It’s beginning to feel a lot like obligatory visits to relatives; er, I mean, Christmas. Family dynamics, especially the ones you have married into, can be…interesting. Maybe interesting isn’t the right word. How about awkward, strained, earnest, delicate, or problematic? It’s also perfectly possible that everything is lovely. It seems like it’s left up to chance. Maybe you have some fairly solid reasons you should avoid your in-laws this Christmas.
1Traveling is the worst
Traveling was fun before you had kids because you were exploring new places and having adventures. Now it’s more like trying to prevent boredom-induced meltdowns while navigating through scores of other disgruntled travelers. Not mention, you’re going to the same house, in the same city that you always go to. It doesn’t really matter if it’s via car, train, or plane; it’s probably still going to be stressful.
Granted, it’s not really your in-laws’ fault that you are trapped in the small body of an aircraft as hundreds of other sickly and easily annoyed passengers try to be the first in line to cram their obviously oversized carry-on into the overhead bin.
It’s also not their fault that your two-year-old gets motion sickness and pukes on you during the ride. However, it’s perfectly reasonable to silently swear to yourself that from now, until the kids are off to college, your relatives will be traveling to you.
You know what parents can’t get enough of? Unsolicited advice. They love being told exactly what they are doing wrong and how their in-laws would (obviously) do it better.
Sometimes it’s overt. Other times, it’s a subtle dig. Sometimes it can be questions they have absolutely no business asking.
“When are you planning on having another baby?
“Oh, should you really be having another plate, since you haven’t lost all the baby weight yet?
“Should you be drinking? You know you’re still breastfeeding.”
Yes, I realize that most in-laws were raised in a different era with very different practices.
Unfortunately, “I did it and I survived” is just not good enough. Medical advice has changed, much like most doctors don’t prescribe a session of leeching anymore to purify the blood.
Sometimes we forget that our significant other was raised perfectly and had absolutely no issues when we met them. Thank you so much for the reminder.
3Differences of “opinions”
What is it they say? Don’t talk about politics and religion at the table? Isn’t Christmas a religious holiday? Don’t politics affect our everyday lives? Okay, enough with the rhetorical questions. The point is there may be some strongly held ideologies that create tension.
Have you seen the political state of America in 2018? It’s dicey at best. Trying to keep yourself from going off on “that one uncle that everyone seems to have” can be exhausting. Go ahead and finish that second (or is it your third) glass of wine. Who knows, maybe they’ll offer to break out the “good stuff” just to keep the peace.
Merry Christmas indeed.
4The kids could get away with murder
All bets are off when it comes to the children. To a certain extent, this is fine. Grandparents and other relatives that don’t get to see the kids often should be allowed to spoil them, a little.
However, you may not be particularly excited about the kids being pumped full of sugar and staying up WAY past their bedtime. Keeping to a routine? Oh, that’s rich.
It’s all fun and games now, but it won’t be pleasant next week when it’s back to business as usual. The “but Grandma let me do it” line gets old pretty quick.
5It’s not comfortable
Traveling can get expensive. One way to save is by staying, not at a fancy hotel, but at your in-law’s house, in the guest bedroom. You know the one with a single bed. I’m sure you’re really looking forward to squeezing two full-grown adults in there. It’s possible a small child may join you during the night.
There is a strong possibility that even if you were given the chance to sleep in (you won’t be, don’t be silly), you’ll find it impossible to get comfortable on the 30-something-year-old mattress that your spouse slept on as a child. You also might be sharing a bathroom. That’s when it gets real. Really real.
Before I conclude, let me just say: No, my in-laws were not specifically referred to in the writing of this article (honestly!). It is strictly for humorous purposes and based on past experience of others I have met (there are some real doozies out there).
The reality of life is that relationships can be difficult, but we try our best, usually for the children’s sake. Good luck out there this holiday season.