Monday, December 19, 2005

One Big Happy

Currently, my parents are one state away.

Yesterday morning, they hopped in their grandparent-mobile (a tan minivan, which is even worse than my blue one if you ask me) and headed South, enroute to the land of Tuna.

The amount of stress this causes me is hard to explain.

They're my parents. I love them. I do.

But I find it hard to fit them into our lives here in my own home. I wonder if this is a common feeling for thirty-something family women.

Before my son was born we had a guest room. My parents would come and they'd have a place of their own. And my mom would help so much with the baby that it was like I was getting a vacation.

Now, my son is displaced to his sister's bottom bunk. My father takes my son's bed. And my mother sleeps on a mattress on the floor near the kids because they "expect" it and she "has come to see them, after all."

My mother still helps, but the kids aren't babies anymore. The grandparents disrupt their routine and their sleep and they get cranky and disobedient. To sum up, they get spoiled.

Which is fine. No really. It is. I swear!

I'm glad that my kids are close to my parents. Being a military family can make maintaining family connections hard. But I don't think my kids are missing out when it comes to their grandparents at all. And that is a credit to my parents.

But it is hard to just be me when my parents are around.

They worry constantly that my husband isn't happy. They think he is moody and brooding. I think he does pretty well, considering. But he is a man who is used to having his own space and time. When he goes to bed at 9 p.m., they think it is because they're driving him crazy. And they may well be, but he goes to bed at 9 p.m. most nights anyway.

They worry that I'm avoiding them because they're driving me crazy. And they may well be. But I go to my room at 10 p.m. now (even though I stayed up until midnight as a kid) because I need a few minutes to unwind, catch up with my friends, and maybe write a little something or other.

I don't know when being around my parents got so hard. But doing the simplest things, like paying my bills and sending my Christmas cards, becomes impossible when they're here.

And you can yell at me all you want about being more assertive, but I have to pick my battles with my family, and getting my father to stop spouting racist comments when the kids are around is a top priority to me. (Forget trying to shift his actual ideals. I've been working on that since I was 8-years-old.)

So tonight I need to hot glue a halo (It's Christmas Program time and I suck at making costumes.), pay my bills, mail my Christmas cards, make beds, fold laundry, and complete a myriad of tasks that I won't be able to get to when they're here. Which means I'll be up all night. Which means that I'll run to my room to have a nap as soon as I get a chance. Which will make them think I'm avoiding them. Which will start the whole stressful mess.

Or I could say, "Fuck it all!"

I wonder how other adults deal with their parents' visits. Am I alone in this? Have I let my relationship with them get out of control?

It's so hard when your relationship with your parents shifts. Don't you think?

At least I have a very supportive and understanding husband. We're a team. But his half of the team has flights and hockey games scheduled back-to-back all week.

Hmmm. I wonder if that is a coincidence.

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