Friday, January 16, 2009

It has begun (warning: lots of ranting. but i feel a little better now)

It is late as I'm posting this, and maybe I shouldn't post this at all. Some of you might wonder where that nice girl Terina has gone. She dissappears occasionally when she has to deal with things like this. I will bring nice Terina back for my next post. And hopefully I'll be over this by then and can move on.

My inlaws never cease to amaze me. And not always in a good way. I have been trying very hard to keep my expectations very very low so as to not give me undue and very unnecessary frustration. Yet, here it comes, rearing it's nasty dirty ugly head.

I almost feel as if I need to explain to them something that is very very basic. That I just drove over 2500 miles to come and live here. In three days. That is almost as many miles as you need to go between oil changes. (which reminds me.......) I did not do that because I HATED North Carolina and I HATED living on a military post. I could have stayed there, most happily, with my stuff and my DVR (oh how I miss thee DVR) without Matt and without anyone telling me when to do the dishes perfectly fine. I chose to come out here for several reasons. One is that we'll eventually be on the west coast and I didn't want to have to figure out how to get from NC to our new home by myself with kids and stuff. I am much much closer here and the drive (when we actually move there) will be considerably less difficult than the one all of us just participated in. Another fairly big reason, is that I want my kids to have the opportunity to get to know their family. They know them a little, but not a lot. And since I grew up near a lot (a lot a lot) of family, I know how great it can be. As with any relationship, there has to be a give and take kind of thing. For example, one side should not always be the one driving out to the other. One side should not always be the one calling and making the effort to see the other. Sometimes one does it more than the other. Just the natural ebb and flow of things. It is fabulous that way.

Here is where I draw the line. I called up one of my inlaws today, and made a suggestion of having a set day once a week or month or every other week, where one or the other drives to the others place of residence. This person pretty much said no. The word "no" wasn't actually used, but the words were "thats your moms house, and if you come here, we can all just be here and let the kids play" or something lame like that. Pretty much saying that they aren't comfortable coming here. And not only that, but they aren't willing to come over. But I can go over there any time.

I don't even know what to do with that. Going there is one of my least favorite things to do. It is overwhelming, irritating, and just plain mind numbing. There isn't very much conversation. And I can't really be myself there. Usually I just keep to myself, sitting on the couch cross stitching the time away, occasionally getting up to make sure my kids are close by, and not saying much in general. But I still go. Because they are my husbands family.

I want to call this person and explain how I drove that many miles, and that they can drive the 10 or so it is between houses to come and visit my kids every once in a while. And if that is impossible, then I guess they won't be seeing us terribly often. I am so mean. But I really really wish I could do this. I'm going to sit on this new information for a few days before I say or do anything that might come back and bite me in the butt. But I sure won't be going over there any time soon. Thank goodness I have things to do for the next few days.

Why do these things have to be so difficult? I get being uncomfortable. I get that. But I still go to these crazy peoples homes and endure the craziness around me. I am not comfortable doing so so many things. But these are your grandkids people. And who knows how often you'll see them once we're gone. Get off your butt and make an effort.

I don't read much about other peoples inlaws. Are yours awesome? Near perfect? Or do they read your blog and you can't talk about them there? Or do you just not care about it? Another good question is why do I let this bother me. There are a couple of answers to that question. 1. I haven't had to deal with them so closely for five years. I'm out of practice. 2. Perhaps, as low as they were, my expectations were still too high. 3. Things bother me. They just do. And lack of willingness to visit grandchildren kind of ranks pretty high on my list of things that bother me. If you have words of advice, or if you can only say 'good luck' and thank your lucky starts your inlaws don't behave like this, you are welcome to leave a comment. Sigh. Maybe someday I won't care so much about this kind of stuff......


Mary Alice said...

My in-laws read my blog. "nuff said about that. But. I will say that what you are experiencing... driving thousands of miles with kids...and then others being unwilling to extend themselves to drive TEN miles is a very common complaint I have heard from dozens of military couples ...who both happen to have family in the same area. There is no way...for some non military to put themselves in your shoes....they can look at it from their own shoes...or shoes they can imagine, like their other children that happen to live there too. Oy Vey. My advice, calm down a while and find a way to explain and ask for what you need.....otherwise you have a snowballs chance in hell of ever getting it. They'll never see it your way if you don't calmly and sweetly explain it from your perspective.

Shelly! said...

First of all, rant away. Rant, rant, rant.

Second - do what Mary Alice suggests. Calm down a while and figure out if you can ask for what you need.

Third - compromise. I know it's a word you are hearing me say a lot but I think it's a good one.

I know you don't like their house, but if letting your kids have time with them is important then go over there once a month. Limit the amount of time you are there. When we did this same thing it always worked best for us to have a deadline- real or imagined. Like, we'll be there from 5-7 but then I have to get the kids in bed. Etc. Etc.

