Wednesday, July 8, 2009

So glad to be home.

I am so, so, so happy to be home.

This was not the relaxing trip we had hoped it would be. There were little annoying things- our flight out was canceled and so we had to be rescheduled onto two flights on two different airlines. The weather wasn't fabulous for the first part of our trip. We got a call from our alarm company because it hadn't been set properly and the dogs set off the motion detectors. Our seats sucked on the way home. And our dog sitter wasn't as great as she was the last time- we came home to a house that was a bit of a mess. (update- she showed up in the evening- she thought we were coming home tomorrow and was embarrassed she hadn't cleaned up more!)

All of that is just part of traveling. The trip probably would have been okay regardless. Except for my mother-in-law.

My in laws are very nice people. But as I'm pretty sure I've said before on this blog, they are not my kind of people. From very early on in the week, I was acutely aware that I just don't fit in with my husband's family.

For example: The second day we were there, my MIL was (once again) complaining to me about her brother's family. She does not approve of how they spend their (limited, in her opinion) money. Apparently, during a discussion her SIL said to her "Well, III didn't have to work through college." Which is totally true. But she was all pissed, saying "He took a full load of classes, and did his practicals, and went to the gym every day, and trained for..." blah blah blah. What she doesn't understand is that there a many, many, many less fortunate students who have to do all that and work to support themselves/pay their tuition. III was very fortunate in what he had and in what his family had. With that, I commend his parents for instilling in him a sense of responsibility and work ethic that, honestly, others in his situation often do not have. However- not everyone is as lucky. And his mom just doesn't get that. Her own experience is so limited. She grew up in the same area that she lives now. She rarely travels, outside of her state or outside of her circles. She is unable and/or unwilling to see what exists outside of her little bubble of a life.

It's started to become clear that she doesn't think I 'take care' of III well. She asked him about work and he was listing off some of his complaints- she looks at me and, out of his hearing, says about four times "That's not healthy for him." Yeah? I know. What do you want me to do about it???

But the worst part? The hovering. I know III is an only child and that he lives far away. But the hovering did not even feel like an attempt on her part to spend time with him. It felt like chaperoning.

They have a lovely lake house that they share with the families of III's two uncles. We go out there every July, and we usually stay out there for a few nights. No one other than us really ever sleeps over at the house, though there have been some years that III's parents have decided to stay out there with us.

This year his mom stayed. Not his dad. His dad drove home (about 20 min) every night. The first night, I tried to reason that she had a lot of stuff she wanted to do to get ready for the 4th. The second night I thought, well maybe she wants to clean up and visit. The 3rd night I realized she was chaperoning. Making sure we didn't mess up the place and that everything got put away exactly how she wanted it. The only way she could have made us feel more uncomfortable is if she had literally followed around behind us with her brush and dustpan. When everyone had left each evening, she didn't really even interact with us. It was very, very weird.

On Monday, she left about an hour and a half before we did. She gave III detailed instructions about what we had to do before we left. One of those instructions: "Make sure the last person out of the shower wipes the whole thing down with a towel so that it doesn't get water spots." OH NO! NOT THE WATER SPOTS!!!!!!!!!

She must be mortified when she comes to our house. We don't have a dirty house. But it is definitely 'lived in'. Her house does not feel lived in, and the lake house definitely doesn't. Everything has it's spot (often labeled) and is put away the minute it is done being used. When III makes himself and me breakfast, she has finished washing, drying, and putting away the dishes before we can even finish our coffee. III's friends came over to the lake house on Friday with their 2.5 year old twins. The first thing she noticed when they showed up later is that one of the twins had left fingerprints on the glass door and she had to clean it up right away, even though there were going to be about twenty people in and out with their own greasy hands for the whole weekend. I shudder to think what will happen when we bring our future children there.

I hate to say it, but I like her less and less every time we visit. III is dying to move back in that direction some day, and I really want to stay where we are. If we moved, we'd be about 90 min from his parents. In the past he has speculated that his mom would be better if we were closer, because it wouldn't be such a production when he came to visit 2-3 times a year. I never felt that way- I think she is so controlling and judgemental that she would need her fingers in every pie all the time. After this visit, III has begun to be concerned that I'm right. (Although that does not change his desire to move...)

I don't know if this post has even really done justice to just how unbearable it was to be around her for this whole week. She has some serious control issues. She is very traditional- her job is to "take care" of her husband, and too keep her house spotless. Oh, and clearly to advise everyone else on how to run their lives. My relationship with III is very different from her relationship with my FIL and our life is very different from anything theirs has ever been. It is more and more apparent to me (though she never tells us this directly - she'd apparently rather we glean it from her actions and attitudes) that she does not approve.

Did I mention I was glad to be home?


c by the sea said...

i feel your pain. my in laws are also a little difficult. i am on edge and so stressed every time we go to see them. my MIL is also very traditional and scrutinizes the way i "take care" of her son and our home. (she'd die if she knew i have a cleaning lady come before she visits!) we are visiting her in a few weeks, right after we visit my FIL who wrote us an email saying he wanted the weekend to be stress free, but could we please wear khaki pants with white tops for a family photo!

glad you are home!

Caroline said...

It sounds like a pretty painful time away. I'm glad to hear that you are home again!

Anonymous said...

Gah, that sounds rough. I am sorry that your get away was stressful. I am glad you are back too. My MIL is a bit of a nightmare herself - sorry you are in the club - makes me promise to never be that way to my stepson's honey (if he ever gets one) or to my kid(s) (if I ever have one/any)