My mother-in-law came to visit almost ten days ago. I am finally, now, recovered enough to write a post about the fun that was. I'm convinced this must be what it's like for women who talk about how they "forgot" the pain of childbirth when it was over and they saw their child (which must be the reason they tend to have additional offspring). The only excuse I have for allowing her to come visit this time? I must have forgotten what the last visit was like.
So that I don't forget these things for the future potential visits, I will write them down here. These are the lessons I've learned from the visit of the MIL, this time around.
1. Don't let her stay at the house with us. In Austin, we had a very small house with just one bathroom, and used that as the reason that people who came to visit needed to stay in a hotel. We had one just down the street that we put people up in -- nothing fancy, but just enough so that we had a little respite from the visitors, and as a bonus -- no need to cook breakfast. The corollary to this (learned from a previous visit by the MIL) is not to allow them to pick the hotel. When she came to visit for Thanksgiving that year, she stayed at a place 45 minutes away. And expected us to go over there and spend time with her there.
2. Keep the schedule packed. If there is even a moment of downtime, it seems the world implodes. Don't let that happen, as the cleanup of a world implosion is unsurprisingly long and painful.
3. Pray for extra patience for the duration of her visit. I don't know how to avoid the condescension and the self-pitying (yes, she's better than me and the worst person in the world all at the same time -- hmm, where is that supposed to put me?). Since it can't be avoided, one must steel themselves for the onslaught, using all tools available.
4. Try to keep GB from talking to his mom too much. He gets more fed up with her, even than I do, but when he finally stands up to her, she gets mad and stomps off to her room to stew. Yes, she's six years old.
I'm sure there are more lessons that I should have learned, but this is what I remember, and what I don't want to forget for next time. Otherwise, I'd just like to leave you with a couple of choice MIL quotes from the weekend.
"If I'd known what having kids would have entailed, I wouldn't have had them." Thanks for wishing GB off the face of the planet.
MIL: "Do you see a trash can?"
HIAHS: "There's one right there."
MIL: "Oh, I'll just give this to you and look at this over here."
At least three permutations of this through the weekend. Geez, lady. Am I your personal lady-in-waiting or something?
"Heather, did you make this?" When a phrase like this is followed by a yes and then the crickets chirping, it makes one think you don't appreciate their sorbet/blanket/etc.
"I'm bored. I'm bored with myself. I'm bored just listening to what's coming out of my mouth." You're not the only one, lady.
"I would love to live out here. I'm moving out here. Well, not really, because I don't want to cramp your style. But how far is Solvang/Summerland/Paso Robles/San Luis Obispo/Ojai/Ventura?" Too close to us for you to consider.
"Can I help in the kitchen? You know, I hate to cook." I think this ranks up there with another offer-and-then-take-it-back sort of thing I heard recently.
I know we had some nice times too, but I have to say I was so emotionally drained when she left that I needed to take a couple of days just to recover to feeling normal again. Oh, and she'll be back with her husband in October. They will be staying in a hotel that time around, though. At least that's one lesson I hope I've learned.
The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers
3 months ago