Tuesday, December 27, 2005

It just isn't Christmas if no-one cries

I hope everyone had a nice holiday with their families. I am sure I will have lots to read on all your blogs over the next few days. For now here is my Christmas entry…

In Holland most families spend the 25th with one side of their family, and the 26th (Boxing Day as it is in Canada and the UK) with the other. Since we can not travel to California and back in 1 day we did not visit my family on the 25th. We instead had a lovely Christmas Day as a family, just the three of us. Pumpkin slept in Christmas morning as her gift to us, and we, in exchange, let her open all those wrapped boxes under the tree. My mom sent some lovely plush toys of which Pumpkin promptly tasted each and every piece. The wood rocking horse Mr. P and I purchased is still a bit too big for our little lady, but she did taste both the ear and the mane when I placed her in the saddle. Since a success with Pumpkin now is if she can place it in her mouth and drool all over it, I would say her Christmas gifts went over very well. The rest of the day was spent relaxing, and I even managed to finish the book I had been trying to read for the past month. Since it was just the two of us for dinner we made a simple roast chicken, risotto and asparagus soup. We both went to bed full and happy, a perfect end to a perfect day.

Monday was spent with Mr. P’s family. We arrived at his parents shortly after 2:00pm, and it was all very nice. The family sat around and talked about the new baby, adored Pumpkin and played with lil man (our nephew). Our first Christmas in Holland, 4 years ago, had been hard. Having been only here for over 1 month I did not understand anything anyone was saying and I was terribly homesick. It has gradually gotten easier over the years, and I did not feel homesick at all this year. I like to think that, while I still feel like an outsider generally in Holland, I do fit in with Mr. P’s family. That is why what happened hurt so badly.

I was giving Pumpkin her bedtime bottle, sitting quietly on the couch, when boom, I was under attack. Mr. P’s Grandmother commented to his father that I now understood all of the conversation. She often talks about me as if I am not there, but she is old so I forgive her that. Her comment was innocent enough, as she tends to make it every time I see her. But then my father-in-law started to complain that I speak English to Mr. P and Pumpkin. Soon my mother-in-law joined in, and I was both attacked and simultaneously talked about as if I was not there. It seems that Sunday, while my in-laws were visiting my sister-in-law at the hospital; we were the topic of conversation. I could not believe it! I am very sensitive about the level of my Dutch, but I have done everything asked of me. I took the integration courses at night for over a year while working full time, passed all the tests, and even got my citizenship. But it seems to them this is not enough. Basically they were upset that I speak English with my husband and my daughter, and that when I can not find the Dutch words in conversation I speak to Mr. P in English so he can help translate. They even went as far to say that I could be talking about them when I speak English, and they would not know it. I am glad they think so highly of me that I would do such a thing. It seems as well that my Dutch has deteriorated since I stopped working (which is funny since I worked at an English company). The blows just kept coming.

I sat there dumbfounded as they discussed me (mostly as if I was not there), and Mr. P politely tried to defend us. I could not run upstairs since Pumpkin was quietly drinking her bottle, oblivious to her mother struggling to hold in the tears. When she finished the bottle I took her quickly upstairs to bed and was finally able to cry. Mr. P soon came up, fuming mad, and I fell into his arms. He could not believe his family could be so oblivious to how hurtful that was; I was just stinging from the blows. Then and there he told me that was it; we had been discussing moving back to the states for months, this made up our minds.

I did not want his family to know they made me cry, so I soon sent Mr. P downstairs, where he explained that Pumpkin was a bit restless and I would be down shortly. I eventually gathered myself together and went back downstairs, where I had to pretend nothing was wrong for the next 4 hours till we finally left.

I have since cried all those tears I could not cry last night. I am hurt and angry and generally just sad. What does it matter to them what language I speak with Mr. P and Pumpkin? How can they not understand it is my language, and just because I am here does not mean I will abandon it? How could they be so hurtful and not see it? But what made me cry the hardest is the confirmation that I have not been super sensitive and paranoid. I really do not fit in here, and I never will. It is time to go. My daughter deserves her confident and happy mother, and that mother belongs in America. The Green Card application has been printed and the balls are rolling, we are moving again.

posted by Laura @ 1:07 PM   10 comments