Tuesday, April 10, 2012

In-Laws, Again

Oh, Internets.  My in-laws. I try to be kind about them, I truly do.  I try to remind myself that surely, it all makes sense to them.  That's the best I can do.

Dr. S tells me that they don't feel 'welcome' here, probably from... oh, our resistance to plans made without consultation, and their offense when NO WAY.   Like dinner plans during baby bedtime.  Or something boring, on Shabbat, also during baby bedtime.  This could be avoided by asking, listening, or BOTH.

I was marginally more willing to go along before we had kids.  Dinner somewhere awful, at an inconvenient hour?  Fine, I'll have a sandwich first.  Although... I'm reminded of a movie-watching trip several years ago.  I didn't want to; I hated it; I walked out and went to the bookstore after twenty minutes.  That went well!*

I don't like going there; also, it's ten hours by car,** and flying is almost as bad.  Plus, remember we're poor?  They're retired with no dependents.  They persist in thinking we should come; in their minds, we're undutiful and uncooperative because we won't.  (We did it once with Bug, for a wedding.  It was a nightmare, if fun.)

Dr. S wants them to see our children.   I will inconvenience myself only marginally to make this happen. (By the way: not even a little offensive that they haven't come up to see Tater, because he's a boy.  Though they did offer (ha!), so maybe now they're offended.)    I am sorry that their choices hurt my spouse, but I'm not willing to make my children's lives difficult in consequence.  Meanwhile, they make up all kinds of reasons, like "It's too expensive to come up, but we can spend several thousand dollars from your dead grandma, which she said to give her grandchildren, on new hickory floors for our new, enormous, already nice house."

(I am not making this up.) 

Dr. S kind of wants to take Bug there this summer, just the two of them.  I think Bug would be miserable on the drive.  Dr. S is willing to make everyone miserable in order to have a better relationship with his parents.  I am willing to say, screw them. 

Meanwhile, I booked plane tickets for Tatoe, Bug, and me to go see my college roommate R in two months, which is what set off this whole argument.  Am I willing to spend money to see people I like and respect, who make a reasonable effort to maintain a relationship?  Why, yes.***

I don't know what to do about my in-laws, except never discuss them with my spouse.  He agrees in principle that The Crazy should not be accommodated, but in practice, it just causes arguments. Er?

* For me.  They're probably still ticked off.  But I really hated the movie.

** If you don't stop.  Ha. Ha ha.  Been anywhere with a three-year-old lately?  To say nothing of the baby.

*** My family has been up here a total of five times in three years, and offered to come here next Thanksgiving, too.  


  1. *sigh* In-laws. For me, it's my FIL that is The Crazy. My MIL is very sweet, but indulges her husband in everything (it got worse when he was diagnosed with chronic Lymes and was close to death a couple times.) The last time they were here, we tried to go where FIL wanted, but he was having muscle spasms and had to stay home. Then he was grumpy all afternoon, " You always do what you want, I only get the leftovers." I nearly slapped him. They say, " The Lymes makes him act like a small child, you just need to humor him." I said, "No, I spend all day with small children. You need to make him respect you and not give him everything he wants!"
    Rant aside, my husband prefers the minimum number of visits possible to his parents since its 5 hrs by car, and generally unbearable the whole time. (Did I mention FIL barely has high school education, yet knows more about everything than anyone? There's no conversation, only lecturing.)
    I like my boys to see their grandmother, aunt, great-grandparents, and six boy cousins so I take them up there w/o husband a couple times a year. I put up with FIL crap to see the rest of them, who are very sweet. I can understand your husband's difficult situation. He realizes his parents are crazy but really does not want to write them off. I mean, they're his parents. What kind of message would that be to send to your children? What if they someday decide you are crazy?!
    That said, the money issue is difficult. Is there any way you could invite them to come for a certain week or so during the summer? Any activity in large, nearby city they would be drawn to and interested in visiting, since the grand kids are apparently not enough of a draw. (Mine come for sheep and garden things.)
    Seeing family is important, but it does need to be on your terms. They need to respect you, and your kids bedtime! Good luck, it is no fun dealing with crazy people. Even if you love them.

