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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Eating Pie

I know many of you are waiting to hear all about our weekend visitor. And I have to say... if you are looking for out-and-out craziness that causes insane laughter (although only when it's NOT happening to you), you should probably skip this post and head over to American Family.

I feel a lot less sorry for myself now. And AmFam kept me laughing all weekend.

As did all of you with these comments. (Thank you so very much.) Unfortunately, I don't really know how to introduce y'all to my mother-in-law without a little bit of background. While our story is not nearly as... er... colorful as AmFam's experiences, I have survived lots of twists and turns these past dozen years as I've gotten to know the Husband's family.

They bring new meaning to the phrase "Hidden Dysfunction."

On the outside, everything looks overwhelmingly normal. The three children are all wonderfully sane and married to nice, respectable spouses (if I do say so myself). Before my father-in-law's death last year, the parents held leadership positions within their church. They seemed kind of like the Brady Bunch, minus three children, the dog and Alice.

But definitely including the long, rambling Mike Brady discipline talks.

And the fights over the bathroom.

Unfortunately, looks can often be deceiving. I first realized I'd entered the world of Hidden Dysfunction about three weeks after our wedding, during Christmas dinner eleven years ago. Eight adults and three children sat at a table laden with enough food to feed the Baltimore Ravens starting offense. I didn't bat an eye at this, seeing as how my Great Aunt P often cooks enough food to feed a small army. What was weird was the way the entire family ate the meal. Because they ate. And they ate. And they ate.

And. They. Ate.

I stopped eating long before anyone else because - ya know - I wasn't hungry anymore. The food was delicious... everything was fine... and I figured we'd live through a day or two of excellent leftovers. Like normal people. Only that didn't happen. Because I watched as everyone ate until it became painfully obvious that they felt uncomfortable. And I watched as my mother-in-law became more and more flustered as she realized that she'd made copious amounts of food.

Most people would just shrug their shoulders and embrace the leftovers.

That didn't happen at the House of Hidden Dysfunction. I wanted to yell "step away from the forks," but I figured that wouldn't win me any points, especially as a new bride and all. They ate until their jeans probably popped open on their own and the gravy floated down to their toes. They ate until their jaws seemed to grow tired. They just ATE, y'all. Eventually the family realized that more digestion would probably lead to explosion, so they cautiously ceased and desisted. The table still appeared piled high with food.

And I wondered at the silence.

We all helped with the dishes and storing the leftovers... or should I say all of the females helped... yep, it's THAT kind of family. About thirty minutes after we dried the last dish, my mother-in-law announced the Cutting Of The Pie. Silence descended upon the room. And then my sister-in-law oh, so cautiously said, "dinner was SO delicious, I'm afraid I might have overeaten a tad. I'm really looking forward to having the pie - I'm sure it's delicious - but I might need to rest my stomach for a bit more."

Silence. And then...

My mother-in-law ran out of the room, crying.

Everyone froze. My father-in-law excused himself to join his wife in their bedroom. More silence. I looked from person to person, trying to figure out what on EARTH was happening. The other two in-laws, already well acquainted with the House of Hidden Dysfunction, silently laughed at me, while my husband and his two siblings sat frozen, probably morphing back into their elementary aged selves. And the deep freeze continued.

Ten minutes later, my father-in-law walked out to join everyone. He sat down. My mother-in-law soon followed. Everyone still sat... frozen, silent. Then my mother-in-law asked, "who's ready for pie?" And they all hopped up to eat the pie.

They ATE THE PIE, y'all. Right then.

They. Ate. The. Pie.

Now y'all may be wondering what made this weekend so difficult... one of the easiest explanations is that the Husband and I don't eat the pie anymore. We haven't since the fall of 2003. That makes things very difficult for everyone. And that's all I can really say about that.

34 comments:

Buckeroomama said...

I LOVED reading American Family! I couldn't get enough of the Greatest Hits.

Well, glad to know you survived to tell us about it. :)

Sherri said...

THAT is funny! My MIL cries at holiday get togethers, too.

It's a tough road to be the trailblazer and not eat the pie. One day the others might thank you for it.

BTW--have the Christmas gifts suffered as a result of not eating the pie? Because ours definitely would. You can always tell where you stand with Grandma when you get your Christmas or birthday gift.

Rhonda said...

Are we related?

