The Visit is Over

Early yesterday afternoon, the in-laws concluded their visit.  As they closed the front door to our house and headed out to their car, Hubby and I both literally keeled over in moaning, ugly exhaustion.  They. are. exhausting.

You see, both my mother-in-law (“MIL”) and my father-in-law (“FIL”) are recently-retired teachers. They love to talk.  They love to have a captive audience.  And I don’t mean captive, like, captivated.  I mean captive like, unable to escape.

Though they love to talk, neither of them can stand to listen to the other.  They save all this pent-up frustration at not being listened to for months at a time, and then they verbally explode all over the place whenever they visit other people.  So I spent four days being verbally exploded upon.  As an introvert who can barely stand to hear her own husband talk for more than 2 minutes at a time (love you Hubby), this was excruciating.

Now, it may be true that I am a horrible hag who thinks people shouldn’t be allowed to talk for more than two minutes at a time.  But to be fair to me, the in-laws’ talking is a particular brand of awful.

First, they insist on having a conversation at the worst times.  Like, at the same time that someone else is talking.  Or, when I am trying to soothe a baby that is fucking losing it.  Or, when I am literally in the middle of running out of the room to go tend to something burning on the stove.  Zero self awareness.

Second, they talk about the most inane things.  The. most. inane. things.  FIL walked me through his weekly schedule, one hour at a time.  (He’s retired.  He plays a lot of pickle ball.  He does half of his grocery shopping at Harris Teeter.  The other half at Whole Foods.  Sometimes he goes to Walmart for the sales.  A few weeks ago they over-charged him for potatoes and he had to talk to the manager to get his 50 cents back).  MIL turned a 30-second anecdote about how she has to buy different shoe sizes for each foot into a 10-minute story.   She gave us a lecture on the Roman calendar.  She told the life stories of multiple people who I have never met, have no relation or connection to, and couldn’t give any shits about.

It was more than just the talking that irritated me, though.  MIL spent probably about 60% of the what-should-be-waking-hours of their visit in our guest room, sleeping.  And like, it’s kind of nice to have a break from her, but good god woman, you sleep more than my 1-year-old does.  Like, a lot more.  Get your life together.

As for meals, well, per usual, they took zero responsibility for their own sustenance.  In every instance, they just waited to be fed.  Now, I get that when someone visits you, you should generally expect to do most of the food provision.  But it is a little exhausting to be 100% responsible, especially when you have two young needy kids.  The in-laws treated us like short-order cooks.  They didn’t lift a finger to help with the preparation of a single meal or snack.  They didn’t offer to pick up groceries when we needed something.  They never said Thank You.  And, when my split pea soup turned out to be an unfortunate dud and Hubby rushed out for some emergency Panera Bread one night, the in-laws did not offer to pay for their share of the meal.  Can I take one moment to vent about the fact that any time Hubby or I have ever had to order-in when these people are visiting us, they have not ONCE — not one single time — asked how much they owe for their share? Not once, in the entire eleven years I’ve known them.  They must think that because they are our guests, if we’re not preparing a meal for them, we are on the hook for paying for delivery.  What the fuck is that?

And then, of course, the Christmas gifts.  Let me just say, at the outset, that we sent all four of the kids’ grandparents an Amazon wish list with ideas for presents that the kids might like or need.  I think it was a well thought-out list, with a variety of possible presents (clothes, toys, academic stuff) at a variety of price points ($5-$100).  We prefaced the list with a nice note saying that the best gift for our kids was love, but that we hoped this list would be helpful if any of the grandparents felt compelled to give something.  I didn’t think it was horribly offensive, and both of my parents shopped from the list and sent nice useful gifts to my kids.  But, when the in-laws got here for their visit, they smugly told me they never even looked at the list.  And mocked me for sending it.  Like, I truly don’t understand the animosity that they displayed.  What could possibly be so repulsive about the concept of giving gifts that the recipient actually wants?

