Talk about anticipating the negative things to come: my in-laws are visiting Veteran’s Day weekend.
Well, I say “visiting.” What I mean is “dropping by because they’re conveniently driving by on their way to another destination.” They never truly visit.
When my parents come to D.C., they ask us for the best dates, float some times that are good for them, and we work together with the goal of identifying one, solid weekend where we’ll enjoy each others’ company. They are truly here to see us—their only purpose for coming to this part of the country is to see us.
Not so with my in-laws. They are creatures of convenience who drop by out of obligation, not a genuine desire to see their son and his wife. When my in-laws “visit,” they say this:
“We are driving to Destination and will be in your neck of the woods on X date. We will stop by.”
Yay? More like ugh.
(This time around, they want to stop by on their way home. The husband and I have already decided that This Is Not Happening.)
This nettles me, obviously. I don’t like that they make visiting their son a matter of convenience; I don’t like that they have a near-total disregard for our lives and somewhat demand that we make certain weekends work; I don’t like that I’ll have to hide all of my TTC stuff because I don’t want them to know squat until I’m 12 weeks pregnant. I especially don’t like that they seem incapable of having a loving relationship with my husband and his siblings, choosing instead to couch everything as a matter of convenience and control for them.
My in-laws and my boss would get along. Or destroy each other when they met.
Growing up, my husband lived in utter fear of his parents. Every emotion he ever displayed was ridiculous; every problem he had with anyone was his problem alone; they demanded that he be a perfect reflection of them, and punished him with mental and sometimes physical abuse when he acted like, you know, a kid. Every time I’m in the same room with these people, I want to shake them and yell at them and smack them across the face. I’ve seen pictures of my husband as a five-year-old kid. He was adorable, and you could see the warmth, intelligence and wit in his eyes. Why, why would you do your best to stamp that personality out of a child?
Oh, that’s right. Because you’re narcissistic assholes.
Through a lot of hard work, the husband has gotten to the point where he can manage them effectively. He still reduces his exposure to them (we don’t visit often ourselves) and I firmly believe that one day he will cut them out of our lives. But they’re mostly manageable at this point. I’m probably more worked up over this visit than he is, mostly because they’ve started attacking my parents in passive-aggressive ways. We visit my parents way more than we visit them (because my parents are awesome) and they’re jealous.
But they don’t stop to think that maybe, just maybe, the way they treat us might be a factor in our not visiting. If they would just loosen their grip and stop insisting that every waking moment must be spent listening to how great they are, maybe we’d visit more. Maybe if they didn’t insult us at every opportunity, we could deal. Maybe if they expressed some love instead of acting like my husband owed them the world, things would get better.
But they’re so in their heads, that’ll never happen.
I worry and don’t worry about them as grandparents. I think they’ll want every detail on a pregnancy. We’ll give it to them, but they’ll still complain of being kept out of the loop (they did this with the wedding). They’ll be furious when I turn to my mother for advice and care, not realizing that, duh, she’s my mother. I think they’ll do their best to make themselves seem like the best grandparents-to-be ever by trying to rain gifts on the kid, but once the kid is here, I don’t think they’ll be very interested—attention paid to a baby is attention not paid to them.
I could be surprised, but I honestly believe that they dislike small children and want nothing more than to see a kid when he/she is born, show off some pictures from Facebook, and … that’s it. I don’t think they’ll have an emotional connection with any kids. Even their interest in knowing whether or not a baby is forthcoming strikes me as funny and, I’ll admit, suspicious. I don’t honestly think they want grandkids; they just want to know what we’re up to. My parents, I know, will be super invested. Any interest from my in-laws might be a competitive move against my parents.
And were they to touch a hair on my kid’s head or say anything that would be a blow to the little guy or gal’s self-esteem, it would be game on. TTC Writer, ready to rumble.
I will, however, do my best to not color my kid’s judgment of his/her grandparents with my own thoughts. I’ll let them make that decision on his/her own. My dad did this for me; his father with a jerk extraordinaire, and I didn’t need my dad pointing it out for me to see it (in fact, for the majority of my childhood, my dad sought a relationship with his father; it was a futile mission, and I hated seeing how my dad was treated). I made a decision, quite early on, that I didn’t want much to do with his father. I think my kids will be smart enough to make a character assessment, good or bad, by themselves.
For now, though, that’s way ahead in the future. What we have to worry about these days is getting through the November visit. Which, as I mentioned before, is also a projected fertility week.
Joy! Good thing they’re staying at a hotel (small graces, you know?).
I’m off to Etsy to buy a discreet and cute flask.