Crazy Mommy Lady

A blog from a mom living on the edge of joy and insanity all at the same time.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Getting Ready for My Mother in Law

So, did I mention my mother in law is coming to visit two weeks from today? Oh, and did I mention that we live in a rented two bedroom townhouse with no guest room? Funny story, my mother in law...

Two years before he met me, my husband moved from Florida to California to go to his dream graduate school and then get his dream job (which happened after he met me). The job turned out to be less than perfect (more on that in another post), but California stuck, and so did we. We got married, had a great kid, and are generally very happy with each other. But my mother in law is not.

It turns out that she had been holding out hope that my hubby would move back to Florida after he got the masters degree thing out of his system. Enter me. Since he didn't move back, and he DID marry me, I am solely resposible for my husband being so foolish as to settle down HERE! In fact, my husband works in the entertainment industry, and there is only one place you can really work. But, I digress...

I have been a dilligent daughter in law, mailing pictures every month (at least) and even learning how to be a webmaster. I created an entire website with her in mind so that I could post videos (which I also spent time learning how to edit on our computer). I send her greeting cards printed from Shutterfly with pictures of her cutie, photo gifts for holidays, and I make sure she get her favorite fresh flowers on Mothers' Day. I have compassion for her struggle, and I would miss my son, too. But it turns out there is a reason for his geographical choices.

Imagine when my daughter was born how delighted she was, becuase now she could feel soooooo sorry for herself that her only grandchild in the whole world lived on the other side of the country. You thought I was going to say "Because she was finally going to have the grand-daughter she always dreamed of..." She had two sons and no daughters, so that's what I thought, too. I felt her pain, and I sympathized with her even more than my husband did at first...

She came to visit for the first time since the wedding when my daughter was 8 weeks old. I was a new, first time mom, working hard at breast-feeding, with a new 8 week old that I was attempting to protect from the entire world (we didn't even take her outside for 6 weeks). And now - hooray - my mother in law was coming, and we needed the help. I imagined she would be so excited, and eager to spend time with her new grand-daughter, even watch her so my husband and I could sneak away for a couple of hours...

Turns out she actually was more interested in her California vacation. We dragged that poor little baby all over the three county area sight-seeing. not only did she not "help" in any way, I cooked and cleaned (for the first time since giving birth) for HER, all while trying to manage new parenthood, etc, etc. I even had the pleasure of whipping out my breasts for the first time in public on one of her outings (later it became old hat, but I was still learning how to do it at all, let alone in public!) She was completely put out when I let the little darling sleep or nurse on a schedule instead of going out for a marathon day trip (which I was WAY too tired for anyway), claiming that she fed her babies when she ate, and let them sleep at night and if they were tired they could sleep wherever they were (my daughter started sleeping through the night at 12 weeks thanks to this effort, by the way). She also loved to complain about what a horrible child my husband was, constantly (hmmm, maybe he was tired and hungry). I can't believe I didn't go insane or that my mouth didn't explode with all sorts of post-partum fire and brimstone. My philosophy is my philosophy - and although she was well rested, I was exasperated. But we still stepped up and took care of her and our new baby.

The next time she came to visit was after her first Christmas (she was about 8 months old). We tried to again be ever-accomodating with field trips galore, to each of which she found a reason to be miserable. My husband spoke to her about our disappointment with the first trip, and she made a concerted effort to be helpful, sort of. She wanted to babysit for one night, since that was an example my husband cited of how she could help us out when she visits. She explained that she "bent over backwards" for her mother, and expected us to do the same for her. My husband, bless his heart, actually TOLD HER that the only person in this world he would ever bend over backwards for was his daughter. I love him.

Of course, or inability to accomodate her or entertain her to the degree she felt that she deserved resulted in a weekly stream of complaints to my huband about me and how we do not make her feel welcome enough for her to visit. So, she hasn't been here to see us since (2 1/2 years). But she does so enjoy telling all of my husband's family and anyone who will listen how horrible it is that her only grandchild in the whole world, blah, blah, blah. We have, however, flown to Florida (and paid for three airline tickets each time) four times since then, and I've posted videos glorifying each one of these trips. By the way, I have cooked for her, done the grocery shopping, and run errands while we were at her house. It does seem that one person travelling across the country (who doesn't work in the summer at all) rather than three people (including a toddler) making the 5 hour flight, would a little easier. But if she visited more often, she wouldn't get to complain, and we might.

She is coming to visit us next week for the first time in nearly three years (deep breath). So I have to try to break her determination to be unhappy. Remember that little townhouse we live in also, dear reader. I have redecorated the bathroom, purchased a top of the line air mattress, am willing to forgoe one-on-one time with my husband for the week she is here, purchased new spa towels, hired a housekeeper to fill in for my deficiencies, replaced all of our rugs, and planned lots of 3-year old friendly Southern California sightseeing activities. I even managed to land my daughter's first dance recital square in the middle of her holiday.

I'll let you know how it goes.


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