Thursday, October 28, 2010

In-Law Angst

Tonight when I get home from work, I will be greeted with a site many mothers dread: my in laws.
Now, I generally like my in-laws. They are nice, giving people and truly the kind of family you want to marry into. I feel lucky to have them. And they are amazing with the kids. They love our kids as much as any grandparent ever loved a grandkid.

But visits from my in-laws always cause me resentment. Take for example, this visit. It all started with KJ stating that he wanted to see Mimi and Papa G. Not a huge request from a 3 year-old. So, we invited Mimi and Papa up. But things are never that easy. First, Mimi and Papa accept our invitation, leaving us a voice message on a Tuesday that they’ll be up Friday. Umm, not happening. We plan things weeks in advance, not 48 hours. Thankfully, before we are able to respond, Mimi and Papa G had something come up and plans were changed. . . to this weekend.

Mimi and Papa G are finally making their long-awaited visit. And it’s a giant PITA for me. First, despite my invitation being orally presented to only Mimi and Papa G, the e-mail response I received to that offer was “Grandpa G (a different person than Papa G) can’t wait to see the kids.” Resentment begins.

I had a reason for inviting only Mimi and Papa G for this visit. In the first place, we only have one guest bedroom. With one queen bed. No other beds anywhere in the house. We can’t sleep another person. My in-laws know this. We’ve had the you-can’t-bring-the-extended-family-and-assume-you-can-all-sleep-here discussion many, many times (including once when they truly expected me to make sleeping arrangements in my house for six additional people). And I wanted to avoid a hotel because (a) KJ loves having his Mimi and Papa sleep in “blue room” (as he calls it) and (b) this is the last opportunity for them to do so before we change the guest room into Sweet Pea's room. I really just wanted them to have one last nice visit.

Easy solution, right? Put Grandpa G up at a hotel. Not happening, my friends. I’ve been told for the last two years that Grandpa G is “too old” for a hotel. And, after seeing him unable to turn the water on in my house and being unable to figure out how to turn on a lamp in the bedroom (because it was on a switch), I have to agree.

Which means, for the duration of my in-laws visit, I will have nowhere to sleep. Grandpa G will sleep in my bed with Husband (weird, I know, but if Husband won’t stand up to his mommy then he can deal with it), Mimi and Papa G will get the guest room and I will be. . . . Oh yeah, no one cares because they all have beds. Last visit (which also included Grandpa G), they expected I would sleep on the couch. Let me tell you, after supporting my father-in-law’s bottom for approximately 12 hours a day, that couch needed a break just as much as I did. I ended up sleeping on the floor of KJ’s room.

Which brings me to my second point of in-law visit contention: the timing of the visit. As you no doubt noticed, I stated that I’ll come home from work tonight to be greeted by my in-laws. Yes, that’s right. They’ve conveniently timed their visit to arrive in the middle of a working day in the middle of the work week. Husband has to take off a day of work to be there to let them into our house. And I have to plan a dinner that feeds three extra people. And then, I have to sleep on the floor, get ready for work in the kids’ bathroom (which at that point we’ll be sharing with the in-laws too) and GO TO WORK the next day. Why am I, the only person who has to look nice, be on time and do something productive the next day the only person without a place to sleep or get ready?

And finally, there’s the schedule. My in-laws are retired, so they do things on their own schedule. And that’s fine. They worked hard for a lot of years. They’ve certainly earned the right to sleep in if that is what they want to do. But their altered schedule results in a mess for me. Because they sleep in, they eat breakfast late. The kids, of course, want to eat with Mimi and Papa so they eat twice. And by the time second breakfast is finished it’s time for the kids’ lunch and naps. But Mimi and Papa want to play. So everything gets pushed back and the kids get crabby and meals start getting eaten at many different times and . . .well, you see where this is going. It makes for a difficult weekend and a more difficult week at work as we try to undo the habits unwittingly taught by Mimi and Papa and readjust the kids to their regular schedule.

I resent these visits because it feels like no matter the sacrifice I make to ensure a good visit, no one really appreciates it. Mimi and Papa come to visit without any consideration of our jobs, house or schedule. They assume they can stay with us, no matter who they bring with them, and they don’t concern themselves with details like beds or meals or my job. They expect that we’ll adjust for them. And Husband goes right along with it. If Mimi and Papa G want to come on Thursday, than Husband will take the day off. Never mind that just a week earlier he was “too busy” at work to spend an hour at lunch with me. And the kids are just kids. They love seeing their grandparents, but they have no idea the extra work feeding and entertaining the in-laws bring.

I keep telling myself to take a deep breath, it is only for a few days. And my in-laws are wonderful company. They truly are nice people, even if they don’t think beyond themselves in their visits. And I remind myself that our visits to their house are probably welcomed with the same mix of anticipation and dread that I feel today. But mostly I keep reminding myself of the twin-sized comforter I have stashed in the guest bedroom closet. Pretty soon, all of these problems will be a thing of the past.


1 comment:

  1. How ironic, read this while I await the arrival of my in-laws . . . who I've been trying to call on their cell phone. But cell phones don't work if you don't turn them on. So I'm left wondering when exactly they're arriving. Which leaves me hurrying Peanut through breakfast and struggling to put Bean down for a quick nap . . . because as every momma knows, naps do not exist when granparents are in your house.

    Karen, hope you survived the visit! :)