My Family vs. His Family


My sister’s husband just called.  I don’t even have his number saved in my phone, but I recognized the area code, so I answered.  My heart started to beat really fast because I assumed someone had died, otherwise I wouldn’t be getting a phone call from a random Seattle number on a Friday night.  [I have anxiety. And a history of sudden family deaths.]

But when I heard Pablo’s voice, he sounded totally casual, so I relaxed.  But I was kind of confused why he was calling me.  The last (and ONLY PREVIOUS) time we had a phone call was when I drunk dialed him on the last day of my first year of law school,1 to win a bet with my friend Matt2 over the proper way to shoot La Bandera.3 So… almost exactly two years ago.

“Hey, Pablo… what’s up?” That was the politest way I could come up with to say, “why are you calling me?”

“How are you doing?”

“Good, I guess. Finals are going on.”

“Great. It’s Friday.”


“So you have plans?”

“Um, staying in and studying.” At this point I hear my sister shouting something, but he shushes her.

“Shh! So… Robin. Your exams are this week?”

“Pablo, this is weird. Why are you calling me?”

“What! You are my family. It is normal to call your family to see how things are going.” At this point I hear my sister saying, “SEE!?!!”

“Put Becky on the phone.”

“She doesn’t need to be on the phone. I am calling you.”

“Yeah and that is WEIRD.”

Becky wrestled the phone away at that point and explained to me that Pablo was complaining she never calls his family. She countered that he never calls her family. So he called me, immediately, to win the argument, but my reaction meant that Becky really won. Neener neener, Pablo!

But yeah. I’ve got a family that rarely uses the phone, even blood relations. I call my sister about once a week to gossip, and my little brother twice a month or so to make sure he is still eating vegetables and getting hair cuts and hasn’t dropped out of school or gotten arrested. They call me in three circumstances: 1) Returning a missed call from me 2) I haven’t called in a month and they need to make sure I am still alive 3) Someone has died.

Compare: Collin’s parents call me to say hi all the time. It’s great! I like it! We’ll talk about the weather and what’s happening at the dog park and business and school and all that good stuff.

I have had two phone conversations ever with my sister’s husband. I think I had two phone conversations with Collin’s mom last week.

Blending families! It’s wacky.

1Which happened to be May 5, so tequila was more or less mandatory.
2Who happened to be the then-future brother-in-law of my future fiancé, but we didn’t know that yet.
3The answer is a shot of tequila, a shot of sangrita (which is not the same as Bloody Mary mix, as Matt suggested), and a shot of lime juice (the second way Matt was wrong, he stopped after shot 2, which is ridiculous, because it is called La Bandera because white, red, and green are the colors of the Mexican flag, but I should probably stop making fun of Matt because he has much more embarrassing stories to tell about me when I’ve been drinking, including the night a few months later when I met Collin. Matt, if you are reading this, I left out the part about Sarah’s dress, so have mercy).


  1. I can’t believe you used footnotes on your blog post.

  2. I applaud your use of actual numerical footnotes, instead of asterisks. I’ve been meaning to figure out how to do that.

    OH, THE FAMILY THING IS SO WEIRD! I would like to become closer to beau’s fam, but it’s hard. Not because they are mean and difficult, but because his family is just not very tightly knit. At this point I can never imagine them calling me just to chat, which is sorta sad, but. It is what it is.

    Here’s something I’ve wondered about: when I was a kid, whom you’d reach on the phone was a game of chances. If my aunt called our house, would my mom pick up? My dad? Or maybe even me? In those days you always got a chance to talk to almost everyone in the house. But now… I haven’t had a landline in about eight years. I have a number separate from the beau. It almost makes calling extended family HARDER that way, because even if you just want to chat briefly with someone, you have to explicitly call his or her personal number. Which can — as you experienced — make for some awkward moments.

    Technology! Is teh strange.

    • The superscript html is “sup” in the carrots. But I find your long strings of asterisks charming.

      What an interesting thought re: cell phones and personalization and reaching out and touching a specific person!

      And yeah, I don’t forget for a second how lucky I am that Collin’s fam works hard on their end to invite me into the clan. But you’ve got a long time to sneak your way into your dude’s family’s hearts. My mom’s mom got along famously with my dad, mostly because they could bond over a shared love of cigarettes, but that took time—at one point my mom was being kicked out of the house for marrying him. But that’s a story for another blog post!

  3. When Tony and I first went public with the relationship, I sent a message to his mom to say hi and offer an open invitation for her to visit/stay at our house/etc. She deleted her fb account the next week.

    I have no idea how to make in-roads with the in-laws.

    • That. Is. Nuts. Maybe you should try sending a swarm of carrier pigeons with greeting cards, sort of like the owl invasion in the first Harry Potter.

  4. Blending families is so very, very wacky to say the least. One thing I did learn is that you cannot make the other family like yours.One is not right or wrong…it is just what we are used to. We are who we are, we all love in very unique ways that have worked for us. And as a parent I just prayed that whoever my children married…that they would be able put up with me and my “unique crazies” I know that I can be a little overwhelming….and maybe not even a little but alot actually…..please , please, Robin forgive me now for all of the insanity clingy mushy gushy love that is accented in glitter and dogs and lots and lots of color….right now! I do not mean to be controlling or a painful bother in any way …I will never ever ever ever never put glitter on your bed again but I cannot do anything about Journey. It is actually a good thing that I have her to spread some of my affection to because if I didn’t have her can you imagine all of the extra time and affection I would have to call you and Collin and come visit too????
    the only other thing I have to say about families is that I got some wonderful sister-in-laws and brother-in-laws that are gifts of gold to me and I think you are getting some of those also Robin!!!! We are so very blessed in SO many ways it is worth all of the crazy, wacky things that life has in store for us!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I LOVE you so very, very much!!! I already love your family and friends because they are so much a part of you dear, Robin!!!!! ( and they are all so damn adorable on top of that!!!)

    • Viki, thank you for this comment, which perfectly illustrates the way my Finlaws are.

      And you don’t need to worry about being controlling or a bother. You’re not! You’re a delight. And my phobias of glitter and dogs are bizarre and you are very sweet about accommodating them.

      I CANNOT WAIT for you to meet my siblings and my friends in two weeks! They are going to LOVE you. And you will LOVE them, obviously, because they are things on the Earth.

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