As for the actual gifts that the in-laws gave, well, it started out kind of okay.  When they first got here, FIL handed Hubby a check for a respectable amount of money, and insinuated that this was Hubby’s and my Christmas present.  We really couldn’t complain.  I’m not one to turn my nose up at monetary holiday gifts if the dynamic is appropriate, so I thought maybe Hubby and I had survived the gauntlet.

Then MIL insisted on giving the kids “Advent gifts” that they could open during the visit.  She reiterated over and over again that these were just Advent gifts, and not their Christmas presents.  Of course the Advent gifts were not good–because they never are–but they were not absolutely terrible either.  K-Man got some puzzles that MIL made by hand.  Terrible, glued-together, toxic, cardboard messes that we will be throwing away in a month or so, but K-Man had fun with them for a few minutes.  Ell-Bell got this doll that is not-so-slightly creepy looking.

MIL explained that she received the doll years ago from a friend who had hand-made it, well before MIL knew she would have a granddaughter.  (In other words, Ell-Bell got an old toy that MIL found lying around her house).

After the Advent gifts, Hubby and I were generally confused about whether that was all the kids were going to get.  But on the last day of the visit, MIL announced that she had left a box of Christmas presents for all of us in my room by the bed.  (WTF, don’t go in my room, weirdo).  I felt a little relieved, because even though the monetary gift for Hubby and I was quite welcome, I was kind of underwhelmed with the in-laws’ efforts at gifts for my kids.

So after they left, and after Hubby and I spent a few hours recovering in front of the TV, curiosity got the best of me.  I grabbed the box of presents from upstairs and started to pick through it on the couch.  A present for me, which, upon gentle manual inspection, was clearly another homemade puzzle.  Another present for me, which, as MIL wrote on the gift tag, I “may end up selling on eBay.”  Huh?  Something for Hubby, a floppy-book-feeling thing. Probably an old work book of his from grade school days, as his mother loves to wrap those up and pass them off as gifts.  I sorted through a few more presents, and a sickening realization began to wash over me.  There were no presents in there for the kids.  Was there a gift for the cats? You bet!  But nope, not a single other gift for our beautiful, sweet, innocent children.

And so, in 2017, the MIL Christmas Troll struck again.  I can’t even really articulate why I am so disappointed.  I guess I’m irritated that she went to so much effort to clarify that the Advent gifts were not Christmas presents, as if she was hyping some actual Christmas presents? As if she was trying to say, “don’t worry, this isn’t all we’re giving them!” Except it was all they were giving them? I guess I’m embarrassed that my son saw this juicy box of Christmas presents from grandma and grandpa, and not a single one is for him? I guess I’m feeling kind of protective over my children and their future disappointment when they realize that grandma and grandpa suck all the fun and joy out of Christmas because they can’t be bothered to swallow their pride and buy a fucking $5 sticker pad from an Amazon wish list?

Will this be the year that I finally learn to expect only the absolute most disappointing outcome from these people when it comes to gifts? I bet you one homemade puzzle that I’m writing this same shit all over again next Christmas.

Until next time,

Vee

#NaBloPoMo Day 27: What Happened at Thanksgiving

It’s the 27th day of November and the 27th day of NaBloPoMo.  While today’s theme is supposed to be Christmas, I’m going rogue and talking about our disastrous Thanksgiving instead.  Don’t forget to read yesterday’s post about how Hubby and I went rogue and bought a house without seeing it in person!

When I designed my list of NaBloPoMo themes, I thought I might use today to talk about Christmas, because I am one of those people who gets into the Christmas spirit early.  Like, let’s get Halloween and Thanksgiving out of the way already so we can make some fucking Christmas cookies!  (And if you’re a celebrate-Christmas-before-Thanksgiving-er, more power to you!)

But today, instead of looking forward to Christmas, I find myself reflecting on how this past Thanksgiving was something of a disaster.  Before your imagination runs away with you, let me just say that most things food-related turned out really well (with a gravy exception discussed below).  So why was our Thanksgiving so disappointing?  Would it give it away if I suggested we rename it Pukesgiving?