    1. The main problem is, unless it's on their terms, they won't come. If we give them a time range, they'll pick the one week that Dr. S is at a conference. If we give them a month, they'll say they can't come, and we'll make other plans, and then they'll call us at the last minute and say "We're coming on Thursday!" and we'll have to say no. (Yeah, we tried that.) I just don't know.

      Dr. S thinks unless he takes the kids, his parents will never see them, and he's probably right. I'm willing to live with that, but he's not. GAAAAH.

      I hope we'll turn out more like my parents, who are (mostly) sane, and with whom we get along quite well.

    2. My dad used to bug the hell out of my husband. Then his dad got even more crazy, and mine lightened up a little. So now we get along fine with my parents (unless my dad comes and works on our house. Husband can't stand construction noise, apparently...)
      Sounds like your in-laws are crazy AND stubborn. Your husband is probably right, that they'll never see the kids unless he takes them. And honestly, if it were my parents, I'd do the same. Hell, I take the kids to see hubby's parents, and put up with two huge dogs that aren't trained at all, one of which bit my then-toddler by the eye when he made a raspberry noise. If only I'd learned to shoot a gun, that dog would no longer be with us. But I digress...

      My mother just takes a deep breath and makes a mental note to NEVER act like her crazy relatives. I'm sure you will be a wonderful mother-in-law since you have an excellent example of what NOT to do.

    3. You're a nicer daughter-in-law than me, that's for sure. You and I can BOTH try to be good mothers-in-law for our sons. OY GEVALT.

  2. I feel for your husband. It sucks to be trapped between a reasonable, awesome wife and a couple of CRAZY PEOPLE.

    For reals, I hope this problem gets easier to manage as the kids get older. Which, given that one is brand new, is a ways off.

    1. If the kids were older, I'd tell him to TAKE THEM. And then I'd go visit my mama or something (this is a traditional thing to do anyways). Oh, well. It is hard to be stuck between AWESOME and CRAZY.

  3. Darcy6:27 PM

    I've thought this before when you posted about your in-laws, and resisted writing it, but reading this post made me think it again, so this time I will post:

    Much of what you write about what ticks your in-laws off reminds me vividly of my family. I can't begin to imagine how much hot water I'd be in if I walked out midway through a film my family had insisted on seeing, or if I ate a sandwich before going out to dinner at a restaurant they had picked, even if they knew there was nothing on the menu I could order. It's bizarre to feel so infantilized at 30-odd, but I just can't put myself through the verbal abuse these actions would entail. So, my options are (a) to lobby gently for small favors (like going to a restaurant that is not a steakhouse, or being allowed to bake a filet of fish in a sealed foil packet in my mother's kitchen); or (b) to see very little of them. I do some of each. I never feel good about it. Making myself scarce has, over a period of many years, as my relatives have slowly figured out that they are not actually entitled to my presence on any terms they dictate, made the lobbying a little more effective. But these situations have a way of going on, and on, and on. No advice, but much sympathy--also to Mr. S.

    1. Oh, my dear. Your family sounds very difficult.

      (It was a three hour film. King Kong, in fact. I did tell everyone in advance that I'd rather not go. Pity they didn't believe me.)

      If these were my relatives, I think it would be much harder to blow them off. The long ties of shared experience and family are much harder to be rid of than... in-laws.

      Now that I read your comment, I do realize that part of what makes me feel so unwelcome there is they never quite manage to provide food I can or will eat. The dairy thing is not optional, unless I want an ER trip, and while kashrut is by choice, it's also a very serious lifetime commitment (as well you know). And if one truly feels religiously obligated- for whatever value of religious that entails, including as a mindful choice to be part of an observance- to avoid certain foods, it feels very much like callous disrespect to not accommodate those choices. Which is a long-winded way of saying that I feel very unwelcome anywhere people won't feed me.


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