The Source said...

Oh, we're a couple of non-pie eaters around here, too. And we catch a lot of grief about it. But we're much happier when we eat pie on our own terms!

Aus said...

OMG - ya know maybe your post was something of an eye opener for me....if you've read our blog you will know of some of our fam 'issues'....and maybe that's what's going on too! See - we don't eat the pie either (or drink the koolaid!) And while I think that maybe my FIL (secretly) loves us for it, and I know my MIL respects us for it....maybe that's what's up with the rest of them!

Maybe my bride and I will have to have a little conversation tonight!

Thanks - hugs - and Blessings on you for skipping dessert!

aus and co.

Johnny said...

You're killing me here!

The psychology? The deep-rooted trauma?

I need to know!

(Did they have to eat until sick so Mama wouldn't cry?)

AmericanFamily said...

I am glad my suffering has caused some joy for SOMEONE. That makes it all worth while. (Ok, that is a lie. It isn't worthwhile, but I have to laugh or I would have to stop talking to them.)

happygeek said...

Yeah, I can see how not eating the pie can cause some friction. Because we still eat the pie.
Our crazy is not nearly as deep as I suspect yours is, but I CANNOT imagine the repercussions of not eating the pie.
I am so glad you made it through your weekend!

Elouise82 said...

I am slowly starting to learn how to not eat the pie. It's difficult, especially with me being a people-pleaser and all. But after five years of marriage, I'm starting to realize that I will grow to hate my in-laws if I keep trying to play by their rules.

So now I have a new way to remind myself of this at every visit:

Do. Not. Eat. The. Pie.

!!!!!!!

A Beautiful Mess said...

I eat the pie...well cuz I love pie and always save room:)

But...thats just because I am already designated as the rebel non-conformist who stole her beloved son from her ( you should see the wedding pics...my MIL is holding on to my husbands arm so tight that her knuckles are white!)

Tonggu Grammy said...

I'm so proud of the non-pie eater! Or maybe not--- Are you STILL planning to make the apple pie for Thanksgiving 'cause if you're not, then I'm re-evaluating my pride at how you turned out. And I'm VERY proud of TH for standing up for what is right in difficult situations.

Looking forward to left-overs with you!

Jill said...

Is it safe to assume that the "not eating the pie anymore" is also metaphor for not just "jumping" to do whatever MIL wants? If so, GOOD FOR YOU! And heck, she can't think you all are that mean, or she woldn't want to visit with you all still! LOL!

Aunt LoLo said...

I think you've just come up with a new Rallying Cry.

Let's try it on for size.

"Redwaaaallllll!"
"Freeeeedooooooooommmmmm!!!!"
"Don't eat the PIIIEEEEE!!!!!!!"

Yeah, it works for me!

Rachel@just another day in paradise said...

Sometimes, I still eat the pie.

Hubs' family is crazy in an innocent, non-painful way (most of the time). My family's certifiable.

Holly said...

You're a non pie eater? (gasp)
I had NO idea.
I feel the need to dash off to the other room and weep too.
But when I'm done...can I have your piece?

Cassi said...

Ha! I have to bring the pie so the rest of the members of my husband's family can "not eat the pie . . . a.k.a. . . cake."

My very German MIL always has a German friend make her this huge, rich, rum and cherry filled torte for EVERY holiday dinner - Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. It's one of those that a couple bits is about all you can handle.


At 19, I was naive to the "respectful" rituals of in-law holiday dinners and so I baked up five different pies and brought them along for Thanksgiving dinner without "okaying" it with my MIL.

Oh, was that not good. It was obvious she was not happy with my little offering although everyone else in the family seemed to enjoy it.

It was after that dinner my dear hubby explained that his mom ALWAYS took care of the dessert and it was ALWAYS the same German torte.

So I decided that would be the last time I would bring pies for dessert. Except since that dinner, my hubby, my FIL, and my two BIL's always make sure they let me know that I must bring pies for dessert. Not because there is anything special about them but because nobody is brave enough to let my MIL know that they really would like something else beside the torte for every holiday dinner.

So I get to be the bad guy with the pies.

Cassi said...

Oh, I forgot to add - for the past seven years, I've been the one in charge of Holiday dinners at my house now and I still make the pies and my MIL still brings the torte.

Chelsea Gour said...