Half of us got a horrible, pukey, 24-hour stomach bug.  It all started when I heard my sister-in-law (SIL) puking in the bathroom on Friday night.  She puked twice and then had a headache and chills.  Then I woke up at about 1am Saturday morning and vomited my brains out.  I threw up 4 more times before actual morning.  And then Ell-Bell barfed all over herself and our bed at about 3am.  And at 4am Hubby spewed an unbelievable amount of his insides out, developed the most violent shivers I’ve ever seen, and then buried himself deep under the covers and became totally dead to the world.  When K-Man woke up for the day at 7am, he said his tummy hurt.  Uh oh.  Over the next 8 hours, he managed to chuck on the rug, the sofa, and the kitchen floor.  Who knew two-year-olds had so much room in their tummies?

I continued to vomit every 1-2 hours for the first half of Saturday, and then I felt like death warmed over for the rest of the day.  Hubby was only out of bed between the hours of 11am and 6pm, and when he was up, he was pretty much just sitting on the couch moaning and shivering.  We have no idea what happened to make us all so sick.  Food poisoning is one potential culprit, but we couldn’t isolate anything that only the sick folks ate, so who knows.

It was pretty brutal, though.  There we were with guests who had come all this way to see us, and we could barely function enough to keep our kids alive, let alone be good hosts.  And if I’m being completely honest, I was pretty bitter that Hubby just helped himself to bed, leaving me solely responsible for our two little vomiting munchkins.  Have you ever tried to clean up toddler vomit alone while keeping a crawling and curious baby at bay?  All while trying to soothe your own ever-increasing urge to barf?

On the bright side, I lost 3 pounds in a day!

Aside from the pukefest, there were the inevitable awkward interpersonal shenanigans that just made the whole weekend kind of uncomfortable.  Caution, major vent sesh ahead.

My SIL and her husband (BIL) would not stop with their miserable bickering.  It was kind of my fault that they weren’t getting along to begin with.  We were talking about BIL’s little brother, and I mentioned something about the brother’s fairly unusual and newly-diagnosed medical condition.  Well, unbeknownst to me, I wasn’t supposed to know about said medical condition.  So BIL really let SIL have it about telling secrets that were not hers to tell.  Never one to leave a damsel in distress, I rushed to her defense: “To be fair, I think I heard about it from [SIL’s dad].”  And then BIL proceeded to flip out because he didn’t know that SIL had told her dad about it either.  So, yeah, I was super helpful there.

But they kept up with their fighting all weekend, and it was majorly uncomfortable.  SIL was a grumpy buttface and treated BIL like dirt, and BIL made no effort to tone down his “go fuck yourselfs” in front of us or the kids.  I have never had to change the subject so much in my life!

BIL was also weirdly combative with Hubby and me about things that just don’t matter. Like, why didn’t we have a baby gate at the top of our stairs?  What if K-Man suddenly developed a sleep walking habit and fell down the stairs in the middle of the night?  Why did K-Man’s training potty have a liftable top lid on it? What was that for?  And back when I had a job, why did I choose to eat breakfast at work instead of at home?  BIL also insisted on taking charge of the gravy for the Thanksgiving meal because “Americans don’t know how to do gravy right” (he’s from the UK).  Guys, he totally wrecked it.  It tasted like watered-down Turkey butt.  While that may be the approximate technical definition of gravy, can I kindly introduce you to my two friends, salt and butter?  I wouldn’t hold it against him if he hadn’t thrown out the whole “Americans don’t know how to…” business.

Also, K-Man and my nephew did not get along.  At all.  Which we expected because they’re both two, and when you’re two, you couldn’t give any shits about caring through sharing.  But my god, could 3 seconds go by before they were both screaming and rolling on the floor, wrestling over a stupid toy that neither one of them wanted to use only moments before?  And of course both sets of parents had to run to the rescue, and there were all kinds of awkward politics as we tried not to directly accuse the other couple’s child of being a complete asshole.

