Telling my mom that I was not only getting married but was moving overseas was a tough job, but it was nothing compared to telling my dad.
Now my dad and I have- to put it simply- a strained relationship. We have always butted heads and I harbor a lot of grudges and resentments towards him. He on the other hand has poor boundaries and control issues. Its a bad mix. I feel like we tolerate each other more than actually enjoy one another. I know he loves me and I love him, but there is a big difference between love and like.
Well my dad and I lived two states apart and I really didn't want to tell my dad that I was going to marry some guy he never even MET and then leave the country over the phone. I had to try and find a time to either go and see him or him come up to virginia. It just so happened that He and his wife were coming up through the state to go to some boat show and on their way back decided to stop in town for a while and have lunch with me. I knew that I had limited options here so it was the only good time to tell them.
Oh yeah- and it was about a week and a half before the wedding date. eep.
Well so I met them up and we were having a great lunch. They were telling me all about the boating show and some other things. (my memory is hazy of all that- probably because I was FREAKING OUT) Then we began talking about my sister and how she was doing in brazil and what we were going to send them for christmas (you have to plan early to send stuff to brazil haha). Then my Dad asks me how my boyfriend was (couldn't even remember his name. doh.) and I said he was doing fine. Then he said well thats good that your dating- as long as you don't up and move to Ireland I'm happy haha all smiles. (Oh irony, you cruel, cruel mistress)
So then at this point I realize I can't say yeah thats right and laugh along. So instead I say- "Well about that.....So I am moving to Ireland."
(crickets. My heart stopped beating for about 30 seconds I think. seriously you could hear a pin drop. Thank GOD we were in public.)
Me-" so yeah, I'm moving to Ireland. and Um, Also We are getting married....in a week and a half. "
(I think my dad aged about 15 years in that moment- the look on his face- I think he might have been more cheerful if I told him I was having a sex change)
At this point my stepmom kicked into overdrive. She and my dad kinda had opposite reactions. He was completely silent (totally out of character for him) and she was asking a million questions. How, when, why, where. My dad just sat there and tried to not upchuck his lunch. My stepmom then starting giving out to me about why I had never talked to them about me wanting to move to Ireland or marry this guy. That I needed to have more respect for them than that. How it wasn't fair to them to drop this big piece of news on them in such a way. After saying her piece and quite a few tears from me she starting acting so happy and saying thing like "Lets have a huge party!" and "You have to celebrate this huge occasion!" "If you don't you'll regret it and life gets away from you and even though you say you will have a big wedding in Ireland you probably won't" and BLAH BLAH BLAH. This was all white noise to everyone at that table. I think talking for her was a nervous reaction since we were all expecting my dad to erupt like a volcano at any moment.
After about 20 minutes of silence my dad finally asked if we could go sit in my car. (I was terrified....in public you can only make so much of a scene) So we go and sit there in more silence. Then he finally started asking a few questions.
Dad- So who is this guy- what does he do, what kind of family does he have?
What religion is he (huge question for my dad- imagine his disappointment when I told him he was atheist. It was just salt in the wound at that point.)
Does he treat you good?
Why are you getting married so fast?
Why can't you live in the states.
I totally expected him to ask why I was doing this to him. He didn't have to it was all over his face. He told me he expected at the least for James to ask him formally for his permission to marry him. If there is one thing I know about James, I knew he wouldn't do that. He just isn't that kind of person, especially for someone that he has never met. Its not a disrespect thing, its just how he is. I knew that was out of the window. It sucked having to tell my dad that too.
Needless to say- it was not a happy occasion. I think my dad was in shock for a couple of days. I think he felt sorry for me and sorry for himself. He kept asking what he did to deserve both of his daughters moving so far away from him. It honestly was no more than I expected- he never really was the champion of support.
But I will give credit where credit is due. Its never hard to know that your daughter is getting married to someone who is a total stranger to you. Its never easy to hear that your child is moving out of the country. The day I got married he came and he was on his best behavior and I'm happy that he was able to be there.
It has been frustrating dealing with him and the issue of me living overseas. He just can't seem to accept that I am able to make good decisions for myself. From that day until the day I left for Ireland he continued to question my judgement and always tell me that it was never to late and that I can just stay home. In fact even after I moved to Ireland he continued to say these things to me. Telling me I could fix all of my problems by coming home and that it was only an option. That really is hard to hear especially when you are so far away from home. I finally put an end to it (for now) by telling him I didn't want to hear one more bad thing about Ireland, that it did no good, that coming home didn't help a single thing and if he wanted to talk to me anymore that he needs to accept my decisions and shut up.
I know my sister has had these exact same conversations with him as I did just exchange Ireland for Brazil.
Its this kind of stuff that got me thinking the other day about family relationships and being overseas. Making such a big change in my life really polarized my relationships with my parents. I became closer in a way to my mother and was finally able to put up some much needed space with my father. I think for my sister and I it has put us on equal playing ground and I think it made us begin our adult relationship as siblings. It would just be nice to be in the same side of the world!