Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Not again! --> Sure, Whatever

In my ideal world, I see parents every few weeks for a few hours. They come over, we go over there, we meet somewhere. I really have no preference in the venue, but the "for a few hours" is the key ingredient. If it's longer than that, I tend to realize that there is truth to the saying, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder."

Actually the set-up with my mom works wonderful for us. She's a few miles away. She lives her life, we live our lives. I talk to her maybe once a week, we see each other every 2-3 weeks for a few hours. It's a tolerable timeframe. After 4 hours, I've hit my mom limit for a while.

I know other people have a far flexible mom limit than I do. Some people want to spend every waking minute with their mom. Good for them. I hope Julia isn't one of them though. When she's older, if we live close to each other, I will abide by the every few weeks for a few hours guideline unless it's mutually amended.

S's family is different than mine. Yes, his parents live farther away (by their choice). What I don't understand is why they live so far away when they want to spend so much time with their children. For instance, they spent late June - late July with us and S's brother (which coincided with my week off from work). Then in December they came from December 10th - January 3rd (which coincided with my two weeks off from work, and then S's sister came for a few days during that timeframe). Then on January 3rd they went to the Pacific to stay with S's sister until the end of February.

And now we find out that they're coming back from the end of May to late June.


Yes, I know they are older, they won't be around forever, they're family, and so on. I know I'm a bit a lot whiny about this, but the fact is that by the end of June they'll have stayed almost 3 MONTHS with us over the past year.

Remember that I'm a every few weeks for a few hours type of person. I'm not a every few months for a few weeks type of person. Even if you do the math and compensate for the fact that they come every 4 months, in my mind this translates to 4 hours still being my at-a-time maximum. I suppose if you force me to translate the every-3-weeks = 4 hours of visiting time, even then you only come out a visit that lasts 20 hours maximum (4 months divided by 3 weeks) x 4 hours.

This policy is for anyone that I didn't marry or didn't birth. My mom is held to the exact same standards as S's parents.

There's a work conference in San Francisco in June. I didn't want to go because, well, I prefer my own house to staying in a hotel. BUT with this news coming in today, I'm thinking that it would be so nice to go to San Francisco for a few days. Alone. I could hear myself think and not debate politics (during an election year! with staunch Republicans!).

Another option is to sell our house really quickly and buy a 400 square foot condo. "Aw, shucks, we've downsized, I'm not sure there's enough room in our new place."

I know, I'm going to hell. I swear that I will try harder to be positive; I think I give myself the same pep talk before every visit, and then I crack about 12 seconds into the visit*. When my husband tells me that his parents have changed the arrival and departure dates 3,422 times and the moment his parents arrive they start comparing us to his perfect brother and sister, I promise that this time I will take some Xanax and nod like a Stepford Wife. I'll try at least.

Maybe I'll last 13 seconds into the visit this time.

* As a side note, it's coming upon the 2 year anniversary of when my sister-in-law freaked out over the in-laws and called the cops on them, which then precipitated the collapse of brother-in-law and sister-in-law's marriage. While she certainly isn't my favorite person, I do have a bit of empathy for someone who could blow up at S's parents because it really isn't that much of a stretch to see it happening at our house (although I wouldn't call the police, I'd just gather up my stuff and go to a hotel). Then that would mean S would feel forced to choose me over his parents, but then would be resentful about choosing me, so then he would cheat on me with some chick named Amber at his work (who has 3 kids and whose husband has left her), and then I'd find out and file for divorce, and then I'd be a bitter, hoarding alcoholic. It's really not a stretch of the imagination, now is it? In order for me not to become a bitter, hoarding alcoholic, I need to be a Stepford Wife for a few months out of every year. Or something like that.


Jesse said...

Same here regarding maximum parent visitation thresholds. I've always considered myself to have a fairly average relationship with my parents--not loving and worshipful like some people, not constantly hostile and angry like others. Usually just friendly but not very close emotionally, with occasional arguments, an arrangement I'm totally fine with.

The problem for me isn't so much the timespan as it is the impression that I'm "living" with my parents vs. "just visiting." As long as they feel like I'm "visiting," they're grateful for my presence, and the stay is usually pleasant. But if I stay long enough that they feel like I'm "living" with them, I start feeling the need to escape.

B said...

Sounds like a perfectly healthy relationship.

I couldn't handle living with my mom after graduating. She's a dictator (i.e., lieutenant colonel), and I found it too oppressive. Unless I had nowhere else to go, I wouldn't ever stay in her house overnight.