Finally, SIL and BIL just made themselves a little too at home for my taste.  The kind of petty stuff that shouldn’t bother normal people, but I have trouble letting go:

  • SIL decided it would be fun to let her son do sensory play with a bowl full of cranberries on our floor.  She made no effort to clean up or apologize when he spilled them everywhere, stepped on them, peeled them, and smushed them into our carpets.  What the fuck?
  • My nephew was completely naked from the waist down approximately 79% of the time.  Too much baby penis for me.  And maybe you could have your kid put some pants on before he rubs his bare butt all over my furniture?
  • My SIL’s bra broke and she had to borrow one of mine for the rest of the visit.  Is it just a little bit weird that she only brought one bra?

Okay okay.  Petty complaints aside, it really was good to see family for a few days.  And SIL and BIL really stepped up to the plate when Hubby and I were drowning in puke on Saturday.  My SIL even cleaned up one of K-Man’s vomit piles.  That’s the real deal.

Nevertheless, this introvert is exhausted and ready to recharge alone at home for a few days.

Until next time,

Vee

They’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain (#NaBloPoMo Day 22)

Blue 22! Blue 22! Blue 22! Hut hut hut hut.  It’s the 22nd day of NaBloPoMo, and today’s theme is Visitors.  Speaking of visitors, don’t forget to read all about how my Hubby proposed to me when we were visiting his parents.  (That sequitur tho).

The holidays are upon us, and we’re about to have some visitors up in this piece! Tomorrow, Hubby’s sister (the one with the coveted birth story) and her family will descend upon the #CuteKids household.  We’re not setting any world records here — two adults and two kids — but my anxiety has nevertheless been through the roof for more than a week.  We’re talking crippling, hyperventilating, throat-closing, chest-fluttering anxiety.

Why am I so worked up?  It’s all of the things.  First, I have to cook an entire Thanksgiving meal all by myself.  With no one to watch my two kids while I do it.  Because Hubby will be working and sister-in-law won’t be arriving until right before meal time.  Did I mention I’ve never cooked a turkey before? Sweet Lord help me through this.  At this point, I’m just going to call it a success if I get all of the food cooked and on the table.  I barely even care how it tastes.  (But the pie better be fucking delicious).

And then there’s the cleaning.  My gawd, the cleaning.  With kids, there’s no cleaning ahead of time.  And there’s no cleaning when they’re awake.  So even though I know I can’t do anything about it until after bedtime tonight, I’ve been obsessing about it for weeks.  Mentally running through everything I need to do, trying to make a game plan, wondering if I’ll get it all done in time.  Is there any point to all of this worrying? Nope!

More than anything, though, my anxiety stems from the fact that I’m kind of a turd of a person who doesn’t know how to deal well with other people.  Having even loved ones in my home sends me over the edge because I’m (a) very private and (b) very sensitive to criticism.  I also always expect the worst of guests, and spend weeks ahead of time wondering what invasive or inappropriate behavior they are going to demonstrate.

Is my dad going to comment on my weight?

Is my mom going to criticize us for feeding K-Man mostly just chicken nuggets?

Is my father-in-law going to help himself to windexing the window I already windexed before he arrived?

Is my brother going to stay up all night watching Game Of Thrones and then sleep on the couch the entire next day?

Is my other brother going to get all sweaty on our treadmill and then sit shirtless on our leather chair?

Is my sister going to hold my newborn baby for two hours without giving her back?

Is my sister-in-law going to look the other way every single time the bill comes?

Is my mother-in-law going to take a nap in my bed without asking?

Who knows? Maybe everyone will be on their best behavior (as defined by me, graduate of the None School of Etiquette).  Or maybe they won’t be, but it will be ok, and I just need to CTFO (chill the fuck out).  Wish me luck!

Until next time,

Vee