Moral dilemma: open the floodgates and stand back.

I'm not a bad person, or at least I like to think I'm not. I try to be kind to everyone, even the jerks who cut in front of me (and my two wiggling kids, thankyouverymuch) at the post office. I give freely to charity, and buy books for the children's hospital drive at Barnes & Noble, and always ALWAYS hand a dollar to the panhandler who hangs out on exit 274.

I don't believe in organized religion, though. And this is the sticking point for my mother-in-law, who has up to now remained relatively silent about that. I've been involved with her son for eight-plus years now, and we've managed to dance neatly around the fact that she's a devout Roman Catholic and I'm... well, I like to sleep in on Sunday mornings, and I feel like God understands.

Yesterday a box arrived on our porch. It wasn't too big, which I understood - we're going to the in-laws' house in January, so we're just having a belated Christmas then. I brought it in, set it down, opened it up, and found several presents. WOOHOO! I thought, because I am an optimist and things wrapped in shiny paper make me instantly happier.

The top presents were labeled Norah, and they were tucked in with an envelope with my name on it, which I set aside for later. Norah and I gleefully had at the paper on her presents; the first one was an entire wardrobe of holiday apparel, which we will be sewing together into slightly larger apparel next year because there is NO WAY she'll be able to wear it all this year. The other one was a Veggie Tales CD with her name programmed into it - while I don't want to bash the Veggie Tales outright, because I'm sure their brand of music is well-loved by some people, I just have to admit right now that IF I HAVE TO LISTEN TO THAT AGAIN, I WILL DRILL HOLES IN MY FOREHEAD TO LET THE SOUND OF THOSE VOICES OUT.

The other presents were for Rob, who was working. I gritted my teeth and didn't open them, even though I was itching to see what he'd scored... and then he called! And said I could open everything! And things got freaky. His first present was a double picture frame, with a photo of him and Norah on one side, and a poem on the other side. Fine. Okay. Maybe it wasn't our style, but whatever.

The other thing was a book called "Will You Bless Me?" and it's basically a manual on teaching your child about God and what blessing means, and raising your kid properly in God's image and stuff, I went numb after the first few pages. In case you don't know how to be good to your kid and you need a badly-drawn children's book to help you, jump on over to its website, where you too can feel inadequate, pathetic, and offended. Also, it's a book about a child and her daddy, with no appearances made by her mother.

Oh, and my envelope? It held a prayer card. Granted, it was something about having Christmas with Jesus, and I'm sure it was supposed to refer to my grandparents, but it was still a prayer card.

My dilemma is this, guys: am I wrong to feel hurt by this? I have two reasons: one, it's clearly a box designed for Her Son and His Daughter, and Oh Yeah Annie Too I Guess. Two, the whole religious thing... what is up with this? She knows, she has known for YEARS that we don't plan to raise the kid Catholic, or in any specific faith for that matter. Is this her ever-so-subtle way of telling us that it's no longer cute or funny, and we'd better get it together and come to Jesus? I'm confused, I'm hurt, and I'm irritated by her refusal to allow us to be non-sectarian, and I feel like this is a bad thing. Am I being a bad person?

My holiday spirit has excused itself to go throw up and hide in the linen closet.


  1. I think the proper response is to roll your eyes mightily, send a thank you note and relegate the cheesy book to a dusty old bookshelf. My MIL too is super religious and I wonder how the whole thing will go with us as well.

    And anyway, is there even a Catholic church here?? I could identify 8 million Baptist churches that I pass just on my route to work, but not a single Catholic church (I too am a lapsed Catholic and often wonder where I'd go if I started to feel REALLY guilty).

  2. You've always known she's a little (finger to the head, twirling in circles). Maybe she thinks that if she gets Rob all Catholic-guilty about the religion thing, he'll "come around" and get Norah some old time religion. OR SOMETHING. You're right to feel hurt, I think, but unfortunately maybe you have to be the bigger person and buy her one of those Devil Duckies or something.

  3. Just commenting to say I love you, and that if you want I can sign your MIL for a wiccan newsletter or something. That would be fun!

  4. Ugh. Yes you are right to be totally offended. I'd be sorely tempted to do somehting really snarky in return. And I know that temptation must be even greater for you. If you give in, I want to know what you do.

  5. you know i love books. like, would make out with them if it wouldn't get the ink all smeared and make the pages stick together... but throw it away.

    as a wife whose mother-in-law is at least equally, if differently, lame, i think throwing the book and the VT (which makes me giggle because then i think of VD) away would make you feel ways better. she doesn't even have to know, as long as husbandface doesn't tattle!

    seth's DAD gave us a whole box set of husband-and-wife religious books for helping your marraige through god and family planning and stuff, and i laughed so hard. not to his face, because he's a nice man, but for serious.

    also, this is only a few months late... whatev. isn't it nice living hundreds of miles from your in-laws? i think so.

    love, patty