Friday, May 09, 2008

In-laws

I should be busily getting my bags packed for our weekend at B's parents place in the country but I am dragging my feet. When he first mentioned it, I thought he just wanted to go and see his dad but now it turns out that his stepmother has invited the entire family so what I imagined to be a fairly relaxing day or two around the pool is going to be like a Death March with appertifs. Ugh.

For nearly 10 years, I've been spoiled and his family has had the absolute bare minimum of family occasions. Suddenly, his stepmom has decided that she LOVES to have all their children and grandchildren and daughters-in-law together and its a constant stream of invites for dinners and weekends (ok, I shouldn't exaggerate. Its probably only been like 3 times in 6 months but that is far more than the previous average of once a year). Its not that I dislike any of his family, but its such an effort. They argue a lot, or more precisely, they continually contradict each other rather than just have a normal conversation, something which I find completely exhausting to listen to. The house is dark and cold and I don't think that there are more than 2 comfortable places to sit in the whole house. How can you have a 400m² house and only two comfortable chairs? It seems not even statistically possible, but there you have it. I have dreams about re-furnishing the house so that it is finally cozy and comfortable. Actually, now that I think about it, its probably the thing that I most dread about going there. And the towels are small and scratchy. And we have to share a bathroom with so many people. And there is never any orange juice for breakfast but if I bring any food with me, my MIL is horribly horribly insulted. And there are tile floors everywhere but I'm not allowed to wear shoes in the house, so I end up with horribly sore legs as well as filthy socks, since I forget my slippers every single time we go. And without fail, B disappears off on some errand for his father and I am left sitting there like an idiot wondering what I am supposed to be doing. Should I be helping in the kitchen? Keeping Ella out of everyone's way? Keeping myself out of everyone's way but leaving Ella to be fussed over? Admiring the garden? Suggesting outings? One decade into this thing, and I am still at a complete loss.

But by far my biggest complaint is the 'schedule' that we have to follow when we are there. They have these endless late lunches which I hate because it screws up the entire day. If you enjoy a bit of a lie in, then you have barely finished getting yourself caffeinated and washed and dressed and its time to start helping setting the table for lunch. Then its time for an apperitif. Then the meal starts and maybe two hours later, coffee is being offered, but now it is probably 2 or 3 in the afternoon and you still haven't actually done anything- not even jumped in the pool. The afternoon is ticking away and the clouds have probably moved in, but now its time to clean up from this massive meal, which obviously takes ages since you are constantly having to stop and ask for instructions from your rather persnickety MIL. If you are smart, and didn't eat much, you might be able to manage an hour or two of swimming. If you were silly and actually took a bit of everything offered, you will spend the rest of the afternoon lying in the shade and digesting. And just about when you are feeling up to moving around, its dinner time, and it starts all over again.

Honestly, I am much happier to go and visit in the winter when eating and digesting are my activities of choice but in summer it drives me crazy. We finally get out of the city and have a heated pool in the backyard, an entire forest to play in with bikes and 4-wheelers, animals to feed, a pond to fish in, lots of nice shady corners for reading. But all we do is prepare the meals, eat the meals, and clean-up the meals. Slightly monotonous, if you ask me.

I just never feel like I've spent a very relaxing weekend, especially if there are other people visiting as well. I guess 'relaxing' wouldn't be the first word I would use to describe the big family functions on my side, but atleast I'm having fun. I feel like such an old grouch complaining about it because it doesn't seem very nice. But its such an obligation to go and B will never ever in a million years consider going to visit his father on his own without me. He always asks me in a shocked voice 'But what would they think?!' Oh please. His family is his job to deal with. I don't know why he has it in his head that I should be dying to go and spend time with people that I would never give a toss about if they weren't his family. Its hard enough sometimes convincing yourself that you want to spend time with your own blood relatives, so how presumptuous is it to assume that your spouse will be 100% enthusiastic about spending their freetime listening to the enieme debate about what year Uncle Jacques installed the new pool cover.

I would adore it if B took Ella for the weekend to go to the country and left me here to potter around. Surely, he owes me a free weekend or two. Of course he misses us when we go back to the States, but at the same time, he is free to live like a batchelor for a few weeks, to take over the house and indulge his every whim while I am solo-parenting and fighting with my sisters over who finished off the toothpaste. Doesn't seem fair.

1 comment:

misschris said...

haha I love the small scratchy towels reference. I know those towels well. This sounds like one of MY posts (back in the old days--I don´t rant so much anymore about them.

I have huge complaints about the schedule with the il´s and especially about the fact that we eat at such an exact hour. It is endless and we never go anywhere because of it. I have been to Caen so many times and yet never seen anything but mil´s kitchen sink.

I have decided that life is short and I will become that awful american daughter in law who is late for lunch or dinner (gasp) because I actually went out exploring. Mil won´t dare say anything and I won´t have to grin and bear it anymore, whew. Maybe you can do the same. and she can ease into your schedule.