OMGosh, I swear, or I would if I did, that my in-laws are related to yours!

bbmomof2boys said...

Don't eat the pie!! Don't eat the pie! I've NEVER eaten the pie - always the black sheep in his family. Let's put it this way - during our wedding reception his sister took him aside and said that she doubt we would make it 5 years....nice huh?

Hugs,
Carla

Dawn said...

Well, I guess I won't serve you pie if you ever make a visit to my house! LOL

I used to eat the "pie." All of it. Sometimes I'd even ask for seconds. (Stupid me.) My sister-in-law was usually the one who "served" it up (usually with help from the MIL). Like you, I tried to be the good new DIL. Being "good" didn't make it better - just made me sick, literally and figuratively.

No pie for me, thank you very much!

Lisa said...

*I'm so sorry* so V.E.R.Y. sorry.

At least they are sober, right? :)

*painful chortle* Yup, I have a set of kooks on the other side too. LOL

Seems like someone should have warned you ahead of time.....crazy!

LOL

Anonymous said...

I didn't leave a comment in the MIL post because a) it is best not to go public, and b) the pie family is mine!

Over the years, C has been my sponsor; it is still a struggle.

(Posting as anonymous, but a smarty like you can probably figure it out!)

Sharie said...

Again, I don't have a MIL...
As we were visiting my dad's grave on Sunday my mom said, "Your dad always said the reason you didn't have a boyfriend was because you are too honest."
See now I'm thinking I never had a boyfriend (that I introduced to my parents) because I didn't want to end up with my Mom AND A MIL! Really I don't know if I could handle crazy coming at me from 2 directions:)

Myrnie said...

TM, I applaud you. You can put a date on the day you "didn't eat the pie?" That's astounding.

It's so hard. We just think "Well, why not do this one little thing that will make her happy?" But...courage, as we all find our own way :)

Alece said...

i've stopped eating my mom's pie. and ohhhh... WW3 is a'brewin'. but i'm holding my own.

this boundaries lesson is the hardest one yet. but i'm gonna be so much better off for it.

thegypsymama said...

Is it wrong that I am laughing so hard at this in the Panera where I am sitting when I should be at home taking over the babysitting shift from my husband who stayed home to watch em on Veterans Day.
But instead I am sneaking in your blog and laughing till MY buttons want to pop.

Sigh, "the Husband and I don't eat the pie anymore" Wonderful. You are my hero! Perfection.

Mama King said...

You are such a great writer. I was there for a second in the silence. Love it...or should I say sorry?

Bangs said...

My in-laws are not crazy. Which is good because there is 12 of them plus spouses. But they are really, really bad communicators. And this direct, quick to the point, efficiency seeking gal just can't understand thier methods. If they spoke thier minds more often I am sure they would have some choice words for me.

It takes a strong person to not eat that pie! Congrats!

Debz said...

Gaw! No pie here....until 2-3 hours later.....well at least I have willpower for a little while ;O).
I just threw up in the back of my mouth a little.....I just made cupcakes and put waaaaay too much icing on them....I just licked my fingers from the one that tasted like another..for the second time....how many cupcakes is that? Blaaaa.....

Patty O. said...

Yikes! Crazy stuff. It is so hard to deal with the passive aggressive, guilt thing of moms who are unstable. Hope your weekend wasn't too bad...

day by day said...

lol! love it! love that you no longer eat pie! You see, my MIL...the one who lives with us!....well, my husband's family is also reeling in dysfunction. It is all about appearance, you see. The Dad was a Pastor(before he died) the Mom was an assistant Pastor and the 4 kids....all pie eaters. It all had to LOOK good, no matter what was going on internally! Just eat that pie!

discombobulated said...

Did the husband okay this post? If so, he's a good sport.

Kiy said...

Oh gosh. There are no words. And I thought my family was out there. All I can say is thank you - both to you and AmFam. I now officially think my family is normal, and I never ever thought I'd say that.

Good luck, I will definitely be thinking of you guys during the holidays. BTW, if you need to escape you are more than welcome to visit us down south. The guest room will be tidy (no small feat around here), chocolates on the pillows and I will make you a pie ... that you don't have to eat!

Cheers, Kiy

Annie said...

Oh my gosh, TM!!! That is too funny!! I think there is a whole heck of a lot of "hidden disfunction" going around! Love that term!!