I spend alot of time internally rolling my eyes or cringing about a comment my mother in law makes. Just the usual stuff— comments about the house and how clean it is, the children and what I should or shouldn’t do, et cetera. But I have to say, I am one lucky daughter-in-law.
Sometimes there are comments that just make her a gem to have in our lives. And those are the ones we are supposed to pay attention to anyway, right? Look at the ten good qualities in your neighbor and forget the one bad? And look at the one good one and forget the ten bad, is how the saying goes. I think I’ve come to believe that that adage can be talking about the same person, just on a different day. We all have good and bad days. And the good days really are the ones worth mentioning.
All these warm and fuzzy feelings came about last night. We were at my in-laws after going grocery shopping. Payman took the kids outside like a nice husband after I told them he would when they begged me. And so my mother-in-law asked me to sit down and have a cup of tea, which is a Persian way of saying “hey, I like your company.”
I can’t remember how or what we were talking about, but somewhere in the conversation it turned to being grateful for what we have. She talked about how horrible things come out of painful situations. At first we were talking about the persecution of the Baha’is. Were it not for the persecution of the Baha’is, my husband’s family would have never left Iran, and I would not have met Payman or have Azita or Ada.
But what made me just love our talk was the next thing she said.
Without slavery, as horrible and disgusting as it was, our country would not be the same. She said that Americans forget what we have. She said that we forget that we are lucky to be in a country that is racially diverse.
“One of the best things in the world is to be in a mixed family. One of the most beautiful things is to be in a marriage with two different cultures and people forgot to be grateful for that in this country.”
What a beautiful thing to say. It’s a beautiful thing in general, and even more so to your daughter-in-law who is of a different race and culture.
I know that my parents are proud to have Payman as their son-in-law and my in-laws are proud to have me too. And I know that if my husband was any other race, American or not, my parents would feel the same way. And that is something to be grateful for.
If you are a person that believes deeply that prejudice and racism hurts our inner selves, that it is against how a higher power would have us act, that it brings us down to being less noble than we are, as humans, it can be easy to become discouraged.
People have said some pretty despicable things to Payman in both of the jobs he has had in Fayetteville. And I have had my fair share of comments too.
Recently, I ran in to an acquaintance at a store and had a great talk with her. But there was a dark side to that talk, and it involved her comments about other racial groups.
As I processed this, I was talking to Payman about how there have been people close to me in my life, through employment or school or etc, that I at first, could not like because of their prejudice. Then I got to know them and saw how generous they were, how giving to their own families.
It was a paradox for me. How can these people be so wonderful, and yet be so prejudiced? So unloving towards other humans based on the group they belong to?
“I really like this person. She is such a great person, with such a great energy, and then she says something about immigrants that is just so terrible. I don’t understand,” I’d said.
And Payman broke it down for me. “Of course they are lovely people. They are kind, they are generous. To you.”
And that will always be the crux of the issue. We are both white. They feel they can say these things around me and it won’t bother me. I don’t want to hear it. It annoys me. It discourages me because I want everyone I know to be the best version of themself, either because they want to aspire to be who a higher power, God, wants them to be, or just because a human life is worth living being the best you can be.
A very strong part of me wants to disassociate myself with friends and acquaintances that make comments that they see as harmless, but that I know were carried into real, hard life, would hurt my husband or my children. And I know that Payman has sometimes hit his limit and can’t deal with those that have made racist statements towards him openly or about groups of people in general. He gets fed up and doesn’t associate with them and I understand.
Anyway, I’ve begun to ramble. But suffice it to say, last night my mother-in-law made me feel a little better. Why spend our time being negative when you can be positive? Truly, I believe it just shows inner unhappiness.