note those are example names I'm not trying to guess their real names!) You might find your heart softened toward them when you start seeing them as people rather than reasons for your sons to sin.

Elena LaVictoire said...

I do actually have a place in my heart for all of these girls. Calvins GF has been around for almost eight years now and is part of our family history. Of course we love her. Which makes it all the more difficult to understand the choices she makes when she could be a wife or a fiance with an absolutely gorgeous engagement ring. I just.don't.get. it.

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