Then maybe they'll reciprocate and head your way. Maybe. Maybe that's not so much compromising but settling.

Unfortunately you may not be able to get what you want or need from these folks - so figure out what you are willing to give/do and stick with that.

In the meantime- rant away.

Nicole said...

Well, you knew it was going to be like this. It's not like they tricked you into thinking they'd changed.

What I don't understand is why on earth you would want your kids exposed to people like this?? Being "family" doesn't mean that people somehow become good role models. We have relatives that we see just often enough (every 10 years or so) to remind us why we don't want to see them more often.

You obviously don't want to spend time with your in-laws and yet you are trying to force your kids to do so. THEY can't sit in a corner and cross stitch.

There's nothing magical about family. We get who we get. I don't blog about my in-laws because they are such a non-entity in my life. They're fine - but I give them about equal effort to what they give me, which means we talk on the phone to them maybe three times a year (we meaning DH) and exchange Christmas gifts. It's enough. I don't dislike them, but I don't particularly like them either. I hardly know them.

I can't imagine how awkward it would be to have my in-laws hanging out at my parents house. They aren't friends. I totally get that POV why they don't want to come over.

Why not choose a neutral spot? Say "let's meet for lunch once a month" (your treat of course) or at the playground or wherever. That way you don't have to go to their house, they don't have to go to your mom's house and so there's no issue.

Or just let it go. You tried. And I still think there's nothing to be gained by trying to force a relationship with people you don't like. Unless one of you needs a kidney someday.

Christy said...

Wow! I don't have any sage advice for you, but I just wanted to say I'm sorry, and I hope you work out something that will make you happy!

TJ said...

nicole: i guess i had hope. admittedly false hope. and while i would LOVE if i never had to see any of them again, matt would like them to see his parents. and surprisingly, one of them is making an effort. and is willing to come over and play with the kids. even bringing their own toys. if, somehow, they called matt and complained about how they never see us, and why don't they come over, matt might get upset. i don't know if they would do that, but you never know. he doesn't seem to think his family is as crazy as i think it is. (i think it's because he grew up with crazy. so crazy=normal) hopefully over the weekend i can figure out something to say or to do that will work.

and thank you for the advice other sage commenters. (nicole being included:))

TJ said...

oh. and one more thing nicole. my FIL has kids. and the youngest is only 9 months older than andrew. so they actually like playing over there as they get to play with their aunts. and their toys. and my SIL and her son live right next to them. not to mention bipolar grandma that isn't medicated.

Jessica S. said...

North Carolina isn't really that bad. You make it seem like a rotten place to live. Sometimes you get out of a place what you put into it. It's kind of insulting to those of us who are choosing to make this our permanent residence.
Did you ever wonder if your inlaws feel the same as you do about going to their house as you do to theirs? Maybe they feel is overwhelming, irritating, and just plain mind numbing when they are there.
they are your family, you have their grand kids and maybe if you met them half way, you might find it's not so bad.

TJ said...

jessica: i kind of felt like i was trying to meet them halfway by switching off houses so that they weren't driving all the time and neither was i. i'm not opposed to meeting somewhere to eat. but they are not financially able to eat out. so i would have to foot the bill every time if that is what we did. we could also meet at a park, which i didn't suggest to him, but it didn't sound like he was willing to even drive out here at all.

and coming to my parents house isn't near as overwhelming. their house is very very small, and when we go over there are 7 people in a very small space. here, there is lots of room. and my parents usually don't sit and talk with them the whole time they are here. they have things to do and usually just leave us alone.

a lot of my frustration comes from them doing little to nothing in general (with maybe 2 times in the last five years of them doing anything out of their ordinary) and i don't feel like i'm asking too much for them to make this effort. because overall, they make very little. and i don't feel like it's all my responsibility to do it all. so when he said he won't come out here to see us, it really ticked me off. i used to do a good amount of calling, emailing, and occasionally sending things in the mail. but i don't do that anymore. and our contact with them has gone down considerably. so. this is yet another thing that they won't do.

LCM said...

My parents equal your in laws. My mom purposely picks fights in order to have an excuse not to interact with people. I don't really have any in-laws. I had a grandmother in law who was more like a mother in law and she was really nice because she wasn't interfering but she LOVED having us over. But she died right before Fiona was diagnosed with cancer and I actually miss her.
I don't understand the not wanting to hang out with your grandkids. My kids are 7 and 9 and I can't wait to be a grandma. All of the fun, hardly any work, where's the down side?
Maybe for a while you shouldn't make so much of an effort. Let your husband talk to them about things. Of course, they sound like they wouldn't really care if you didn't come over. Ugh...