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My Mother-In-Law's Vagina
By Meredith Gordon

That's when my ears go deaf, my vision gets blurry and I start a whole different conversation in my head. You see, you can express yourself and while I may not agree, it's your right to express yourself. And when you start getting personal, I'm gonna bite my tongue and picture your vagina playing Peek-A-Pube with me ten minutes before I walk down the aisle. But when you attack me as a mother, when my worst crime is keeping you from my baby, you've got a problem. Low blow, unfair, all bets are off.

She's still rambling but I've already got my retort brewing in my head and it's good. I've got a genius Cold Open, an elaborate story arc, and a tear-rendering TAG at the end that will humiliate her for years to come. I've thrown in some obscenities, have cultivated the best way to throw in some family secrets, and have emptied her closet of all skeletons. I'm going to tell her that after first meeting her, I strongly considered not dating her son. I'll tell her that if I'm rude and tightly wound, then her son has definitely married his mother. And I'll top it off by telling her that a thriving Cabaret career would be in her future were it not for two roadblocks -- lack of talent and stage presence --otherwise she's a fantastic performer. But then I stop and surprise myself, which seems to be happening a lot lately.

The biggest surprise I've faced as a new parent is how often I surprise myself. I'm surprised by how much I love my little guy. I'm surprised by how much time I can spend watching him roll and squeal with delight as he discovers a new toy or texture. I'm surprised by how protective I am of this delightfully charming new person. And I'm surprised by how much need people approach a baby with. At seven and a half months, a baby isn't responsible for fulfilling anyone's life. He's not responsible for waking up early to play audience for a retiree who misses the thrill of the office. And he's not responsible for being the glue that keeps a distant family together.

Standing in my Cabaret Singer-In-Law's Manhattan townhouse, I've surprised myself again. I arrest my desire to slay her with the zingers I've conjured in my head. I stop being a writer and remind myself I'm a mother. What would my son say if I stooped as low as his grandma and dwarfed her with insults? He wouldn't say, "Mommy she deserved it." But he just might say, "Mommy you should do better."

Like my Cabaret Singer-In-Law, I'm a mother of one son and I too have spent much of my life trying to have my moment. As a creative person, I've fumbled through a failed acting career, a temporary personal assistant career, and an upstart writing career that feels like it just might be something. But honestly, the only thing I've done really well is create a charming little baby who will someday be humiliated by something I do at his wedding. And as much as I want to make my mark, my son might actually be just that. He might be the accomplishment in my life. He might be my moment. And when I see him walk down the aisle and take the hand of some wonderful girl he's crazy about, I hope I won't be standing in the wings showing off my accessories. I hope I'll be reminded that his happiness is my mark on the world.

So instead of slaying an aging dreamer with insults, I take the high road with a simple, "Well it sounds like we could all do better."

I walk out of the room, husband and baby trailing closely behind. With tears streaming down my cheeks. I head for the airport where in six hours, two taxis, and one incredibly over stimulated baby later, I'll be back at home, with my husband, my baby, and my issues all to myself. And the next time my Cabaret Singer-In-Law asks to show me her shoes, I'll simply say, "No thank you, I have a pair of my own."

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